“Delaware Energy Plan 2009-2014”–a worst-ever report?

Green Delaware Alert 645

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“Delaware Energy Plan
2009-2014”–a worst-ever report?
Coal promoted in multiple ways …
Incineration promoted …
public participation dissed …

Public comments needed by March 15, 2009
(see below for suggestions)
Defend Delaware’s laws against incineration!


Friends:  This Alert is a bit belated and I apologize for that.

A report entitled “Delaware Energy Plan 2009-2014” has emerged from a group called the “Governor’s Energy Advisory Council.”It can be downloaded at

http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/energy/information/Documents/Energy%20Plan%20Council%20Report%20-%20Draft%20-%202-26-09.pdf

, 115 pages.  This is an update of the first such report, issued in 2003:

2003 Energy Plan “Bright Ideas for Delaware’s Energy Future”

.

(The Delaware Energy Office, part of the DNREC, has more than one
website.  The more up-to-date one is

http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/energy/Pages/default.aspx
The email for sending comments isn’t plaiuly visible on either.)

To be blunt, this is one of the worst, reports I have seen, both in what it says and how it was created.

It contains 30 “High Priority Recommendations,” 20 “Second Tier Recommendations,” and 3 “Third Tier Recommendations.”

The total, then, is 53 recommendations.  Obviously a report with 53
recommendations has no real focus.

These recommendations include promoting “clean coal,” weakening Delaware’s laws against incineration to allow highly-polluting “biomass” burners, and eliminating people’s ability to oppose unneeded transmission lines.

There is almost no coherence or consistency between different items in
the report.  For example, on page five we read:

“Goal: Halt the growth in Delaware’s energy use, and begin to reduce Delaware’s energy consumption

Then, on page 84, we read:

“… soon it will be necessary to obtain additional corridors to continue expanding the transmission system to meet future load growth …”

The section goes on to discuss the need to eliminate public participation:

“With the current rate of load growth, a delay or cancellation in a project can lead to supply and reliability concerns. There is also the concern for the “Not in My Back Yard” mentality which is almost always present at public hearings; a transmission line is may benefit the entire state or region, but nobody wants it in their backyard.”

Obviously these aren’t consistent.  What they probably suggest is that talk of reducing energy consumption is a farce as far as these authors are concerned.

(What’s the truth about transmission and Delaware?  There really isn’t any, because Delaware, unlike many states, doesn’t require transmission promoters to show “need.”  So there is no rational, public, evaluation process.  Recent experience all over the country, though, has shown that transmission lines promoted as “for wind….” prove when looked at closely to be about moving dirty coal power around and facilitating “market” transactions that jack up prices.  (For lots more on transmission, see http://legalectric.org/))

Jump to page 95 and read “Continue support for the Mid-]Atlantic
Power Pathway Project (MAPP).”
[a big transmission line project from our friends at PEPCO]  Who made this decision on our behalf???  Read on:

“Concerns regarding the MAPP project have been raised regarding
its facilitation of the transmission of power produced by electric
generation facilities with relatively high air emissions. In this case,
that relatively high emitting generation may be located in states upwind
of Delaware. Delaware’s air quality and ability to attain and/or maintain
compliance with the national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) is
affected by emissions from upwind states.”

Many of the recommendations are sensible–increasing energy
efficiency building standards, etc.  But even the sound ideas are
generally presented in a soft and fuzzy manner and not meaningfully
prioritized.

Many don’t read sensibly, or include anything hard-hitting.  For instance:

“Delaware has an effective low-income weatherization program; …
Delaware has not significantly invested in low-income weatherization
programs.  Current combined federal and state funding allows the
Delaware Office of Community Services to weatherize 500 low-income
households per year. … 750 households at up to 80% of the state median
income are added to the WAP waiting list each year. No households at 80% of the state median income are currently served by the program, and no
households in rental units are served ….”

Does this sound like an effective program?

Under “Recommendations to Reduce Delaware’s http://premier-pharmacy.com/product-category/anti-inflammatories/ Transportation Energy
Use”
there’s a “Rail” section, but no mention is made of any timetable for re-establishing passenger rail service to Dover and beyond.  There’s no mention of filling in the gap in commuter rail service between Newark DE, and Perryville, MD.  There’s no mention of preserving and recovering rail rights-of-way that are still being lost.

