NEEP applauds passage of landmark legislation, looks forward to Governor’s signature
Lexington, MA July 2, 2014 – Just hours before the end of the 2014 legislative session, Delaware lawmakers on Tuesday morning passed landmark legislation that will bring the state into parity with other states in the region by allowing its electric and gas utilities to provide energy efficiency programs to their customers and provide a major boost to the state’s efforts to reach its goals under a 2009-mandated Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS).
“For the past three years, we’ve been working with allies to help policymakers understand the significant benefits that ramping up energy efficiency can bring to Delaware’s economy and environment, and that for its full potential to be realized, a comprehensive, considered and adequately-funded approach needs to be taken,” noted Natalie Treat, Senior Manager for Public Policy Outreach at Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP), a non-profit organization designated by the U.S. Department of Energy as the Regional Energy Efficiency Organization (REEO) serving the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.
Senate Bill 150, which passed the Senate by a 21-0 vote and the House by a 37-4 vote, will expand cost-effective energy programs under the direction of an advisory council composed of members of the state’s Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU) and other stakeholders. The SEU, which has until now been the main delivery agent for efficiency programs in Delaware, is directed to collaborate with electric and gas utilities on a common marketing platform for the programs.
Providing a framework to both fund and broaden energy efficiency programs in Delaware will help bring the state on par with others in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region which have recognized energy efficiency as their first-order energy resource, Treat noted.
Until now, the efficiency programs run by the SEU have only been funded by state grants realized as part of the Federal Recovery Act, or ARRA, and proceeds from the sale of carbon allowances due to the state’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), she explained. That has resulted in Delaware spending only $5.65 per capita on energy efficiency programs, as compared to an average of $50.36 among the other 12 states in the region that operate ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs.
The result has been that the SEU, which was created in 2007, but armed with only limited funding, has fallen short of the goals set by the state in 2009 that called for 15 percent energy savings by 2015.
“This bill changes everything,” Treat said. “When we look across the region and see the major energy-savings leading states are achieving through efficiency, we knew for sure that Delaware could harness those levels of same savings, but would need to commit to investing in efficiency as a first-order, least-cost resource to do it.”
“Delaware is now poised to reap those same benefits on behalf of its residents and businesses, because, as has been evaluated and verified for decades now, cost-effective energy efficiency programs are a ‘win-win-win,’ helping our economy, environment and energy system,” Treat noted.
NEEP helped bring together a coalition of stakeholders to convince lawmakers of the merits of the bill to broaden energy efficiency programs in the state. With the support of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and, especially, a push from outgoing DNREC Secretary Colin O’Mara, a last-minute surge of coalition letters and messages to lawmakers made the difference.
Among the many groups urging passage of the legislation were Delaware Interfaith Power & Light, the Sierra Club, Opower and the Advanced Energy Economy.
To read more about the bill’s passage, with comparative information regarding Delaware’s energy efficiency expenditures, read Natalie Treat’s blog entry.
NEEP is a non-profit organization that transforms the way we use and think about energy. Through advocacy, collaboration and education we focus on three areas where we believe energy efficiency can have the greatest impact: buildings, high efficiency products & best practices. Our unique approach helps bring together all stakeholders to accelerate energy efficiency and highlight its impacts on the region, the economy, and the planet. For more information, visit our website and blog.