Senate Bill 170 aims to evaluate the potential of offshore wind energy.

Senate passes offshore wind energy collaboration bill

Jarek RutzHeadlines, Government

Senate Bill 170 aims to evaluate the potential of offshore wind energy.

Senate Bill 170 aims to evaluate the potential of offshore wind energy.

The Senate passed seven bills Thursday, but two of them – one about offshore wind energy and one about tenant protections – received some resistance.

Senate Bill 170, sponsored by Sen. Stephanie Hansen, D-Middletown, requires the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) to work with the Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland Interconnection to look into the viability of generating offshore wind energy. 

The department would subsequently be responsible for reporting back to Gov. John Carney and the General Assembly on a process for obtaining offshore wind power.

A written report, including the Department’s recommended process, and any legislative or regulatory steps needed to implement the recommendation, to the governor, the chief clerk of the House of Representatives and the Secretary of the Senate by Dec. 1, 2023.

The process must include: 

  • The long-term cost impact, if any, on taxpayers in Delaware.
  • Potential economic costs and benefits for the state and for Delawareans.
  • The consistency of such a procurement with the Delaware Climate Action Plan, the Delaware Energy Plan, and the ability of the state to meet its Renewable Energy Portfolio standards.
  • The avoided costs of greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants on the state from power generation sources.
  • Potential health benefits for the state and for Delawareans.
  • The availability and scale of suitable offshore wind locations. 
  • The state of the offshore wind industry and associated supply chains.
  • The impacts on the electricity transmission system and capacity and energy markets.

The bill is in response to greenhouse gas emissions causing negative, tumultuous climate change.

Sen. Eric Buckson, R-Dover, was hesitant to support the bill, but agreed that it simply requires DNREC to assess the situation.

“There’s no mandate, and there’s nothing behind this that says that we have to do anything other than get a result and look at it?” he asked, which was correct. “So the idea is to kind of look at things to see where we are… I’m not offended by green energy, so the idea is to take a look, a fresh look.”

Buckson voted for the bill.

His fellow Republican legislator, Sen. Bryant Richardson, R-Laurel, was the solo vote against the bill.

“I’m very much concerned about the effect that this will have on our planet, on the oceans, on the birds, on aquatic life, it just seems very disruptive to our planet,” he said. “There are other alternatives for producing the energy that we’re going to need, and I just don’t want to lend my vote to something that I think is never going to be something that’s going to enhance the aesthetic value of our planet.”

SB 170 will next be assigned to a House committee for discussion. 

The other bill that had some pushback in the Senate Thursday was Senate Bill 172, sponsored by Sen. Jack Walsh, D-Stanton, had five senators vote against it. 

RELATED STORY: Will offshore wind bills ultimately hike residential power costs?

The legislation aims to create penalties for community owners who have a pattern of practice of endangering the health and safety of their tenants. 

“Existing tenant protections do not sufficiently protect tenants in our manufactured home communities,” Walsh said. 

The bill also requires the Justice of the Peace Court to send written notice to the Director of Consumer Protection at the Department of Justice within 10 days of its receipt of a petition for tenants’ receivership.

Receivership is usually used for abandoned and substandard properties where the owner has a history of non-compliance with local enforcement agency orders to abate, or when a property’s condition presents a serious threat to its occupants or the surrounding public.

No one gave reasons for voting against the bill in the hearing, but Sen. Dave Lawson, R-Marydel,  Sen. David Wilson, R-Lincoln, Sen. Brian Pettyjohn, R-Georgetown, Richardson and Buckson voted no to the bill.

Still, it had enough votes to pass and is headed to a House committee. 

Also Thursday: 

  • Senate Bill 154, sponsored by Pettyjohn, repeals the sunset of the Focus on Alternative Skills Training Program, which provides up to $9,000 in training for graduating high school students into a non-degree program for certification and credentialing. It’s for students who enter a trade rather than going to college. SB 154 heads to a House committee. 
  • Senate Bill 168, sponsored by Sen. Russ Huxtable, D-Lewes, clarifies veterinarian and practice. Among some technical licensing changes, it also requires that, in order for a veterinarian to practice veterinary medicine, a relationship among the veterinarian, the client, and the patient must be established and maintained. SB 168 heads to a House committee. 
  • Senate Bill 165, sponsored by Sen. Nicole Poore, D-Delaware City, allows pharmacists to engage in “collaborative pharmacy practice” with one or more practitioners, meaning individuals who are authorized by law to prescribe drugs in the course of professional practice. Pharmacists may also do so pursuant to a “collaborative pharmacy practice agreement,” which means a written and signed agreement between one or more pharmacists and one or more practitioners that provides for a collaborative pharmacy practice.

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