Wilmington, DE – Government and community leaders joined with Environment America and Delaware Sierra Club to highlight clean energy projects in Delaware that have been supported by funding from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). RGGI is the nation’s first and most effective regional pollution reduction program. It has helped cut power plant pollution in half by setting limits on pollution, requiring power companies to purchase permits for pollution and investing those revenues in clean energy projects.
The group toured the McConnell Johnson Real Estate building and St. Patrick’s Church and concluded at a private residence – all of which benefit from energy efficiency projects.
“These projects show that we can shift to a clean energy future while cutting the carbon pollution that is putting Delaware’s communities at risk from climate change impacts like heat waves, flooding, and sea level rise,” said Lindsey Mendelson Fellow with Environment America.
“We need more clean energy and clean air projects in Delaware. Wilmington has suffered from polluted air and limited energy initiatives. Clean energy means less pollution, cleaner air, better health, a safer climate and a stronger local economy,” said Wilmington Councilwoman Rysheema Dixon.
McConnell Johnson Real Estate made energy efficiency upgrades and installed electric vehicle charging infrastructure at their building at 1201 N. Market Street.
“We are pleased to partner with the DESEU to meet our mutual energy efficiency goals and drive economic development,” said Scott Johnson, partner of McConnell Johnson Real Estate.
“RGGI made our successful Upfront SREC Purchase program possible, which helped jumpstart the residential solar market in Delaware by giving system owners an immediate benefit to offset costs. The Pathways to Green Schools program through RGGI provides funding for schools to implement energy saving building improvements and operations while supporting school wide “green” education programs and projects,” said Tony DePrima, Executive Director of the Delaware Sustainable Energy Utility (DESEU).
RGGI has also provided significant benefits to faith institutions in Delaware.
"The Faith Efficiencies program funded by DESEU with RGGI money, provided St. Patrick’s and sister parishes with comprehensive energy audits and access to funding to support upgrades for their lighting, insulation and HVAC systems. The program also helped support the Helping Hands Learning Center at the Temple United Church nearby, providing energy education and resources to community members,” said Lisa Locke, Executive Director of Delaware Interfaith Power and Light.
By capping pollution and using the proceeds to help citizens, businesses, faith communities, schools and local governments to deploy clean energy financing for community solar power and electric vehicles, RGGI has helped cut emissions from power plants in half across the region over the last decade and has generated over $97 million in investments towards energy efficiency and clean energy projects in Delaware.
Over the next few months, Delaware and other Northeast states are considering improvements to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
Last week, more than 500 organizations, businesses, health professional, faith leaders, lawmakers, and community leaders from the Northeast called on Governor Carney and other regional governors to double the strength of the program and close several loopholes.
On average, power plant pollution in the region has been falling by almost 5 percent per year since 2005. In 2016, pollution went down by 4.8 percent.
“RGGI has been a win-win-win for Delaware. Through the program we’ve cut health and climate harming air pollution as quickly as any state over the past six years, brought down energy costs through investing in efficiency, and created good local jobs,” said Stephanie Herron, Outreach Coordinator with Delaware Sierra Club. “Our coalition is calling on Governor Carney and the other RGGI states to strengthen the RGGI cap by reducing pollution 5% annually and address loopholes that undermine the program.”
“To deliver clean air and a safe, healthy climate for us all, we need cut more pollution,” said Lindsey Mendelson, Fellow with Environment America. “The good news is that by making America’s best regional climate program twice as strong, we can replicate the clean energy success we saw at McConnell Johnson and St. Patrick’s church today all across Wilmington, DE and the entire region.”
Environment America Research & Policy Center is a 501(c)(3) organization. We are dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives. For more information, visit www.environmentAmericacenter.org.
The Sierra Club is the nation’s oldest and largest environmental group. Our mission is to explore, enjoy and protect the planet. The Delaware Sierra Club is the local chapter of the Sierra Club in Delaware. We run campaigns to educate the public about environmental problems and solutions and directly advocate for national, state and local policies that protect people and the environment. For more information, visit www.delaware.sierraclub.org