House passes bill that ups renewable electricity mandate to 40% by 2035

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The Delaware House Thursday approved legislation that would increase the state’s electricity generated by renewable sources from 25 percent to 40 percent by 2035.

Gov. John Carney is likely to sign the legislation and expressed support for the bill in his State of the State speech.

Senate Bill 33, sponsored by Rep. Ed Osienski, would update Delaware’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. Osienski said Delaware is currently on track to meet the existing goal of 25 percent renewable energy by 2025.

“Companies’ practices have taken a heavy toll on our environment for far too long. Especially here in low-lying Delaware, where sea-level rise is a top concern, we must take action to protect our natural resources and prevent further ecological damage,” said Osienski, D-Newark, Brookside, the lead House sponsor. “Renewable energy portfolio standards have proven to be an effective solution to transitioning away from harmful fossil fuels toward clean, green energy like solar, wind, and geothermal. Because we’re on-target to hit 25 percent by 2025, it makes good sense to establish new goals for our RPS program.”

Under SB 33, which passed the House 29-12, the percentage of renewable energy from solar photovoltaics would nearly triple from a target of 3.5 percent by 2025 to 10 percent by 2035.

“Climate change is the key issue of our time, and we will be judged based on our collective action or inaction,” said Senator Stephanie Hansen, D-Middletown, the lead sponsor of SB 31. “By taking proactive steps to raise our renewable portfolio standard, we can simultaneously reduce our carbon footprint, spur innovation and job growth, and position our state for an affordable, efficient, clean energy future. I am proud that we managed to pass this legislation in short order this year and look forward to building on this progress throughout the 151st General Assembly.”

The bill also would settle a dispute over cost caps for renewable energy credits by establishing a maximum price and alternative compliance payments, should the cost of these credits rise unexpectedly. This market-based mechanism would replace the existing cost cap provisions, aims to end ongoing litigation on the subject, and protects ratepayers, a release stated.

Critics of the legislation claim the renewable mandate has led to high electricity prices that leave less money in consumers’ pockets. They also note that the state’s small size will lead to most renewable power coming from out of state offshore or onshore wind power projects.

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