March solar policy snapshots
A guide to recent legislation and research throughout the country.
Massachusetts becomes first state to make storage eligible for energy efficiency incentives
The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities approved a new three-year energy efficiency plan that included a first-of-its-kind policy that makes behind-the-meter batteries eligible for incentives, according to the Clean Energy Group. The state will pay out the incentive at the end of the year to residential and commercial storage owners based on how much they reduced their load during peak demand times.
Idaho bill would keep HOAs from blocking solar
A bill working through the Idaho legislature would prohibit homeowners associations from banning solar panels unless the installation violates building code or safety requirements, according to the Idaho State Journal. Without such legislation, HOAs often refuse solar panels for “aesthetic” reasons.
Illinois on a path to 100% clean energy
New legislation called the Path to 100 Act would expand Illinois’s renewable energy standards to require 40% renewables by 2030, with a goal of eventually reaching 100% clean energy. The state is already behind on its current goal of 16% renewables by 2020, but this act would generate funding to accelerate growth.
New Mexico considers 100% carbon-free energy goal by 2045
Sante Fe, New Mexico
The Energy Transition Act would set standards for New Mexico utilities to get at least 50% of electricity from renewables by 2030 and reach 100% carbon-free energy by 2045. The director of Environment New Mexico, a group supporting this bill, said transitioning from fossil fuel to renewables will ensure the state is doing its part to fight global warming.
New Mexico steps toward community solar
Sante Fe, New Mexico
The Community Solar Act in New Mexico would allow for the development of community solar projects in the state. GRID Alternatives says the legislation “sets a new bar for equitable community solar policy” by specifically including Indian nations, tribes and pueblos in the bill’s language.
Minnesota bill aims to speed clean energy transition
Saint Paul, Minnesota
A new bill in Minnesota aims to make the state a leader in clean energy by requiring utilities to get 55% of power from renewables by 2030 and achieve 100% carbon-free energy by 2050, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. The bill also directs the PUC to ensure clean energy is equitable so that all Minnesotans can participate and receive affordable electricity.
Los Angeles ditches fossil fuel plan in favor of renewables
Los Angeles, California
The Mayor of Los Angeles announced the city was scrapping plans to rebuild three natural gas plants and instead investing in clean energy like solar and storage, according to the LA Times. Environmental advocacy groups argued that putting money into fossil fuel plants would hinder the city’s ability to reach its goal of net zero carbon by 2050.
Poll finds conservative Ohio voters support clean energy
A poll by the Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies found conservative voters across Ohio overwhelmingly support public policies that encourage renewable energy growth. The voters view renewable energy as a job creator, and 82% indicated they also support net-metering incentives for homeowners.
Missouri utility lays out transition plan for a smart grid
Jefferson City, Missouri
Ameren Missouri announced a plan for its largest infrastructure upgrade in history in order to make the shift to a smart grid. Ameren’s president said the upgrade will make the grid more reliable and resilient and able to accommodate more renewable energy. The plan calls for $5.3 billion in infrastructure improvement projects statewide over the next five years.
New fossil fuel plant development could sabotage New Jersey’s clean energy goals
Trenton, New Jersey
A coalition of environmental groups called Empower NJ found that if the 12 proposed fossil fuel plants in New Jersey come to fruition, it would prevent the state from reaching its goal of 100% renewable energy by 2050. Empower NJ calls for a moratorium on new fossil fuel infrastructure until the state develops standards to reach Governor Phil Murphy’s clean energy goals.
Kentucky net metering debate continues
Utilities and solar companies continue sparring over a net-metering bill in Kentucky that would allow the PSC to set the rates at which utilities compensate residents, according to the Miami Herald. The Senate voted down the latest version that added some protections for the solar industry and solar customers. Solar advocates had been in favor of the amendment even though they believed the bill still had problems, according to WFPL.
Bipartisan Pennsylvania bill would open community solar market
Pennsylvania’s bipartisan HB531 would allow for community solar development in the state. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star reports that the bill is backed by a diverse group of lawmakers across the state. Vote Solar found that if Pennsylvania added 500 MW of community solar, it would see a 26% increase in solar jobs and $706.4 million in local economic benefits.
South Carolina bill would remove net-metering caps
Columbia, South Carolina
South Carolina’s proposed Energy Freedom Act would modernize the state’s electric market and remove net-metering caps on rooftop and utility-scale solar projects. The bill would also allow large energy consumers to negotiate directly with a renewable energy supplier to more easily realize savings from solar, and it would establish a neighborhood community solar program to expand solar access to underserved customers.
Florida introduces community solar legislation
New legislation in Florida would add community solar to the state’s steadily growing solar market, with a focus on accessibility for all income levels. A representative from the League of United Latin American Citizens said the Latino community in Florida is particularly impacted by climate change, and affordable community solar options would help give these residents access to clean energy.
Puerto Rico moves toward 100% renewables
San Juan, Puerto Rico
The Puerto Rican government is considering committing to 100% renewables by 2050. The Puerto Rico Energy Public Policy Act aims to eliminate the use of coal-based energy companies by 2028 and prioritize solar instead, according to the Commercial Property Executive.