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Bluewater tower construction delayed

NRG Bluewater Wind will not build a meteorological tower this year as planned.

The company has not received necessary permits, but officials say the permit delay will not change the overall construction schedule.

The wind developer plans to install the meteorological tower 12 miles off the coast of Rehoboth Beach, which it will use for studies, in 2011. Construction of the tower should take only a week, but the window of good weather has passed for this year, said NRG Energy spokesman David Gaier.

The company has an air permit from the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) allowing it to install the tower, said Gaier. The federal Environmental Protection Agency delegated authority to DNREC to issue a permit for air-pollution emissions from the ship that will install the tower.

The company also needs permits from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Enforcement and Regulation, said Gaier. That agency was created in the wake of the BP oil spill when the Minerals Mangement Service, which used to govern offshore leases, was dissolved.

Because a new agency is now issuing permits, Bluewater Wind’s project has been delayed in the permitting process.

In 2008, Delmarva Power signed a 25-year power-purchase agreement with Bluewater Wind for 200 megawatts of power.

It was the nation’s first purchase agreement for offshore wind energy. NRG Energy bought Bluewater Wind last year.

Delmarva Power and NRG Bluewater Wind extended the deadline by which NRG Bluewater Wind could terminate the deal from June 23, 2010, to June 23, 2012, said Gaier.
The amended agreement extended the deadline for NRG Bluewater Wind to start providing power to Delmarva Power from Dec. 1, 2014 to Dec. 1, 2016, he said.

NRG Bluewater Wind is free to provide power sooner if the permit process is streamlined and expedited, as federal officials have called for, Gaier said.