Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Delaware looks to strengthen its electrical grid

DEC's Dorey Substation
DEC's Dorey Substation

The state looks to strengthen its electrical grid as converging factors continue to put a strain on it.

The worsening effects of climate change, increased use, and the desire to introduce green technologies are amongst the factors driving the need to increase the resiliency of the state’s energy grid.

And now nearly $3 million from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will allow it to happen.

The Delaware Division of Natural Resources and Environmental Control will hold the funding, and distribute it to different projects in the state.

Ed Synoski oversees DNREC’s energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. He says continued funding depends on the state’s workforce.

“A big determinant of whether or not we'll be successful deploying that funding out to all Delawareans is going to be that we have a workforce ready to deploy all of those resources,” he explained. “So one of the areas that we're going to be hoping people come forward in is making sure that their projects include some workforce development for Delaware-based businesses so that when these projects get put to the streets they're being done by Delawareans.”

Higher priority will also be given to projects that focus on disadvantaged communities, reduce natural hazards, and take into account the state’s climate action plan.

What the projects will look like has yet to be seen, but they could include deploying strategies like line hardening, which essentially means burying power lines underground to reduce the effects of extreme weather on them, and speed up outage restoration.

The state’s climate action plan looks to expand clean and renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It was announced in July that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would overhaul the process for approving new energy projects, meaning the time it takes to add clean energy technology to the state’s grid will be shorter.

Wind and solar power are rising in popularity across the United States, with wind power accounting for 22% of new electricity capacity installed in the U.S. in 2022, according to the US Department of Energy.

The heatwaves in Texas have shown promise in the resiliency of renewable energy in the state’s power grid. CNN reported that wind and solar power were the source of about one third of the energy used during the July heat dome, helping to keep the grid stable and prices down despite record-breaking energy demand.

Introducing clean energy to the grid may put more strain on it for the short term, meaning deploying other resiliency strategies in tandem with that change is necessary.

“A utility could also propose to put the funding towards what we call a microgrid,” Synoski added. “A microgrid would be a smaller grid that might be set up in a smaller community or a smaller town or city. And instead of those folks tapping into the larger grid, and putting more stress on the larger grid, they would be able to tap into the microgrid. And by doing so, that would by default reduce the pressure on the larger grid.”

If all goes well, Synoski says Delaware could see more money coming into this program over the next few years.

Quinn Kirkpatrick was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware and graduated of the University of Delaware. She joined Delaware Public Media in June 2021