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State Renewable Energy Policy Developments - March Recap

Pierre Bull

Posted April 3, 2013 in Solving Global Warming

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Attacks on state renewable energy deployment policies continue in at least twenty-two states. However the news is not all bad with a near equal balance of states presenting opportunities to expand, strengthen or improve existing renewable energy policies. For fellow energy policy wonks out there, the North Carolina Solar Center posted this handy compendium of all state-level renewable and clean energy legislative developments taking place in 2013. Below is a brief March recap of the states where NRDC is actively defending, strengthening or improving policies to promote clean and renewable energy deployment.

Kansas: The legislature firmly defends the state’s renewable energy standard.

Kimi Narita, MAP fellow at NRDC, who lobbied in Topeka recaps the victory:

Exciting news out of Kansas!  As I mentioned in a previous post, Kansas’s renewable energy portfolio standard (RPS) was under attack through two bills: House Bill 2241 and Senate Bill 82.  The renewable portfolio standard ensures that Kansans receive a certain percentage of renewable energy like wind and solar, culminating in 20 percent renewable energy by 2020. The House bill would have completely repealed the 20 percent benchmark.  The Senate Bill would have delayed targets by two to four years.

But Kansans didn’t stand for this.  Today, the House voted 63-59 to send the House bill back down to committee for further review.  The Senate rejected SB 82 by a 23-17 vote this evening.

All this in a state where Republicans have a supermajority in both chambers.  There are 33 Democrats and 92 Republicans in the House; 8 Democrats and 32 Republicans in the Senate.

What this shows is that the RPS is not a partisan issue, it is a bipartisan issue.

For good measure, NRDC jointly published this rebuttal with the Kansas Energy Information Network (KEIN) to counter the Beacon Hill & Kansas Policy Institutes’ misinformed study that RPS opponent advocates used to base their arguments upon.

We must remain vigilant, though, for the remainder of the Kansas legislative session to make sure that RPS foes don't get away with slippery or hidden legislative tactics to retry their poor measures.

  KS wind (credit: P. Bull)

Ohio: The threat of clean energy opposition looms large.

From my blog two weeks ago:

The ALEC coalition hopes to of put the future of Ohio's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS) in doubt. This Tuesday, March 19th, the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee will hold its second hearing on the status of the Ohio AEPS.  ALEC-member groups, Heartland Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute have been invited to testify alongside two renewable energy groups the Solar Electric Industry Association and the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition.

NRDC published this quick reference rebuttal to the Beacon Hill & American Tradition Institutes’ inaccurate study on the Ohio AEPS. 

We will remain vigilant to any language that could be introduced into two 'placeholder' bills, SB-58 and SB-34, which could undermine the efficacy of the AEPS. 

                              Ohio wind potential and utility-scale renewables projects

North Carolina: An attempt to ‘freeze’ one of the state’s hottest economic growth sectors.

As reported  by Herman K. Trabisch of Greentech Media:

North Carolina House Bill 238 “would essentially freeze the existing 12.5 percent [renewable portfolio] standard at the present 3 percent except for existing contracts.”

Yet, the North Carolina RPS contributed $1.4 billion in investment in clean energy projects between 2007 and 2012 (a 13-fold increase) while creating or saving more than 20,000 jobs and holding electricity rates steady.

We will be active in North Carolina for the remainder of the 2013 legislative session to extinguish RPS threats in HB-238 along with any other bills that would undermine the RPS. 

   North Carolina solar potential and utility-scale renewables projects

Missouri: The state’s renewable energy standard and the will of the people are threatened.

Kimi Narita's update on the state of affairs Missouri:

Back in 2008, an impressive thing happened in Missouri.  Missourians voted by a 2-1 margin for Proposition C, which created the Renewable Energy Standard.  Now, the Renewable Energy Standard and the will of the people are at risk.

The Standard requires that investor-owned utilities gradually increase renewable electricity generation over the years so that by 2021, Missouri’s energy mix will contain 15 percent renewable energy coming from sources like solar energy, wind, biomass, and small-scale hydropower facilities.

