Delaware Solar Installation Grant Incentive Increased

Delmarva Power Customers Benefit from Green Energy Fund

Solar power installations for Delmarva Power customers in Delaware have become more affordable with grant increases announced this month by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

A program of the DNREC Green Energy Fund, grants for residential solar installations are being increased from $0.50/watt to $0.60/watt, with the maximum grant increased to $5,000. This increase is designed to provide a reasonable incentive for homeowners to optimize the size of rooftop solar for their personal needs.

Grants for commercial solar installations are being set at $0.60/watt up to a maximum grant of $25,000. Commercial grants were previously capped at $3,000 due to limited funding.

The state legislature established the Green Energy Fund in 1999. It is funded by Delmarva Power electric customers, who are then eligible to access the Green Energy Fund for renewable energy projects. Grant amounts are adjusted periodically to respond to changing market conditions.

“Supporting the development of small scale solar has been an essential part of our strategy to promote Delaware’s renewable energy industry and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin.

Since its inception, the Green Energy Fund has supported the installation of 4,764 solar energy systems.

Information on the Green Energy Fund can be found at de.gov/greenenergy or by emailing DNREC_GreenEnergyProgram@delaware.gov.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The Division of Climate, Coastal and Energy uses science, education, policy development and incentives to address Delaware’s climate, energy and coastal challenges. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov, Jim Lee, jamesw.lee@delaware.gov

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Delaware Building Energy Codes Receive Update

An update to the state’s building energy codes that took effect this month will help reduce long-term costs to consumers while also decreasing greenhouse gas emissions in Delaware.

Energy codes establish minimum design and construction requirements for energy efficiency in buildings, including insulation, air leakage limits, lighting and heating and cooling systems. The standards increase building sector energy efficiency, deliver energy cost savings to building owners and occupants, increase occupant comfort and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Delaware.

The update introduces energy efficiency improvements, including increased residential air sealing requirements, hot water pipe insulation and energy efficient windows and lighting options, as well as more efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system operation resulting from improved duct design and sealing, energy efficient windows and lighting options.

“The adoption of these updated standards is an important step in helping Delawareans reduce their energy costs,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “It will also help us toward meeting our goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Governor John Carney has committed to reducing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26 percent from 2005 levels by 2025. Electric power generation is among the top three sources of greenhouse gas emissions in Delaware.

Construction costs related to the updated codes will be offset by the energy savings accrued to building occupants and owners, according to analyses from the U.S. Department of Energy, including two Delaware-specific assessments completed by the Pacific Northwest National Lab.

The state first established a minimum statewide code for energy conservation in 1979. The code, which is based on standards set by the International Code Council and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, was last updated in 2009. Legislation requires DNREC’s Division of Climate, Coastal and Energy to review and update the state’s regulations every three years. The latest code update went through a full regulatory process, including a public hearing in December and acceptance and consideration of public comment on the changes.

The update includes a six-month transition period, during which the Division of Climate, Coastal and Energy will provide targeted training and technical assistance to the construction industry and code enforcement officials. Topics that will be covered by the training will include:

  • An overview of the changes
  • Practical compliance strategies, particularly for the building envelope requirements in the new energy codes
  • Construction and design strategies for air sealing smaller homes
  • Other topics, including hot water pipe insulation and HVAC duct design

The training also will provide an opportunity for DNREC to gather additional feedback and input from participants to determine the need for follow-up training topics.
Visit DNREC’s Building Energy Codes webpage for more information.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov; or Jim Lee, JamesW.Lee@delaware.gov.

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DNREC appeals Public Service Commission’s Earth Day action to halt key environmental policy

DOVER, Del. – The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control filed in Delaware Superior Court on Monday to stop the state Public Service Commission from freezing Delaware’s increasing standard for renewable energy in its power generation portfolio.

“Last Wednesday was Earth Day, when we consider what we each can do to preserve the planet for future generations. And yet the Public Service Commission acted on Earth Day to halt Delaware’s considerable progress in renewable energy,” DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin said. “The PSC’s action, if allowed to stand, would economically harm our state’s solar industry and stall further reduction of air pollution from electricity generation.”

At issue is the state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards Act (REPSA), which requires an increasing percentage of electricity used in Delaware come from renewable energy, with 25% of the state’s electricity required to come from renewables by 2025, of which at least 3.5% must come from solar power. With REPSA’s standards, solar energy capacity in Delaware has grown from 2.3 megawatts (MW) 12 years ago to more than 125 MW today, with more than 5,400 solar installations. The measure is having the intended effect of making renewable energy more affordable: the cost of renewable energy for Delmarva Power customers declined 18% last year, according to the PSC’s analysis.

A mechanism in the REPSA law allows the percentage of mandated renewable energy, which increases each year, to be “frozen” if the cost of acquiring the renewable energy is above a percentage of the total cost of electricity. According to Title 26, Section 354 of the Delaware Code, any freeze is to be invoked by the “State Energy Coordinator” – a role that resides in DNREC – “in consultation with” the PSC.

At the urging of the conservative Caesar Rodney Institute and others who oppose the required purchase of renewable energy, the PSC acted unilaterally to invoke the freeze provision effective later this year, even though DNREC has maintained that only DNREC has the authority in the law to decide to freeze progress on renewable energy. Further, DNREC has contended that the calculation the PSC used to justify its freeze is at odds with state law and contrary to the purpose of REPSA.

