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Energy policy in Delaware
Energy • Environment • Fracking • Public education • Higher education • School choice • Charter schools • Public pensions • State budget and finances • Taxes • Voting • Ballot access • Redistricting
- 1 Energy overview
- 2 Energy policy
- 3 In the news
- 4 See also
- 5 External links
- 6 References
How energy is produced and consumed also has an impact on the environment and pollution. Energy policy in Delaware, and many other states, focuses on providing for the increasing demand for energy, decreasing emissions by increasing energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy. As the infrastructure for producing and delivering renewable energy sources is not as advanced as it is for energy generation from traditional sources, these policies often require subsidies to make the produced energy affordable, and their effects are difficult to measure.
Energy policy involves tradeoffs between providing an affordable, consistent energy supply on the one hand, and limiting pollution and protecting the environment, on the other. How states attempt to balance these two differs between states, and often boils down to costs to consumers versus costs to the environment. This article provides general energy information about the state as the context within which energy policy is made, as well as information about major legislation and public and private groups that play a role in setting energy policy in the state.
Below are quick facts about Delaware's energy climate.
- is a net electricity importer.
- has no fossil fuels.
- has renewable energy in the form of biomass and biofuels, wind, hydropower and solar energy.
- requires the use of blended gasoline and ethanol statewide.
- has no natural gas production.
- mandates that 25 percent of electricity sold comes from renewable energy resources by 2025.
- each resident uses one-third more energy than the national average.
- total energy consumption is among the lowest in the nation.
- natural gas is the main source of energy used in home heating.
- the state imports most of its consumed traditional energy resources.
- industry is the largest energy-consuming sector in the state.
Available energy resources
Delaware has no traditional energy resources such as oil, coal or natural gas. Because of the state’s access to Wilmington Port it ships oil and coal. This lack of traditional energy resources means Delaware is a net energy importer, bringing in all the coal, natural gas and petroleum consumed in the state.
Delaware has renewable energy resources that contributed a small portion of the energy for electricity in 2011 according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The state generates its primary renewable energy from biomass including landfill gas. Delaware is also currently developing commercial offshore wind resources. In 2010 the first utility-scale wind turbine was installed.
Consumption and prices
|Energy consumption in Delaware|
Transportation Residential Industrial Commercial
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As shown in the pie chart in 2011, 30 percent of Delaware's energy use was for industrial, one-fifth for residential, 23 percent for transportation and the remaining for commercial. Most of the energy used in the state is in the form of natural gas (used primarily for the electric power sector), followed by electricity and petroleum.
Gasoline, used in transportation, accounts for the majority of the petroleum consumed in the state. Per capita petroleum consumption is one of the lowest in the nation. Generally the price of gasoline in the state tracks closely to the national average. Delaware has an excise tax on all gasoline of 23 cents per gallon, ranking it the 31st highest gas tax in the nation.
The table below compares Delaware's consumption and spending for energy, as well as prices for gas and electricity, and carbon emissions to those of Rhode Island, which has similar population, resources and consumption needs because of climate and geography. These two states are very similarly placed in the low-rank on population, overall consumption and overall spending. Also given are the U.S. averages and the state rankings. All rankings are from highest to lowest, so, for example:
- Delaware's rank of 48th in carbon emissions means that carbon emissions are slightly higher in Delaware than in Rhode Island, which has a ranking of 49th.
- Likewise, per capita income in Delaware is higher than the national average, and lower than in Rhode Island, which at 15th ranks nine places ahead Delaware ranking of 24th in per capita income.
- Per capita energy consumption in Delaware (at 30th) is somewhat higher than in Rhode Island (at 51st).
- Per capita energy spending in Delaware is significantly higher because it ranks 28th to Rhode Island's ranking of 46th. This is somewhat surprising because natural gas prices are only slightly higher in Delaware, at sixth compared to 12th in Rhode Island.
