Thursday, February 21, 2008

Letter to the Editor--02/19/2008--McDowell short on facts

Submitted to Wilmington News Journal, 2/19/2008 17:15

State Senator Harris McDowell wrote a Delaware Voice letter on the 19th. In it he attempted to explain the reasons that his Senate committee has called for yet further hearings on the wind power contract, hearings that the News Journal staff has rightly identified as unnecessary foot-dragging. His letter contained significant mis-information.

He claims that the four state agencies were unable to agree to approve the contract in December. Actually, there were three state agencies, which all support the contract, and the Controller General, who answers to ‘the leadership’, including Senator McDowell himself. Why did these ‘leaders’ compel the Controller General to disagree with the experts, and stall this process?

McDowell claims surprise at objections to public hearings. What he fails to mention is that there have already been a number of public hearings and staff reports. He appears to feel that hearings that he failed to attend did not occur. I am disappointed that Senator McDowell would prefer to grandstand than to take the time to read the transcripts and reports.

McDowell also misleads when he discusses how much the wind power will cost. He mentions cost estimates two to ten times what the PSC analysis concludes (again, I certainly wish he would read their reports). He intentionally confuses the cost of wind power (which is known) with the difference in cost between wind and fossil fuel (which is unknown, due to the variable, and rising, cost of fossil fuel).

Bluewater’s wind power contract is like a fixed-rate mortgage, while natural gas is like an adjustable rate mortgage. Which mortgage is best depends on future interest rates (fossil fuel prices in this case), which can only be projected. This is why HB6 was written in the first place, to begin to insulate Delaware a bit from these rising fossil fuel costs.

I trust that Senator McDowell understands this—it is a shame that he prefers to confuse the issues rather than illuminate them.

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