Top 10 State Legislative Issues of 2022

Posted by Robert Haggart on Jun 8, 2022 11:00:00 AM

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Since the start of this year’s legislative sessions, Advanced Energy Economy has been tracking energy legislation across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Congress through its online PowerSuite platform. PowerSuite provides policy tracking by policy professionals. In the process, we have identified several trends in how states are contemplating the future of their energy, transportation, and building sectors. The bills described in this post, which range from simply introduced to fully signed into law, by no means represent every bill in the country filed this year, but are rather indicative of the attention being devoted to each topic by lawmakers. What follows represents the top 10 state energy legislative issues of 2022.

With about two-thirds of state legislatures having wrapped up their work for the year and about a third still in session, some bills may no longer be pending for this year, while others may see further action; this report is based on their status as of June 3. For reference, one asterisk indicates the bill has passed its chamber of origin, two asterisks mean the bill has passed both chambers, and three asterisks indicate the bill has been signed into law by the state’s governor.

  1. Helping – and Hurting – Siting of Wind and Solar Facilities

Siting and permitting laws have a massive effect on how large-scale wind and solar developers can develop projects. This year, states introduced bills that both assist in simplifying siting and permitting processes for developers and inhibit them.

In terms of assistance, Washington’s HB 1812*** transfers authority over siting applications of proposed renewable energy projects to the state’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council to streamline site approvals. Tennessee’s SB 1925*** directs the Department of Environment and Conservation to publish a sample solar easement on the department’s website to guide developers. Massachusetts’ HB 4044 directs the Division of Green Communities to create solar opportunity zones, identifying locations throughout the Commonwealth to be designated as preferred areas for siting ground-mounted solar systems. Indiana’s SB 411*** establishes default siting and permitting standards for large-scale wind and solar facilities that communities may voluntarily adopt. Florida’s HB 1411*** permits the use of floating solar facilities and requires each local government to promote their use.  on the department’s website to guide developers. 

Bills that may inhibit, lengthen, or complicate siting and permitting include: Iowa’s SF 2127, which would prohibit a commercially owned solar field from being installed on agricultural land unless: 1) the land has a corn sustainability rating of 65 or lower; 2) the field is at least a half mile from other solar fields; and 3) the field is at least 1,250 feet from the nearest adjacent landowner. In Washington, HB 1871 would establish a moratorium on the siting of alternative energy facilities until December 1, 2023. New York’s SB 7677 and A 9109 would direct the Office of Renewable Energy Siting to ensure that, in permit review of major renewable energy facilities, a “critical mass” of farmland is not threatened. Virginia’s HB 202 would reduce the maximum size of solar facilities qualifying for permitting by rule from 150 MW to 20 MW. Kansas had three restrictive bills under consideration that have since failed to pass their chamber of origin: SB 353, which would create new setback requirements and allow counties to impose additional requirements; SB 478, which would prohibit wind energy systems unless it is equipped with a light-mitigating technology system approved by the FAA; and SB 481, which would require solar developers to obtain from the Board of County Commissioners an approved application for construction and a conditional use permit. 

  1. Decommissioning and Recycling Advanced Energy Resources

In the transition to an advanced energy economy, states are starting to address what happens to certain clean energy resources once they’ve passed their useful life.

One common theme in state legislation is requiring wind and solar developers to submit a decommissioning plan for their projects upon application for a permit, demonstrating how they will return sites to their original condition and that they have sufficient financing to do so. Bills proposing decommissioning plans include Illinois’ SB 3115, Indiana’s HB 1381* and SB 411,*** Minnesota’s HF 3551, Pennsylvania’s SB 284* and HB 2104, South Dakota’s SB 36,*** Washington’s HB 1964,* Tennessee’s HB 2056,*** and Louisiana’s HB 655* and SB 456. Along the same lines, legislation in Illinois, Washington, California, and New Jersey (HB 5160, HB 1896, AB 2886, and A 1273, respectively) would require EV manufacturers in each state to develop stewardship plans that show how the manufacturer will remove, collect, and store used EV batteries. Bills in Maryland (SB 528***), New Hampshire (HB 1459*), New Jersey (A 3492), Indiana (SB 403), and Illinois (SB 3790***) all establish task forces or direct agencies to identify best practices to recycle and or dispose of end-of-life wind turbines, solar photovoltaic modules, and EV batteries.

