May 26, 2016

House Energy and Water Appropriations Bill: Makes Progress but Could Do More to Cut Spending

This week, the Energy and Water appropriations bill is expected to be debated on the House floor. 

The second of 12 appropriations bills providing discretionary funding for the federal government, the bill provides funding for projects under the direction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, the Department of Energy, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The fiscal year (FY) 2017 Energy and Water appropriations bill provides $37.5 billion in discretionary budget authority, an increase of $259 million over the 2016 enacted level and $168 million above the President’s request. This is a modest increase compared to the almost $3 billion in new funding provided by last year’s omnibus appropriations act. The bill also includes a number of policy riders that will help to stop continued government overreach on environmental issues.

May 17, 2016

10 States Blocking the Power of the Sun

Some of the sunniest states in the country are actively blocking rooftop-solar development through overtly lacking and destructive policy landscapes, according to a Center for Biological Diversity report released last week.

10 states that are blocking distributed solar potential through overtly lacking and destructive distributed solar policy.

May 16, 2016

DECC wins Energy Bill Battle

Labour spokesman Lord Grantchester withdraws amendment

The Energy Bill is to become law without changes to the government’s grace period criteria for wind farms affected by the early closure of the Renewables Obligation.

Labour’s energy spokesman Lord Grantchester last night withdrew an amendment that would have resulted in an extra 66.3MW capacity from four Scottish wind farms on top of the government-backed grace period wind farms.

May 15, 2016

Attractiveness of UK for Renewable Energy Investors Plummets

According to a new report by Ernst & Young (EY), interest in the UK with regard to investment in renewable energy has fallen to an all time low.

In the mid-2000s, the UK often topped the league for renewable energy investment but it has now fallen to 13thplace in EY’s Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index (RECAI). The reasons for this fall in interest are depressingly clear, including political hostility to clean energy and environmental action, slashing of clean energy subsidies by central government in favour of tax breaks for North Sea oil, nuclear power and shale gas. The report concludes that as a result, investment worth tens of billions per year in clean energy projects will be lost to the UK.

May 13, 2016

Hassan Signs Solar Bill into Law, Giving Boost to Renewable Developers

Solar power in New Hampshire cleared a major hurdle Monday after Gov. Maggie Hassan signed a bill into law that doubles the state cap for net metering, an incentive that lets people sell their excess solar energy back into the grid.

A surge in renewable development recently led two utilities in the state – including the largest in New Hampshire – to reach a state-set cap limiting how many customers can net meter.

Solar developers said the cap threatened business and could shut -down the industry, because net metering is makes their projects financially viable.

May 12, 2016

It's the Economy: Maryland RPS Debate Illustrates National Divide on Clean Energy Policy

A curious trend is emerging when it comes to renewable energy mandates: Many states that have them are doubling down, while those that don’t are showing little interest at all.

Since 2009, only Vermont has enacted a new renewable portfolio standard (RPS), yet five states with an RPS on the books strengthened them in the last two years alone.

May 11, 2016

French Industry Body Backs Ambitious Renewable Energy Targets

* Onshore wind capacity to more than double by 2023
* French solar capacity to nearly triple by 2023
* No nuclear plant closures planned before 2019

A French industry body  increased draft government targets for onshore wind energy capacity ahead of their final publication.

In coming weeks, the government will publish a decree with targets for renewable energy capacity, which will implement broad targets set in France's energy transition law and will give firms like EDF and Engie as well as smaller and foreign players clarity about future tender volumes.

May 10, 2016

Governor Baker Signs Comprehensive Solar Legislation into Law in Massachusetts

Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito were joined by a bipartisan group of legislators to sign solar legislation into law to continue the expansion of the Commonwealth’s solar industry and establish a long-term framework for sustainable solar development in our state.

The bill, An Act Relative to Solar Energy, passed both legislative chambers with overwhelming support and achieves the Baker-Polito Administration’s goal of reducing costs to ratepayers while strengthening the state’s clean energy economy and progressing towards the greenhouse gas reduction requirements set forth under the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA).

“This legislation builds upon the continued success of the Commonwealth’s solar industry and ensures a viable, sustainable and affordable solar market at a lower cost to ratepayers,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “As our administration continues its balanced approach to diversifying Massachusetts’ energy portfolio, solar development will be an integral component of our state’s clean energy future.”

