U.S. States & Regions

States and regions across the country are adopting climate policies, including the development of regional greenhouse gas reduction markets, the creation of state and local climate action and adaptation plans, and increasing renewable energy generation. Read More
 

Minnesota passes "Omnibus Energy Bill" including 1.5 percent solar requirement

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On May 24, 2013, Governor Mark Dayton of Minnesota signed into law an energy bill that is projected to greatly increase the state’s solar energy capacity by the end of the decade. Specifically, all utilities in the state must procure 1.5 percent of their electricity from solar generation by 2020, in addition to Minnesota’s existing Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) of 25 percent by 2025. Thus Minnesota’s RPS is now effectively 26.5 percent by 2025. To learn more details about Minnesota’s RPS, click on the state in the C2ES map of state Renewable and Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards.

Although 1.5 percent may seem low, compared to Minnesota’s existing solar capacity it is actually quite high. Currently, Minnesota has 13 megawatts (MW) of solar energy capacity, but in order to reach the 1.5 percent standard, the state will have to increase its solar capacity to 450 MW, more than a 30-fold increase. Thirteen other states have solar requirements, or “carve-outs,” five of which have percentage requirements higher than Minnesota. The states with the highest solar requirements are Colorado and New Mexico, each requiring four percent of electricity sold in the respective state to come from solar energy by 2020.

In addition to requiring that 1.5 percent of electricity come from solar resources, HF 956 also includes other solar energy initiatives. The law mandates that the state’s largest utility, Xcel Energy, begin a community solar garden program, in which people can own shares of a remote solar energy system and earn credit on their utility bill as if the solar panels were on their own homes. In addition, the law increases the maximum capacity for a net meter from 40 kilowatts to 1000 kilowatts, meaning owners of large solar panel arrays, such as large retail stores, can now be credited for electricity they put back on the grid, reducing their electricity bills. Lastly, the law also mentions a non-mandatory, state-wide goal of 10 percent solar by 2030.

Another energy bill was recently introduced in Minnesota that would increase the state’s RPS to 40 percent by 2030. This move would make Minnesota’s RPS one of the highest in the country.

 

For more information:

C2ES: Renewable Energy - Solar
C2ES: State RPS and AEPS Details
Midwest Energy News: Minnesota’s new solar law: Looking beyond percentages
PV-Tech: Minnesota bill will boost solar from 13 MW to 450MW

Mississippi passes four energy efficiency laws as part of economic development plan

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On April 23, 2013, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed into law four bills relating to energy efficiency. The four pieces of legislation strengthen the state’s energy office, increase energy efficiency standards of state-owned and commercial buildings, and create a revolving loan fund for state institutions to invest in alternative fuel vehicles. All will take effect on July 1, 2013. These four measures are part of Governor Bryant’s larger economic development plan called Energy Works: Mississippi’s Energy Roadmap, which also includes legislation to incentivize oil and gas production.

HB 1296 reorganizes and increases the recognition of the state’s energy office, the Mississippi Development Authority’s (MDA) Energy and Natural Resources Division. One of the newly established responsibilities of the Division is to promote energy efficiency within state agencies and the private sector in order to realize the environmental as well as the economic benefits; another is to promote renewable technologies within Mississippi. 

HB 1266 strengthens the energy efficiency standards for newly constructed state-owned buildings, which match the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) 90.1-2010 standards. This only applies to construction projects above a certain size, and only applies retroactively to some state-owned buildings constructed after July 2009. According to the Governor’s office, higher energy efficiency will translate to financial savings by the state government.

HB 1281 strengthens the energy efficiency standards for commercial buildings, which match the ASHRAE 90.1-2010 standards. This only applies to commercial buildings under construction after July 1, 2013. Local governing authorities, rather than the MDA, will have the right to enforce and set penalties relating to these standards. This law makes Mississippi’s commercial building energy standards the highest in its region.

Lastly, HB 1685 establishes a $2.75 million zero-interest revolving loan fund available for municipalities and school districts to acquire vehicles that run on natural gas or propane, either through purchase or conversion. This fund will be administered by the MDA.