  1. Right of Homeowners to Install Rooftop Solar and EV Chargers

As solar becomes more affordable, many legislators are seeking to prohibit homeowners’ associations, and in some cases local governments, from enacting burdensome restrictions on or outright banning rooftop solar installations. Such bills (including AZ SB 1102, OH SB 61,** MO HB 1535 and SB 820**, MI SB 1001, ID HB 703***, MN HF 4544 and SF 2267, NH HB 1380, MO HB 1882, HI SB 2412, and NJ A1783) also prevent any document used for the sale or transfer of a property from prohibiting solar rooftop installations. Legislation in Florida (HB 259) and Massachusetts (HB 4331) would prohibit a municipality from adopting policies or zoning ordinances that prohibit the construction of solar systems on existing, permitted structures. Washington’s HB 1793*** and Connecticut’s HB 5117 would give similar protections for EV chargers, prohibiting homeowners’ associations from placing unreasonable restrictions or prohibiting the installation of a charging station within a homeowner’s property or designated parking place in a multi-family unit.

  1. Transmission & Distribution Upgrades, Expansions, and Discontents

As expansion of transmission lines and upgrades of distribution systems have become necessary to deliver clean electricity to population centers and support new technologies, states are considering ways to modernize these assets. Conversely, other states are proposing barriers to transmission build-out.

In Massachusetts, HB 4524* and HB 4515 would require the Department of Public Utilities to direct electric companies to develop transformation plans for upgrading their distribution and transmission systems to enable increased adoption of renewable energy. California’s SB 1174* would require the California Public Utility Commission to identify all interconnection or transmission approvals necessary to address potential capacity shortfalls and achieve the state’s zero carbon electricity goals. Similarly, SB 887* would ask the Commission to request the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) to identify the highest priority transmission facilities that are needed to reduce reliance on carbon-emitting resources. New York’s A 535 would establish a grid modernization program to identify investments needed to reach the state’s energy goals and take advantage of advancements in smart grid technology. Congress is also considering how to increase transmission capacity across the country with SB 3879, which would direct the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to promulgate rules to establish transmission planning and cost-allocation to harmonize interregional transmission planning processes.  

However, legislation in some states draws the line on transmission at their border. In Maine, where voters overturned the permitting of a transmission line designed to deliver Canadian hydropower to Massachusetts, the legislature passed LD 170** which directs the Public Utilities Commission to evaluate and render a decision on non-essential transmission lines that are not constructed to serve Maine customers, but Gov. Janet Mills vetoed the bill. Missouri’s HB 1876 would prohibit a transmission owner from using eminent domain to build transmission lines that will not provide at least 50% of its electricity to customers in Missouri. Nebraska’s LB 409 would impose a moratorium on new transmission lines by banning the commencement or continued construction of any transmission line project 200 miles or more in length.

  1. Growing Interest in Hydrogen

Hydrogen legislation is heating up across the country. One group of hydrogen bills relates directly to the $8 billion in the federal Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act to establish regional hydrogen hubs. At least five states have legislation (NM HB 4, CA SB 1075,* CT HB 5200,*** NE LB 1099,*** and IL SB 3613**) to demonstrate their readiness to host one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s proposed hydrogen hubs. Pennsylvania (HR 178 and HR 183) would take a more direct approach, calling on the Biden Administration to designate Pennsylvania as a hydrogen hub due to the state’s significant natural gas production.

States are also examining how hydrogen can integrate into existing energy infrastructure. California (SB 1347* and AB 2302) and Hawaii (SB 2283** and HB 1937) would direct state agencies to examine how hydrogen produced by renewable energy can fit into existing energy systems and serve as a reliable decarbonized energy resource. Arizona’s SB 1396*** takes a more general approach, establishing a legislative task force to examine the value of hydrogen production, transportation, and end uses for the state.

