10 energy bills to watch in the 2021 state legislative session

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The 2021 state legislative sessions are underway and multiple solar, renewable energy, and clean energy bills are being considered. pv magazine thinks these 10, organized by state, deserve close attention.

Arizona

HB 2498 would set up a Clean Energy Technology Improvement Grant Program. As written, the bill would offer grants to companies and institutions working to develop new and innovative uses of clean energy technology that also increase electric grid efficiency, system reliability, and resiliency, all while keeping the state’s energy affordable.

The program would draw on $5 million from the state’s general fund in fiscal year 2021-2022. The bill was initially drafted to focus on battery storage technologies, but was expanded to include clean energy as a whole.

California

California has the most proposed clean energy legislation of any state so far in 2021. These two are worth watching.

SB 207 would require the state’s Secretary for Environmental Protection to convene the Photovoltaic Recycling Advisory Group by April 1 next year to review and advise the legislature on policies aimed at recycling PV modules and their components.

By April 1, 2025, the group would have to submit policy recommendations to lawmakers aimed at ensuring that 100% of PV panels in the state, or as close to 100% as possible, are reused or recycled at end of life in a safe and cost-effective manner.

AB 1325 would require the state’s Public Utility Commission to develop and implement a Clean Community Microgrid Incentive Program by 2022. The program would fund community distributed energy resource microgrids in vulnerable communities.

Program budget would be dispersed in phases to local public agencies for community microgrid development. The program would be overseen by a third-party, non-public utility administrator.

Connecticut

The legislature’s Joint Committee on Energy and Technology introduced a bill setting energy storage procurement and deployment mandates.

Specifically, RB 952 would require the state to deploy 300 MW of energy storage by the end of 2024, 650 MW by the end of 2027, and 1 GW by the end of 2030. What the bill does not do is specify how these capacities would be deployed among residential, commercial, and utility-scale storage installations, although there would be specific megawatt blocks for each type.

The bill also calls for research into programs and rate designs to incentivize energy storage deployments that most effectively provide positive net present value to all ratepayers; provide multiple types of benefits to the electric grid (like peak shaving, ancillary services and, demand response); promote a state-based electric energy storage industry; and maximize the value from the participation of energy storage systems in capacity markets.

Financial incentives would be capped at $30 million per year for each of the state’s utilities.

Georgia

Multiple lawmakers introduced a bill that supports establishing a state goal of 100% clean energy by 2050.

Unlike a renewable portfolio standard or specific mandate, this bill is more of a nod to cities, businesses, environmental groups, and other entities in Georgia that have called on the state to make the 100% renewable transition.

The bill also notes that the fact that low-income communities are disproportionately harmed by fossil fuel pollution and pay on average more than 40% of their annual income in home energy costs make the transition all the more important.

Hawaii

Perhaps the boldest legislation under consideration this session comes from Hawaii, where HB 111 looks to eliminate all types of fossil fuels for electricity generation.

The state earlier passed legislation eliminating the use of coal for electricity production. HB 111 goes further, prohibiting all fossil fuels for electricity generation or storage by the end of 2045.

The bill would also prohibit state regulators from approving cost recovery of any application or proposal for generation or storage facilities that use fossil fuels. Only fossil fueled emergency generators would be exempt from HB 111.

Indiana

SB 420 would require all Hoosier State electricity suppliers to offer net metering to all new distributed solar customers, either until the aggregate net metering project capacity equals at least 5% of the supplier’s most recent summer peak load, or July 1, 2027, whichever occurs earlier.

The state’s current net metering mandate has a 1.5% peak load cap, or July 1, 2022.

The bill would require all of the state’s net metering tariffs to be phased out by July 1, 2052, and would raise the maximum net-metered project size from 1 MW to 5 MW.

Kentucky

A bill would ban developing solar on agricultural lands. Also within the text of SB 266 is a ban on solar project development on “watercourses or other bodies of water” within the state.

While efforts to ban the development of solar on farmland are nothing new, this is the first instance known to pv magazine of an attempt to ban floating solar.

The bill justifies the development ban by framing it as an effort to end the loss of natural resources located on and within the state’s farmland and waterways.

Maine

Legislators introduced a bill that would set an energy storage deployment goal. SP 213 would set a goal of 100 MW of energy storage capacity to be installed in the state by the end of 2025.

The bill also recognizes the value in energy storage’s ability to reduce peak electricity demand.

Besides storage, the bill directs state regulators to look at opportunities to modernize transmission and distribution utility rate designs through time-of-use rates; develop and implement a pilot program to test and evaluate those rates; and develop and implement a schedule to regularly review and update rate designs.

Ohio

Similar to a piece of legislation under consideration in Minnesota, Ohio lawmakers are considering HB 20, which would prohibit condominium, homeowners, and neighborhood associations from imposing unreasonable limitations on solar system installations on the roof or exterior walls of dwellings.

The bill defines “unreasonable limitations” as something that significantly increases the cost, or significantly decreases the efficiency of a solar system.

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