Superior Court dismisses lawsuit against DNREC challenging Delaware’s participation in Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

The logo for the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental ControlDOVER – Delaware Superior Court Judge Richard F. Stokes has dismissed a lawsuit that challenged Delaware’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cooperative program among nine states that reduces carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and funds energy efficiency and renewable energy programs in RGGI states, including Delaware.

The lawsuit, Stevenson, et al. v. Delaware Department of Natural Resource and Environmental Control, et al., was brought in December 2013 by David T. Stevenson, R. Christian Hudson, and John A. Moore, who claimed that the state’s participation in the program caused an increase in their electric bills. Judge Stokes issued his decision dismissing the suit June 26, stating that the plaintiffs, after more than four years of litigation, had failed to demonstrate that RGGI affected their electric bills.

“We are pleased the Court’s decision allows Delaware to continue with this market-based, environmentally-conscious and cost-effective collaboration that reduces harmful greenhouse gas emissions and supports a clean energy economy,” said Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “RGGI is vital in supporting energy efficiency, renewable energy, and clean transportation programs that save Delawareans energy and money. RGGI helps us provide for our energy needs while reducing our contributions to climate change.

“DNREC is pleased to continue our involvement with RGGI, and also to be the state agency that directs the benefits this landmark regional initiative brings to the people of Delaware,” Secretary Garvin said.

Delaware has participated in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative since its inception in 2008, and is one of nine current member states along with Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. RGGI sets a cap on overall carbon dioxide emissions, and sells emissions allowances to electricity generators through a competitive auction.

In June 2008, the Delaware General Assembly approved Delaware’s participation in RGGI through Senate Bill 263, which also mandated that Delaware use RGGI proceeds to fund programs that promote energy efficiency, renewable energy, and low-income programs. These programs help residents, businesses, local governments, and non-profits lower their energy use and costs, support cleaner air quality, and through rebates and incentives also have helped over 750 Delaware drivers in buying electric vehicles for their transportation needs.

The Superior Court’s decision can be found on the State of Delaware website at https://courts.delaware.gov/Opinions/Download.aspx?id=275020 .

Media contact: Michael Globetti, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 48, No. 175

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DNREC announces new director of the Division of Energy & Climate

DOVER – The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control this week introduced Andrea Kreiner as DNREC’s new director of the Division of Energy & Climate.

For more than 13 years, Kreiner has owned and operated a sustainability-focused consulting business that provides services to government, universities, businesses, and not-for-profit organizations. She previously served as a policy advisor for Governor Ruth Ann Minner. Kreiner also is a Sustainability and Society adjunct instructor at Delaware Technical Community College, and a former DNREC employee who worked in the area of pollution prevention for more than 10 years.

Director Kreiner received her Master of Science degree in resource economics from the University of Rhode Island, and earned, with distinction, a Bachelor of Science degree in applied economics and business management specializing in energy economics from Cornell University. She has more than 25 years of experience in the environmental field and has written numerous publications.

Vol. 48, No. 36

Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902


Delaware middle school students enjoy hands-on renewable energy experience with DNREC-sponsored Junior Solar Sprint

HARRINGTON – Gauger-Cobbs Middle School of Newark and W.T. Chipman Middle School of Harrington claimed the checkered flag today as 24 teams of middle school students from 14 schools across the state vied for honors in the Junior Solar Sprint, a competition in which students build and race solar-powered model cars. DNREC’s Division of Energy & Climate teamed up with the Delaware Technology Student Association to organize this year’s event at the Delaware State Fairgrounds.

Over the past few months, students worked with classmates and teacher advisors to build model cars powered by solar photovoltaic cells, or solar panels. Today, their work paid off as racers competed for top speed in time trials, as well as for awards in engineering design and creative design. And in the process of putting their cars into the Junior Solar Sprint competition they also got a better grasp of what solar technology can mean for their future.

“Solar technology allows us to harness the sun’s abundant energy for a clean, lasting power source,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “Junior Solar Sprint challenges students to think about ways solar energy plays a larger role in our lives by providing electricity for our everyday energy needs. Delaware has over 4,000 solar energy systems across the state, powering homes, houses of worship, public buildings, farms and businesses. Solar and other forms of clean energy enable Delawareans to achieve a better quality of life by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping protect our environment.”

The Junior Solar Sprint competition is part of a national program sponsored by the U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program. It encourages students to engage in problem-solving, teamwork, and creative scientific thinking to solve environmental challenges. DNREC has participated in Junior Solar Sprint for more than 20 years. This year’s event was in conjunction with the Delaware Technology Student Association 2017 State Conference, which drew several hundred students to compete in various science and technology challenges.

Participating schools in this year’s Junior Solar Sprint were MOT Charter Middle School, Middletown; Fred Fifer Middle School, Camden; W.T. Chipman Middle School, Harrington; Providence Creek Academy, Clayton; Cab Calloway School of the Arts, Wilmington; P.S. duPont Middle School, Wilmington; Holy Cross School, Dover; Sanford School, Hockessin; Springer Middle School, Wilmington; Postlethwait Middle School, Camden; Beacon Middle School, Lewes; Gauger-Cobbs Middle School, Newark; H.B. DuPont Middle School, Hockessin, and Alfred G. Waters Middle School, Middletown.