On Earth Day, as the PSC was finalizing its order, state Senator Harris McDowell, author of the original REPSA law, announced legislation that would further increase Delaware’s RPS to 40% as well as clarify that the PSC cannot act unilaterally to impose a freeze. Gov. Carney, in his State of the State address, called for the increase the renewable energy standard to 40%. DNREC fully supports passage of the proposed legislation from Sen. McDowell, Rep. Ed Osienski, and 14 co-sponsors.

“Earth Day is not a day for retreating on actions to combat climate change, but for reaffirming our commitment to protecting our planet and our state.” Secretary Garvin said. “Delaware’s environmental agency will work through the judicial and legislative processes to continue the significant progress we have made in renewable energy, which the PSC is unfortunately trying to stop in its tracks.”

About DNREC

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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St. Jones Reserve trail reopened

A small greenhouse was destroyed in the April 13 storm. DNREC photo.

Repairs after April 13 storm completed

DOVER, Del. – The trail at the St. Jones component of the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR) near Dover has reopened, with repairs to the trail and boardwalk completed following storm damage to them earlier this month.

The trail was closed past the first marsh walk April 13 after a storm downed trees and damaged the boardwalk. A small greenhouse on the reserve was also destroyed by a fallen tree. The weather station operated by DNERR measured a peak wind gust of 67.9 miles per hour just before 4 p.m. the day of the storm. Numerous trees also fell across sections of the trail that connects to the adjoining Ted Harvey Conservation Area.

“The St. Jones Reserve trail is a popular place with visitors,” said Dayna Cobb, Director of DNREC’s Division of Climate, Coastal and Energy. “Our staff worked hard to get the trail reopened for the public’s use.”

In addition to the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve’s trails at St. Jones in Dover and Blackbird Creek Reserve in Townsend, state parks and wildlife areas remain open. Many amenities, however, including restrooms, are closed. Individuals who visit state properties are required to engage in responsible social distancing practices, avoiding groupings of people.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The Division of Climate, Coastal and Energy uses science, education, policy development and incentives to address Delaware’s climate, energy and coastal challenges. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contact: Michael Globetti, Michael.globetti@delaware.gov, or Jim Lee, JamesW.lee@delaware.gov

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Report highlights Delawareans’ desire for climate change action

50th anniversary of Earth Week theme resonates across the state

DOVER, Del. – The theme for the 50th anniversary of Earth Week is climate change, an issue that concerns most Delawareans, according to a report commissioned by DNREC’s Division of Climate, Coastal and Energy. The report found 77% of Delawareans see climate change as a serious threat that will harm future generations.

The report, conducted by Standage Market Research in partnership with University of Delaware’s Center for Political Communication, is based on a survey of more than 1,100 Delaware adults. The full report, published this week, is available at de.gov/climatesurvey.

The full report builds on preliminary survey results released in February. It reveals differences in perceptions of climate change and sea level rise across the state and compared to those nationwide. Key findings include:

  • A majority of adults in both Delaware and the U.S. believe climate change is an important issue. Additionally, 64% of U.S. residents are worried about climate change, and the same is true of Delaware residents (62%).
  • Delawareans in all three counties say they have been personally affected by climate change. However, New Castle County residents are more likely than residents of Kent and Sussex counties to favor immediate action to reduce the impacts of climate change (76% versus 68% and 58%, respectively).
  • Sussex County residents are more likely to say they have been personally affected by sea level rise. More than half (51%) of adults in Sussex County said they have personally experienced or observed local impacts of sea level rise, compared to 47% for Kent and 45% of New Castle residents.
  • Women are more likely than men to say we should act now on climate change (78% versus 62%). They are also more likely to say they have personally experienced or observed local impacts of climate change (62% versus 50%). Opinions about sea level rise follow similar patterns.
  • There are no significant age differences for having personally experienced or observed local impacts of climate change. However, younger adults are also more likely to favor acting now to reduce the impacts of climate change (78%, versus 64% and 69%, respectively).

“The impacts of climate change threaten our environment, economy and way of life,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin. “Over the past decade the percentage of Delawareans concerned about this issue has increased. We continue to experience the impacts of sea level rise, hotter temperatures and more frequent intense storms, but we are also working toward solutions as we continue to develop Delaware’s Climate Action Plan.”

According to the climate perceptions survey, Delawareans support a range of options to address the causes and consequences of climate change, including:

  • 82% support preserving undeveloped land;
  • 80% believe we need stronger air pollution controls;
  • 79% support changing building codes;
  • 74% said roads and infrastructure should not be built in flood-prone areas;
  • 74% think we should increase the amount of electricity we get from renewable sources;
  • 73% believe we should improve energy efficiency standards;
  • 64% support elevating building in risk areas

Development of the Climate Action Plan will continue through 2020, with a report due in December. Public input sessions on development of the plan were held in each of the three counties in March. More than 250 people participated in those meetings, and many others have gone online to declimateplan.org to complete a questionnaire asking about various actions the state can take to address the causes and consequences of climate change.

The period to complete the questionnaire closes Friday, May 1.

Later this summer, virtual meetings will be held to gather additional public input addressing what the state can do to manage the impacts of climate change that we are already seeing, such as sea level rise. A third opportunity for the public to weigh in will occur this fall, after possible strategies have been identified.

About DNREC

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contact: Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov; Jim Lee, jamesw.lee@delaware.gov

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