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NRG puts offshore wind projects on hold starting with Delaware wind farm

By Jhoanna Frances S. Valdez

NRG puts offshore wind projects on hold starting with Delaware wind farm
The end of various government supports for wind energy have rendered the company’s plans for the Mid-Atlantic Wind Park unfinaciable

New Jersey-based NRG Energy, which acquires, develops, and manages energy-related operations nationwide, will be suspending offshore wind development for an indefinite period of time due to wind industry challenges and the lack of policies to buffer the market in such trying times.

Due to the company subsidiary Bluewater Wind's inability to find an investment partner for the proposed Mid-Atlantic Wind Park which consists of 150 wind turbines 13 miles off the coast of Delaware, the company decided to terminate the project along with the accompanying 200-megawatt power purchase agreement with the Delmarva Power & Light Co. at the end of the year.

According to NRG president and chief executive David Crane, a major factor of the project's closure and the company's decision to lie low with offshore wind development was the lack of stability in policy incentives.

Mr. Crane said the expiration of the Department of Energy's loan guarantee program and the pending end of the production tax credit for wind energy this 2011 have rendered the Mid-Atlantic wind farm project unfinanceable.

Bluewater Wind founder and president Peter Mandelstam echoed Mr. Crane's sentiments.

"It's been very challenging in the U.S. because we haven't had a regular, predictable energy policy at the federal level. When you have regular and predictable policy, the private sector can step up with capital and job creation, and the public sector can put in place policies that allow the private sector to do its work," he said.

Senator Tom Carper, Democrat of Delaware, was disappointed that NRG will be abandoning the Mid-Atlantic offshore wind farm project.

"I am disappointed by NRG's decision to not move forward with the Bluewater offshore wind project off the coast of Delaware. Unfortunately, businesses small and large are facing a very challenging economic climate, and many are being forced to make tough financial decisions, such as scaling back investments in new business opportunities," Mr. Carper said.

"Regardless of NRG's decision, Delaware's offshore wind project remains a good, viable project. Soon the Department of Interior will issue the project a lease on the Outer Continental Shelf, and I am hopeful that with this lease, we can find another company that will be willing to partner with Delaware to pursue this promising source of offshore wind energy," he added.

NRG will now end operations at its Bluewater Wind development office but will continue to seek development partners and equity investors for future businesses. The company said it will try to deploy the wind park and other offshore wind opportunities in the Northeast "if and when market conditions improve and the company is able to find partners".

NRG's power-generating facilities can support over 20 million homes and its retail electricity providers, which include Reliant, Green Mountain Energy Co., and Energy Plus, have more than 2 million customers.

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