Delaware Doubles its Renewable Requirement, Adds Solar Set-Asides
Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner signed three energy bills into law on July 24th, including one to increase the state's renewable energy requirement. The original requirement, set in 2005, called on the state's electric utilities to draw on renewable energy for 10% of their electricity supply by 2019. Senate Bill 19 doubles that requirement to 20%, starting at 2% this year and increasing each year through 2019. The bill also specifies a minimum percentage of solar power needed to meet the overall requirement, a feature called a solar set-aside. The solar requirement starts at 0.03% of each utility's electricity sales in 2009 and increases to 2% of sales by 2019. The requirement is structured to encourage the utilities to buy renewable energy credits (RECs) from Delaware homeowners and businesses that install solar power systems. A related bill, Senate Bill 8, specifies that utility customers retain ownership of the RECs associated with their net-metered renewable energy systems, so utilities must buy the RECs from the customers. It also allows utilities to stop offering net metering when the total customer-owned capacity equals 1% of the utility's peak load. See the status and synopsis and full text of Senate Bill 19 and the status and synopsis and full text of Senate Bill 8.
The governor also signed Senate Bill 35, which doubles the funding for the state's Green Energy Fund. The fund helps to stimulate the local renewable energy sector by providing grants for renewable energy installations, technology demonstrations, and research and development projects. The bill increases the system benefit charge on the utility bills of residential customers to 0.0356 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity used, adding an additional 18 cents per month to the average residential customer's bill. See the status and synopsis and full text of Senate Bill 35.
In late June, Governor Minner signed an additional bill, Senate Bill 18, to create a "Sustainable Energy Utility" (SEU) within the state. The SEU will be a public and private partnership that will use a market-based approach to promote energy efficiency, energy conservation, and renewable energy use within the state. According to the governor, the SEU builds on similar initiatives in Vermont and New Jersey and would include packaged services designed by the SEU and delivered by competitively selected contractors. These services could include one-stop shopping for efficient appliances, energy audits, renewable energy for households, financing for green buildings, clean vehicle incentives, and critical information about cost-saving energy options. The SEU will have the authority to sell bonds to finance the program and can later repay the bonds through energy savings or by selling RECs. See the governor's press release and the status and synopsis and full text of Senate Bill 18.