House Passes Bill Increasing Renewable Energy Portfolio Standand

Staking a major victory for clean energy, the House approved Thursday a significant increase in renewable energy that electric utilities provide to Delaware customers.

Senate Bill 33, sponsored by Rep. Ed Osienski, would update Delaware’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), the state’s principal tool for promoting renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions. Delaware is currently on track to meet the existing RPS goal of 25% renewable energy by 2025. SB 33 would extend the RPS and gradually increase that goal each year until it reaches 40% by 2035.

“Companies’ practices have taken a heavy toll on our environment for far too long. Especially here in low-lying Delaware, where sea-level rise is a top concern, it’s critical we take action to protect our natural resources and prevent further ecological damage,” said Rep. Osienski, D-Brookside, the lead House sponsor. “Renewable energy portfolio standards have proven to be an effective solution to transitioning away from harmful fossil fuels toward clean, green energy like solar, wind and geothermal. Because we’re on-target to hit 25% by 2025, it makes good sense to establish new goals for our RPS program.”

Under SB 33, which passed the House 29-12, the percentage of renewable energy from solar photovoltaics also would nearly triple from a target of 3.5% by 2025 to 10% by 2035.

“Climate change is the key issue of our time and we will be judged based on our collective action or inaction,” said Senator Stephanie Hansen, D-Middletown, the lead sponsor of SB 31. “By taking proactive steps to raise our renewable portfolio standard, we can simultaneously reduce our carbon footprint, spur innovation and job growth, and position our state for an affordable, efficient clean energy future. I am proud that we managed to pass this legislation in short order this year and look forward to building on this progress throughout the 151st General Assembly.”

The bill also would settle a dispute over cost caps for renewable energy credits (RECs) by establishing a maximum price and alternative compliance payments, should the cost of these credits rise unexpectedly. This market-based mechanism would replace the existing cost cap provisions, aims to end ongoing litigation on the subject, and protects ratepayers.

SB 33 now goes to Governor John Carney for his signature.