August 17th, 2012
California Senate Bill 843, sponsored by Senator Wolk, passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee Thursday, August 16, bringing thousands of California energy customers closer to being able to go solar! SB 843 would allow customers to invest in solar even if they don’t have a roof of their own to put it on. Customers could subscribe to a shared solar facility, and receive a credit on their utility bill for their share of the clean energy produced. SB 843 would be especially effective for giving thousands of businesses, non-profits, and public facilities the ability to go solar for the first time.
We’re working with Senator Wolk’s office and a broad coalition of supporters to make sure the final version of the bill is one that will work for residential and small commercial customers.
The next step is a vote on the Assembly floor, then the Senate floor, then to Governor Brown’s desk! But it will take your help to get there. If you live in CA, tell your representative to vote YES on SB 843!
August 3rd, 2012
Great strides for solar occurred in Massachusetts this week with the passage of the 2012 Energy Act. This comprehensive energy bill expands an important solar program called net metering that gives customers credit for the valuable clean power they send to the grid.
Massachusetts’ net metering law has successfully enabled thousands of homes, businesses and public agencies to go solar and save on their utility bills. With the cap on net metering now doubled from 3% to 6% of utilities’ peak load, Bay Staters can keep on investing in clean energy to power their lives. » Read the rest of this entry «
April 11th, 2012
Good news in the desert Southwest: on Tuesday, Governor Jan Brewer signed two solar-friendly bills supported by Vote Solar and our Arizona partners. HB 2830 removes the 2013 sunset date on school districts’ ability to install solar and other energy-saving measures. SB 1229 clarifies that the sale of Renewable Energy Credits is not taxable – and also clarifies that customers who are reducing their energy bills through net metering pay sales tax only on the power they DO buy from the grid, not on the power they DON’T buy (you read correctly: sales tax on electricity you don’t buy. That was an actual concern). Kudos to the Governor for her continued solar leadership and to everyone who supported the bills’ passage. » Read the rest of this entry «
April 20th, 2011
“We the undersigned residents of the District of Columbia urge our City Council to pass the Distributed Generation Amendment Act of 2011 to help put more solar on the rooftops of our home city. Let’s build DC solar to create jobs, grow DC businesses and protect the environment.”
So reads a local petition circulating throughout our nation’s capital and gaining momentum day-by-day, hour-by-hour. » Read the rest of this entry «
May 11th, 2010
Florida recently experienced two tragedies.
The first, of course, is the tragedy in the Gulf-11 lives lost, an ecosystem in peril.
The second is the fact that the legislative session just ended without, once again, significant legislation to develop our clean, homegrown renewable energy resources.
It’s a different order of tragedy to be sure, and we don’t mean to equate the two. But with the spotlight focused on one of the downsides of fossil fuels, we have the opportunity to help set the state on the path towards a more sustainable clean energy future. Governor Crist has already said that the oil spill should resurrect the clean energy debate.
Talk is cheap. It’s time for action.
Click here to ask the Governor and the leaders of the House and Senate to initiate a special session devoted to debating–and passing–a bill to harness Florida’s clean, renewable energy resources? There will never be a better time to make the case.
May 3rd, 2010
The Florida legislative session has ended with no major goal to increase the production of renewable energy in the state. Its a disappointment for sure, but not hugely surprising given the on-going tensions between the legislature, the governor, and the PSC, and a lack of clear consensus from all players on the best way to grow the renewable energy market.
There is one bright spot in an otherwise dim session: an important bill has passed that gives municipalities the authority to create Property Tax Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing programs. This bill has the potential to create real growth in the future by providing a financing tool that makes it easier for homeowners and businesses to install solar and energy efficiency measures. Vote Solar worked with stakeholders to promote PACE and provided analysis and bill suggestions to House staff. To learn more about PACE, visit here.
PACE enjoyed enthusiastic support from stakeholders on all sides of the political spectrum, which helped the bill navigate a difficult session. In fact, PACE was the very last bill to pass this session! Supporters of the bill included the FL Association of Counties, the FL League of Cities, environmental groups, housing developers, and the solar industry. Dozens of cities have expressed interest in creating PACE programs and its very possible that we’ll see a statewide PACE program in the next year. Stay tuned…
May 18th, 2009
The Sunshine State’s legislative session ended on May 1st without putting any significant new renewable policies in place. It’s an unfortunate ending to be sure, but the story of solar in Florida’s 2009 legislative session was filled with highs, lows, and a host of unexpected plot twists.
Solar advocates, environmental groups and the renewable energy industry joined forces in hopes of passing an aggressive Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) of 20% by 2020. Further boosting our chances of a good outcome was strong support from the Governor, who listed it as one of his legislative priorities, and the Senate, which was engaged early on in the effort.
Despite widespread support for the RPS and hard work from coalition members, two major obstacles proved insurmountable this time around: a debilitating budget deficit and a last-minute campaign to open up Florida’s coast to oil drilling.
The primary focus of both House and Senate efforts this session, the $2 billion budget deficit left legislators with little bandwidth for other important issues, particularly anything as complex as new renewable energy legislation.
Then with just weeks to go before the session timed out, what little attention that was left for renewables was spent when the House introduced an oil drilling bill that many feared would be tied to the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). Passage of an RPS alongside oil drilling does NOT spell victory in our book.
