April solar policy snapshots

Rhode Island lawmakers are working to limit solar development on greenfields and open spaces, while offering incentives for installations on previously developed land.

A guide to recent legislation and research throughout the country.

California’s largest county restricts large-scale solar
San Bernardino, California

San Bernardino County’s Board of Supervisors voted to ban construction of large solar and wind farms on more than one million acres of private land, according to the LA Times. The initiative was spearheaded by residents who didn’t want large renewable energy projects impeding on their rural communities.

Minnesota commits to 100% clean energy by 2050
St. Paul, Minnesota

Governor Tim Walz announced Minnesota’s commitment to reach 100% clean energy by 2050, according to the La Crosse Tribune. Minnesota joins Hawaii, California and the District of Columbia in setting a statewide goal to go carbon-free.

Nevada takes next steps toward increasing RPS
Carson City, Nevada

The Nevada legislature took its next steps toward fulfilling voter demand for a 50% renewable portfolio standard by 2030 with the introduction of SB 358. The coalition Clean Energy Works for Nevada said the bill must pass again in 2020 to take effect, but the current legislation would immediately begin implementing the new standard.

Rhode Island legislature debates greenfield solar siting
Providence, Rhode Island

The Rhode Island House of Representatives is working to reach a compromise between environmentalists and solar developers with the introduction of H5789. The bill offers incentives to developers for siting solar on previously developed areas instead of undeveloped land, and adds a 4-MW cap to projects sited on state-designated conservation zones, according to ecoRI.

Governor expected to sign Arkansas bill to open solar market
Little Rock, Arkansas

A bill expected to be signed by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson would change the definition of “public utility” to allow individuals, corporations and public entities to procure their own clean energy, including solar, according to the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette. It would open up the option of solar leases in the state and would more than triple the amount of kilowatts an individual or other entity can generate without being regulated like a traditional utility.

New York won’t meet 6-GW solar goal at current pace
Albany, New York

The “2018 Solar Market Insight (SMI) Report” by SEIA and Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables showed steady solar growth in New York state, but Vote Solar said that without further action from lawmakers, New York won’t meet its clean energy goals outlined in Governor Cuomo’s state of the state address. The Million Solar Strong New York Coalition is calling on lawmakers to codify Cuomo’s 6-GW solar commitment into law to drive the changes needed to meet the goal.

Connecticut solar industry asks lawmakers to preserve net metering
Hartford, Connecticut

Environmental advocates and solar industry workers in Connecticut are asking lawmakers to reverse or at least delay the termination of net metering scheduled later this year, according to the Hartford Courant. If the plan moves forward, net metering will be replaced by a tariff system, but solar advocates say tariffs only work in states where solar energy makes up 10% or more of the energy mix, while in Connecticut it makes up only 2%.

Vote Solar calls Florida utility’s community solar program ‘misleading’
Tallahassee, Florida

Vote Solar submitted comments to the Florida Public Service Commission raising concerns about Tampa Electric Company’s “Shared Solar Rider Tariff.” The advocacy group says the proposal purports to be in favor of community solar, but would do little to actually benefit its customers or expand solar options.

New York caps community solar early termination fees
Albany, New York

The New York Public Service Commission took a step to strengthen consumer protection for community solar subscriptions by capping early termination fees by developers. It added additional protections by requiring production guarantees for community solar projects as well as clearly disclosed escalation clauses in contracts between customers and developers.

Illinois’s Path to 100 Act garners support from Exelon and labor unions
Springfield, Illinois

Illinois’s Path to 100 Act, which would set a goal of 40% renewables by 2030 and implement other steps to increase solar and energy storage deployment, has garnered widespread support in the state. Both the utility Exelon and the Laborers’ International Union of North America Midwest Region (LiUNA) recently joined the growing coalition advocating passage of the act. Sean Stott, director of governmental affairs for LiUNA Midwest Region, said, “The Path to 100 Act will keep renewable energy growing in Illinois and create tens of thousands of good jobs in the process.”

Kansas City government goes carbon-free
Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Council unanimously voted to transition all municipal power to carbon-free electricity sources by the end of 2020, according to Next City. The measure also includes construction of a 5-MW community solar installation to give city employees the option to subscribe for personal clean electricity.

Study finds delaying Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act would be costly
Annapolis, Maryland

The Maryland Solar Energy Industries Association found the state will lose out on approximately $247 million in federal tax credits between 2019 and 2022 if the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) is delayed by one year. Maryland legislators are considering delaying CEJA to await results of a study of the state’s renewable energy resources.

New Mexico’s Energy Transition Act becomes law
Sante Fe, New Mexico

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed New Mexico’s Energy Transition Act into law, establishing a new target of 100% carbon-free power by 2045. The Act lays out a plan for transitioning away from coal and includes job training in new renewable energy fields.

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