Thursday, April 14, 2011

Energy Issues in Delaware

I thought it would be useful to review the various energy issues being debated in Delaware, mostly out of the public eye.

The Renewable Energy Task Force yesterday reviewed a study estimating the number jobs being created or sustained by the solar component of the Renewable Portfolio Standard or RPS. By nurturing steady growth in the industry, Delaware should reap $304 million to $681 million in total economic output in the next ten years.

The Caesar Rodney Institute has engaged the American Tradition Institute to conduct a study of the economic costs of Delaware's RPS. I don't expect the study to offer a favorable view of the policy; the American Tradition Institute maintains that renewable energy standards violate the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

House Bill 27 would dilute the RPS for the Delaware Electrical Coop and the municipal energy companies by allowing them to count progress on the Energy Efficiency Resource Standard towards the RPS. Delmarva Power would still have to meet both standards separately. A House Energy Committee hearing on HB 27 was cancelled after the sponsor agreed to table the measure for the time being.

HB 86, introduced earlier this week, would pull Delaware out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative or RGGI. Yesterday the News Journal published an op-ed by the bill's sponsor, Representative Jack Peterman, which opens with the observation that support for cap-and-trade cost Mike Castle a Senate seat. HB 86 wil likely be taken up by the House Energy Committee when legislators return from their two week break.

The most significant finding on the costs and benefits of renewable energy is found in Delmarva Power's Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), now being reviewed by the Public Service Commission. According to the IRP, the benefits of current plans to shift from coal to renewable energy are estimated to be $1.8 billion to $4.3 billion over the next ten years. That's $2,000 to $4,750 for every Delaware resident, and 12 percent to 30 percent of retail electricity sales in Delaware. The PSC has extended public comment period on the IRP to May 31, and will likely hold hearings on the plan afterwards.

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