Not everyone is happy with recently passed legislation that will boost electricity from renewable energy from the 2025 figure of 25 percent to 40 percent by 2035. State Sen. Stephanie Hansen, D-Middletown, sponsored the bill.
The Sierra Club says the state should have gone with a higher percentage, with Republicans in the General Assembly claiming the measure lacks consumer protections and will provide few economic benefits.
Senate Bill 33 completed its passage through the General Assembly with a 29 to 12 vote in the House of Representatives last week, with Kent and Sussex Republicans voting no while earlier clearing the Senate 13 to 8 on with all Republicans and one Democrat voting no.
Delmarva Power, Delaware Electric Cooperative, and municipal utilities remained neutral on the proposal, which had been widely expected as Democrats tightened their grip on the State Senate by winning two former GOP seats.
Gov. John Carney is expected to sign the bill.
The new mandate will require utilities to continue to ramp up their use of renewable electricity to achieve a 40 percent share by 2035, with 10 percent of all electricity coming from solar.
The law covers all utilities in the state, including those owned by municipalities.
House Republicans offered three amendments to build consumer cost protections into the bill, most of which are currently law but will be removed by the new legislation. All three proposals were defeated along party lines.
State Rep. Rich Collins, R-Millsboro, said legislators lack the expertise and foresight needed to enact energy policies that impose restrictions on energy utilities for the next 14 years.
“We are not qualified to do this,” Rep. Collins told his colleagues during the virtual debate. “We should be setting broad parameters, take the regulations out of the way, and let the companies (utilities) figure out the best way to do it.”
Collins said the legislation would create few local jobs. He added that Delaware has minimal renewable power resources other than solar energy, requiring utilities to buy renewable electricity from out-of-state producers to meet the mandate.
The Sierra Club has a different view.
“Even neighboring states like New Jersey and Virginia have clear 100 percent clean energy or carbon-free goals. States across the mid-Atlantic are taking advantage of reliably available clean energy resources saving consumers money and attracting new jobs to their state. Delaware and the rest of the Mid Atlantic region is uniquely threatened by the devastating impacts of the climate crisis and should adopt energy legislation that at the very least begins to approach the scale of the crisis,” a release stated.
The Sierra Club Delaware Chapter Director Sherri Evans-Stanton released the following statement in response:
“While Senator Hansen’s bill importantly raises the state’s renewable energy standard, it still leaves Delaware far behind virtually every state in the region, most of which have 50 percent or higher renewable energy commitments during the same timeline. The bare minimum for any meaningful renewable energy standard should be at least to match the 50 percent by 2030 target the world’s top climate scientists have suggested.”