 

For more information:

Press Release: Gov. Phil Bryant Enacts Major Energy Efficiency Legislation
Energy Works: 2013 Landmark Energy Legislation in Mississippi
C2ES: Commercial Building Energy Codes Map
C2ES: Climate TechBook - Buildings

New Jersey administration plans to buy out Sandy-affected homes

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On May 16, 2013, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey revealed a plan to spend $300 million of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds to buy out homes in flood-prone areas affected by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. This program will give homeowners in Central New Jersey the opportunity to move instead of rebuilding in an area that is at high risk to flood again. The plan is based on the idea that the costs of relocating homes away from flood-prone areas will be lower than the cost of continuously rebuild flood- or storm-damaged homes  

Called the “Willing Seller” Plan, this program is completely voluntary. In addition, it will target neighborhoods rather than individual homes, so that the bought out land can be razed and become open space. The program is targeting nearly 1000 homes in the central coast area of Jersey and will start with around 350 homes in Sayreville, which is located in the floodplains of the Raritan River.

The timeline for this program is short. Property appraisals will begin in June, and the first round of buyouts are expected to be completed by Labor Day. The entire program is scheduled to take just one year. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will handle the purchasing and the State Office of Emergency Management (OEM) will procure funds through FEMA.

This plan is an extension of the state’s Blue Acres Floodplain Acquisitions program, a voluntary buyout program for flood-prone homes that began in 1995, but has been low on funds since 1998 because of a high demand for buyouts.  In contrast, demand for New York’s post-Sandy buyout program has been lackluster as most homeowners are choosing to stay and rebuild.

 

For more information:

State of New Jersey: Press Release

C2ES: Extreme Weather Map

Colorado passes tax incentives to support electric vehicle adoption

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On May 15, 2013, two new pieces of legislation to lower financial barriers to using plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) were passed into law in Colorado by Governor John Hickenlooper. Financial incentives play an important role in keeping PEVs competitive in the automobile market.

House Bill 1247, called the Innovative Motor Vehicle Income Tax Credit, secures state tax credits up to $6000 for electric vehicle purchasers or lessees until 2021, which would have otherwise expired in 2015. The bill specifically covers any EV that can be recharged from external sources, including plug-in hybrids. The bill also covers vehicles that are converted into PEVs, which are eligible for a tax incentive of $7500. This law will take effect in January 2014.

House Bill 1110, called the Special Fuel Tax & Electric Vehicle Fee, establishes a flat, annual fee of $50 for the registration of each plug-in electric vehicle. Sixty percent of the fee replaces the revenue not collected from gasoline taxes and goes toward road and highway maintenance, while the other forty percent funds electric vehicle infrastructure such as charging stations. Colorado’s PEV fee as established by HB 1100 is low compared to those considered by other states, which are around $100 or calculated based on mileage and do not fund PEV infrastructure. This law will take effect in January 2014.

According to Denver Clean Cities, as of July 2012, there were almost 1,300 registered PEVs and around 70 charging public charging stations in the state. However, this number is likely to grow because Colorado is relatively generous with policies supporting electric vehicles.

According to one source, Colorado is the leading state in the region when it comes to PEV policy. A state government report card from Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) awarded Colorado with a grade of “A-” for its twelve policies that support electric vehicle adoption, including the two laws mentioned above. Colorado does not fare quite as well as California, however, which would earn an “A+” under SWEEP’s methodology because of its major commitment to install fast-charging stations along highway corridors and for 15% of cars sold in the state by 2025 to be plug-in electric vehicles.

 

For more information:

C2ES: Common Concerns about EV Policy
C2ES: PEV State of Play and PEV Literature Review
C2ES: Powering More Travel with Electricity Map
C2ES: PEV Dialogue
plugincars: Colorado Extends $6,000 Plug-in Vehicle Credit Through 2021

Energy Sector

 

These states have set standards specifying that electric utilities deliver a certain amount of electricity from renewable or alternative energy sources. Most of these requirements take the form of a "renewable portfolio standard" (RPS) or "alternative energy portfolio standard" (AEPS) which requires a certain percentage of a utility’s power plant capacity or generation to come from renewable or alternative energy sources by a given date. The standards range from modest to ambitious, and qualifying energy sources vary. Some states also include "carve-outs" (requirements that a certain percentage of the portfolio be generated from a specific energy source, such as solar power) or other incentives to encourage the development of particular resources. Although climate change may not be the prime motivation behind these standards, the use of renewable or alternative energy can deliver significant greenhouse gas reductions. Increasing a state’s use of renewable energy brings other benefits as well, including job creation, energy security, and cleaner air. While the first RPS was established in 1983, the majority of states passed or strengthened their standards after 2000. Consequently, while many of these efforts have increased the penetration of renewables; others have not been in effect long enough to do so. Many states allow utilities to comply with the RPS or AEPS through tradeable credits. While the success of state efforts to increase renewable or alternative energy production will depend in part on federal policies such as production tax credits, states have been effective in encouraging clean energy generation.

