Partners in Liberty: The Caesar Rodney Institute

Published April 21, 2020

The Caesar Rodney Institute (CRI) is a Delaware based non-profit, dedicated to protecting individual freedom, and free markets. CRI analyzes and makes policy recommendations in areas impacting the economy, education, environment, and healthcare. 

Center for Energy Competitiveness

David Stevenson, CRI’s policy director, spent the last nine years as director of the Institute’s Center for Energy & Environment. In that role Stevenson has published over 100 analytic studies on a range of energy an environment issues.

CRI has opposed the state’s anti-free market Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), currently mandating 25-percent of electric power come from renewable sources by 2025, as well as Delaware’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) requiring electric power generators to buy carbon dioxide emission allowances. These policies drove Delaware’s electricity rates 30-percent above the national average. Consequently, Delaware has lost half its energy intensive business that typically offer high paying jobs, and has increased electricity imports from other states by 40-percent. During this time, Stevenson’s analysis found median household income in Delaware dropped 10-percent, or $7,000 a year!

By building a coalition of partners, three attempts to double the RPS have been stopped.  The coalition worked with the Public Service Commission (PSC) to have RPS cost shown as a line item on electric bills.  This year PSC froze the RPS as cost significantly exceeded a 3-percent cost cap. The freeze, only the second in the country, culminated years of PSC involvement, and lawsuits to establish a just regulation to measure the cost.

RGGI Violates Constitution

RGGI allowances are raising electric rates in non-RGGI states in violation of the Dormant Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.  A lawsuit by a non-RGGI state is called for, and CRI is currently searching for a plaintiff. 

Stevenson’s peer reviewed study of the nine-state RGGI plan showed no emission reductions compared to non-RGGI comparison states.

There has been a multi-state effort by regulated utilities to impose higher rates on utility customers, instead of investor’s funds, to install electric vehicle charging stations, and to close coal-fired power plants early. CRI has been at the forefront fighting this effort in Delaware and in several other states. CRI intervened in a case before PSC in Delaware to prevent ratepayers from subsidizing EV charging stations. Subsequent to CRI’s testimony, PSC concluded there was a robust market for EV charging stations and rejected proposals to make ratepayers pay for new stations.

National Impact

Stevenson’s deep analysis, and extensive public comments on the Obama-era Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan in 2014, led to his involvement in national policy. CRI was a founding member of the State Policy Network’s Energy & Environment Working Group and served on President Trump’s EPA transition team helping to draft a successful deregulatory strategy still unfolding today.

Stevenson has spent the last two years recruiting, and training other SPN affiliates to employ legislative, and utility commission strategies to oppose anti-free market RPS, RGGI, and EV programs in their states. As a result the SPN Working Group has grown from nine to twenty-five members.