2017 Junior Solar Sprint Competition results

All-around winners for combined speed, design, and presentation:

  • 1st place: Gauger-Cobbs Middle School, Car #2
  • 2nd place: Springer Middle School, Car #7
  • 3rd place: W.T. Chipman Middle School, Car #14

Top five teams in time-trial races:

  • 1st place: Gauger-Cobbs Middle School, Car #3
  • 2nd place: Springer Middle School, Car #7
  • 3rd place: Springer Middle School, Car #8
  • 4th place: W.T. Chipman Middle School, Car #15
  • 5th place: W.T. Chipman Middle School, Car #14

Top five teams in creative design:

  • 1st place: W.T. Chipman Middle School, Car #14
  • 2nd place: Springer Middle School, Car #8
  • 3rd place: Sanford School, Car #19
  • 4th place: Holy Cross Middle School, Car #21
  • 5th place: Cab Calloway School of the Arts, Car #11

For more information on renewable energy programs administered by the Delaware Division of Energy & Climate, please visit the Division of Energy & Climate website. For a close-up of the Junior Solar Sprint competition, please view a video on DNREC’s Facebook page.

Media contact: Elizabeth Shockley, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 90

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Delaware middle school students invited to build and race solar-powered cars in annual Junior Solar Sprint competition

School registration due by Feb. 10 for event on April 27

DOVER – Delaware middle school students are encouraged to test their model car engineering skills and power up their solar panels for the 23rd annual Junior Solar Sprint race – a statewide challenge of creativity, engineering and speed that will culminate Thursday, April 27 with a day of racing at the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington. Co-sponsored by DNREC’s Division of Energy & Climate and the Delaware Student Technology Association (TSA), the state’s Junior Solar Sprint competition is part of the National Junior Solar Sprint program sponsored by the U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program.

Team members work on their solar car at Delaware's 2016 Junior Solar Sprint.
Team members work on their solar car at Delaware’s 2016 Junior Solar Sprint.

The deadline for team registration is Friday, Feb. 10. Delaware middle schools – 5th through 8th grade students – are invited to register one or two teams for the Junior Solar Sprint race, with two to four students on each team. The Division of Energy & Climate will provide each participating team with a materials kit including wheels, a motor and a solar panel that converts the sun’s energy into electric power. Over several weeks, team members use these standard materials to design and build their own unique cars. Awards will be presented for the fastest time, as well as for design creativity.

“Junior Solar Sprint presents a hands-on, multidisciplinary exercise in renewable energy education that encourages teamwork and fosters student interest in STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said Energy Program Administrator Rob Underwood, Division of Energy & Climate. “Junior Solar Sprint has been a Delaware tradition for more than 20 years, allowing students to flex their creative ingenuity and apply real-world problem solving in a fun and educational atmosphere.”

Full rules, guidelines and registration forms can be found on the Division of Energy & Climate’s renewable energy webpage, or the Delaware TSA State Conference webpage. Schools are not required to have a TSA chapter in order to participate. Interested educators can send their registration forms by email to mailto:Caren.Fitzgerald@delaware.govor by U.S. mail to: DNREC Division of Energy & Climate, 100 West Water Street, Suite 5A, Dover, DE 19904. For more information, email or call Caren Fitzgerald at 302-735-3480.

Media contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902.

Vol. 47, No. 25

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DNREC Division of Energy & Climate offers tips to keep costs down and chase away chills

DOVER – With winter just around the corner, it’s a good time to prepare your home and car for cold weather. You want to stay warm, of course, but that can mean using more energy in your home and more fuel in your car – and having less money in your pocket. To tip that balance more in your favor, DNREC’s Division of Energy & Climate offers the following no- and low-cost tips to help you use less energy and save more money this winter and year-round.

