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.

April 28, 2015

Major Australian Utility Calls on Government to Commit to Carbon Reduction

An off-grid solar installation in Australia. The case for a binding commitment to reducing emissions and increasing deployment of renewables in the country is increasingly economic as well as environmental and political.

Australian utility company AGL has called on the country’s regional and local government to “set both binding and aspirational medium and long-term emission reduction targets”, while outlining its own commitments to carbon reduction.

April 27, 2015

Community Solar Bill Puts Maryland at Forefront of Renewable Energy Policy

This week, the Maryland General Assembly took a key step forward to allow more Marylanders than ever to access solar energy by passing community solar legislation. Community solar projects allow multiple people to subscribe to one solar energy project and offset a portion of their electric bill from the energy generated through a credit.

Community solar is important because approximately 80 percent of Marylanders are currently unable to choose solar energy, either because they have shaded roofs, are renters, can’t afford a full system or don’t have access to their roof. 

April 26, 2015

Bill Would Cut Short NC’s Green-Energy Law

The green-energy mandate that has helped make North Carolina the fourth-largest solar state would be cut short under a bill filed this week by state House leaders.

The Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard, called REPS, was the first in the Southeast when lawmakers adopted it in 2007.

The law says utilities have to generate increasing amounts of energy from the sun, wind and organic wastes, or from energy efficiency. It set an ultimate green-energy target of 12.5 percent of retail sales by 2021.

April 24, 2015

Political Divide Emerges Over Minnesota Energy Policy

House bill would let utilities decide which renewable energy sources are cheaper.

State Rep. Pat Garofalo says he’s not trying to undo decades of progress on energy conservation and renewable energy in Minnesota.

That’s been the reaction from clean-energy interests to the House energy committee chairman’s proposed revision of state renewable energy policy released this week.

One solar manufacturer says it would shut down its Mountain Iron, Minn., production plant if the House measure becomes law.

“Never have I seen some people so upset over a bill that reduces energy pollution and lowers energy costs,” tweeted Garofalo, R-Farmington, who drives a Tesla electric car and believes such innovative technology is part of the solution.

April 8, 2015

In North Carolina, Walmart and Other Corporate Giants Call for Clean Energy Choices

Leading national companies in North Carolina want more choice and competition when it comes to energy, including where it comes from and who they buy it from. That’s the message recently delivered to the North Carolina legislature in a letter signed by 10 corporate giants in the state.

The list of companies calling for action is impressive, including:

April 7, 2015

Maui County Islands Can Attain 100% Renewable Energy

Maui County, which includes the islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai, is sticking to its ambitious goal of becoming the first islands in the United States to achieve 100 percent renewable energy.

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa, a speaker at the Wednesday kickoff of the Maui Energy Conference, noted that other islands elsewhere have gone off the grid, including islands in the Caribbean.

“The goal is real and attainable, using proven technology, including wind, solar and storage,” he said. “It’s about freedom, self-sufficiency and sustainability.”

Because of price fluctuations by fossil fuel sources, more and more island states and nations are becoming dependent on renewable resources, Arakawa said.

April 6, 2015

Renewable Energy Policy in Odisha, India Soon

The State Government will soon launch a Renewable Energy Policy to promote renewable energy utilisation for ensuring energy access, security and sustainable growth for people, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced here on Thursday.

Inaugurating a legislators’ meet organised by Climate Parliament Odisha Chapter on the Assembly premises and attended by more than 56 MLAs cutting across party lines, Naveen  emphasised on acceleration of renewable energy mechanisms and outlined a series of measures to be taken up by the Government.

April 5, 2015

NJBPU Approves $1.38 Million in On-Sight Generation and Energy Efficiency Grants

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities approved approximately $1.38 million in combined heat and power (CHP) and energy efficiency incentives for projects in Morris and Passaic counties. The incentives, provided through New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program™ (NJCEP), will make possible more than $3.33 million in distributive generation and energy efficient upgrades, saving the recipients a combined $451,288 in annual energy costs and reducing existing demands on the electric power grid which benefit all ratepayers.

