On Wednesday, Gov. John Carney signed Senate Bill 33, raising Delaware’s Renewable energy standard to 40 percent by 2035.
The previous mandate had called for 25 percent of the state’s power to come from renewables by 2025-2026.
The new legislation also calls for 10 percent of electricity to come from solar power.
The bill – sponsored by Democrats Sen. Stephanie Hansen and Rep. Ed Osienski – will raise the percentage of Delaware’s energy that must come from renewable sources through 2035.
Increasing the Renewable Portfolio Standard was a longtime priority offormer Sen. Harris McDowell.
The bill represents a compromise of sorts since it did not set a mandate as aggressive as those in the neighboring states of New Jersey and Maryland.
The bill received only modest praise from the Sierra Club.
Republican legislators in Kent and Sussex counties were unhappy with the measure, while their counterparts to the north voted in favor. Sussex County has been a hotspot for climate change skepticism, despite its low-lying location.
House GOP members came up with arguments and amendments that were rejected by the Democratic majority. GOP arguments included the lack of legislators’ qualifications to deal with the bill, what they see as a lack of consumer protections, or simply letting the state’s utilities develop a plan.
“Delaware is the country’s lowest-lying state, and climate change already has a very real impact,” stated Carney. “This legislation will help accelerate Delaware’s transition to renewable sources of energy, which is good for our economy and our environment, and I’m pleased to sign it into law.”
“Extending and updating the Renewable Portfolio Standard involves a few complicated mechanisms but one simple idea: the energy future in front of us looks very different from the energy past that got us here,” said Hansen, D-Middletown. “By encouraging greater use of renewable energy sources, we can simultaneously stimulate innovation, encourage job growth, push for cleaner air, and find new ways to lower energy bills for Delawareans. That’s reason to celebrate and to keep pushing for progress. I’m proud to have sponsored this bill, building off the work of Sen. Harris McDowell, and I thank the governor for signing it today.”
Most of the electricity from renewable sources under the mandate would come from wind power in Pennsylvania and other states due to its small size.
No Delaware offshore wind projects are in the works, although the Skipjack project is located off Fenwick Island’s coast at the state’s southern edge.
The Bluewater Wind project off the coast of Rehoboth Beach has proposed about a decade ago but fell victim to financial issues and a weak economy.
Costs of offshore wind and solar have since dropped sharply. Offshore projects now face opposition over whether wind turbines would damage tourism in Delaware and Ocean City, MD, an argument put forth by the Newark-based Caesar Rodney Institute.
The views of the free market institute have been getting the attention of downstate legislators who used some of CRI’s arguments during the bill’s debate.