Co-op Innovation: Putting Members First

In 2012, DEC dedicated the Bruce A. Henry Solar Energy Farm.

DEC employees transformed the Co-op over the past several decades into one of the most progressive utilities in the nation. Engineers and DEC leaders developed innovative strategies to improve reliability, control costs and provide cleaner power to our 95,000 member-owners. These innovations have allowed the Co-op to offer the lowest rates in the state, they’ve hardened our system and have improved the lives of those living in our service territory.

Infrared & Aerial Scanning:

The Co-op uses infrared scanning to find electrical equipment that is overheating and in danger of failing. Helicopters have also been used to scan our electrical system for problems, finding possible issues engineers couldn’t see from the ground. Both types of scanning play an important role in preventing outages.

Turning Trash into Energy:

Energy produced at DSWA’s Sandtown Landfill in Kent County powers about 1,000 DEC homes. Decomposing garbage produces methane gas. The facility funnels that excess gas into turbines, which generate energy for members’ homes. Gas-to-energy projects can lower emissions at landfills by 60 to 90 percent. If the methane gas wasn’t being used to produce energy, it would be burned off, releasing emissions into the air.

A More Efficient Electrical System:

As energy moves from power plants to your home, some of it is lost. Most utilities average 8 to 10 percent energy loss across the system. DEC engineers have installed new transformers and electronic meters that prevent electricity from being lost. Because of their hard work, DEC averages only a 4 to 5 percent current loss across the system, saving members $3-$4 million every year.

Cheaper Irrigation:

DEC launched an irrigation grant program to help Delaware farmers install environmentally friendly irrigation systems. The program provided funding to farmers to replace older diesel irrigation pumps with electric pumps and offered financial help to farmers looking to install new irrigation systems. DEC invested in variable-frequency drives topower irrigation units in the most rural areas of our service territory, an innovative way to provide three-phase power needed to run irrigation pivots to farms. More than 400 farmers were helped by the program.

Improved Lighting:

Your Co-op has distributed 256,000 CFL and LED light bulbs to members, lowering their energy costs. The bulbs use up to 80 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. The Cooperative has replaced 558 roadway lights with energy-saving LED lights, which last nearly three times as long as traditional highway lights. DEC has also started offering efficient LED parking lot lighting and LED area lights – with more than 1,500 of the lights having been installed.

Faster Power Restoration:

With the click of a mouse, or the touch of an iPad screen, engineers can now restore power faster. DEC employees can open and close automated devices in the field, isolating problems and redirecting power from substations to areas in the dark. During major storms, all the action takes place in our state-of-the-art dispatch center.

Beat the Peak:

This voluntary program asks members to conserve energy during times when the price of energy is high. By using less power during these times, members have been able to save more than $27 million. The program has been so successful, utilities across the country have started using this money-saving program.

Helping Farmers:

DEC has helped farmers convert old incandescent and CFL poultry lights to energy-efficient LED lights. LED lights use about 80 percent less energy than traditional lights. Farmers who installed the LED bulbs saw an 84 percent reduction in their energy bills. Nearly 20,000 poultry LED bulbs have been installed in poultry houses.

Harnessing the Sun’s Power:

In 2012, DEC dedicated the Bruce A. Henry Solar Energy Farm. The solar array covers 20 acres and produces 4 megawatts of electricity, enough clean energy to power 500 Delaware homes.