For more information on state renewable and alternative portfolio standards, please refer to our resources: Comparison of Qualifying Resources for Individual States’ RPS and AEPS and   Detailed Table of State Policies (including RPS/AEPS targets, carve-outs, tiers, classes, incentives, hydropower definitions, and relevant authorities).

Please refer to our Renewable Energy Credit Tracking Systems map to see how credits verifying renewable energy generation can be tracked and traded across U.S. regions.

For more information on federal portfolio standards, please refer to our: CES Resource Page.

Some states coordinate their RPS or AEPS with an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS). Learn more about states with an EERS here.

Governor Cuomo proposes action to reduce coastal flood risk

Hurricane Sandy inflicted tremendous damage on New York’s coastal communities.  The threat of more intense, more frequent storms driven by climate change has led Gov. Andrew Cuomo to propose limiting development in vulnerable locations. Just as Sandy provided a preview of future climate risks, the governor’s proposal may offer an example of one effective response.

RGGI changes help both the environment and business

The nine states in the northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative took an important step this month that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase funding for energy efficiency and clean energy without unduly burdening businesses or consumers. That step was to adjust their cap-and-trade program by tightening the emissions cap and increasing compliance flexibility for businesses.

RGGI releases updated Model Rule, tightening CO2 cap

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After a comprehensive two-year program review, the nine Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) participating states released an updated Model Rule, planning the program’s first major overhaul since its 2008 initiation.

If adopted by the states, the updated Model Rule would tighten the program’s 2014 CO2 budget, or “cap,” by 45 percent -- from 165 million to 91 million short tons (to match actual emissions from 2012). Actual emissions in RGGI states have fallen well below RGGI’s original cap due to a variety of factors including the low cost of natural gas. The new cap would decline by 2.5 percent each year from 2015 to 2020, aiming to surpass the states’ current goal of reducing CO2 emissions from the power sector 10 percent between 2009 and 2018.

Besides making adjustments to the cap, the updated Model Rule includes provisions to expand its offset program, most notably by adding a forestry protocol. This protocol was modeled after the forestry offset protocol under California’s cap-and-trade program, which emphasizes conservation and reforestation.

Other additions in the updated Model Rule include the creation of a cost containment reserve (CCR) of allowances, denominated by one short ton of CO2 per year. The creation of a CCR would provide a fixed additional supply of allowances, but would only be “triggered” and made available if allowance prices exceed predefined price levels. The CCR provisions would also simplify existing compliance flexibility measures.

Analysis of the updated Model Rule indicates that the proposed changes would result in allowance prices of approximately $4 in 2014 and $10 per allowance by 2020, compared to less than $2 in 2012. The updated program would cause average electricity bills for residents in these states to increase by less than 1 percent, but would generate $2.2 billion for investments in energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector by about 15 percent from current levels.

The next step is for the updated Model Rule to be formally adopted by RGGI member states through legislative or regulatory processes.

 

For More Information

C2ES: RGGI Page

C2ES: Benefits of RGGI

RGGI: Updated Model Rule Press Release

RGGI: Updated Model Rule Summary

RGGI: Updated Model Rule

RGGI: Home Page

 

Judi Greenwald's Statement on RGGI Tightening Emissions Cap

Statement of Judi Greenwald
Vice President, Technology and Innovation
Center for Climate and Energy Solutions

February 7, 2013

“We applaud today’s plan by the nine states in the northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to adjust their cap-and-trade program by tightening the cap and increasing compliance flexibility for businesses. Combined, the adjustments would significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase available funding for clean energy without unduly burdening businesses or consumers. C2ES believes that market-based policies are the most effective and efficient means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and we appreciate the continued leadership of the RGGI states.”

Our RGGI Page
Our comments submitted as part of RGGI’s 2012 program review
Our statement on RGGI’s launch


Contact: Laura Rehrmann, 703-516-0621, rehrmannl@c2es.org

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