Hydrogen is also being teed up for financial incentives in some states. New Jersey’s A 2375 and S 400 would exempt hydrogen fuel cell devices from the state’s sales and use tax. Washington’s SB 5910*** adds the production of green hydrogen to a number of existing tax credits for renewable resources. Oklahoma’s SB 1858* would provide tax credits to qualified employers whose principal business activity involves hydrogen manufacturing and SB 1857*** gives a tax credit for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Similarly, HI SB 2570** and CA SB 1075* establish grant programs to incentivize the development of hydrogen fueling stations for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Oklahoma’s SB 1853*** establishes a hydrogen fuel production standard, with annual goals through 2028 to produce hydrogen from zero and low-carbon resources, among which natural gas is included.  

  1. Renewed Interest in Nuclear Power

Since 1996, the United States has built only two new nuclear generating facilities, while many nuclear plants across the country are approaching their end-of-life. The future for the growth of traditional nuclear generation is limited at best. However, as new advanced nuclear technologies, such as small modular reactors, approach commercial viability, states are identifying these resources as potential contributors to a clean energy future.

Multiple states have introduced legislation to investigate the potential growth of advanced nuclear technologies (NH HB 543,* VA HB 8894,*** MI HB 6019,* MN SF 4269 and SF 4163, KY SCR 171,* NJ S 1384, OH HB 434,* IN SB 271***). Michigan’s HB 6019* and Minnesota’s SF 4269 and SF 4163 are written specifically to see how new nuclear technologies could help the state lower carbon emissions and support its energy transition from fossil fuels. West Virginia, in particular, has jumped on the new nuclear bandwagon. SB 4*** repeals that state’s long-standing ban on construction of nuclear power plants while HR 5*** urges federal, state, and regional transmission operator authorities to establish market incentives for the deployment of advanced nuclear reactors and small modular reactors.

Another set of bills relate to permitting of new nuclear facilities. Wyoming’s HB 131*** outlines all provisions that must be submitted to the Department of Environmental Quality upon the commencement of operation of an advanced nuclear facility, and Minnesota’s SF 4082* and HF 4389 would remove a ban on the certificate of need for the construction of new small modular reactors. Alaska’s SB 177* outlines siting requirements for new small modular reactors.

Looking toward an even more advanced form of nuclear technology, New Jersey introduced two pieces of legislation to promote nuclear fusion research. AR 19 is a resolution that urges Congress and the President to increase funding for nuclear fusion research, while S 220 directs the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to establish a Fusion Technology Industry Development Program to promote the nuclear fusion industry in New Jersey.  

  1. States Wrestle with Emissions from Buildings

As interest in building electrification and decarbonization grows, some states are looking to take steps measures to reduce carbon emissions, especially from space heating.

In Vermont, HB 715** sought to establish a Clean Heat Standard, under which natural gas utilities would be required to retire credits sufficient to meet the state’s emission reduction law, but the bill was vetoed by Gov. Phil Scott. California has several bills addressing decarbonization of buildings. SB 1301* would establish tax credits for manufacturing costs associated with zero emission appliances used to replace fossil fuel equipment in residential and commercial buildings. SB 1164* would require the California Energy Commission (CEC) to submit to the legislature a report proposing a statewide HVAC equipment sales registry and compliance tracking system to ensure that HVAC equipment installed meets energy efficiency standards, while AB 2446* would have the CEC develop a framework for measuring and reducing carbon intensity of construction materials in new buildings, including residential.

In Washington, HB 1767 and SB 5666 would authorize utilities to adopt targeted electrification plans that offer customer incentives to convert from fossil fuels to electricity if such plans provide net benefits to the utility. HB 1766 and SB 5668 would require gas companies to develop and implement a clean heat transition plan for the purposes of meeting the state's greenhouse gas emissions limits with respect to fossil natural gas combustion, limiting the expansion of the natural gas system, advancing energy efficiency and clean energy, and ensuring the safe and equitable transition of the natural gas system.

