Del. Delays Decision On Windmills

By David A. Fahrenthold
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 9, 2007

DOVER, Del., May 8 -- Delaware officials delayed making a decision Tuesday about a proposal to build 200 large windmills offshore of Atlantic beach resorts, saying they needed more time to study this and other competing power-plant bids.

Four state agencies are considering plans to build either a coal-fired power plant, a natural-gas plant, or an offshore wind farm. But after a day of testimony here in the capital city, officials of three of the agencies said they were not ready to vote.

One sticking point seemed to be a new plan to combine the wind farm -- proposed several miles offshore of either Rehoboth Beach or Bethany Beach, Del. -- with a backup plant burning natural gas.

Officials of the three agencies, including those that oversee the environment, the state budget and legislative budget analysis, said they might be able to make a decision within a few weeks.

Backers of the wind proposal did get one piece of good news: he fourth state agency, the Delaware Public Service Commission, voted 5 to 0 to give preliminary approval to a wind farm of some size.

If the other state agencies eventually agree, that would require the state's main electric utility, Delmarva Power, to negotiate to buy energy produced by their offshore turbines.

"It's a very important step," said Jim Lanard, a spokesman for Bluewater Wind, which proposed the wind farm. If approved, it could be the first off the East Coast.

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