Home:
• Be smart about your thermostat. Set your thermostat lower at night and during the day when you might be away. Turn the heat down an hour before bedtime or before leaving the house. When you get home, be patient – don’t turn the thermostat higher than its normal setting in an effort to warm the house faster. Adding a programmable thermostat to your home system will allow you to “set and forget” day and night temperatures.
• Snuggle up to save. Before deciding to turn up the heat, put on a sweater, hat and warm socks, and keep throws or blankets on the couch to use while watching TV or hanging out. Reduce heating in unoccupied areas and, if possible, close off rooms with the greatest northern exposure. Make family gathering places in sunny or southern-facing rooms. Put warm winter bedding – flannel sheets, warm blankets, comforters or quilts – on beds to keep the family comfortable with the house cooler at night.
• Weather-proof your windows and doors. Close shades or curtains at night to help keep cold out and open them during the day to let the sun’s warmth in. Keep windows completely closed and latched. Check doors and windows for drafts and add weather-stripping if needed. Place a towel along the bottom of the door jamb as a temporary block for cold air until you can install more permanent weatherproofing like a door skirt. Remove or cover window unit air conditioners to keep out drafts.
• Improve home comfort and efficiency through regular maintenance. Have your furnace and/or HVAC system cleaned and serviced as soon as possible for maximum efficiency and reliability over the winter months. Replace air filters to help systems run better and more efficiently. Check to make sure your water heater and hot water pipes are well-insulated; add pipe insulation or wrap-around insulation to those that aren’t. Turn down the temperature on your water heater by 10 degrees (staying above 120 degrees) to save on the energy and cost it takes to heat water. To feel warmer and alleviate dryness, increase home humidity by using an energy-efficient humidifier or by evaporating water in open containers. Take note of home improvement projects like adding insulation, caulking cracks, or replacing your old hot water heater or furnace with a more energy efficient model.
• Visit de.gov/wap to see if you qualify for free weatherization assistance. The Division of Energy & Climate’s trained professionals can weatherize your home with actions like these and help cut your energy bill.
• Use less hot water. The less hot water your family uses, the less you pay to heat it. Install flow restrictors on faucets and shower heads. Run the washing machine or dishwasher only with full loads, and use warm water to wash and cold to rinse.
• Cut your energy use throughout the house. Turn lights off when you leave the room, and turn off or unplug appliances, chargers and electronic devices when they are not in use. These items can sneakily drain energy from your home, even if you’re not using them. Use a power strip to easily turn multiple items off all at once. Looking to buy new appliances, or replace old ones? Compare Energy Star-rated appliances and look for the Energy Guide label on refrigerators, washing machines, heaters, and more. You’ll pay less to run the appliance over its lifetime.
• Be efficient in the kitchen. Plan to use the oven for three or four items at a time so you only have to heat it once. Choose a day when everyone is home to enjoy the extra warmth and delicious scents. Set your refrigerator at 38°F to 40°F and your freezer at 10°F. Keep your freezer full, and try to minimize the number of times you open refrigerator and freezer doors.
• Do lower-impact laundry. Use a clothesline or drying rack instead of the dryer. When items require a dryer, run full loads and separate heavy and lightweight items to avoid using the machine longer than necessary to dry each type. Dry in consecutive loads; once the dryer is warm, it cuts down on initial energy consumption to dry the next load.

Car:
• Skip the morning warm-up. Idling your car to warm it up wastes fuel and creates air pollution. Bundle up and just start driving – modern car engines are better warmed up by driving than by idling.
• Plan ahead with friends and co-workers. Consider joining a workplace carpool or using public transportation – you’ll save on fuel costs, tolls, and wear and tear to your vehicle. On weekends, save gas and time by planning errands in the shortest circular route starting and ending at home instead of traveling in random directions or making several trips. You can also plan to take care of errands during the week along your daily route to work or school.
• Save fuel through mindful driving habits. Accelerate from stops slowly, drive at moderate, steady speeds and avoid unnecessary braking by coasting to red lights and anticipating traffic speed changes.
• Check your tire pressure. Underinflated tires decrease fuel efficiency.
• Schedule regular maintenance checks. Oil and filter changes and other recommended maintenance keep your vehicle operating efficiently.
• Play favorites. If you have more than one vehicle, use the one with the best gas mileage more frequently. Smaller cars with smaller engines typically get better gas mileage than larger vehicles.
• Know your options before buying a new vehicle. Gasoline isn’t your only option. Major manufacturers like Ford, Chevy, Nissan, and BMW make electric cars that offer all the same design, comfort and safety standards as gas-powered cars, with a fraction of the maintenance and ‘fuel’ costs. Plus, federal tax breaks, manufacturer rebates and rebates from Delaware’s Clean Transportation Incentive Program (de.gov/cleantransportation) may significantly lower the cost of your vehicle. If you’re set on a gas-powered car, consider size and fuel efficiency in your purchase.

How DNREC can help you save on energy costs
The Division of Energy & Climate works with local non-profit agency Catholic Charities to provide energy conservation services for the homes of low-income Delawareans. For example, a family of four making less than $46,000 per year may qualify for free in-home weatherization services that can save owners and renters hundreds of dollars in annual heating bills. For more information about the Weatherization Assistance Program, please contact the Division of Energy & Climate at 302-735-3480, or visit de.gov/wap.

Delaware’s Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU) offers the Home Performance with Energy Star Performance Program for all Delaware residents, regardless of income. Homeowners can receive an Energy Star Audit for just $100, along with free energy-saving items up to a $220 value, including light bulbs, showerheads, faucet aerators, pipe insulation and smart power strips installed during the audit. The program also offers incentives for completing energy efficiency improvements identified during the energy audit. Visit http://www.energizedelaware.org/for more information.

Electric cars or alternative fuel vehicles provide low-fuel, cost-saving transportation opportunities – the Division of Energy & Climate’s Clean Transportation Incentive Program offers rebates for purchasers or leasees of electric or alternative fuel vehicles, and cost assistance for charging equipment as well. The program has already provided rebates for almost 300 electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in Delaware across all three counties. For more information, visit de.gov/cleantransportation.

For more information on the Delaware Division of Energy & Climate and its programs, including the Energy Savers Guide, call 302-735-3480, or visit http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/energy/Pages/Portal.aspx.

Media contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902.

Vol. 46, No. 415

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