Booth: Wait-and-See on Energy Projects
By Rep. Joseph Booth (R-Georgetown)
37th District
Feb 20, 2007, 12:11

In recent weeks, I have been repeatedly asked about my stance on two proposed projects to generate more electricity locally.

The first (Bluewater Wind) would utilize our abundant ocean breezes to turn the blades of approximately 200 high-tech windmills off Sussex County’s coast.

The other (NRG) would employ new “clean coal” technology, producing electricity at a fraction of the emissions emitted by current coal-fired plants. I believe this letter will make my positions on these potential projects clear.

In compliance with the Electric Utility Retail Customer Supply Act of 2006, Delmarva Power is mandated to enter into long-term electricity supply contracts and to fashion a 10-year Integrated Resource Plan (IRP).

Part of this proposal includes the construction of new electricity generation capacity within the state.

A panel – consisting of the Public Service Commission (PSC); the state Energy Office; the Controller General; and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) -- has been charged with evaluating these electricity generation proposals.

These include plans put forth by Bluewater Wind LLC and NRG Energy, Inc.

This is now largely a regulatory issue. I have every confidence that the aforementioned panel of impartial agencies will conduct its work in a logical, evenhanded, and professional manner.

During a recent radio interview, a representative of Bluewater Wind indicated he shared this point-of-view, stating that he believed his organization’s plan would be treated fairly.

Contrary to some statements made by other individuals, I have not endorsed any of the competing proposals. Each has its pros and cons and I’ll leave it to the experts to carefully evaluate which will best meet the demands of Delmarva Power and the hundreds-of-thousands of Delawareans they serve.

On a related note, I share the concerns of many people about the emissions from NRG Energy’s Indian River power plant. This coal-fired facility needs to be modernized and improved to better protect the environment and the health of Sussex County residents.

I have been contacted once by NRG officials to discuss their plans for a new coal gasification plant adjoining the current facility.

Additional plans call for the existing plant to be retrofitted with new anti-pollution equipment. Together, these proposed projects hold the promise of greatly increasing generating capacity while significantly reducing emissions below current levels.

Regardless of which proposal the panel selects to supply Delmarva Power, it's clear the Indian River plant will continue to operate into the foreseeable future and that it must greatly improve its environmental performance.

I await the panel’s selection with a great deal of interest. The changing complexion of how we’ll generate power to satisfy the energy needs of our country, in an environmentally responsible way, will be one of the great issues of the 21st Century.

As do many of you, I and my family live in Sussex County. I’m committed to doing whatever I can to ensure that the quality-of-life enjoyed by all county residents is not needlessly degraded.

Joseph W. Booth
State Representative
37th District

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