- Electricity prices are slightly higher in Rhode Island, which was ranked at ninth, compared to Delaware at 14th.
|Consumption and Expenditures Comparisons Summary|
|Type||Delaware||Rhode Island||U.S. Figures|
|Figure||U.S. Rank*||Figure||U.S. Rank*||Totals|
|Population||0.9 million||45||1.1 million||43||313.9 million|
|Per Capita Income Average||$41,940||24||$44,990||15||$42,693|
|Total Consumption||272 trillion BTU||48||184 trillion BTU||49||97,301 quadrillion BTU|
|Per Capita Energy Consumption||299 million BTU||30||175 million BTU||51||312 million BTU|
|Total Spending on Energy||$3,957 million||48||$3.818 million||49||$1,394,088 million|
|Per Capita Spending on Energy||$4,357||28||$3,634||46||$4,474|
|Price of Residential Natural Gas, dollar per thousand cubic feet||$20.77||6||$14.94||12||$12.48|
|Price of Electricity, cents per kWh||14.04||14||14.55||9||12.31|
|Total Carbon Dioxide Emissions, million metric tons (2010)||11.7||48||11||49||5,631|
|*Rank is from highest to lowest.|
The price of electricity in Delaware is 24 percent higher than the national average. This may result from the fact that 60 percent of electricity in Delaware comes from coal, which is becoming more expensive because of carbon dioxide emissions. The state also has a renewable portfolio standard (RPS), and some studies argue that "renewable electricity mandates are a very expensive way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions."
- See also: State Energy Rankings to compare all 50 states
|Consumption of energy for heating homes in Delaware|
|Source||Delaware 2011||U.S. average 2011|
|Liquid Petroleum Gases (LPG)||10.4%||5%|
Production and transmission
Delaware produced 3.8 BTU of energy in 2011. Almost all of that came from what the U.S. Energy Information Administration classifies as 'other,' which is "assumed to equal consumption of all renewable energies except biofuels."
|Energy production by type in Delaware, 2011|
|% of State||% of USA|
All of Delaware's energy production came from renewable energy resources in 2011, according to the EIA. The state generates its primary renewable energy from biomass including landfill gas. In 2010 the first electricity-utility scale wind turbine began developing commercial offshore wind.
Natural gas is supplied through interstate pipelines, mainly Columbia Gas Transmission Corp. and Eastern Shore Natural Gas Co. from Pennsylvania. A small amount is also imported from Maryland. The port of Wilmington, which is part of the Delaware River, receives Delaware's imported resources. Delaware has one of the only two operating petroleum refineries on the East Coast. Coal is mainly shipped by rail from Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia and small amounts from Ohio and Pennsylvania.
|Where electricity comes from in Delaware |
|Type||Amount generated (MWh)||% of state**||% of U.S.**|
|Total net electricity generation||662,000||100%||0.02%|
|**Note: Because the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) does not include all of a state's energy production in these figures, the EIA totals do not equal 100 percent. Instead, we have generated our own percentages.|
The Delaware Public Service Commission (PSC) regulates one electric utility and two natural gas utilities along with utilities for cable, wastewater, and water. The PSC does not regulate propane or fuel oil utilities, and has no say over rates they charge. For natural gas utilities, Delaware only regulates transmission to customers while the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regulates interstate transmission. Natural gas used in electricity generation is shipped into Delaware through the Port of Wilmington. The electric transmission system in Delaware is regulated by FERC. PJM Interconnection LLC (PJM) is the transmission organization for the state.
- See also: Fracking in Delaware
Energy policy is made, executed and influenced by many organizations, both public and private, and is codified in the laws and regulations of the state. Each state’s energy policy involves trade-offs in which energy production and prices are weighed against environmental concerns and efficiency. Delaware has been relatively progressive regarding energy efficiency and renewable energy use. Delaware enacted a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) in 2005 and expanded it in 2010. The standard requires electricity suppliers to buy 25 percent of the electricity they sell within the state from renewable sources by the year 2025-2026.
Delaware ranked 22nd on the Energy Efficiency Scorecard produced by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. There are differing estimates about the economic impact of these mandates in terms of costs that may affect prices and jobs, as well as the impact on the environment and pollution. Thus, for example, there are many new studies of what is called the "rebound effect" which refers to the fact that "some of the theoretically estimated gains in energy efficiency will be eroded as consumers consume additional goods and services."
