Governor Carney wants Delaware back developing offshore wind

Source: By Recharge News • Posted: Thursday, September 14, 2017

Governor John Carney has created a working group that will study potential offshore wind environmental and economic development benefits, and signaled that Delaware wants to regain its earlier leadership in the emerging sector along the US east coast.

“We must look for ways to participate in the development of alternative energy sources,” he said, tasking the group via an executive order to provide him with recommendations on short- and long-term strategies for developing offshore wind to serve Delaware.

“It’s the right decision for our environment, but the development of new sources of energy is also good for our economy, and for the creation of good-paying jobs,” Carney said after signing an executive order tasking the group to report back to him by 15 December.

He also gave the group authority to draft any necessary legislation, including possible amendments to Delaware’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards Act. Carney’s Democratic Party has a majority in both houses of the General Assembly.

The group, whose members were not immediately named, will begin meeting in September. Carney’s office said they will identify any barriers that could impede the placement of turbines facing the state’s Atlantic shoreline.

Carney was in office as lieutenant governor for two terms through 2009, when it appeared Delaware would lead the nation with the first offshore wind farm.

In June 2008, developer Bluewater Wind, then a subsidiary of Babcock & Brown, signed a pioneering 25-year off-take agreement with utility Delmarva Power for 200MW from a planned project in federal waters 13 miles (20.9km) off Reheboth Beach.

Bluewater, later acquired by NRG Energy, in March 2011 won development rights for a lease area from the US Department of the Interior – the first such lease awarded by DOI under its “Smart from the Start” initiative that aimed to facilitate siting, leasing and construction of new offshore wind projects.

Then the project stalled. Frustrated over its inability to obtain Obama administration federal loan guarantees or financing, NRG scrapped its PPA in late 2011 and put Bluewater up for sale.

The project languished and NRG sold its federal lease to Garden State Offshore Energy (GSOE), which is developing a wind farm off the state of New Jersey. DOI approved the sale last December.

US Senator Tom Carper, who was at the signing ceremony, for several years has been sponsoring legislation that would extend the 30% federal investment tax credit at full value for the initial 3GW of offshore wind nameplate power capacity. The ITC is now being reduced in value for utility-scale wind and will expire at the end of this decade.