Green Energy Legislation Is On the Rise as State Lawmakers Prioritize Energy Efficiency and Environmental Policy
By Jesse Rivera, CEO at New Vista Solutions
The topic of green energy has taken center stage in recent years as state legislators turn their attention to energy efficiency policies, programs and technologies that protect the environment and promote economic prosperity.
States are investing more in energy efficiency, according to the 2018 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard included in an annual report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)1.
Steve Nadel, Executive Director at ACEEE, stated, “States are stepping up on energy efficiency, including major new commitments in New Jersey, New York, and Virginia, helping to address the very limited activity from Washington, DC. These efforts contributed to the 2.25 million-plus efficiency jobs last year in the United States.”
The Scorecard, issued October 4, 2018, ranked Massachusetts and California as the leaders in energy efficiency policy and program efforts, with Rhode Island, Vermont and Connecticut rounding out the top five. North Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming were reported as ‘lagging behind’ the other states. New Jersey was considered most improved.
The Scorecard noted that Iowa fell the most, moving down five spots to #24. This drop was due mostly to a bill signed in early 2018 that imposes a restrictive cap on efficiency programs and allows customers to opt out of paying for some of them. Sixteen other states also fell in the rankings.
2018 Brought Significant State Solar Policy Changes
Renewable energy — especially solar — was the subject of considerable legislative changes at the state level in 2018. Although the federal government’s 30% tariff on foreign-manufactured solar components made for a rough start to the new year, the overall policy developments made throughout 2018 were positive for the solar industry.
Here are the highlights for four of the fourteen states that passed significant solar policy legislation in 20182.
- On May 9, 2018, the California Energy Commission mandated that all new homes (with a few exceptions) include rooftop solar beginning in 2020.
- On September 10, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 100 requiring 100% of the state’s electricity must come from carbon-free fuel sources by 2045.
- In late March, Governor Hickenlooper signed a bill that states residents should be able to install, use and interconnect energy storage systems without unnecessary restrictions or discriminatory rates. Colorado is one of the first states to declare energy storage as a human right.
- In April 2018, the Florida Public Service Commission declared that solar leases are no longer classified as third-party electricity sales, making them legal in the state. Florida solar customers now have a new financing option and solar companies in the state have a new product to offer.
- In March 2018, Governor Gary Herbert signed a law that extends Utah’s $1,600 solar tax credit for two more years. The credit will begin to phase out in 2021.
- Utah also passed a consumer protection measure requiring solar companies to provide a disclosure statement on contract provisions to all residential customers.
It’s clear that state legislators are committed to the march toward stronger green energy policy and environmental protection standards. Some lofty goals have been set for the next twenty-five years. The question ultimately is — can they be met? Time will tell.
New Vista Solutions is a full service vendor management company for residential and commercial mortgage lenders, offering a suite of compliant, technology-driven settlement services products. Through its partnership with IncentiFind, New Vista also offers The Green Report, a comprehensive list of government-backed and utility-funded incentives available to property owners when they construct, renovate or upgrade real property using energy-efficient, water-conserving and/or renewable products, materials or measures. The Green Report compiles all eligible incentives specific to each project (or building) that property owners construct, renovate or upgrade.
For more information, visit our website at NewVistaSolutions.com, or call 866-721-9295.