- The Energy Efficiency Resource Standard Act (2009) targets energy consumption and peak demand. This energy efficiency program seeks to decrease energy consumption and imposes regulations to reduce natural gas and electricity use. The act mandates a 15 percent decrease in electricity use, a 15 percent decrease in peak electricity demand, and a 10 percent decrease in natural gas use by 2015. Delaware utilities must consider cost-effective demand-side management and demand response strategies for dealing with their increasing energy demand.
- Delaware Senate Bill 18 (2007) known as Substitute Number 1, created a nonprofit corporation called Sustainable Energy Utility. An Oversight Board and the State Energy Coordinator along with the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control direct the Utility. It was created to deliver renewable energy services to customers and to coordinate programs that deliver understandable energy efficiency. Demand-side management plans are required from electric utilities.
- The Electric Utility Retail Customer Supply Act (2006) was inspired by cost-effectiveness. This act requires electricity providers to turn in documents with 10-year integrated resources plans. Included in the document, long-term supply contracts should be described, along with provisions for demand-side resources and renewable energy.
- Delaware Energy Act (2003) is a plan developed by the Governor's Energy Advisory Council. Workgroups were created to review resources and current policies and to suggest improvements to the Governor's Energy Advisory Council for the state's future energy targets, policies, and goals. The workgroups' goals include reducing energy use, the environmental footprint of energy used by Delawareans, and transportation energy use. The groups also work on ensuring efficient and effective energy transmission and distribution systems and supporting and growing Delaware's clean energy businesses.
- Delaware Law HB 10 (1999) gave permission to the Delaware Public Service Commission (PSC) to create environmental disclosure requirements and consumer protection standards for green power marketing. All electric suppliers must disclose to the PSC aggregate proportions of fuel resource blends for the electricity supplied to buyers. Electric suppliers must also provide their fuel resource blends to retail electricity buyers yearly by bill inserts and by customer request. Documents must include the total number of retail electric customers in each class, the net amount of electricity supplied to each customer class, and the fuel blends by percentage.
Government agencies and committees
- Within the Delaware State Legislature the Senate Energy & Transit Committee and the House Energy Committee deal with energy issues in the state.
- The Delaware Public Service Commission (PSC), an independent regulatory agency has been regulating Delaware public utilities since 1949, including those that are municipally-owned. Types of utilities regulated include electric, natural gas, water, wastewater, cable and telecommunications. Most of these must obtain PSC approval before they set new rates, issue stocks or bonds, or undertake major construction projects such as water wells, power plants or transmission lines. The PSC is composed of five part-time commissioners who decide cases brought to the PSC for changes in utility operations, rates and for construction projects. Commissioners are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state senate for staggered six-year terms. The commissioners’ office is under the direction of a full-time staff.
- The Division of Clean Energy and Climate represents the Delaware State Energy Office. The division is in charge of optimizing energy efficiency, educating the public on energy issues, promoting renewable energy sources, and improving and protecting the environment. Projects and programs supported through the office will help to achieve the goals of the Division of Clean Energy and Climate. Partnerships with the Energy Office and the Home Builders Association of Delaware helps to implement the state's energy goals and offers rebates for newly constructed homes that qualify under the National Green Building System and Leadership in Energy Environmental Design (LEED).
- The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control oversees the state's natural resources. The department is headed by Delaware Secretary of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. The department regulates fisheries standards, state parks and reserves, and environmental quality.
- The University of Delaware Energy Institute is prepared to assist in addressing Delaware's energy problems through a variety of areas of study including science, engineering, public policy and business aspects related to energy issues. For almost 40 years the university informed Delaware's energy sectors including photovoltaics, fuel production, fuel-efficient vehicles, energy efficiency and conservation, policies relating to energy and the environment, fuel cell technology and science, wind power and energy storage. The Institute serves as an organization supported by energy research, education and outreach in applying current energy discoveries.