In Virginia, SB 160 would change utility energy efficiency programs to include electrification efforts related to space heating, water heating, cooling, drying, cooking, industrial processes, and other building and industrial uses that would otherwise be served by onsite combustion of fossil fuels, provided that the electrification measures reduce total energy consumption. In Colorado, HB 1362** directs the Colorado Energy Office and the Department of Local Affairs to establish an energy code advisory board charged with developing for commercial and residential buildings a model electric-ready and solar-ready code by June 1, 2023, and a model low energy and carbon code by June 1, 2025, which includes the pertinent International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).

In New York, SB 6843 would lower home heating greenhouse gas emissions by preventing any city, town or village from issuing a permit for the construction of new commercial, residential, or mixed-use buildings that are not all-electric after December 31, 2023. SB 9405*/A 10439 allows the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to establish state energy and water efficiency standards to ensure the building sector meets state emissions reduction goals. 

 In continuation of a trend from last year, a different set of bills (MI SB 820, LA HB 723), would go the opposite direction, proposing to prevent local governments from prohibiting the use of natural gas and the installation of natural gas infrastructure.

8. Electric School Buses Gain Support

With electric vehicles (EVs) gaining traction in many applications, states are looking to accommodate and take advantage of this growth, starting with school buses and state fleets.

Many states across the country have seen bills this year looking to incorporate or fully transition their school bus fleets to electric school buses. The most ambitious of these bills includes two bills signed by New York Gov. Hochul in April. SB 8006*** requires the state to fully electrify its school bus fleet, one of the nation’s largest with approximately 50,000 buses, by 2035, with all new school buses purchases being electric by 2027. SB 8004*** appropriates $500 million that, if approved by voters in November, would provide financial assistance to school districts to electrify their bus fleets. In other states, such as Maryland (SB 528*** and HB 696***), Connecticut (HB 5506*** and SB 12), Colorado (SB 193**), New Jersey (SB 759, A 1282,* SB 4077,* SB 886, and A 3139) and Minnesota (HF 4653 and SF 4364), bills would provide financial incentives and competitive grant programs to school districts seeking to electrify their bus fleets, some of them through new standalone programs funded solely by state dollars, but also new state dollars to match funds won from federal grant programs (CT HB 5506,*** NH SB 417*). In West Virginia, HB 4571,*** signed by Gov. Jim Justice in April, gives counties that use electric school buses an additional 10% allowance on top of existing funding to cover transportation-related costs; the bill also provides an additional 5% if a portion of the school bus system is manufactured in West Virginia.

Massachusetts is considering a number of bills introduced this session (SB 2170, HB 4674, SB 2139, and HB 3255) that establish goals to fully electrify the state’s school bus fleet by 2037 at the latest. Similarly, California’s AB 2731* would require that all newly purchased or contracted school buses in a school district are zero-emission beginning on January 1, 2035, while in Maine LD 1579,*** signed by Gov. Mills in April, requires that 75% of the state’s school bus fleet be electric by 2035.

Other states are taking steps to lower barriers to electric school bus procurement. Arizona’s SB 1246* would allow school districts to contract with companies that have received pre-approval by the state to provide electric school buses and associated infrastructure, while SB 1630* establishes a Student Transportation Advisory Council to modernize K-12 transportation and increase access to electric school transportation. Mississippi’s SB 2887,*** signed by Gov. Reeves in April, authorizes school districts to procure electric school buses and allows electric school bus companies to bid and submit proposals in response to State Board of Education bids for buses.

Many electric school bus bills across the country prioritize environmental justice communities, economically disadvantaged communities, and communities suffering from poor air quality for these emission-free vehicles. Some of these bills (such as CO SB 193,** MD SB 528,*** and HB 696,*** and MN HF 4653 and SF 4364) give first dibs to these communities when reviewing grant applications and directing utilities to establish electric school bus pilot programs.

