A guide to recent legislation and research throughout the country.
Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren proposes more renewables on public lands
Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren proposed a moratorium on fossil fuel leasing on public lands and a plan to get 10% of America’s energy from renewables on these lands instead, according to WBUR. Senator Warren wrote in a Medium post, “We can achieve this goal while prioritizing sites with low impact on local ecology but high potential for renewable energy generation.”
America’s public lands provide us with clean air and water, sustain fish and wildlife, and offer a place for millions to experience the beauty of nature. Right now, they’re under attack. Read my new plan to protect them while fighting climate change: https://t.co/BBaeOc7kMN
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) April 15, 2019
Report finds Massachusetts battery storage incentive can be adopted by other states
Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to make battery storage eligible for state energy efficiency incentives in January. A report by Clean Energy Group finds that if adopted by other states, these policies could reduce the upfront costs of storage and greatly expand the market. The report lays out steps other states can take to replicate the measure.
Navajo Nation makes renewable energy a top priority
Window Rock, Arizona
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez signed a proclamation committing to shifting the nation to clean energy, according to Arizona Public Media. In the days prior, the tribal council voted to drop its bid for a coal-fired power plant. The new proclamation includes a commitment to provide off-grid solar to Navajo households without electricity and a plan to build more utility-scale solar projects.
Maine’s new governor brings back net metering
New Maine governor Janet Mills signed a bill restoring net-metering credits and rolling back the requirement for two electric meters on homes with solar, according to The Times Record. Mills tweeted, “Maine has lagged behind other states in embracing policies that advance solar power. That ends today.” She also plans to install solar panels on the governor’s mansion.
Maine has lagged behind other states in embracing policies that advance solar power. That ends today. By signing this bill we are restoring net metering, resetting solar policy, & charting a course for the growth of solar power to lower electricity bills & combat climate change. pic.twitter.com/x6joCeNO5v
— Governor Janet Mills (@GovJanetMills) April 2, 2019
Nevada officially doubles RPS to 50% by 2030
Carson City, Nevada
Governor Steve Sisolak signed legislation doubling Nevada’s renewable portfolio standard to 50% by 2030 after the bill passed through both the House and Senate without a single “no” vote. A coalition of businesses, local chambers of commerce, labor unions and community groups called Clean Energy Works for Nevada supported the bill all the way through.
I can’t think of a better way to mark #EarthDay than by enacting a law that will put our state back on the path toward renewable energy leadership in our country. I’m delighted to sign #SB358 into law this afternoon. #CleanEnergy pic.twitter.com/mHJKxE1L9C
— Governor Sisolak (@GovSisolak) April 22, 2019
Maryland’s Clean Energy Jobs Act on governor’s desk
The Maryland legislature passed the Clean Energy Jobs Act that will boost solar jobs and development, according to the Baltimore Sun. The legislation requires utilities to subsidize solar and wind farms as well as the waste-to-energy industry. The solar industry supports the bill, but critics aren’t happy that the bill includes subsidies for waste-to-energy players like trash incinerators. It’s up to the governor now to decide if the bill should become law.
South Carolina’s Energy Freedom Act advances to full Senate
Columbia, South Carolina
The Energy Freedom Act, a bill to loosen regulatory burdens and increase customer access to solar, was sent to the full Senate for a vote, according to the Index-Journal. The legislation was passed unanimously by the House but was held up in a Senate committee due to a debate over contract lengths. The committee settled on 10-year solar project contracts to please both utilities and the solar industry, but amendments are expected to be made in this next phase.
California’s Solar Bill of Rights moves forward in legislature
The bipartisan Solar Bill of Rights has advanced into the California Senate Appropriations Committee, clearing its first major legislative hurdle. The bill would remove barriers to local solar investments created by utilities, like interconnection delays and other time-consuming red tape. Solar advocates say the bill is clearly needed, as Sacramento’s local utility has recently proposed a new charge that discriminates against rooftop solar.
Chicago becomes largest city in the U.S. to commit to 100% clean energy
Chicago’s City Council unanimously voted to transition the city to 100% renewable energy by 2035, making it the largest city to make the commitment. “Setting a goal is just the beginning; Sierra Club looks forward to our continued collaboration with community groups, the City of Chicago, businesses and other stakeholders as we advance a just, clean energy transition for all of Chicago,” said Kyra Woods, Chicago organizer with the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 Action Campaign, in a statement.
Puerto Rico goes 100% renewable
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico’s governor signed the bill committing the island to 100% clean energy by 2050, according to Vox. Currently, renewable energy makes up just 2% of its energy mix. The road to 100% will be challenging, but the law removes some previous permitting and interconnection barriers to solar deployment.
Minnesota’s 100% RPS bill moves forward to Senate
Saint Paul, Minnesota
The Minnesota House of Representatives passed an omnibus energy and economic bill that includes a commitment to 100% clean energy by 2050. The bill will also allow more land owners to site community solar on their properties by relaxing existing restrictions.
Vermont utility commits to 100% renewable energy
Vermont utility Green Mountain Power (GMP) announced its commitment to 100% renewable energy by 2030 on Earth Day. GMP says it’s among the most aggressive carbon targets for a utility of its size in the country. “The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report makes clear, we have to act now, and take bold steps to cut carbon,” said Mary Powell, president and CEO of GMP, in a statement.
Solar advocates speak out against Idaho Power’s attempt to gut net metering
Idaho solar advocates are protesting Idaho Power’s proposal to increase utility bills for many businesses and farmers that want to go solar. The utility wants to suspend net metering for C&I and irrigation customers until 2020. Vote Solar and Idaho Conservation League are urging the Idaho Public Utilities Commission to reject the request.
New York expands access to solar through revised VDER tariff
Albany, New York
The New York Public Service Commission updated the Value of Distributed Energy Resources (VDER) tariff that compensates resources like solar. This iteration includes the environmental and societal benefits that DERs provide to the grid in the valuation, so solar advocates say it’s a big improvement, but there’s still work to be done. “It will take continued focus from the Commission to truly transition New York’s outdated electric system into one that provides access to affordable local clean power for all New Yorkers,” said Jeff Cramer, executive director of the Coalition for Community Solar Access, in a statement.
Ohio nuclear bailout could harm solar industry
The Ohio House of Representatives is debating a “clean energy” bill that would bail out First Energy’s failing nuclear plant and could harm small-scale solar in the state by not allowing projects under 50 MW to receive incentives, according to the Toledo Blade. The bill would also do away with the mandate requiring utilities to source more of their power from renewables.
Renewable energy groups ask Congress for clean energy innovation funding in 2020 budget
Renewable energy groups including The American Council on Renewable Energy, the American Wind Energy Association and the Solar Energy Industries Association sent a joint letter to Congress asking for consistent funding for energy innovation in the Department of Energy’s 2020 budget. The groups also voiced their opposition to the Administration’s proposed deep cuts to clean energy programs.