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Bluewater Wind deal appears resolved; Insiders say accord in hand, but paperwork not finished

After more than a year of back-and-forth between Bluewater Wind and Delmarva Power over a proposed offshore wind farm, the stage appears set for the final act.

Neither side spoke publicly this weekend about the status of negotiations, which Senate Majority Leader Anthony DeLuca, D-Varlano, said last week were near completion. As of Friday, just one matter in a hundred-plus-page contract remained to be negotiated.

Two people who have been informed about the status of negotiations said on Sunday that the last matter has been resolved. But as of Sunday night, the parties had not yet finalized the paperwork.

Bluewater wants to build a wind farm 11.7 miles off the coast of Rehoboth Beach. It could be the first offshore wind farm in the United States.

In a state-arbitrated contract released in December, Delmarva would take up to 300 megawatts of power, depending on how hard the wind is blowing at any given hour. Delmarva at first fought the contract.

But after an outpouring of public sentiment for a wind deal, and after DeLuca and Lt. Gov. John Carney got involved, Delmarva started negotiating.

This week should provide the answer to just how much offshore wind power Delmarva, the largest utility in the state, plans to buy for its customers.

It should also reveal whether the Legislature will have to approve any settlement between the two parties. The legislative session ends June 30.

If a deal is not consummated, lawmakers have until that date to approve legislation that could order Delmarva to sign the state-arbitrated contract.

Bluewater spokesman Jim Lanard declined to comment. Delmarva spokeswoman Bridget Shelton, reached on Sunday afternoon, also declined to comment.

“I can’t confirm anything,” Shelton said. “I just have to leave it at that.”

By Aaron Nathans

The News Journal

23 June 2008