Sen. Tom Carper visited two businesses in Milford on Monday in an effort to understand the needs of local nonprofits and energy resources.
Carper first visited People's Place, a nonprofit organization located on Airport Road in Milford that provides a myriad of mental health and social services to residents of Kent, Sussex and lower New Castle counties. People's Place Executive Director Del Failing offered Carper an overview and facilities tour of People's Place, formed in 1972 as a volunteer organization. While Failing noted all of the positive services the organization offers to the community, he also addressed the issue of funding, which Carper hopes will begin to improve by September 2013.
Yearly, thousands of Delawareans benefit from the services offered by People's Place, but Failing noted that the organization has its hands full in an underserved area. With the threat of funding cuts, Failing worries that People's Place may not be able to expand its reach and may have to continue to charge nominal fees for services.
"We're always looking for new opportunities, but we have to make sure we have the infrastructure and expertise," Failing said. "As a nonprofit in a rural area our job is to fill the need we see."
"Times are already tough," Failing said while discussing the issue of national sequestration with Carper.
The federal government's decision to use sequestration to balance the federal deficit has resulted in a definite two-percent cut in one area of People's Place funding, with the threat of additional budget cuts in the near future.
"Two percent might not sound like a lot, but it is when we've already tightened our belts and cut the budget. It's just a further squeeze. The sequester is an issue we hope will get resolved."
Carper said he is working on "a comprehensive deficit reduction plan to end sequestration."
CITY OF MILFORD SOLAR FARM
Carper also visited the PSEG Solar Farm located on the Milford-Harrington Highway. He donned a white hard hat to take a tour of the facility, which on Monday was reaching peak capacity as the sun beat down on 61,896 poly-crystalline silicone-based solar panels.
"It might be a record day, but heat does cause a little degradation," explained DEMEC President and CEO Patrick McCullar. Despite degradation, PSEG Director of Engineering and Development Steven Bilheimer told Carper that he anticipates the solar farm to continue producing energy for about 35 years, with the panels' life span at about 40-45 years.
The solar farm has five power stations that convert direct current energy to alternating current energy, which then goes to the grid with the ability to power 9,000 homes at maximum output. Since the solar farm started production last December, Milford has experienced an energy reduction of 8.5 percent. The 80-acre, 15-megawatt facility is the state's largest solar farm.