Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Delaware: First to sign and the first to spin?

The little state of Delaware's primary claim to fame for the last 222 years has been that it was the first of the original 13 states to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Today it wants to make history again by becoming the first state to get some of its electric energy from offshore wind turbines.

Delaware's chances of pulling off that modern-day coup improved with Monday's announcement that Princeton, NJ-based NRG Energy has acquired Bluewater Wind, the wind energy development company that plans to construct a wind farm of 60 or more turbines some 13 miles off the coast of Rehoboth Beach.

NRG Energy brings a new source of critically needed financial backing to the project which has been underfunded since Bluewater's original owner, Babcock and Brown, ran into financial difficulty. See: Will NRG save Bluewater's wind projects?

The project is estimated to cost about $1.2 billion with the first turbines possibly erected around 2014.

NRG says current Bluewater president Peter Mandelstam will continue to lead the company and work would continue on designing other projects along the coast, including one envisioned off the coast of Atlantic City, NJ. All of Bluewater’s existing development team will become NRG employees, working out of Bluewater’s office in Hoboken, NJ.

Bluewater said the next step for the Rehoboth project is to install a meteorological tower off the coast to collect data needed for further design. Installation will likely take place during the summer of 2010.

A new, tri-state wind-energy partnership

Yesterday, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, who is eager to claim bragging rights as the first state in the nation to develop an offshore wind farm, joined with Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland and Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia in announcing a tri-state partnership for the deployment of off shore wind energy in the Mid-Atlantic coastal region.

The three states signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) creating "a formal partnership that will build on the region’s significant offshore wind resources to generate clean, renewable energy and a sustainable market that will bring new economic opportunities."

A press release announcing the MOU says that immediate tasks are " to identify common transmission strategies for offshore wind energy deployment in the region, discuss ways to encourage sustainable market demand for this renewable resource and work collaboratively in pursuing federal energy policies which help advance offshore wind in the Mid-Atlantic area."

The MOU also calls for "examination of ways to coordinate regional supply chain facilities to secure supply, deployment, and operations and maintenance functions to support offshore wind energy facilities."

Collaboration on strategies to utilize academic institutions to create standards and opportunities for training and workforce development will also be developed, as will a joint lobbying approach with such federal entities such as the Minerals Management Service, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the Department of Defense.

NRG purchases Bluewater Wind
Bluewater Wind is now an NRG company
Rehoboth Wind Farm on Track Despite New Owner
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