Coordinated effort needed to combat global warming, reach energy independence McDowell lays out vision, plans at UD energy conference


NEWARK – Consumers need smarter energy options, including home based renewable power sources, that cut costs and the government needs to enact policies that slash greenhouse gas emissions, if dreams of a sustainable, green economy are going to come true, one of the state’s leaders in energy policy said during a conference at the University of Delaware.

Sen. Harris B. McDowell III, D-Wilmington North, a nationally respected leader in energy policy told a group at UD’s third Energy and Sustainability Conference a one-stop shopping approach, such as the one set up by the state’s Sustainable Energy Utility, is a good way to bring renewable power as well as better energy efficiency and conservation programs to consumers. The law, authored by McDowell, setting up the program calls for it to cut carbon dioxide emissions in the First State by up to 30 percent by 2020.

The SEU has gotten national attention and both state and municipal governments have studied Delaware’s coordinated approach to the issue of expanding conservation and renewable energy.

“We cannot succeed with a fragmented, piecemeal approach,” said McDowell, who just ended a one-year term as Chair of the National Conference of State Legislature’s energy committee. “We need one stop shopping. That is the vision and goal of the Sustainable Energy Utility … that has one of the most ambitious goals in the country for reducing CO2 emissions.”

McDowell was part of a panel that included State Rep. Pam Thornburg, R-Dover West, Gary Stockbridge, president of Delmarva Power, and Bill Andrew, CEO of the Delaware Electric Cooperative, that talked about strategies to combat climate change and encourage energy conservation at the state and national levels.

Besides the SEU law, McDowell has penned several other key energy bills in recent years including, a renewable portfolio standard that requires the state’s utilities to draw 20 percent of their power from renewable sources, such as solar or wind power, by 2020. Under that law, 2 percent the power must come from solar energy by 2019.

McDowell also has written and backed laws making it easier for homeowners to install home-based solar and wind power systems. This year, he passed a law requiring a statewide reduction in energy consumption of 15 percent by 2015.

To help reach that conservation goal, McDowell said he not only backs programs such as the Co-op’s “Beat The Peak” program, which encourages and helps its customers scale back energy use at times when power demand is at its highest, he also is backing President Obama’s call for a national “smart grid, smart meter” program.

“Right now, it is very difficult for you and I to know the real effect of our actions or inactions in our homes and places of business,” he said. “But I believe we have another information revolution coming in the form of smart meters and a smart grid. Used properly, these new tools will empower consumers to create energy savings, rather than waste energy.”