Shields: This energy plan will have a huge impact


Over 13 years have passed since Delaware last developed a plan for energy in our state. Since 2009, many aspects of our lives have drastically transformed. Think of the technology in our homes and handheld devices now compared to then. In 2009, Apple was developing just its second-generation iPhone. We live in a different world now, with new demands and opportunities.

This time around, the Governor’s Energy Advisory Council is inviting all Delawareans to get involved in charting the path forward in planning for the future of powering our state through the Delaware Energy Plan. The timing and significance of this influence by the public cannot be understated. What we prioritize in the plan will be a guiding force for policy priorities through the next five years. Further, the decisions we make now on our energy plan will set a precedent for policy into the next decade in our state.

As we have seen from 2009 to now, change is inevitable, yet somewhat unpredictable. Opening the conversation to those who live and work here is a powerful step in the direction of inclusion and innovation, ensuring our policy and infrastructure will meet the demands and technological advances of the coming years. The commitment the council has made to community engagement on the energy plan is paramount — especially for communities that have been historically impacted by government decisions and systemically excluded from these conversations. Prioritizing their involvement in the planning stage will be imperative to avoid the historical wrongs of the past, when benefits and impacts were not experienced equally or equitably.

Including the input from all Delawareans is key, but there must be explicit incorporation of the voices of those who experience high energy burdens, low incomes and energy-related pollution. Fair rates for electricity to lower energy burdens for those least able to power their homes and increasing access to renewable, clean energy for everyone in the state are some of the programs we are fighting for in this new era of energy planning. Emphasizing jobs and infrastructure opportunities that go hand in hand with this energy transition is also a top priority, bringing not only health and environmental benefits but also economic empowerment to communities historically impacted by the fossil fuel industry.

The state also needs to make keeping the lights on in vulnerable communities a priority, which means putting an end to unnecessary power shutoffs in homes across the state. Overall, programs that will make electrification more affordable and accessible in Delaware should be a focus so that we can help reduce indoor air pollution and fight climate change at the same time. To make the most of this planning process, we must ensure the programs are impactful and sustainable over time, prioritizing longevity and inclusivity. With the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act and the infrastructure act in Congress, money is available to states and municipalities to support these and similar projects.

Right now, community members need to engage, so the state and GEAC know what our unique needs are as they apply for these funds. The council is hosting two in-person community engagement sessions to gather input on the Delaware Energy Plan: on Monday from 5-7 p.m. at the Route 9 Library & Innovation Center, 3022 New Castle Ave., New Castle (Transit: DART routes 51 or 15); and on Nov. 15 from 5-7 p.m. at CHEER’s Warren & Charles Allen Community Center, 20520 Sand Hill Road, Georgetown.

Liz Shields

Executive Committee, Sierra Club of Delaware

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