June 24, 2015

New Vermont Law Mandates 75% Renewables by 2032, Targets Residential Emissions

  • Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin (D) last week signed House Bill 40, a new law designed to reset Vermont’s renewables programs and give utilities incentives to increase their use of renewables while cutting residential customers’ greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The legislation creates mandates for 55% renewables by 2017 and 75% renewables by 2032 for electric utilities. The new, more demanding renewables standard is also expected to reduce complaints that some of Vermont’s power producers’renewable energy credits (RECs) are counted twice, once for in-state credit and again when sold out of state.
  • The new law promises to create an “energy transformation” by legalizing solar leasing and on-bill financing of home energy efficiency upgrades like high-efficiency pumps for space or water heating.

June 23, 2015

New Law Could Crush North Carolina's Solar Industry

House Bill 332 may send jobs elsewhere.

In the last seven years, North Carolina has climbed to the forefront of solar installation in the United States thanks to progressive regulations put in place in 2007 that set mandatory minimums on how much renewable energy utilities must sell their customers. Some in the solar industry say a new law in the state legislature aims to bring that progress to a screeching halt.

June 22, 2015

Gov. Ige Signs Bill Setting 100 Percent Renewable Energy Goal for Hawaii

Governor David Ige on Monday signed into law four bills he says will advance Hawaii's position as a leader in renewable energy.

House Bill 623, one of the measures signed into law by Governor Ige, focuses on what's being called the most aggressive clean energy goal in the country: Hawaii seeks to become completely energy self-sustaining, using 100 percent renewable sources, by 2045.

June 21, 2015

Obama Commits $4bn to Form Clean-Energy Investment Clearinghouse

US energy secretary announces new office of technology transitions to help facilitate financing by connecting would-be investors with clean-energy firms.

With $4bn and a new government office, the White House has unveiled its latest clean energy initiative and cast a subtle new role for the federal government: not only is it a funder of new research, of the latest solar converter or biofuel source, but it is also a market builder.

June 19, 2015

Maine Lawmakers Propose Groundbreaking Way Out of Net Metering Wars

Legislators want a 'Standard Buyer' to acquire distributed generation and value it properly

Lawmakers in Maine may have found the best solution for getting off the net metering merry-go-round since Massachusetts’ minimum bill proposal sank, clean energy advocates in the state say.

The Maine Office of the Public Advocate and an influential state legislator led a joint committee of the Legislature to unanimous approval of a proposal that will offer solar developers at every market level an opportunity to opt out of net energy metering (NEM). Instead of retail rate NEM, they will have the choice of a new plan that allows them to capture more value for their solar.

June 18, 2015

Bill to Finance Port Energy Projects Passes California Assembly

A bill that would create state government program to finance energy efficiency projects at seaports passed the Assembly this week by a unanimous 77-0 vote.

“This bill will help Long Beach, San Pedro and other ports across the state reduce demand on their regional power grid, cut greenhouse gas emissions and ensure California continues leading the way in the implementation renewable energy,” Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, who authored the bill, said in a statement.

June 16, 2015

California Passes Ambitious Laws on Emissions and Energy Efficiency

More electricity from renewables, fewer gasoline-powered vehicles and lower power consumption by buildings mandated under ‘50-50-50’ agenda.

 Californian lawmakers want 50% of electricity from renewables and 50% less petroleum used on the roads by 2030. 

California lawmakers have passed a dozen ambitious environmental and energy bills setting high goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and petroleum use, and creating new standards for energy efficiency.

June 15, 2015

Rural Northwest Ohio Counties Pushing for Easing of Wind Turbine Law

Rural northwest Ohio stands to be the big winner if state legislators ease off their setback restrictions for giant wind turbines and allow counties to determine their own fate, according to three speakers from Van Wert and Putnam counties who participated in a conference call with reporters Wednesday.

Susan Munroe, Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive officer, said the 152-turbine Blue Creek Wind Farm has made that county “the wind farm capital of Ohio.”

June 14, 2015

Maharashtra Approves New Renewable Energy Policy, Targets 14,400 MW of Clean Energy in Western India

Maharashtra cabinet has approved the composite policy on renewable energy, in which it has set a target of achieving 14,400 MW of installed capacity in a period of five years and attracting an investment of Rs one lakh crore.

“Maharashtra cabinet approved new and renewable energy policy worth Rs 4,156.43 crore. By implementing this policy, the state will get electricity fee of Rs 3,885 crore and thus the actual expenditure is only Rs 271.43 crore,” Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said.

June 5, 2015

North Carolina Proposes Fresh Bill to Freeze Renewable Energy Mandate

Another bill aiming to freeze North Carolina’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (REPS) at 6% has passed the state Senate Finance Committee.

