The best way to lower carbon dioxide emissions is to let the free market work. US emissions fell 14.4% from 2005 to 2019 primarily by shifting from higher cost, higher emitting coal to lower cost, lower-emitting natural gas.
Existing decade-old renewable energy mandates have raised the costs of power supply to Delmarva Power electric customers by almost 20%, despite relying on traditional power plants for backup power.
However, the Delaware legislature seems intent on passing higher mandates for wind and solar power that will actually be raising emissions. The "energy bill" (SB33) requires electric utilities to obtain renewable energy credits for 40% of power demand by 2035.
Instead, we suggest the "energy bill" (SB33) to include the following principles because these suggestions encourage clean, reliable power at the lowest cost and encourage innovation:
- The renewable energy credits should be for 30% of power demand by 2030. Our regional electric grid manager has reported that using more than 30% intermittent wind and solar may lead to rolling blackouts. Also, requiring this by 2030 instead of 2035 will leave room for better innovations.
- Adopt a Clean Energy Standard to encourage innovation beyond wind and solar power. Going forward, a Clean Energy Credit (CEC) would be awarded to any investment that replaces, avoids, or captures one ton of carbon dioxide from existing electric generation. The research pipeline is full of ideas on how to use carbon dioxide capture, alternative fuels such as hydrogen and nuclear, energy efficiency, smart grids, demand-side management, and hybrid generation and storage options. All of these alternatives offer reliable service with low or no emissions. Existing renewable energy credits should continue to be accepted as equivalent to the new credits.
- Delaware electricity suppliers should use an open bidding strategy with no carve-outs for a specific technology to meet mandates from all forms of low carbon dioxide electric generation. This works well in the UK, where market competition keeps costs down while encouraging innovation. The ability of state agencies to allow some energy sources to count for two energy credits should be restored to encourage in-state investment.
- An additional incentive for in-state investment might be to allow our conventional generators to trade CEC’s for carbon dioxide emission allowances to allow more competitive wholesale power prices to encourage in-state power generation. Importing half our power causes increased emissions due to longer transmission, power generation inefficiencies at Delaware power plants from cycling up and down, and a higher emitting regional system mix.
- An existing cost cap of 3% on electric bills for consumer protection should be maintained. Delmarva Power premium costs were calculated to be almost 20% by the Public Service Commission. Some parties have advocated for legislation to end the cost cap protection, which is morally unacceptable and hurts the poor the most from high electric rates, and lost job opportunities. Sticking Delmarva Power customers with the cost of the Qualified Fuel Cell Provider project (Bloom project) accounts for much of the cost cap overage. That was a legislated mistake that can be corrected by a state buyout of the tariff cost.