Del. offshore wind project–Bluewater Wind–apparently dead

See the Bloomberg story below.

There are many ironies in all this.  Not the least is that the wind project was widely supported by Delawareans in preference to a new coal burner proposed by NRG.  NRG ended up with the wind project and has now cancelled it. 

Delawareans, especially downstate, turned out to support wind when many Delaware establishment interests had signed off, behind the scenes, on the new coal burner.  Eventually they had to backtrack.

One outcome was a very rare example of the Delaware Public Service Commission acting in the public interest.

Delmarva Power (PEPCO) actively opposed Bluewater but eventually, and probably reluctantly, signed a Power Purchase Agreement with Bluewater. 

But it was always clear that Bluewater Wind, like Delmarva, regarded the people of Delaware as tools rather than partners.  For example, Bluewater apparently gave a chunk of money to the so-called "Clean Air Council," which was promoting garbage and biomass incineration in Delaware.  Bluewater’s rep in Delaware got into a leadership position in the Delaware Chapter of the Sierra Club, further compromising the independence of that troubled organization.

An alliance developed between the University of Delaware College of Marine Studies (now College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment) and the offshore wind industries, with some faculty members essentially acting as lobbyists for the industry.

For our part, Green Delaware supported the Bluewater project, while also pointing out that there are many unanswered questions that a rigorous environmental review and permitting process was needed to try to answer.  This didn’t seem to make us many friends among either citizen supporters or the industry, but it remains true.

It was never entirely clear whether the economics of the Bluewater project would hold up.  With decreasing electricity demand, low natural gas prices, and US energy policy lurching around in chaos as always, the situation deteriorated. 

For instance, cheap "natural" gas tends to speed the phaseout of coal–a good thing–but slows the development of wind and solar by making them less competitive.  Low gas prices are connected to grossly unhealthy and polluting gas production practices–notably "fracking."

(The wind industry is pushing hard these days for an extension of the "production tax credit."  Not disclosed is that this subsidy would also be extended for highly-polluting "biomass" burners and other undesirable polluting sources.  Green Delaware doesn’t support extension of the tax credit unless limited to wind, solar, and other "clean" sources.)

As of this morning, the Bluewater site still says:

Offshore Wind Can Bring Jobs And Price Protection To Delaware

NRG Bluewater Wind�s proposed offshore wind park is the only way to produce significant amounts of clean, reliable electricity for Delaware, from Delaware. An offshore wind park for Delaware will create jobs and provide the long-term price stability that Delaware has lost since the deregulation of electricity rates. As the rush is on around the country for energy sources that help protect against climate change, a wind park in Delaware, for Delaware is the only way for the First State to be independent from having to rely upon other states for clean, affordable energy.

The wealthy right-wingers at the Caesar Rodney Institute," long-time opponents of the project, are chortling:  "Bluewater Wind Collapse: Liars Lose."

Alan Muller

        ***********

"NRG Seeks Buyer for Offshore Wind Power Unit, Halts Development"
 
NRG Energy Inc. (NRG), the largest independent U.S. electricity generator, wants to sell its Bluewater Wind unit after failing to find investors for its first offshore wind power project in Delaware.
 
NRG bought Bluewater in November 2009 from Babcock & Brown Ltd. and Arcadia Windpower Holdings Ltd. for an undisclosed sum. As incentives and government support for the industry has waned, NRG halted the unit’s work indefinitely, said David Gaier, a spokesman for the Princeton, New Jersey-based company.
"We’re suspending all offshore wind development activities," Gaier said in a telephone interview. "We are looking for a buyer," he said.
 
The end of the U.S. Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program in September in part led to the decision, as well as the possible expiration in 2012 of the 2.2 cent per kilowatt production tax credit for wind energy, Gaier said.
 
"We just couldn’t in good conscience continue to invest more money and more time when we didn’t really have assurance that we could move the Delaware project forward within a reasonable time frame," Gaier said.
 
Delmarva Power & Light Co. agreed in 2008 to buy 200 megawatts of output from Bluewater’s 450-megawatt project. It may have cost as much as $2 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
 
The contract will be terminated at the end of the year, though Bluewater will continue to seek a commercial lease for the Delaware site from the Interior Department and expects to receive it in early 2012, Gaier said. If a buyer is found, the lease may be transferred, he said.
 
The Delaware project was the only one for which Bluewater had a power purchase agreement, though it was also developing other sites in New York, New Jersey, Maryland and New England, according to its website.
 
To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Herndon in San Francisco at aherndon2@bloomberg.net

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