Bluewater Wind has no power-purchase deal with Delmarva Power yet, but a Bluewater official urged supporters of an offshore wind farm to keep the faith.
“We are down to the final few issues, less than a handful, and both parties are working hard to find consensus on them. That consensus will be reached very soon,” said Bluewater spokesman Jim Lanard on Wednesday afternoon.
Both sides, as well as Senate Majority Leader Anthony DeLuca, have expressed optimism in recent days that a deal can be reached, even as the end of the Legislative session on June 30 draws near.
But faith in the talks may be hard to come by for some wind energy supporters. For the last 10 days, a deal has been “imminent,” but they hear echoes of last year, when Delmarva twice walked away at the end of state-enforced negotiations.
Joan Deaver of Citizens for a Better Sussex said she remains hopeful, but “my gut feeling is Delmarva may be trying to run out the clock. How much more can you negotiate this thing?”
Delmarva officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday. But on Tuesday, Delmarva President Gary Stockbridge said his company was working in good faith to reach an agreement, and had pulled its anti-Bluewater ads from the newspaper and radio.
Lanard said he appreciated the commitment and interest of state environmental activists, and understood their concern.
“Bluewater Wind has a lot at stake in this project. We’re confident we’re on track to get the job done,” Lanard said. “We want them to know that we’re confident we will indeed cross the finish line.”
The negotiators must craft a complex, unprecedented document. There are currently no wind farms off the coast of the United States, and as such, no contracts to buy power from one of those wind farms.
The state-arbitrated Bluewater contract released in December, which Delmarva opposed as too large and expensive for its customers, was 117 pages. It was filled with important numbers like project size, cost and penalties for failure to deliver the power, as well as details like “resource adequacy requirements,” and “seller notice of extension of planned outage or maintenance outage.”
The contract, which called for Delmarva to buy 300 megawatts of power from Bluewater, was the product of acrimony and dispute, hardly an easy foundation upon which to build a new consensus.
All signs indicate this contract is the product of more cooperation, aided by political pressure from DeLuca and Lt. Gov. John Carney, a Democratic candidate for governor, to get the deal done.
Delmarva announced last month it would seek 310 megawatts of less-expensive power from onshore wind farms. Delmarva has only announced contracts for 170 megawatts worth. A company spokeswoman has said it has no more to announce.
Meanwhile, the stock of Bluewater’s Australian parent company, Babcock & Brown, was recovering from a tumble late last week. Shares rose 16 percent on the Australian stock market on Wednesday.
By Aaron Nathans
19 June 2008