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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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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Delaware students experience renewable energy technology firsthand in 2018 Junior Solar Sprint model car competition sponsored by DNREC

HARRINGTON – DNREC’s Division of Energy & Climate teamed up with the Delaware Technology Student Association Thursday, April 26 to host 19 teams of middle school students from across the state for the 2018 Junior Solar Sprint solar-powered model car competition, with racers competing for top speed in time trials, as well as for awards in engineering design and creative design.

Students and educators representing 12 schools gathered in Harrington for the event, a Delaware tradition for more than 20 years in which students work with classmates and teacher advisors to build model cars powered by solar photovoltaic cells, better known as solar panels. When the Junior Solar Sprint competition came to a close, Pierre S. duPont Middle School of Wilmington was declared the all-around winner for combined speed, design, and presentation. Henry B. duPont Middle School of Hockessin came second, with Fred Fifer III Middle School of Camden third. (See additional Junior Solar Sprint results below.)

“Junior Solar Sprint challenges students to think about ways that we can meet our energy needs cleanly and securely,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin. “The best learning happens while students are having fun. They gain fond memories looking back – and career ideas looking forward.”

The Junior Solar Sprint competition is part of a national program from the U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program. It encourages students to engage in problem-solving, teamwork, and creative scientific thinking to solve environmental challenges. This year’s competition took place as one event in the Delaware Technology Student Association 2018 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:

  • H.B. duPont Middle School, Hockessin
  • P.S. duPont Middle School, Wilmington
  • Cab Calloway School of the Arts, Wilmington
  • Holy Cross School, Dover
  • Fred Fifer III Middle School, Camden
  • Beacon Middle School, Lewes
  • Springer Middle School, Wilmington
  • Postlethwait Middle School, Camden
  • Central Middle School, Dover
  • Gauger-Cobbs Middle School, Newark
  • The Jefferson School, Georgetown
  • Alfred G. Waters Middle School, Middletown

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

  • 1st place: Team #18, P.S. duPont Middle School
  • 2nd place: Team #15, H.B. duPont Middle School
  • 3rd place: Team # 9, Fred Fifer III Middle School

Top five teams in time-trial races:

  • 1st place: Team #18, P.S. duPont Middle School
  • 2nd place: Team #15, H.B. duPont Middle School
  • 3rd place: Team #4, Beacon Middle School
  • 4th place: Team #17, Holy Cross School
  • 5th place: Team #23, Springer Middle School

Top five teams in creative design:

  • 1st place: Team #6, Cab Calloway School of the Arts
  • 2nd place: Team #16, Holy Cross School
  • 3rd place: Team #23, Springer Middle School
  • 4th place: Team #7, Central Middle School
  • 5th place: Team #4, Beacon Middle School

DNREC would like to thank the 2018 Junior Solar Sprint sponsors: Delaware Sustainable Energy Utility, Delaware Municipal Electric Corporation, Delaware Electric Cooperative, Chesapeake Utilities, and CMI Solar.

For more information on renewable energy programs administered by DNREC’s Division of Energy & Climate, visit dnrec.alpha.delaware.gov/energy-climate/renewable/.

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

Vol. 48, No. 95

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Delaware Offshore Wind Working Group to hold Dec. 5 public workshop in Lewes in conjunction with DNREC’s Division of Energy & Climate

DOVER – In conjunction with DNREC’s Division of Energy & Climate, Delaware’s Offshore Wind Working Group will host a public workshop Tuesday, Dec. 5 in Sussex County for input about the potential for offshore wind energy and the ways that it might benefit the state. The workshop will begin at 6 p.m. at the Lewes Public Library, 111 Adams Avenue, Lewes, DE 19958.

As with a workshop held Nov. 29 in Odessa, the Lewes workshop will begin with a briefing on the status of the Offshore Wind Working Group, which was established by Governor John Carney’s Executive Order 13 in August. Representatives from the US Wind and Deepwater Wind companies will then give a presentation on projects approved earlier this year by the Maryland Public Service Commission, and the prospects for new offshore wind projects that might provide economic opportunities and energy benefits to Delaware. The public will then be invited to comment on these projects in an open forum.

The Offshore Wind Working Group began meeting in October, and by Dec. 15 the group must submit a report to the Governor with recommendations on short- and long-term strategies for developing wind power to serve Delaware, and plans to develop job opportunities in the offshore wind industry.

All Offshore Wind Working Group meetings are open to the public and are posted on the Delaware Public Meeting Calendar. Briefing materials, public comments, and additional resources can be found at de.gov/offshorewind.

For more information or to submit written comment, please contact Tom Noyes, Division of Energy & Climate, by emailing Thomas.Noyes@delaware.gov or calling 302-735-3480.

Vol. 47, No. 254

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


Delaware’s Offshore Wind Working Group to hold public workshops Nov. 27 and Dec. 5 in conjunction with DNREC’s Division of Energy & Climate

DOVER – In conjunction with DNREC’s Division of Energy & Climate, Delaware’s Offshore Wind Working Group will host public workshops this month and in December for input about the potential for offshore wind energy and the ways that it might benefit the state.

Workshops will be held:

  • Monday, Nov. 27, at the Appoquinimink Training Center, 118 South Sixth Street, Odessa, DE 19730, and
  • Tuesday, Dec. 5, at the Lewes Public Library, 111 Adams Avenue, Lewes, DE 19958

Both workshops will begin at 6 p.m.

Both workshops will begin with a briefing on the status of the Offshore Wind Working Group, which was established by Governor John Carney’s Executive Order 13 in August. Representatives from the US Wind and Deepwater Wind companies will then give a presentation on projects approved earlier this year by the Maryland Public Service Commission, and the prospects for new offshore wind projects that might provide economic opportunities and energy benefits to Delaware. The public will then be invited to comment on these projects in an open forum.

The Offshore Wind Working Group began meeting in October, and by Dec. 15 the group must submit a report to the Governor with recommendations on short- and long-term strategies for developing wind power to serve Delaware, and plans to develop job opportunities in the offshore wind industry.

All Offshore Wind Working Group meetings are open to the public and are posted on the Delaware Public Meeting Calendar. Briefing materials, public comments, and additional resources can be found at de.gov/offshorewind.

For more information or to submit written comment, please contact Tom Noyes, Division of Energy & Climate, by emailing Thomas.Noyes@delaware.gov or calling 302-735-3480.

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

Vol. 47, No. 243

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