With the exception of the nine legislatures that meet year-round, most legislative sessions have ended. It was a tremendously active – and successful – session for advanced energy.
All in all, AEE and its partners have tallied 56 legislative successes this year – defending and expanding renewable energy requirements, increasing energy efficiency efforts, and advancing transportation alternatives – including passage of 49 new bills.
ADVANCED ENERGY BILLS PASSED IN 2013
Here are some of the details:
In California, AEE put forth a set of recommendations for stretching the public dollars for energy upgrades of schools and other public buildings under Prop 39 by leveraging private dollars (“Expanding Energy Efficiency Through Leverage”). California also saw the state legislature set aside $28 million for a revolving loan fund in the first year.
As we noted in our mid-session update at the end of March, Maryland expanded its renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to include an offshore wind carve-out that will facilitate offshore wind development, New Mexico expanded energy efficiency by switching to a cost-effectiveness test that qualifies more efficiency measures for consumers, and Arkansas passed performance contracting for public buildings and PACE legislation that will put the cost for energy upgrades in commercial buildings on property tax bills for owners (Steve Patterson of the Arkansas Advanced Energy Association details the commercial PACE effort here).
Adding to these successes was the successful defense of the Renewable Portfolio Standard. In Ohio and North Carolina, two states that saw legislative challenges to the RPS, the legislatures are still in session, but the anti-RPS push looks all but dead. In North Carolina, RPS-rollback bills stalled in both the House and Senate, not making it out of one of the houses by “crossover day,” as required for further consideration, with credit going to AEE partner North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association. In Ohio, RPS repeal has gone nowhere, while a more concerted push by utility FirstEnergy to weaken the state’s Energy Efficiency Standard has been held in check thanks to the diligent work of stakeholders led by Ohio Advanced Energy Economy.
In Nevada, the Clean Energy Project and new AEE regional partner Interwest Energy Alliance were successful not only in increasing the Nevada RPS from 20% to 25%, but also in passing separate legislation that will lead to the early retirement of coal-fired power generation in Nevada by 2017. Included in the latter bill is a schedule to develop another 350 MW of wind power and 550 MW of natural gas generation.
In Colorado, a legal challenge to the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard by the American Tradition Institute was thwarted by repeal of the “in-state multiplier.” Furthermore, the RPS was expanded to Tri-State Generation and Transmission – the provider for most of the rural cooperatives in the state – and their requirement for renewable generation was doubled from 10% by 2020 to 20%. Both Colorado Cleantech Industry Association (CCIA) and Interwest Energy Alliance counted the legislation as a major victory.
Colorado also passed legislation supported by AEE and CCIA to expand performance contracting to include advanced vehicle investments. This first-of-its-kind legislation was drafted in conjunction with Energy Services Companies and could serve as a model for other states. With eight major victories, 2013 was a banner year for advanced energy in Colorado. Other successes include the creation of an advanced industries grant and investment fund and legislation to increase the number of advanced vehicles in the state fleets.
In Minnesota, omnibus energy legislation proposed by the administration was whittled down by the end of the session, but two key provisions were retained: the establishment of a shared solar program called “solar gardens,” that was pioneered in Colorado (both states are part of Xcel Energy’s territory), and a new concept of a Value of Solar Tariff (VOST) that is intended serve as an alternative to net metering. The state Commerce Department has the obligation to develop the VOST methodology the utilities will be required to follow and they are currently receiving stakeholder comments on that process. AEE is involved in the process of developing that methodology.
In Connecticut, the New England Clean Energy Council (NECEC) was successful in turning a push to supplant new technologies with a mature one – large-scale Canadian hydro – into a balanced approach that allowed for big hydro only in the case of a shortage of RPS-eligible resources. In New Hampshire, NECEC scored another big win by turning a moratorium on wind development into a study.
In Illinois, where AEE combined forces with AEE Partner Clean Energy Trust, found through a poll that over 75% of the Illinois population supports fixing the state’s broken RPS. Work continues on passing SB 103, which would provide some certainty to the renewable market in Illinois – so no victory to report yet.
Still, with 56 victories around the country, AEE and its coalition of state and regional partners have laid a great foundation for success in 2014. We continue to share best practices to promote the expansion of advanced energy – one victory at a time.
To keep up to date on all advanced energy legislation, sign up for our newsletter below!