Delaware and coal

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Delaware had 10 coal-fired generating stations in 2005, with 1082 MW of capacity, representing 30.7% of the state's total electric generating capacity; Delaware ranks 39th out of the 50 states in terms of coal-fired electric generating capacity.[1] In 2006, Delaware's coal-fired power plants produced 5.6 million tons of CO2, 34,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, and 8,000 tons of nitrogen oxide; coal-fired power plants were responsible for 34% of the state's total CO2 emissions.[2] In 2005, Delaware emitted 20.4 tons of CO2 per person, roughly the same rate as the U.S. average.[3]

No coal was mined in Delaware in 2006.[4]

Citizen activism

June 2011: Groups seek revocation of Massey corporate charter

In June 2011, the groups Free Speech for People and Appalachian Voices filed a "Request to Investigate Revocation of Massey Energy Company Corporate Charters" (PDF) for Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden to revoke the corporate charter of Massey Energy, citing a pattern of lawlessness on the part of Massey leading up to the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster. The request states that during the 10 years leading up to the disaster, 54 Massey miners died--a death rate more than 15 times the death rate of other coal companies--and that the company had accumulated 62,923 reported violations. The report states that limited liability and the other privileges of a corporate charter are conditioned on good behavior and serving the public interest, and that Massey lost those privileges by breaking the law 62,923 times in 10 years and putting workers' lives in unnecessary danger. The report also goes on to address Massey's political activity, including past cases of large campaign contributions to elect appeals judges who overturn Massey's convictions. Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden is the son of Vice President Joe Biden.


With little or no coal reserves, Delaware has no history of coal mining.[5] However, the coal power industry is quite strong in the state, although virtually all of Delaware's coal power plants are more than 25 years old.[1] There are currently no active coal power plant proposals in the state; NRG Energy had planned to build a fifth coal-fired unit at its Indian River power plant, but that project was abandoned in 2007.

Legislative issues

On July 30, 2009, Governor Markell signed into law Senate Bills 59 and 106. Senate Bill 59 creates new requirements for the state's building codes to increase energy efficiency and promotes the construction of zero-net-energy residential and commercial buildings. Senate Bill 106, titled the Energy Conservation and Efficiency Act of 2009, requires state utilities to reduce their energy consumption 15 percent by 2015. The legislation also identifies energy efficiency as the least expensive means of reaching Delaware's energy demands, and requires that efficiency efforts be considered before new supply is generated. The "loading order" for new generation calls for renewable energy sources to be used before fossil fuels.[6]

Proposed coal plants


There are no active coal power plant proposals in Delaware.


Coal lobbying groups

Coal power companies

Existing coal plants

Delaware had 10 coal-fired generating units at four locations in 2005, with 1082 megawatts (MW) of capacity - representing 30.7% of the state's total electric generating capacity.[7] [8] [9]

Here is a list of coal power plants in Delaware with capacity over 100 MW:[1][10]

Plant Name County Owner Year(s) Built Capacity 2007 CO2 Emissions 2006 SO2 Emissions SO2/MW Rank
Indian River Sussex NRG Energy 1957, 1959, 1970, 1980 782 MW 3,558,000 tons 20,705 68
Edge Moor New Castle Pepco Holdings 1954, 1966 252 MW 2,055,000 tons 13,397 tons N/A

These 2 plants represent 95.6% of Delaware's coal energy generating capacity, 32.7% of the state's total CO2 emissions, and 14.7% of its total SO2 emissions.[3]

For a map of existing coal plants in the state, see the bottom of this page.

Coal waste

Higher cancer rates near Indian River plant

In January 2011, it was reported that the Delaware Division of Public Health did a study examining the number of cancer cases in a six ZIP code area around the plant. The areas examined were Dagsboro, Frankford, Georgetown, Millsboro, Ocean View and Selbyville. The Division study showed an incidence of 553.9 cancer cases per 100,000 residents of the area between 2000 and 2004, compared with the Delaware state rate of 501.3, and the U.S. rate of 473.6 cancer cases per 100,000 residents, making the rate of cancer cases in the area 17 percent higher than the national average, and suggesting a possible correlation to the plant.[11]

Drinking water contaminated with toxic hexavalent chromium found at Indian River site

A report released by EarthJustice and the Sierra Club in early February 2011 stated that there are many health threats associated with a toxic cancer-causing chemical found in coal ash waste called hexavalent chromium. The report specifically cited 29 sites in 17 states where the contamination was found. The information was gathered from existing EPA data on coal ash and included locations in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Massachusetts, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virgina and Wisconsin. In Delaware, the Indian River Power Station in Millsboro was reported to be leaking chromium from an unlined landfill.[12]

According to EPA data, the Indian River coal ash site is an unlined landfill that is closed. Hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) was reported at the site above 211 ppb (parts per billion) - 10,500 times the proposed California drinking water goals and 2.11 times above the federal drinking water standard.[12]

As a press release about the report read:

Hexavalent chromium first made headlines after Erin Brockovich sued Pacific Gas & Electric because of poisoned drinking water from hexavalent chromium. Now new information indicates that the chemical has readily leaked from coal ash sites across the U.S. This is likely the tip of the iceberg because most coal ash dump sites are not adequately monitored.[13]

Major coal mines

There are no coal mines in Delaware.[14]

Citizen groups



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Existing Electric Generating Units in the United States, 2005, Energy Information Administration, accessed April 2008. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "EIA" defined multiple times with different content
  2. Estimated Emissions for U.S. Electric Power Industry by State, 1990-2006, Energy Information Administration, 2007.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Delaware Energy Consumption Information, eRedux website, accessed June 2008.
  4. Coal Production and Number of Mines by State and Mine Type, Energy Information Administration, accessed June 2008.
  5. State Coal Profiles, Energy Information Administration, 1994. - cached copy at
  6. "Markell signs bills updating state building code, targeting energy reduction by 2015," Office of the Governor, July 30, 2009.
  7. Environmental Integrity Project
  8. "Dirty Kilowatts: America’s Most Polluting Power Plants", July 2007.
  9. Dig Deeper, Carbon Monitoring for Action database, accessed June 2008.
  10. Dig Deeper, Carbon Monitoring for Action database, accessed June 2008.
  11. Victor Furman, "Cancer Cluster Linked to Coal?" Press Connects, January 2, 2011.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "EPA’s Blind Spot: Hexavalent Chromium in Coal Ash" Earthjustice & Sierra Club, February 1, 2011.
  13. "Coal ash waste tied to cancer-causing chemicals in water supplies" Alicia Bayer,, February 1, 2011.
  14. Major U.S. Coal Mines, Energy Information Administration, accessed June 2008.


Existing coal plants in Delaware

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