  1. States Consider the Expansion of Electric Fleets

Beyond school bus fleets, many states continue to introduce legislation, as they did last year, that would electrify a variety of public fleets and, in certain cases, private fleets as well. In Washington state, SB 5974*** establishes a statewide target for all publicly and privately owned passenger and light duty vehicles from model year 2030 or later that are sold, purchased, or registered in the state to be EVs. Rhode Island’s SB 2448 would require that 100% of procurements of vehicles in fleets that serve a public purpose, model year 2030 or later, be electric.  Maine’s LD 1579*** requires the state to fully transition its light-duty vehicle fleet to solely zero-emission vehicles by 2040, while Connecticut’s SB 4*** sets intermediate targets with a goal of electrifying the state’s entire fleet by 2030. Similarly, in Massachusetts, SB 2170 would require that all Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority and regional transit authority buses be fully electric by 2030 and 2035, respectively. In California, SB 1010* would set separate goals for state-owned light-duty vehicles and heavy-duty vehicles. The bill requires that 100% of light-duty vehicles purchased by the state are zero-emissions vehicles beginning no later than the 2026-2027 fiscal year, while new vehicles purchased weighing over 8,501 pounds must be fully electric after December 31, 2027. Other pieces of legislation (NY SB 8004 and A 9004, MA HB 3292, MD HB 894, and VA SB 488*) would establish funds and grant programs to assist state agencies, local transportation authorities, and other transit agencies in the procurement of EVs.

Another set of bills focuses on planning for an electrified fleet future. In Massachusetts, SB 2255 would require the Department of Transportation, in consultation with other state agencies, to create and maintain an inventory of motor vehicles owned or leased by the Commonwealth, and to plan for converting those vehicles to zero emission vehicles. Arizona’s SB 1154* would establish a transportation electrification study committee to identify the best ways to encourage an economy-wide transition from petroleum-fueled vehicles to EVs.       

  1. Matching EV Charging to Demand

As consumer EVs become more popular and increase their market share, states are introducing legislation to expand both public and at-home EV charging deployment to meet the demand.

With the largest share of consumer EVs in the United States, close to 40% of those registered nationwide, California is considering multiple bills this session to expand EV charging deployment. Examples of these bills include AB 2700,* which would require investor-owned and public electric utilities to ensure that their distribution systems are capable of supporting the anticipated need for EV charging. AB 2061* establishes new uptime reporting requirements for any entity that receives a state- or ratepayer-funded incentive to install, own, or operate an EV charging station, exempting those installed at single-family homes. SB 1251* would establish an Office of the Zero-Emission Vehicle Equity Advocate in the Governor’s Office to develop a cross-agency definition of equity and set an equity agenda for the deployment of light-, medium-, and heavy-duty zero-emission vehicles, supporting infrastructure, and workforce development. To incentivize charging deployment, AB 1873 would offer a tax credit for 40% of qualified costs from the installation of Level 2 chargers or direct current fast chargers for covered multifamily dwellings.

Beyond California, Virginia’s HB 351 would create a Driving Decarbonization Program to assist private developers with non-utility costs associated with the installation of EV charging stations, while Washington’s SB 5651*** provides funding for EV charging infrastructure and grid distribution system upgrades to accommodate higher EV penetration. For end-use consumers, New Mexico’s SB 21 would allow a taxpayer who purchases and installs an EV charging unit prior to January 1, 2027 to claim a tax credit of up to $300.

Some states are finding it necessary to clarify that third parties are not utilities when they sell electricity for charging EVs. Such bills include Georgia’s HB 1322, Indiana’s HB 1221,***, and South Dakota’s SB 80.***

Finally, states are taking steps to plan for charging to meet anticipated growth in EV demand. Virginia’s HB 1244 would direct the State Corporation Commission to evaluate the availability and accessibility of EV charging infrastructure to residents statewide. Legislation in Arizona, Hawaii, and West Virginia (SB 1152,* HCR 47* and HR 42,*** and HB 4797,*** respectively) all require state agencies to develop plans to expand EV charging infrastructure in their states. Finally, Vermont’s HB 736** would change an existing statewide goal to increase access to DC fast charging stations. The bill would require publicly available DC fast charging stations within one mile, down from an original five miles, of each exit of the interstate highway system in Vermont and a Level 3 charging port every 25 miles, down from 50, along a state highway.     

There you have it – 10 issues on the minds of lawmakers from coast to coast. In December, we will provide an update on how they sorted out after all legislative sessions have adjourned.

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Topics: State Policy, Advanced Transportation, Legislative