Pea Patch Island was, in the beginning, a mostly forgotten mound in the middle of the Delaware River. Through the earliest years of American history, the island was so small and unassuming that neither New Jersey nor Delaware were concerned with which state claimed ownership.
But that all changed two centuries ago, right after the War of 1812, when the island became a focal point for our young nation’s security. Construction lasted many years, but the result was Fort Delaware, a pentagon-shaped fortification that, along with Fort Mott in Pennsville, New Jersey, and Fort DuPont in Delaware City, Delaware, established a three-pronged defense of Philadelphia and its critically important harbor from enemy ships.
The attack on Philadelphia never came, however. So during the Civil War, Fort Delaware was put to more productive use as a Union POW camp for 32,000 captured Confederate soldiers. Once the War Between the States was over, the fort remained active but quiet through World Wars I and II. It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that Fort Delaware began its new life as a historical site and tourist attraction.
On April 27, Delaware state officials formally dedicated Fort Delaware’s newly installed solar array – made possible through the state’s longstanding partnership with PSEG and the company’s donation of 700 solar panels.
Fort Delaware’s story is one of shifting identities. Here at PSEG, we know all about that.
For most of our 115-year history, Public Service was a traditional poles-and-wires company, providing customers with electricity that was generated using fossil fuels.
But today, PSEG has earned a national reputation and a new identity as a leader in clean energy. We have invested nearly $2 billion in solar energy – including PSEG Solar Source, which has developed 23 utility-scale solar farms in 14 states (including the largest solar farm in Delaware), and Solar 4 All, an award-winning program that builds solar energy facilities on old landfills and brownfields, putting these forgotten spaces back to productive use.
PSEG’s donated solar panels were installed with the help of state and federal grants. The new solar installation replaces the island’s previous source of electricity – an old diesel generator that was damaged during Superstorm Sandy – and will provide the state park with approximately $20,000 worth of clean energy per year.
In previous seasons, the generator burned 180 barrels of diesel fuel per year to power the state park. The drums of fuel were brought to the island by boat – which was not only inefficient, but also presented both environmental and safety concerns.
By converting to solar energy, Fort Delaware State Park now has access to clean, efficient and more affordable power year-round, enabling heat, lights, security cameras and dehumidifiers to run throughout the winter months.
The result is a win for the environment and a win for the people of Delaware.
At PSEG, we’re proud of our clean energy leadership. That’s also true in our home state of New Jersey, where we not only are the leading developer of solar energy but also, as the operators of the Salem and Hope Creek nuclear plants, the state’s leading generator of carbon-free electricity.
And we’re working closely with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy to pursue the state’s clean energy goals – including initiatives to expand energy efficiency, promote the use of electric vehicles and contribute to the development of offshore wind resources.
PSEG has enjoyed a long-lasting public-private partnership with the state of Delaware. We’re excited to continue that partnership and support the sustainability of Fort Delaware by merging Civil War history with 21st-century science to provide safe, clean and efficient solar power that also helps the state reduce its carbon footprint.