April 3, 2015

Proposed Texas State Legislation Could Change Renewable Energy

Proposed legislation could end a Texas mandate for the renewable power industry.

The state of Texas leads the nation when it comes to wind power, but Texas lawmakers are asking if it is time to end state support for the renewable power industry.

The bill's sponsor says Texas has far surpassed goals set by the state to lower its carbon emissions.

April 2, 2015

Texas Senator Seeks to Dismantle What He Helped Create: The Renewable Portfolio Standard

Sen. Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay) has filed a bill that would eliminate Texas’ Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) – a policy that has catapulted Texas to world leadership in wind energy and strengthened Texas’ energy diversity. In addition to terminating the RPS at the end of the year, SB 931would make it more difficult to build renewable energy infrastructure. The argument behind the bill is that because Texas has achieved its RPS goals it’s time to move on. Sounds reasonable, right? Well…

No one disputes that Texas has achieved its goal to develop 5,880 MW of renewable energy – and even surpassed its non-binding 2025 target of 10,000 MW. Today, Texas has more than 13,000 MW of renewables online and thousands more in development. I’m sure Fraser will publicly laud the policy. He even deserves to take a big chunk of the credit because of legislation he carried in 2005 (SB 20) that increased the RPS goals.

But this is the wrong time to terminate the RPS, and it’s the wrong time to end CREZ.

April 1, 2015

Obama Orders US Agencies to Cut Carbon Emissions 40 Percent by 2025

President Barack Obama ordered the federal government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 2008 levels over the next 10 years by shifting to renewable energy sources such as solar power.

The executive order signed by Obama Thursday builds on a 2010 directive from the White House requiring 35 U.S. agencies to limit their energy consumption to help combat climate change. Private companies that contract with the federal government have also agreed to pursue emissions reductions in concert with the most recent directive.

March 31, 2015

Chile Gets Cleaner at a Profit with Renewable Energy Push

Policies favoring clean energy and increased competition would normally dim prospects for existing producers. Not in Chile, where foreign investors are driving a renewable boom at a time of surging returns by local utilities.

In the year since President Michelle Bachelet took office, Chilean companies including Enersis SA and AES Gener SA are among the best performers in Americas energy stocks tracked by Bloomberg. In the previous 12 months, they were the worst after years of opposition to coal and hydroelectric projects and a prolonged drought crimped earnings and sent prices soaring.

March 30, 2015

Amid Budget Shortfalls, Kansas Legislature Considers Slashing Tax Incentives for Green Energy

Renewable energy groups say two proposals in the Kansas Legislature would threaten the young industry's existence by shortening a lifetime property tax exemption for wind and solar farms and imposing a 4.33 percent excise tax on ethanol fuel and renewable electricity.

The bills emerged in hearings Monday and Wednesday after a proposal to freeze requirements for the share of renewable electricity for the grid.

March 29, 2015

In South Korea, Auto Plants Being Put to Use for Solar Power Production

Power companies now required to have renewable energy account for a certain portion of their output
Large factory sites for domestic automobile assembly and production are being utilized for solar power generation.

A shift in Seoul’s renewable energy policy from subsidies to renewable portfolio standards (RPS) has prompted power companies to make use of the large lots available at car plants. The automakers, for their part, stand to gain by acquiring future emissions rights cheaper from the power companies.

GM Korea began power production on Mar. 11 with a 11.5-megawatt solar power facility at its Changwon plant. The facility, which is capable of producing up to 14,000 megawatt-hours of electricity, was built with solar panels on the plant roof and parking area. Plant production and management are carried out by KC Cottrell in conjunction with Korea Southern Power and other partners, while GM Korea supplies the site.

March 27, 2015

Rooftop Solar Power Units to Get Boost in Maharashtra, India

The Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) has finally come out with a draft notification for allowing grid connectivity to rooftop solar power generation sets. The notification published on March 9 has cited recommendations of the working committee which was formed on MERC's directives. The committee had submitted its report seven months ago.