A win for clean energy in Delaware

By Anne Kirby

Posted February 17, 2021

On February 10, Governor Carney signed into law SB 33, a bill modifying Delaware's existing Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard.

Introduced by the new Chair of the Senate Environmental & Energy Committee, Senator Stephanie Hansen, SB 33 requires at least 40% of electrical sales to end-users in Delaware be from renewable energy sources by 2035. Of the 40% renewable energy source requirement, 10% of the supply must be from solar photovoltaics. This amends the existing bill's 25% renewable by 2025 goal with a 3.5% solar photovoltaic requirement. 

The bill also eliminates the cost cap mechanism that freezes the RPS when the percentage cost of renewable energy reaches a too high percentage of ratepayers' energy costs. On its face, this provision appeared to have the best interest of consumers in mind, but in reality, it led to issues in interpretation of what types of energy be included in this percentage calculation, namely Bloom Energy. The high cost of Bloom Energy, a non-renewable resource, was included in the cost cap, leading to a freeze that would have completely shut down the renewable energy market in Delaware. 

rps bill signing

With the extension of the renewable energy requirement horizon out to 2035 and the removal of the cost cap language in SB 33, Delaware ratepayers face a win-win-win situation. 

The first win - bill savings. An analysis of the 40% by 2035 renewable goal found that ratepayers would pay substantially less than what they are paying right now for renewable energy. 

The second - clean air. Renewable energy displaces fossil fuels, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality where fossil fuel production is currently taking place. 

The third - jobs. More certainty in the market helps Delaware's 500 solar industry professionals - myself included - pursue in-state projects that contribute to our renewable energy goals, improve our local economy, and create jobs. 

So what's next? 

While we applaud the increase in the RPS, we know that an increase to 50% over the same time period would still yield consumer savings and advance further the overall environment and economic benefits. There is still room to accelerate this transition to clean, renewable energy. 

In addition, this bill did not include language to amend Delaware's existing community solar statute. Green Building United strongly supports common sense improvements that would help bring community-generated solar energy to all Delawareans regardless of income, home ownership status, or adequate roof space. To learn more about how to achieve the full potential of community solar, please watch our December webinar with special guests from the Delaware Sierra Club, the Coalition for Community Solar Access, and Vote Solar.

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