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Renewable Energy Standards bill passes State Senate

Sophia Schmidt
Delaware Public Media

State lawmakers spent a hefty amount of time debating new renewable energy standards Thursday.


Senators argued over a billextending Delaware’s Renewable Portfolio Standards through 2035, requiring Delmarva Power to provide at least 40 percent renewable energy by that point. 


It passed 13-8, mainly along party lines, with only Democratic State Sen. Bruce Ennis (D-Smyrna) joining Republicans.


Ennis says he's concerned Delmarva Power is failing to meet it's renewable energy goals already.


DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin testified the company actually is meeting it's standards, 20% of the company's power is coming from renewables.


Ennis was also concerned about the reasoning behind the rush to pass the bill, to settle a lawsuit between DNREC and the Public Service Commision over who can freeze progress towards the renewable energy goal.


He says legal problems should be solved in court, not solved through legislation.


Some Republican lawmakers also worried this would increase costs for consumers, especially lower income and older Delawareans already struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic.


State Sen. Stephanie Hansen (D-Middletown), the bill’s sponsor, stressed the bill would actually decrease costs for the average person, from $8 to under $5 by 2035.


The bill wouldn't start taking effect until 2026, when the current renewable energy contracts the state is under are expect to cost the most for consumers. After then, those contracts will start to cost less and less until they expire.


This new bill will replace those old renewable energy contracts with a smaller surcharge overall.


Senate President Pro Temp David Sokola (D-Newark) says it shouldn’t even matter if the bill raised energy costs by a few dollars.


“You know if you're worried about seniors paying a little bit more for their electric, if there’s more particulates in the air they’re paying a whole heckuva lot more for their health," Sokola said. "And there have actually been analysis done in areas where they have been more aggressive and faster at moving towards renewables, and they’re finding health care costs are going down or are not going up as fast as healthcare costs are going up everywhere else around them.”


Hansen adds this isn’t the end of the renewable energy issue, and wants lawmakers to return to the drawing board to address climate change in the state.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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