May 9, 2016

Argentina Aims for $5 Billion Investment in Renewable Energy by 2018

Argentina aims to rake in $5 billion in investments in renewable energy by 2018 with the goal of reducing its energy deficit, a government official told Reuters, as hopes for near-term increased output from the Vaca Muerta shale field fade.

The South American country has ideal conditions for producing renewable energy, experts say: vast, wind-swept plains in Patagonia and sun-soaked subtropical lands in the north.

May 8, 2016

Nebraska Legislature Advances Bill to Ease Wind Development

The unicameral Nebraska legislature moved LB 824 to its third and final debate and vote by passing it as amended in a 32 to 8 vote and preventing a filibuster by its opponents. The bill will allow developers to more easily build in the wind-rich state and export the electricity to other states.

May 6, 2016

How Oregon's Clean Energy Law Could Affect Power Bills

The Oregon Legislature passed a bill in February that requires public utility companies to phase out coal from their energy portfolios by 2030.

But what does this mean for your electric bill? The short answer: It depends.

The sweeping, first-of-its-kind law, signed by Gov. Kate Brown last month, also mandates that at least half the electricity sold to Oregonians is generated from renewable sources by 2040.

May 5, 2016

Gov. Baker Signs Bill Lifting Solar Energy Caps in Massachusetts

A new state law could jumpstart stalled solar energy projects in Massachusetts.

The measure given final approval by lawmakers last week and signed Monday by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker raises caps on the state’s net metering program. Net metering allows homeowners, solar developers and municipal governments to sell excess power they generate back to the electrical grid in exchange for credit.

May 4, 2016

Oregon Regulators Set Ambitious Timeline for Clean Energy Programs

The Oregon Public Utility Commission has released a broad timeline of energy issues it will tackle over the next couple of years, expecting demand response issues to be taken up between 2017 and 2018 and a rulemaking on solar capacity standards to finish later this year, according to a blog post from an energy law firm on the site Lexology.

The PUC held a workshop last week to examine a variety of dockets regulators will consider, wrote Derek Green, an energy attorney at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP.  Much of the load, he wrote, is a result of the state's decision to boost Oregon's renewable portfolio standard to 50% by 2040. 

May 3, 2016

Nebraska Eases Wind Power Regulations, Some Landowners Have Concerns

The Nebraska Legislature recently passed a bill to ease regulations for wind power.  The change could affect wind energy in the state, but there are still other factors challenging renewable energy projects.

For years Nebraska wind energy proponents have lamented the fact that the state lags so far behind its neighbors in producing wind power. Kansas and Iowa have installed four to five times the amount of wind energy capacity as Nebraska—even though Nebraska is consistently ranked among the top states for wind power potential. A new law seeks to change that.

May 2, 2016

Senate Passes Legislation Tailored to a Modern Energy Landscape

The Senate on Wednesday passed the first broad energy bill since the George W. Bush administration, a bipartisan measure to better align the nation’s oil, gas and electricity systems with the changing ways that power is produced in the United States.

The bill, approved 85 to 12, united Republicans and Democrats around a traditionally divisive issue — energy policy — largely by avoiding the hot-button topics of climate change and oil and gas exploration that have thwarted other measures.

May 1, 2016

San Francisco Passes Mandatory Solar Ordinance For New Buildings

A new mandatory solar power ordinance in San Francisco makes for some very good renewable energy, and energy efficiency, news.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has unanimously passed the Better Roofs regulation to “fight climate change and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.” As reported by treehugger, the move, which requires new buildings to go from solar-ready rooftops to solar-actual, represents a huge step toward the city’s goal of powering the city with 100% renewable electricity by 2025.

April 19, 2016

Florida Lawmakers to Tout Renewable Energy Amendment

A group of state lawmakers launched an initiative Tuesday to educate voters on a proposed constitutional amendment that would give commercial property owners a tax break on renewable-energy devices similar to one given to residential property owners.

Part of the education process will be to ensure voters know the proposal on the August primary ballot isn’t tied to a more controversial solar-energy amendment that will go before voters in November.

