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
On June 29, 2006, Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri signed a comprehensive energy bill designed to encourage the use of energy efficiency, renewable and distributed energy systems (small power systems owned by the customer and connected to the grid). The legislation requires the state’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to set new standards for procuring energy from diverse sources, including renewable energy systems and distributed energy systems. By 2008, each utility in the state has to submit plans – to be updated every three years - for procuring these energy resources, including goals and target percentages for each resource. The energy bill also establishes new criteria to facilitate the siting of wind power facilities, creates a $7 million fund to support investments in renewable energy, and increases the rebates to consumers who purchase energy efficiency equipment. To help establish long-term energy plans, the legislation creates the Office of Energy Resources. Governor Carcieri also signed S 2844 on June 23rd, requiring the PUC to establish new energy efficiency standards for seven residential appliances by June 2007.
On June 26, 2006, Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle signed into law SB 2957 to encourage renewable energy and renewable fuels. This law raises the income tax credit for certain renewable energy technologies, makes this tax credit permanent, and establishes a pilot financing mechanism for the purchase of residential solar hot water heater systems. SB 2957 also provides incentives to support the production of biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol. Additionally, the legislation establishes the Hawaii Renewable Hydrogen Program to move the state toward a renewable hydrogen economy. SB 2957 is part of the governor's "Energy for Tomorrow" package, which includes three other new energy laws HB 2175 appropriates $5 million for solar power systems in public schools and instructs state agencies to maximize energy efficiency. This bill also encourages new green buildings by giving them priority when they apply for construction permits and sets green building standards for state buildings. Additionally, this legislation requires 20 percent of the state's new vehicles to be hybrids or alternative fuel vehicles, with the percentage increasing in subsequent years. SB 3185 establishes a public benefits fund for energy efficiency programs and authorizes the state's Public Utility Commission (PUC) to set penalties for failing to meet the state Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). Finally, HB 2848 appropriates $200,000 to reconvene the Hawaii Energy Policy Forum to develop an action plan, timeline, recommendations, and benchmarks to meet the state's energy self-sufficiency goals.
On June 15, 2006, Florida Governor Jeb Bush signed into law the Florida Renewable Energy Technologies and Energy Efficiency Act to reduce Florida’s dependence on foreign oil, spur economic growth, and increase investments in renewable energy sources and energy efficiency. The Act creates the Florida Energy Commission to advise the Legislature on state energy policy based on the principles of energy reliability, affordability, efficiency, and diversity. The first report by the Commission, due before December 2007, will include recommended steps and a schedule for the development of a state climate action plan through a public-involvement process to reduce GHG emissions. Additionally, the Act provides rebates for photovoltaic and solar thermal technology installations on commercial and energy buildings and a sales tax exemption for the purchase of energy efficient products. This legislation also provides grants for research and demonstration projects associated with the development of renewable energy technologies and alternative fuels.
On June 15, 2006, California Energy Commissioner Jim Boyd and Sweden's Minister for the Environment signed an agreement for the joint development of biogas and other alternative fuels. The agreement aims at fostering an extensive exchange of technologies and ideas between California and Sweden to advance the use of renewable fuels. Sweden currently has the largest fleet of biogas-fueled vehicles in the world. This would allow California to take advantage of Sweden’s expertise in the production of biogas, while giving the Swedish biogas industry a better opportunity to market its technologies and products in California.
On June 14, 2006, Oregon Governor Kulongosky appointed a “Climate Change Integration Group.” The Governor has charged this new group with tracking the State’s progress on greenhouse gas emission reductions and examining the future economic implications of climate change for the state. The Climate Change Integration Group will continue the work of the 2004 Governor’s Advisory Group on Global Warming, which developed strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions as part of a West Coast Governors’ Global Warming Initiative. Some of the policies and measures recommended by the earlier group were endorsed by the Governor. Part of the new group’s responsibilities will be to track the progress of those efforts. The Climate Change Integration Group will also explore new opportunities for research on the mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.
June 14, 2006
Contact: Katie Mandes, 703-516-4146
THE EXPANDING ROLE OF STATE RENEWABLE ENERGY POLICY
Proliferation of State Activity Has National Significance
Washington, DC - A growing portion of U.S. states' electricity is being provided by renewable energy, according to a report released today by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. States are using increasingly aggressive and ambitious Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) in order to spur economic development and create a reliable and diversified supply of electricity, as well as to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conventional pollutants. As of mid 2006, 22 states and the District of Columbia have implemented an RPS; well over half of the American public now lives in a state in which an RPS is in operation.
The Pew Center report, Race to the Top: The Expanding Role of U.S. State Renewable Portfolio Standards, authored by Barry Rabe of the University of Michigan, builds on earlier Pew Center analyses of the state role in climate policy development. The proliferation of RPSs at the state level provides real-world models of whether a federal RPS may be a feasible option to increase the nation's use of renewable energy sources as part of a larger energy and climate change policy.
