With 2016 in the rearview mirror, clean energy stakeholders can -- for the most part -- heave a sigh of satisfaction at the progress over the last year. But only a brief one. With a new crop of legislators arriving at state capitols all over the country, stakeholders are now wondering what’s in store for clean energy at state legislatures in 2017.
Many lawmakers are beginning to drop some hints as windows to prefile bills open in numerous states. Prefiled bills often include only a very limited description or summary of the issues they address, with little indication of how a legislator intends to modify existing law. But in the context of state markets and political environments, these prefiled bills send strong signals about the intent of legislators.
EQ Research tracks and summarizes state legislation, in all 50 U.S. states, that would impact clean energy, either positively or negatively. As of December 28, EQ Research is aware of approximately 200 such bills in 22 states that have been prefiled or introduced for 2017 (including bills still active in New Jersey’s 2016-17 session),* with many more brewing behind closed doors. Of those approximately 200 bills:
- 16 relate to tax credits applicable to clean energy
- 29 relate to RPS policies
- 30 relate to net metering
- 10 relate to community renewables
- 13 relate to interconnection procedures
- 8 relate to property tax assessments applicable to clean energy
- 8 relate to electric rate design
The interactive U.S. map below indicates the states in which bills addressing these seven major policy issues have been prefiled or introduced for 2017 to date.
RPS policies clearly will remain a hot issue in 2017. At least 18 RPS-related bills have been filed for 2017 in Oregon, Montana, Missouri, New Hampshire, Nevada and Kentucky. In addition, several RPS-related bills are still floating around New Jersey’s legislature.
Oregon and Utah will both consider major legislation related to tax credits. Utah Rep. Jeremy Peterson has filed legislation to phase out the state’s solar tax incentive. On the other hand, several key legislative committees in Oregon have recommended extending the expiration date of the state’s solar tax credit beyond the end of 2017. Notably, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown did not include an extension of the credit in her proposed budget.
In Virginia, utilities, solar companies and other stakeholders have announced plans to support four significant “compromise” bills, one of which will encourage community solar. Authors of these bills indicated that the community solar legislation would create a three-year pilot program for systems up to 2 megawatts, with an initial program cap of 29 megawatts for Dominion Virginia Power and Appalachian Power, Virginia’s two major electric utilities. Utilities would use an RFP process for developers to construct these systems, but the price of electricity is not specified.
EQ Research will keep a close watch on these state legislative activities -- and hundreds of others -- as they heat up across the country. Let the horse-trading begin!
*This sum represents bills that have already been prefiled or introduced, plus other announcements and local media reports of legislation currently under development. (Pre-filing window have yet to open in many states.)