First State Patriots don’t want Delaware to incentivize solar, wind

During a meeting held last week by the Delaware Public Service Commission to discuss implementation of renewable energy incentives, members of Delaware’s First State Patriots protested the state’s renewable energy incentives. The organization expressed concerns that Delaware’s utility consumers ended up paying for the price of renewables instead of the companies.

"Every time a solar panel goes up, we pay for it," John Nichols, a member of the First State Patriots, told The News Journal. "If you want to put a solar panel on your roof, or a turbine in your backyard, and you don't create a noise problem, you should be allowed to do it and sell the energy back to the grid. But I don't want to subsidize it.” Nichols did not respond to a request for additional comment by press time.

Roughly 25 members of the First State Patriots were at the meeting, according to David Bonar, ombudsman for the Delaware Public Service Commission.

“Nichols has done extensive research to see the plusses and minuses of this emerging technology,” he said. “The bottom line is when it comes to [adding renewable energy], someone has to pay for this and those someones are the ratepayers.”

At this point the renewable energy technologies, like solar and wind, are still expensive, Bonar said. But over time their costs will come down. The commission’s mission, he said, is to look at the available options and make the best decisions on behalf of the state’s citizens.

But the First State Patriots are concerned, Bonar said.

“Their feeling is the incentive being developed penalizes people for taking advantage of clean energy options,” he said.

He added that the group didn’t think it was worth the investment and what people were going to be charged for adding renewable energy into the state’s energy mix.

“We have legislated, mandated renewable energy standards that we have to meet and unless the legislation changes, we have no recourse but to follow the law,” said Bonar, who speaks for the commission staff and not the commissioners.

Delaware has a renewable energy standard requiring its utilities to provide 30 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2029.

“The issue of clean energy is something that is for the greater good,” he said. “It has been determined at a policy level that this is the way that Delaware wants to go.”

Pictured: The 51.66 kW array at the Leipsic Fire Hall, courtesy of the Delaware Energy Office.