Delaware’s legislative baby steps towards a renewable future

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Courtesy of NREL Transforming Energy
Current law requires Delaware to operate on 25% renewable energy by 2025. This bill proposes that Delaware will increase this to 40% renewable energy by 2035.

BY
Senior Reporter

One of the State of Delaware’s major steps toward creating a better environment was passing the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards Act in 2005, which was intended to establish a market in Delaware for electricity from renewable sources and to lower the consumer cost of renewable energy.

Delaware’s utilities are currently required to increase the percentage of electricity derived from renewable resources, such as wind or solar energy, annually. State law mandates that the state derives 25% of its energy from renewable sources by the year 2025.

With the deadline looming just over five years away, the Delaware legislature is already looking to expand and expound upon what it wrote 15 years ago.

On July 31, Delaware State Sen. Harris McDowell (D-1), who chairs the energy committee, introduced a piece of legislation tweaking the original act.

The senator has considered input from a variety of groups, including university graduate students.

“Crucial to my work on this issue has been a group of graduate students from the University of Delaware,” McDowell said. “We’re working together to improve the legislation and make it the best it can be.”

The new legislation would expand the definition of solar energy, giving businesses more options for how to generate electricity, including a solar water heater. It would also transfer many responsibilities for the program from the Delaware Energy Office to the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

The bill also extends the schedule of the original legislation up to the year 2035, including the percentage increase per year for how much of the state’s energy must come from renewable resources.

Prior to 2019, businesses had to increase the amount of energy they received from renewable resources by 1.5% each year to keep up with state requirements. Beginning this year, that requirement has dropped to 1%.

The proposed legislation doesn’t alter this until 2025, which is when the rules begin to change.

First, the 1% requirement will be cut in half, leading to a requirement of 0.5% increase in energy from renewable resources per year.

However, it would not stay that way for long. In 2029, the proposed requirement would increase back to 1%. In 2030, the requirement will increase to 2%. Finally, in 2033, the requirement will increase to 3%, the highest in Delaware’s history.

As a result, Delaware looks to operate at 40% renewable energy by 2035.

Of the 40% renewable energy, the bill requires that at least 7% must be from solar technology.

As of 2018, Delaware ranked 40th in the nation concerning the use of solar technology to generate energy.

With the requirement that 2% of the state’s energy must stem from solar power, Delaware has fallen behind other states such as California. In 2017, 15.1% of the Golden State’s energy from solar power.

McDowell disagreed with the assertion that Delaware is lacking in renewables.

“Delaware only comes ranking lower due to the methods used by those conducting the research,” McDowell said. “We have taken quite the initiative, and proportionately aren’t far behind California. This legislation will help give us that edge.”

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