Viewpoint: No one happy with the Delmarva rate hike request

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No one seems to be happy with the proposed $42 million electric rate increase request from Delmarva Power.

A bipartisan group of legislators last  week took aim at the increase request. Democrats painted a picture of a utility going to the well too often to get a rate hike.

The weekly newsletter of House Republicans seemed to focus more on the overall cost of electricity, citing federal  figures that show Delaware ranking 10th in the nation in electrical costs. Click here to look at newsletter.

The newsletter also mentioned the state’s goal of getting  25 percent  of its electricity from wind, solar and Bloom fuel cells as reasons behind  those high rates.

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Republicans also took note of  the state’s participation in the The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative,  a  nine-state  carbon dioxide reduction program that according to critics will drive up power generation costs and do little or nothing to help air quality.

Then we have the deal  between the state and Bloom Energy.
In return for building a manufacturing plant in Newark, Bloom will use its natural-gas-fired fuel cells to put electricity into the grid. Delmarva Power customers will pay about $16 more a year, although critics of the project claim the cost could rise to  $50.

While not using a renewable fuel (natural gas),  Bloom fuel cells throw off about half the pollution of a natural gas-fired  power plant.

The Markell administration says the economic activity generated by Bloom in the form of wages, taxes and supplies would more than offset the added electrical cost.

Some legislators, especially those living  south of the canal, are not so sure.

It  all adds up to higher electricity costs, making Delmarva’s rate request unpopular with almost everyone. It should be noted that  Delmarva simply provides  the electrical infrastructure and is but one piece of the electric rate matrix.

Finally, the newsletter took note of the fast-moving effort to legalize same-sex marriage in the state.

A continuing theme among critics noted in the newsletter comes from what is viewed as a broken promise over not immediately pursuing  marriage equality after passage of the  civil union bill.

Backers of the civil union bill and even critics probably did not foresee the  sharp swing in public opinion toward same-sex marriage.

One Republican legislator said he might be the only member of that party to support same sex marriage.

With Republicans in a distinct minority, foes of same sex marriage will have to sway a large number of Democrats over to their point of view.

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