House Bill number 332 was pushed through in a controversial manner according to local reports, with some senators claiming there was a majority voting against the bill rather than for it.

If brought into law, the Bill would freeze the amount that utility companies are mandated to buy from renewable energy generators at 6%, instead of increasing to 10% by 2018 and 12.5% by 2021.

June 4, 2015

Kansas Governor Signs Changes to Renewable Energy Policy

Legislators would be required to sign off on any plan for reducing the state's greenhouse gas emissions under a measure Republican Gov. Sam Brownback signed Thursday.

Brownback also signed a compromise on renewable energy incentives while the Senate approved a raft of tweaks to the state's liquor laws.

The emissions bill is a response to a new rule from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency aimed at reducing power plants' greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change. States that don't submit a plan to the EPA will have a federal one imposed upon them.

June 3, 2015

German Consul General Boasts of His Nation's Renewable Energy Policy

The Germans call their nation's energy policy Energiewende. But the literal translation of the word — energy transition — belies the green revolution behind those few syllables.

For Germany, the word is synonymous with a gradual, but nonetheless radical, shift away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy. Germany is today one of the world's leading producers of green energy, with 27 percent of its power needs generated by solar, wind and hydroelectric power, among other sources.

On some sunny days, half of Germany's energy demands are met by solar power, something critics of U.S. energy policy say remains a vain hope in the states.

June 2, 2015

Georgia Power Set to Make Push into Hot Ga. Rooftop Solar Market

Southern Co.'s Georgia Power is poised to take advantage of a new state law that would allow the utility and other solar providers to get into the rooftop solar market more easily.

The move comes shortly after the state Legislature passed a law that lets Georgians enter into long-term financing arrangements with independent solar power providers, propping open the door for a competitive solar market. For Georgia Power, it marks an opportunity for the dominant utility to get into the rooftop solar business.

June 1, 2015

French Bill Seeks to Boost Renewable Energy, Cut Nuclear Use

France's lower house of parliament has approved a bill aimed at boosting renewable energy and reducing the country's reliance on nuclear power, among other environment-friendly measures.

The French government wants to be exemplary this year in environmental matters, since Paris is hosting a U.N.-backed conference in December where 196 countries aim to limit greenhouse gas emissions to fight global warming.

May 28, 2015

Hawaii Pushes Ambitious Renewable Energy Eeffort

Hawaii has become the first state to mandate a move to 100% renewable energy. In a 74-2 vote by the Hawaiian legislature, lawmakers have passed a bill that requires the state to be 100% dependent on renewable energy by the year 2045. The bill reads, in part, “The purpose of this Act is to update and extend Hawaii’s clean energy initiative and renewable portfolio standards to ensure maximum long-term benefit to Hawaii’s economy by setting a goal of one hundred per cent renewable by 2045.”

May 27, 2015

Maryland Governor Signs Community Solar Bill

Maryland is looking to increase their solar presence with a new bill that will allow construction of community solar projects through a three-year pilot program. The bill -- House Bill (HB) 1087 -- was signed by Gov. Hogan this week.

HB 1087 requires the community solar projects to be regulated under the Public Service Commission (PSC), who will also provide the structure of the program -- which includes generation of electricity and allocation of costs to subscribers.

"This pilot program is a key component to our industry's goal of increasing access to solar energy," said Rick Peters, Maryland-DC-Virginia Solar Energy Industries Association (MDV-SEIA) board president and CEO of Solar Energy Services. "In an increasingly bipartisan fashion, Maryland legislators continue to lead on renewable energy policy -- creating jobs and opportunity for Marylanders."

May 26, 2015

Historically Bipartisan Law Offers a Template for Energy Progress

As committees in both the House and the Senate begin to consider a slew of legislative energy proposals, one promising area for potential bipartisan collaboration is coming into focus – the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, or PURPA.  Today, the Center for American Progress is releasing a new report that recommends how to amend PURPA to help address the pressing energy challenges we face today.  

The electricity sector in the United States is experiencing a period of dynamic change.  Technological advancements are making energy available from new and innovative sources and offering an array of tools for managing and understanding the way we use energy.  Market forces are pushing natural gas in and backing coal out, while renewable energy is increasing its share of the national market. Regulations, like the proposed Clean Power Plan, are charting a course toward a low carbon future.  And the reality of climate change is barging onto the scene for the electricity sector – bringing challenges such as straining water supplies relied upon for cooling coal-fired and nuclear power plants and turning hydroelectric turbines.   

