Small in Size, Delaware Tries to Be a Leader in Solar Energy
Delaware Governor Jack A. Markell has signed into law four renewable energy bills that together make up the Clean Energy Jobs package, Solar Industry Magazine reported. The laws seek to expand employment in the renewable energy industry and could facilitate the installation of approximately 250 MW (enough to power about 62,000 homes) of new solar energy systems by 2025, according to the governor's office.
The new legislation expands Delaware's renewable portfolio standard (RPS) so that 25% of Delaware's electricity must come from renewable energy sources by 2025. It also includes specific solar energy targets (solar carve-outs) and provides incentives for local labor and manufacture of renewable energy systems.
Perhaps most importantly for those who already generate renewable energy, the legislation strengthens Delaware's net metering law by increasing the amount of energy customers can sell back to their electric supply grid to 110% of their aggregate consumption to the grid. This means that the utility will have to pay the homeowner if the homeowner consumes less energy than he or she generates. Another provision of this law allows homeowner associations and similar groups to cooperatively finance and build community-scale renewable energy projects both on and off-site.
Another law updates the Green Energy Fund law to address the large backlog of projects across the state currently awaiting incentive funds. It also allows for a gradual transition from the over-reliance on the fund for financing renewable energy systems and balances the program's resources with current and expected demands.
A final law in this package makes it possible to install ground-mounted solar panels on land zoned residential where the lots are one-half acre or greater in size, even if the homeowner association regulations prohibits it.
Kudos to Delaware for making progress on energy issues despite Congress's failure in this arena. It may now be up to the states to enact meaningful energy legislation that will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and stimulate investment in renewable energy.