I have not found a word in the report showing any respect for
democracy/public participation.

Delmarva Power is greenwashed over and over again, especially in its
effective manipulation of the Public Service Commission.

We could go on and on….  Why is the report so bad?  No mystery, look at the Energy Council membership:

  • Chair — David Hodas, Widener University School of Law
  • Bill Andrew, President,Delaware Electric Cooperative
  • Craig Burton, GE Energy
  • Judy Cherry/Alan Levin*, Delaware Economic Development Office, ex officio
  • Raymond Long, NRG Energy
  • Patrick McCullar, Delaware Municipal Electric Corporation
  • Arnetta McRae, Chair, Delaware Public Service Commission
  • Arthur Padmore, Delaware Public Advocate
  • Gary Patterson, Delaware Petroleum Council
  • William Pelham, Chair, Weatherization Assistance Program Public Advisory Council
  • Seth Ross, Delaware Nature Society
  • John Hughes/David Small*, Department of Natural Resources &Environmental Control, ex officio
  • Gary Stockbridge, Delmarva Power
  • Stephen Thompson, Chesapeake Utilities
  • Jennifer Davis/Ann Visalli*, Chair, the Cabinet Committee on Energy
  • Carolann Wicks, Delaware Department of Transportation, ex officio

*New appointees in January 2009

Per usual, the group is dominated by the special interests causing
the problems in the first place, each pushing an agenda of benefit to
itself.  For instance, the Delaware Electric Cooperative wants to
draw power from a new coal burner to be built in Virginia, so it supports building more transmission lines.

I called the Chair, David Hodas, a couple of times but he never responded.

This isn’t Jack Markell’s fault–he inherited it from Governor Ruth Ann
Minner.  But it will most certainly be his fault if he accepts this awful report, and doesn’t change or abolish the “Governor’s Energy Advisory Council.”

Three “public Input Sessions were held on March 2nd, 4th, and 9th,
in Dover, New Castle, and Lewes. These were not properly posted on the
official “statewide meeting calendar of meetings and events.”
(
http://www.delaware.gov/egov/calendar.nsf/PastMeetings/ByDepartment?openview&Agency=Natural%20Resources%20and%20Environmental%20Control

).

Comments:

For decades neither Delaware nor the US as a whole have been able to
create a coherent “energy policy” and follow through for a useful length of time.  why not?  It’s not so hard for an intelligent individual to separate good ideas (wind, solar, storage, efficiency, “vehicle to grid”….) from bad ideas
(“clean coal,” incineration, “biomass,” mindless transmission-line building ….).  Why can’t we as a community do it?

This report is as good an example as any of why: rather than being a
product of people who know and care, it’s mainly the product of a bunch
of status-quo businesses defending their (not our!) interests.  Predictably, this didn’t produce a useful report on what Delaware’s energy future should be. How could it?

Former Governor Minner, who appointed the members, probably couldn’t
imagine listening to anybody else. She, like Bush, was a tool of status-quo businesses.

Markell and Obama seem far more capable, but can they move far enough away from the bad habits embedded in our broken political system? Obama, so far, doesn’t seem very discriminating about the good energy ideas vs the bad ones.  Better than Bush, for sure, but maybe not better enough.  Markell?
How he responds to this crappy report may be an indicator.

ACTION:

Comments are being accepted until March 15, 2009, to:
DNREC_EnergyPlan@state.de.us, jack.markell@state.de.us,
info@greendel.org.

Ask that:

  • The draft report be rejected and re-written with different
    input.  The report should focus on clear recommendations for a
    limited number of important and desirable actions.
  • The comment period be extended and a real effort made to listen to
    the public and NGO’s with energy expertise.
  • The recommendation to weaken Delaware’s anti-incineration laws be
    REMOVED.
  • The recommendation (#36, page 71) to support “clean coal”
    be REMOVED and replaced with a recommendation to plan for the phaseout of coal-burning in Delaware on a realistic schedule.

Green Delaware will develop some more detailed comments, but whether they are paid attention to will depend on YOU.

Regards,

Alan Muller

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