by EQ Research
August 16, 2016

In U.S. state legislatures, 2016 has been a very busy year for renewable energy -- both distributed and large-scale. Consider the following data:

  • Nearly 900 bills that would directly impact renewables deployment have been introduced in state legislatures in 2016.
  • Nearly 90 bills that directly impact renewables deployment have been enacted.
  • Of these nearly 90 bills, none have seriously eroded a state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) policy or net-metering policy. (Massachusetts and New Hampshire enacted legislation allowing state regulators to determine the future of net metering programs.)
  • Nearly 300 bills are still pending in open sessions, including 137 in New York and 78 in New Jersey. (Many of these bills are unlikely to see further action.)
  • Of the nearly 300 pending bills, 48 would impact state RPS policies. Of these bills, 17 are in New York, six in California, five in Illinois, and one in Michigan.
  • Of the nearly 300 pending bills, 28 would impact state net-metering policies. Of these bills, 17 are in New York.

Many of the renewables bills that crossed the finish line in 2016 address major renewables policy issues, including: 1) RPS policies, 2) community renewables, 3) net metering, 4) interconnection procedures and 5) property tax incentives.

The interactive map below indicates which U.S. states have enacted renewables legislation that improved, expanded or established one or more of these five major policies so far in 2016.

A handful of states have enacted comprehensive legislation to support distributed and large-scale renewables, with Rhode Island and Oregon taking the cake.

Rhode Island crammed -- into a single bill (S. 2450) -- a boatload of provisions designed to expand the state’s growing renewables market. These include:

  • Extending the expiration date by five years for the per-kilowatt-hour surcharge supporting Rhode Island’s Renewable Energy Fund
  • Expanding the Renewable Energy Growth Program to allow “community remote distributed generation systems” and “shared solar facilities” to participate
  • Expanding net metering, explicitly allowing virtual net metering and third-party ownership of net-metered systems
  • Expanding property tax incentives and treatment of solar and other renewables

Similarly, Oregon S.B. 1547 included a buffet of policy goodies for renewables. Oregon’s new law:

  • Expands the state’s RPS to 50 percent renewables by 2040
  • Requires 8 percent of retail electric load to come from small-scale renewables by 2025
  • Allows utilities to bank and carry forward unused RECs
  • Allows utilities to recover costs related to energy storage associated with renewables
  • Phases out coal-fired generation by investor-owned utilities by 2030
  • Directed the Public Utilities Commission to create a community solar program. SB 1547 also repealed the existing RPS solar carve-out but maintained the 200 percent multiplier for PV systems between 500 kilowatts and 5 megawatts.

Stay tuned for EQ Research's year-end state legislation outlook in the coming months. More broadly, in partnership with EQ Research, GTM Squared brings you ongoing insights that map, graph and chart issues important to the clean energy industry across the U.S. These insights are updated quarterly as a resource for Squared members.