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Delaware Senate Democrats

Sen. Hansen files bill to consolidate oversight, planning of Delaware’s future energy needs

May 12, 2023

On the heels of Delaware’s historic commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the existential threat of climate change, Sen. Stephanie Hansen on Thursday introduced legislation to expand the role of a key state agency at the center of energy policy in the First State.

Senate Bill 7, also known as the Delaware Energy Planning Act, will strengthen the ability of the State Energy Office to serve as a lead agency on a variety of climate and energy issues, including the buildout and resiliency of the statewide energy grid, review of emerging technologies, promotion of energy equity and monitoring the progress of our transition to renewable energy sources.

“Over the years, Delaware has made progress in setting realistic and attainable goals to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, minimize our greenhouse gas emissions, and move our state to clean and sustainable energy sources,” said Sen. Hansen, chair of the Senate Environment, Energy & Transportation Committee.

“Now it’s time for the rubber to meet the road,” she said. “And to do that, we need one agency with the capability and resources to holistically direct Delaware’s overall energy portfolio, recommend solutions that will meet our goals and coordinate all of those efforts with the complex network of constituencies, advisory groups, regulatory agencies and private companies who have a stake in Delaware’s energy policy. The legislation I am putting forward today will help bolster the State Energy Office to take on that mission.”

First created by the Delaware General Assembly in 2003, the 8-person State Energy Office is housed in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Climate, Coastal and Energy Division, where it currently acts as a central repository and clearinghouse for data and information on energy resources and energy policy in Delaware.

Senate Bill 7 will expand that role to also include additional planning and coordination responsibilities that support clean energy, clean transportation and energy efficiency.

As a part of its new role, the State Energy Office will be tasked with:

  • giving specific consideration to environmental justice issues for low- and moderate-income Delawareans;
  • coordinating future build out of the state energy grid;
  • determining the adequacy of Delaware’s energy generation resources;
  • participating in offshore wind transmission planning;
  • facilitating the addition of renewable energy facilities in Delaware;
  • fostering greater collaboration between federal and state agencies on energy policy;
  • providing technical support to the Governor’s Energy Advisory Council.

Under SB 7, the State Energy Office also will be required to develop a comprehensive State Energy Plan every 5 years that supports Delaware’s greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and the State’s Climate Action Plan released in 2021.

The legislation also is expected to result in the addition of five new staff members in the State Energy Office, as well as the hiring of a consultant to assist with modeling future demands on Delaware’s statewide energy grid.

“The Delaware Energy Planning Act represents a critical step forward in Delaware’s journey towards a sustainable and resilient future,” said Rep. Debra Heffernan, chair of the House Natural Resources & Energy Committee and House prime sponsor of SB 7. “As we continue to move toward renewable energy sources, this measure will ensure our energy grid’s durability, efficiency, and adaptability, safeguarding Delawareans against disruptions and promoting a reliable energy supply for all.”

SB 7 has been assigned to the Senate Environment, Energy & Transportation Committee.