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Tracking and Analyzing Energy Legislation Across the US

A new online database created by Colorado State University's (CSU) Center for the New Energy Economy (CNEE) aims to serve anyone interested in clean energy legislation in any state in the U.S., or even those who are crafting policy themselves.

Bill Ritter, Jr., director of CNEE and former governor of Colorado who heads up the center's work with states on clean energy legislation, explained that early work with various states identified the value of grouping different kinds of policy measures, allowing anyone — state policymakers seeking guidelines or inspiration, trade group associations, companies, and even individuals — to learn from other states' formulations in energy policies, such as renewable portfolio standards (RPS). "States are primary movers in clean energy legislation," added out CNEE senior policy advisor Jeff Lyng. 

Enter the Advanced Energy Legislation Tracker which monitors roughly 2,300 energy-related bills in all 50 states, including everything that's on a particular state's legislative Web site, from text of bills to audio recordings and committee proceedings. Other resources exist that track energy legislation on a subscription/membership model, but the AELTracker is completely free and online. CSU students do some labor-intensive research into culling legislative papers and matching them to the different categories. Legislation is broken out into 10 categories, from electricity generation to energy efficiency to financing. A programming interface (API) through OpenSpace enables real-time tracking of bill progress through individual legislatures (and stops tracking when they're not in session). Users can also do a keyword search for specific topics of interest. A keyword search for "renewable," for example, generates more than 300 hits; "net metering" pulled up 80 bills. Roughly 25 percent of all bills in AELTracker relate to financing and financial incentives.

Beyond offering AELTracker as just an online research database, the CNEE will be grouping related types of state legislation to illuminate and analyze common trends in written reports and podcasts by CNEE policy advisors with help from CSU graduate students. AELTracker was unveiled earlier this month with an inaugural report on energy efficiency, combining roughly 200 bills into the policy categories they represent (resources, cost/benefits, performance contracting, etc.); another analysis of states' finance policies was issued earlier this week. A third due in mid-June will examine the hundreds of "advanced energy" policies being promoted nationwide.

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