January solar policy snapshots
A guide to recent legislation and research throughout the country.
New Jersey announces new solar plan after SREC ends
Trenton, New Jersey
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities has announced a transition plan to move from the SREC program to a new system that will build on SREC’s success. In its straw proposal for the solar transition, the board identified its priorities that include supporting continued growth of the solar industry and providing maximum benefit to ratepayers at the lowest cost. SEIA said it’s pleased with the plan so far.
NV Energy retires coal plant and adds solar
Carson City, Nevada
Nevada regulators approved NV Energy’s plan to retire a coal plant four years ahead of schedule and construct six new utility-scale solar projects totaling 1,001 MW, according to the Nevada Independent. The move doubles NV Energy’s renewable footprint.
First major utility commits to being carbon-free
Xcel Energy is the first major utility in the United States to commit to going 100% carbon-free. The utility’s goal is to make the transition to all carbon-free energy by 2030, but this doesn’t mean all renewable energy, according to Vox. The energy mix could include nuclear power and fossil fuel plants with carbon capture and sequestration.
Tesla’s Buffalo-based solar employees take steps to unionize
Buffalo, New York
The United Steelworkers (USW) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) joined workers at Tesla’s Buffalo, New York, solar panel factory to hold a union-organizing drive in mid-December. A Tesla spokesperson responded by saying the demonstration consisted almost entirely of groups outside of Tesla, not Tesla employees. “And ultimately, it’s up to our employees to decide if they want to be unionized.”
Report shows Section 201 tariffs harmed utility-scale solar
A Q3 2018 report from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and SEIA found additions of utility-scale solar fell below 1 GW for the first time since 2015. The groups attributed the drop to the uncertainty around the tariffs in late 2017 and early 2018, but noted that a strong project pipeline lies ahead.
NRDC to DOE—where’s the money?
The Natural Resources Defense Council sent a letter urging Congress to investigate why the U.S. Department of Energy failed to distribute as much as $600 million of congressionally approved clean energy funding in 2018. The NRDC fears Trump administration officials purposefully blocked the funding, citing previous efforts by the administration to cut or eliminate clean energy research programs and offices.
Record number of solar companies take to Capitol Hill
Nearly 70 solar companies visited more than 100 Congressmembers to advocate for solar on Capitol Hill in early December. The lobbying day was led by SEIA, and one major area of focus was asking Congress to modify the tax code to include energy storage as an eligible technology for the investment tax credit.
Governor Cuomo announces plans for a carbon-free New York by 2040
Albany, New York
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced as part of his 2019 legislative priorities that New York will transition to carbon-free electricity by 2040. This beats California’s carbon-free deadline by five years. The progressive goal is part of what Cuomo is calling a Green New Deal for New York.
Washington, D.C., sets 100% renewable energy target by 2032
D.C. City Council unanimously passed the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018, which establishes a 100% renewable energy target by 2032. The bill includes a 10% solar energy carve-out by 2041. MDV-SEIA said in a press release it appreciates the D.C. Council’s support of local solar businesses and its commitment to creating jobs and economic opportunity in the District.
Philadelphia commits to buying more solar power
Mayor Jim Kenney of Philadelphia signed a deal authorizing the Philadelphia Energy Authority to purchase 22% of its power from solar provider Community Energy, according to WHYY. Community Energy will build the largest solar farm in the state near Gettysburg to meet that demand. The move is part of a broader municipal effort to power all city buildings with renewable energy by 2030.