Because of utilities’ resistance to complying with the Standard, Missourians have not seen as much of the economic benefit of the Standard as they should expect by now.  However, one notable exception is the solar rebate program.  To encourage the development of solar energy in the state, the Standard states that utilities are to provide a $2.00 rebate per installed watt for customer-based new or expanded solar projects, making solar more affordable.  As a result, Missouri solar installations have increased from 101 kW in 2009 to more than 7.8 MW in 2012.  In all, the solar industry in Missouri now employs more than 1,800 Missourians, and Missouri is home to 61 solar companies.

NRDC published this rebuttal to the Beacon Hill Institute’s maligned study on the Missouri Renewable Energy Standard.

The bill that currently threatens the efficacy of the state's popular RPS law is HB-44, which would literally 'water-down' the RPS by allowing existing, already-paid-for, legacy hydroelectric power generation to be eligible for renewable energy credit,

                              Missouri wind potential and utility-scale renewable energy projects

Arizona: Proposal to ‘alter’ Arizona’s landmark renewable energy standard is withdrawn.

Reported on by Herman K. Trabisch of Greentech Media:

Solar advocates in Arizona are celebrating a victory -- Republican Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) veteran Gary Pierce has withdrawn his proposal to alter the state’s Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff (REST) and reduce the 15 percent renewables by 2025 requirement on Arizona’s investor-owned utilities.… Solar champion Gabby Giffords’ successor in the U.S. Congress, Representative Ron Barber (D-AZ), pointed out that a REST cutback would cost the state renewable energy jobs.

                                      Arizona solar potential and utility-scale renewable energy projects

We will remain on watch in Arizona to push back against any other attempts - in the ACC or the legislature - that could undermine the state REST. 

New York: Governor Cuomo pledges to transform New York’s energy system into one that is resilient, reliable, affordable and clean.

Kit Kennedy provides a comprehensive look at what NRDC is doing to advance clean and renewable energy in New York. Below is an excerpt of her full post:

In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, New Yorkers have risen to the challenge of rebuilding damaged homes, communities and infrastructure. Still, almost six months after the storm, there’s much more to be done. As we rebuild, we need to think not only about whether and how to reconstruct what we lost but also about how to make New York State more resilient to climate change. We need to decide how to curb global warming emissions so that we reduce the severity and frequency of extreme weather events like Sandy.

To examine these issues, last year, Governor Cuomo set up three commissions, involving a broad range of stakeholders. (I was one of them.) That process led to a robust set of recommendations on climate resilience and mitigation. In addition, NRDC provided the Governor with a thorough blueprint for action, with proposals addressing issues from public health to clean energy. The Governor adopted many of these recommendations, calling for a suite of bold, new initiatives on clean energy and climate in his State of the State address in January.

The big question, of course, is how we can get there from here. The answer is this: We need to engage in the hard work of mustering the political will and putting in place the right policies and resources. New York State already has a strong record on renewable energy and energy efficiency. By moving fast to adopt the Governor’s new initiatives, and by taking the additional steps outlined here, we can vastly decrease our reliance on dirty energy sources and move to a future dominated by clean energy.

                 New York wind energy potential and utility-scale renewable energy projects

California: The U.S. renewable energy jobs leader is preparing to institute new market opportunities to effectively and efficiently meet the challenges of scaling up renewable energy production using zero-carbon, economic value-enhancing policy measures.

On the jobs front, I showed in an earlier post:

California emerged as the top clean job-producing state with over 26,000 jobs announced from 38 projects that were tracked by E2. At least 15 of the projects tracked were for solar power generation, promising to create as many as 4,000 jobs. 

As more renewable energy generation comes online to displace old, inefficient and dirty fossil-fueled generation, a new electricity market valuing reosurce flexibility and other value-enhancing capabilities will need to be implemented. My colleague Carl Zichella provides a helpful overview of what we mean by resource flexibility and what California is doing to make it happen.

                                  California solar potential and existing utility-scale renewable energy projects

In conjunction with strong and smart national renewable energy policies, state standards are crucial engines of growth for our economy and jobs, energy security and our environmental well-being. 

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Comments

Liam DillowApr 4 2013 10:28 AM

There's no doubt that good things are happening for the renewable energy industry in Missouri. One big challenge we are facing however is local utilities that are not complying with the law.

http://m.joplinglobe.com/TJG/pm_119709/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=CFiJUXXa

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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