April 18, 2016

Senate OKs Walaska Bill Expanding Renewable Energy Growth Program

Sen. William A. Walaska (D-Dist. 30, Warwick)’s bill extending the Renewable Energy Growth Program through 2029 passed the Senate today along with two other clean energy bills, all of which now wait on action in the House.

The Renewable Energy Growth Program allows small renewable energy producers, such as homes with rooftop solar panels, to sell their surplus energy to national Grid at a set price over a set period of time (15 to 20 years), according to the Legislative Press and Public Information Bureau. The program figures critically in the financing of such small projects.

The program provides a set price for the purchase of electricity by National Grid from small scale projects throughout the state. Should Walaska’s bill become law, the program will handle an additional 400 MW of renewable energy over 10 years.

April 17, 2016

Massachusetts House Passes Bill Lifting solar Net Metering Cap

The Massachusetts House on Wednesday passed a bill that would raise the cap on solar net metering while lowering reimbursement rates for solar energy.

The bill, H.4173, passed the House by a vote of 152 to 1.

State Rep. Thomas Golden, D-Lowell, chairman of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy and a member of the conference committee, said the bill "finds a balanced solution between the rates that would keep our solar industry thriving and moving forward, while still staying cognizant of the rates our constituents, the ratepayers, pay on a daily basis."

April 15, 2016

Argentina Establishes New Landmark Renewable Energy Policy

Decree 531 outlines plans to create a trust fund of 12,000 million Argentine Pesos (USD 819 million) for renewable energy this year, and also outlines bidding processes for renewable energy projects.

The new policy establishes a fund for renewable energy development.

April 10, 2016

New Jersey Senate Passes Bill Requiring Utility Companies To Purchase 80% Renewable Electricity By 2050

The New Jersey Senate has passed a bill that will require utility companies operating in the state to source at least 80% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by the year 2050, according to recent reports.

The new bill (Bill S1707) would require utility companies to source at least 11% of their electricity from renewable energy sources starting in 2017 — with this requirement growing roughly 10% every 5 years until the 80% target is achieved.

April 8, 2016

Vermont Senate Approves Siting Bill, Snubs Towns and Wind-Turbine Sufferers

 Senators approved a renewable energy siting bill on Thursday but shot down amendments favorable to towns, ratepayers and victims of industrial wind-turbine noise.

After a marathon six-hour session, the long-anticipated energy siting bill S.230 passed the Senate by a 22-3 vote. The Democratic-controlled body voted down a handful of key amendments, ultimately draining enthusiasm from those who want towns to have real authority in the siting process.

The legislation sets up a statewide planning process in which municipal and regional planners identify preferred sites for renewable energy and submit plans for approval by the Public Service Board. For town plans to win approval, they must be written in a way that helps meet ambitious renewable targets set forth in the state’s Comprehensive Energy Plan.

March 29, 2016

Meeting Oregon's New Energy Standard

Earlier this month, Gov. Kate Brown signed a landmark bill making Oregon the first state in the country to cut ties with coal-fired power.

The new law requires that Portland General Electric (PGE) and Pacific Power — who together serve 70 percent of the state’s electricity needs — phase out coal-fired power by 2030 and serve half their customers’ demand with renewable energy by 2040.

Though environmental advocates — and everyone’s favorite Oscar winner — laud the new law as a forward-thinking compromise from a group of unlikely bedfellows, others have expressed concerns about the costs and efficacy of the legislation. 

March 28, 2016

On the Bay: House Approves Clean Energy in MD

The Clean Energy Jobs Act, which aims to increase the state's reliance on solar and wind power, passed in the House of Delegates on Monday.

The bill will ensure the state gets 25 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, according to the Maryland Climate Coalition. Passed 92-43, the bill increases an earlier goal of 20 percent by 2022.

March 24, 2016

Merrick Garland is Good News for the Clean Power Plan

By: Marc Z. Goldgrub, Cleantech Law Partners
According to Harvard Environmental Law Professor Richard Lazarus, President Obama’s Supreme Court pick, Federal Court of Appeals Judge Merrick Garland, is highly respected in the environmental law community, and likely to give the Environmental Protection Agency’s recently-stayed Clean Power Plan rule “a fair hearing” if confirmed. UCLA Environmental Law Professor Ann Carlson even calls him “a good bet” to uphold the rule.