Thankfully, the move to open coastal oil drilling was ultimately rejected by both the Governor and the Senate. During the closing week, the Senate passed a version of the RPS bill that, while not perfect, represented a significant step forward by allocating up to $200 million per year to solar and wind projects. However, in the end, efforts fell flat in the House which never took up the RPS issue.
Our alliance of renewable advocates put up an amazing fight, even through the last day of session. In the process, we saw an impressive range of stakeholders come together around a united call for renewable energy policy change. Vote Solar’s own “help wanted” campaign was one of many successful public efforts to highlight solar’s economic and environmental benefits. The combined effort resulted in editorials in nearly every major newspaper calling upon legislators to stop waiting and start tapping Florida’s solar resource. All in all, it was the kind of coalition building and strong public engagement of which advocates dream.
So the sun has set on statewide solar policy in Florida for now, but it will certainly rise another day – and soon. We will be working hard with our allies over the next year to make sure strong renewable policies cross the finish line in 2010.
May 5th, 2009
Maryland, New Mexico and Virginia just joined the municipal-tax assessment solar financing party (a trend I wrote about in February). We haven’t figured out a catchy acronym yet, but trust me, this policy is hot. The state legislators we are working with consistently tell me that this is their ‘favorite clean energy policy.’
Why so popular this legislative session? Frankly, it’s well suited for these troubled economic times. It’s meaningful solar policy that doesn’t add more red to strapped state budgets. It’s a fiscally painless way that legislators can help constituents go solar without breaking the bank. And it shows the feds that they’re taking the new green economy seriously.
State and Local Interplay
In most cases, local jurisdictions need authorization from statewide legislation before they can create property tax financing districts. Once statewide legislation is passed, cities can start programs that help property owners go solar without any daunting upfront costs. Instead, those home or business owners can choose to get a loan from the city to cover system costs and then pay it back over 20 years through a little bump in their property taxes.
Already this year we’ve seen Virginia, New Mexico and Maryland join California and Colorado in passing enabling legislation. And there are still several pending bills across the country: Nevada, New York, Oregon, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin could all join the party in the few remaining weeks of this legislative session. We will keep you posted.
Considering the popularity of these programs in cities where they’re already up and running, this legislative trend spells exciting times ahead for solar all across the U.S. Take a look:
- Berkeley, California was the first out of the gate last year when it passed an ordinance to enable residents to spread out the cost of renewable energy systems and energy efficiency upgrades into a 20-year increased assessment on their property taxes. The FIRST program is still in the pilot project phase, with 40 homes participating, and $1.5 million budgeted.
- Boulder, Colorado held its first application period in early April with 519 properties signed up in one week. Their program’s first bond will be for $9.55 million to finance solar PV, solar thermal, and energy efficiency projects.
- San Francisco, California plans to disburse $20 million to $30 million in loans to home and business owners by the end of 2009.
April 6th, 2009
Today our own Jim Baak is up in Carson City presenting a new report designed to help Nevada legislators understand the economic and environmental benefits waiting to be unleashed by utility-scale solar development in the state. Jim will be joined by our friends at the Large-scale Solar Association who have a tax abatement report of their own to discuss today.
Jim’s findings answer the question, what do those benefits really look like for the Silver State? A modest 2,000 megawatts of large-scale solar developed in Nevada over the next seven years would deliver:
• Jobs created: 5,900 jobs per year associated with project construction and 1,200 full-time jobs for plant operation and management.
• Wages and salaries: $5 billion in cumulative direct, indirect and induced earning associated with the projects.
• Economic impact: Nearly $11 billion in goods and services generated in the state as a result of project development and operation.
• Sales and property taxes paid: $500 million over the life of the projects, assuming proposed tax abatement levels are passed by the state.
• Greenhouse gas emission reduction: 4.6 million tons of carbon dioxide, 81 tons of methane, and 27 tons of nitrous oxide avoided each year that the projects are in operation.
* LSA’s report focuses on one critical policy tool – tax abatements – that can help unlock Nevada’s large-scale solar opportunity. The race is on to develop large-scale solar across the southwest; this is Nevada’s chance to lead the pack. Nevada currently has the most competitive tax structures amongst its sunny neighbors – but they’re set to expire in June. If Nevada’s tax credits are extended as currently proposed, the state will have a formidable advantage over California and Arizona, and stand first in line to capture those benefits outlined above.
Solar of all shapes and sizes represents tremendous opportunity for this state that’s facing soaring unemployment rates, growing electricity needs and the escalating costs of battling climate change. With draft bills and proposed legislation moving fast and furious, there’s no doubt that solar is a priority. We’re working alongside our peers in the solar industry to help legislators put smart policies in place to unleash a strong in-state solar market and deliver benefits to all Nevadans.
March 31st, 2009
Thanks to the leadership of the Arizona Corporation Commission, Arizona has a great foundation for a robust solar market. With a requirement for 15% renewable energy in the state, 30% of which must come from distributed generation, there is upwards of $100 million in incentive fund for solar available this year.
To help tap this market, there are three bills currently in legislature that would significantly ease the cost of doing business.
HB 2332 would make it easier for schools to go solar;
HB 2335 would allow municipalities to set up opt-in, voluntary financing programs for solar and energy efficiency investments (details here),
HB 2329 would cap permit fees for solar installations at $375.
There’s also a Senate bill,
SB 1403, that is designed to attract high-wage, hi-tech solar manufacturing companies to the state.
More details on all four here (pdf).
Can you take action and let your representatives in the State Legislature know you support strong solar policy? Send them an email here.