"If we are to successfully address climate change, we must increase our use of renewable energy. States are leading on renewables, as they are in so many aspects of climate policy," said Pew Center President Eileen Claussen, "Engagement between states and federal policymakers on this issue has been surprisingly limited, and is long overdue. We need to begin thinking both about how the federal government can be most effective in this arena, and also how to enhance interstate collaboration."
In addition to examining challenges and opportunities inherent in policy design and implementation, the report includes case studies of five states - Texas, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Nevada. The author explores the political and economic advantages and pitfalls in each state, and finds an unusually high degree of bipartisan support and rapid expansion of RPSs at the state level. Economic development and job creation also emerge as drivers in virtually every state.
Despite the many advantages of state-level RPS policies, the report finds that states also face challenges. States increasingly are grappling with electricity transmission capacity constraints, differential treatment of various renewable sources as well as facility siting concerns. The biggest challenge in the future will likely revolve around the need for interstate collaboration and dialogue as the questions of cooperation across state boundaries arise. Ultimately, federal and state regulators will need to work together in the event of adoption of a federal RPS.
States are already beginning to cooperate regionally and that pattern is likely to continue, but there is much the federal government could do to enable a significant expansion of renewable energy. The Pew Center's recent Agenda for Climate Action recommends that renewables be a key element of a climate-friendly energy path for the U.S. It describes the areas in which federal efforts are needed, including R&D funding and technology development, and notes that there are many ways in which the federal government can support and encourage ongoing state renewables initiatives. These may involve incentives for uniform grid interconnection standards at the state level, or the creation of a uniform system for tracking renewable energy credits across the country. In designing federal policies, Congress should recognize the regional differences in renewable resources and existing state-level policy actions.
"Although there is no single technological or policy solution to climate change and energy independence in the U.S., renewable energy is clearly destined to play an important role in the years to come - and now is the time to lay the foundation," said Eileen Claussen.
A complete copy of this report - and previous Pew Center reports - is available on the Pew Center's web site, www.c2es.org.
The Pew Center was established in May 1998 by The Pew Charitable Trusts, one of the United States' largest philanthropies and an influential voice in efforts to improve the quality of the environment. The Pew Center is an independent, nonprofit, and non-partisan organization dedicated to providing credible information, straight answers, and innovative solutions in the effort to address global climate change. The Pew Center is led by Eileen Claussen, the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.
On June 12, 2006, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco signed into law a mandate that ethanol-blended fuels be sold in Louisiana. This legislation was passed in order to foster biofuel production in the state, provide an alternative market for farmers, and improve the environment. The new law requires that ethanol produced from domestically grown feedstock or other biomass material account for 2 percent of the total gasoline sold in the state and that 2 percent of the total diesel sold in the state be biodiesel. The mandate will go into effect six months after there are 50 million gallons of ethanol in annual production or 10 million gallons of biodiesel in the state, unless the Louisiana Commission on Weights and Measures determines there is not sufficient supply or distribution capabilities in the state.
On June 11, 2006, the Western Governors Association unanimously passed a resolution formally acknowledging that climate change is occurring and that it is influenced by human activities. The resolution calls on western states and cities to take action to reduce GHG emissions while meeting growing energy demand and expresses support for regional and national programs to reduce GHG emissions in a cost-effective manner. The governors also adopted recommendations from their Clean and Diversified Energy Advisory Committee and adopted policy resolutions related to clean energy and transportation fuels. On the clean energy front, the governors set the following targets: an additional 30,000 megawatts of clean energy by 2015; an increase in energy efficiency of 20 percent by 2020; and reliable transmission for the next 25 years. On the transportation fuels front, the governors called for policies to advance more fuel-efficient vehicles and alternative fuels.
On June 1, 2006, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford signed H 4312 into law, creating a state-level tax credit for individuals purchasing clean vehicles. The bill takes effect immediately by amending the Code of Laws of South Carolina to include the tax credit, which applies for taxable years beginning after 2005. The credit equals 20 percent of the federal tax credit, and applies to new hybrid, fuel cell, alternative fuel, and lean burn technology vehicles. South Carolina also recently passed an ethanol and biodiesel production tax credit, which gives producers a 20 cent per gallon credit during the first 5 years of production for projects initiated between 2007 and 2009. The legislation, S 1245, also gives tax credits to solar heating and cooling, and landfill gas systems. Originally vetoed by the Governor on June 13, 2006, the veto was overridden by the Senate the following day, June 14, 2006.
On May 30, 2006, Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack signed into law a package of bills designed to strengthen Iowa’s bio-energy and other renewable energy industries. The bills offer a variety of incentives to expand the use of E-85 (a mixture of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline), including a 25-cent-per-gallon tax break for every gallon of E85 sold, and set a standard requiring that 25 percent of the petroleum used in the formulation of gasoline be replaced by biofuel by 2020. The measures also create a sales tax exemption for the purchase of solar energy equipment, expand an existing tax credit for wind energy production, and give utilities a tax credit for using soy-based fluids in electric transformers.