- The Delaware Technology Park (DTP) is a non-profit research park. The technology park works with energy companies to provide information technology, renewable energy and advanced materials. More than 75 companies have been housed under DTP and more than 16,000 new jobs have been created since its opening in 1992. The success of DTP was made possible with the help from the University of Delaware, the private sector, and partnership modeling. The park was recognized in 2005 as the Outstanding Research/Science Park of the Year and as a model research park for regional economic development initiatives for the U.S. Council on Competitiveness.
- Green Delaware is an organization that believes in progressing towards improving environmental and public health issues in the state and in neighboring states. Green Delaware was founded in 1995. The group promotes policies that support good health, biodiversity preservation, and long term sustainability. To achieve these goals, the group directs change through basic human relationships built on peace, justice, and democratic forms of government.
In the news
This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Delaware+Energy+Policy"
- All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.
- Delaware Profile at the U.S. Energy Information Administration
- Delaware Profile at National Association of State Energy Officials
- Division of Energy & Climate, "About Us," accessed March 5, 2014
- These figures come from the U.S. Energy Information Administration's State Profiles and Energy Estimates, Delaware Overview. Statistics for population and per capita income are for the year 2012; consumption and spending estimates are for 2011; and prices are for October 2013. Updated pricing information is available on the state's EIA profile. Prices will be updated on this page biannually.
- U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Delaware Overview," accessed February 5, 2014
- Delaware Division of Energy and Climate, "Delaware Energy Plan 2009-2014," March 26, 2009, accessed March 5, 2014
- U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Delaware State Energy Profile," December 18, 2013
- This chart depicts the state's energy consumption as reported by the EIA for 2011. Click the image to enlarge.
- To compare current gasoline prices in Delaware to the U.S averages, go to GasBuddy.com
- Tax Foundation, "State Gasoline Tax Rates, 2009-2013," March 21, 2013
- According to a report called "The Status of Renewable Electricity Mandates in the States," by the free-market Institute for Energy Research, the cost of electricity in states with RPS were on average 38 percent higher in 2010 than in states without a RPS.
- Institute for Energy Research, "The Status of Renewable Electricity Mandates in the States," accessed March 24, 2014
- Manhattan Institute, "The High Cost of Renewable-Energy Mandates," February 2012
- U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Rhode Island State Energy Profile," December 18, 2013
- U.S. Energy Information Administration, “State Energy Data System, Production,” accessed February 18, 2014
- These figures come from the EIA State Profiles and Energy Estimates U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Delaware Overview," accessed March 8, 2014
- State of Delaware, "PSC Regulated Utilities," accessed March 15, 2014
- State of Delaware, "Electric Regulation in Delaware," accessed March 8, 2014
- Institute for Energy Research, "The Status of Renewable Electricity Mandates in the States," accessed March 16, 2014
- Institute for Energy Research, "Delaware Energy Facts," accessed March 7, 2014
- For a full explanation of how the ACEEE calculates this ranking see the executive summary of their report here 
- International Risk Governance Council, "The Rebound Effect: Implications of Consumer Behavior for Robust Energy Policies," accessed March 3, 2014
- Scientific American, "How Bad Is the Rebound from Energy Efficiency Efforts?," May 21, 2013
- American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, "Delaware," accessed March 7, 2014
- American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, "Delaware," accessed March 7, 2014
- American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, "Delaware," accessed March 7, 2014
- State of Delaware, "Delaware Energy Plan" accessed March 7, 2014
- Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency, "Fuel Mix Disclosure," December 17, 2012
- State of Delaware, "Senate Energy & Transit Committee," accessed March 8, 2014
- State of Delaware, House Energy Committee, accessed March 8, 2014
- Delaware Public Service Commission, "About Us," accessed March 8, 2014
- National Association of State Energy Officials, "Delaware," accessed March 8, 2014
- State of Delaware, "Delaware Division of Energy & Climate," accessed March 8, 2014
- Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control, "Divisions," accessed August 15, 2011
- University of Delaware, "Energy Institute," accessed March 7, 2014
- Delaware Technology Park, "About," accessed March 7, 2014
- Green Delaware, "About Green Delaware," accessed March 7, 2014
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