May 22, 2015

Vermont Renewable Energy Law May Face Late Hurdles

Vermont’s first mandatory renewable energy standard cleared the Senate on Wednesday, but lawmakers are poised to present controversial changes to the legislation that would limit the locations where wind projects could be built.

The renewable energy bill, H.40, puts the state on a course to increase the amount of renewable electricity generated and sold in Vermont. It also avoids a potential rate increase in 2017 that would likely have been created by legal issues in Vermont’s current renewable energy incentive program, known as SPEED.

May 19, 2015

An Update on State-Level Clean Energy News From Around the Country

In the last few weeks, state-level stakeholders around the country have been busy reforming renewable portfolio standards, proposing changes to net metering policies, and studying the potential effects of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. Also, in an unprecedented move, the Hawaii state legislature voted to make electricity generation 100 percent renewable by 2045.

More on these developments in our state dispatch below.

As action unfolds in the states, there’s also been some meaningful activity on clean energy at the federal level in recent weeks. Sen. Angus King, an Independent from Maine, introduced a bold piece of legislation last week designed to promote personal energy independence through advanced technologies. The bill would ensure that distributed energy resources are able to be connected to the grid in a reasonable timeframe for a reasonable price, and with reasonable compensation for the benefits they offer utilities. Also last week, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced legislation that would boost funding for smart grid technology.

In other federal news, the Supreme Court announced that it would hear the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's Order 745 demand response case. Also in the courts, judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia Circuit appear likely to dismiss the first legal challenge to the Clean Power Plan.
And now to the states. 

May 17, 2015

Move Over, Mandates: Can a New ‘Personal Energy Independence’ Bill Entice Congress?

Federal policy proposals in support of clean energy are often blunt and controversial, relying mostly on mandates or targets that trouble free-market conservatives.

Numerous bills creating a national renewable energy target have been shut down over the years. Recent carbon regulations from the White House that effectively create new clean energy targets for states have also sparked fierce legal opposition from the energy industry and Congressional leaders.

May 7, 2015

Hawaii Grid Could be 100% Renewable by 2040 – With Net Savings

Hawaii is famously reliant on imported fossil fuels, for both electricity and transportation. But that’s changing rapidly as the state invests heavily in renewables.

Two new bills are now pending in the Hawaii legislature that would codify the 100 percent renewables goal statewide, up from the current mandate of 40 percent by 2030. HB 623 would require 70 percent renewables by 2040 and 100 percent by 2050. SB 715 would require 70 percent by 2035 and 100 percent by 2050, but this bill is apparently languishing now while HB 623 is still active. Both of these bills originally called for 100 percent renewables by 2040.

May 6, 2015

California Supervisor Lovingood Pitching Renewable Energy Project Legislation in San Bernardino County

The Assembly Committee on Natural Resources on Monday unanimously approved proposed legislation by San Bernardino County Supervisor Robert Lovingood that would allow renewable energy projects to be built on mining sites where the land has already been disturbed.

Lovingood addressed the committee Monday on his proposed Assembly Bill 1034, introduced by Assemblyman Jay Obernolte, R-Hesperia, on Feb. 26, said Ross Sevy, Obernolte’s district director.

May 5, 2015

Vermont Senate Panel Gives Towns More Regulatory Authority Over Solar Projects

Towns would have more regulatory authority over solar energy projects under a proposal in the Senate.
The Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee added a provision to the state’s renewable energy bill, H.40, that allows towns to adopt bylaws requiring solar developers to comply with setback and screening requirements.

The committee passed the bill 4-1. Senate Finance will now take up the legislation.

May 4, 2015

Michigan Dems File Bills to Double Renewable Energy, Efficiency Standards

  • Democrats in Michigan's House and Senate have introduced a package of bills aimed at boosting the state's clean energy economy and increasing the use of renewable energy.
  • The legislative package, dubbed "Powering Michigan’s Future," would increase the state's renewable energy standard to 20% by 2022 and double efficiency standards.
  • Clean energy and efficiency are billion-dollar industries in Michigan, with about $3 billion in private funds invested in green power over the last seven years, according to lawmakers.

May 3, 2015

Odisha, India Mulls New Renewable Energy Policy

Rough assessments put state's gross renewable energy potential at 53,820 Mw.

To tap the opportunity in the non-conventional sources of energy, the Odisha government plans to come out with a new policy for development of the sector in the state.

"Instead of formulating separate policies for different sources of renewable energy, the state government is coming out with one combined policy named as Odisha Renewable Policy-2015," said an official of the Green Energy Development Corporation Limited (Gedcol), the nodal agency appointed by the state government to augment generation of energy from non-conventional sources. "We will soon seek suggestions and comments on the draft policy," added the official.