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Delaware announces regulation to phase-out HFC chemicals

Milton Pratt
Delaware Public Media

The state is adding new rules on the use of certain chemicals in its latest attempt to reduce emissions.

Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) recently announced new restrictions on substances called hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, which it says are hundreds of thousands of times more potent than C02 in contributing to climate change.

The regulation phases out the use of a long list of substances. They include: refrigerants used in household and industrial freezers, materials used in aerosol propellants, materials used in air conditioning equipment, polyurethanes used for insulation and a list of other substances.

DNREC deferred questions related to how it plans to enforce the phase-out of these substances. But DNREC Energy Administrator Robert Underwood notes the move comes alongside a state Cool Switch program, which incentivizes businesses that move away from using refrigerants with HFCs.

“Customers for the Cool Switch program are non-residential businesses throughout Delaware and we really put the threshold down very low—50 pounds of refrigerant or above,” said Underwood. 

The program has $1 million set aside from Delaware’s share of the 11 state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Underwood says there have been six signups so far. 

“We’ve had multiple companies throughout Delaware talk to us about it and get a little bit more information and they're going to apply, but right now we’ve had a handful actually going through the process and we’re looking forward to seeing some get grants and start moving forward with some upgrades to their refrigerant system,” he said. 

Sen. Tom Carper helped introduce a 15-year phase out of HFCs on the federal level that passed in December. Delaware’s phase-out begins in September and ends at the start of 2024. 

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