Solar, Wind Power

States Propel Energy Policy

The recently passed federal energy bill may have some helpful items for renewable energy but the real progress is at the state level.

More than 20 states have passed or are considering passing clean energy policies. Progress on energy policy at the state level is covered in two policy papers released by state Public Interest Research Groups (PIRG). The first of the reports “makes the case for the critical role of states in shifting America to a dynamic new energy future that taps renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind power, and exploits America’s ‘strategic reserves’ of energy efficiency.” The second “suggests tools states can use to reduce their dependence on petroleum through improved energy efficiency and the design of communities and transportation networks that are less reliant on the automobile.” Highlights from recent progress on state energy policy: –Texas: Governor Perry signed a bill in early August that doubles the state’s renewable energy production, giving Texas the second largest renewable energy program (in total megawatts) in the nation. –Illinois: The Illinois Commerce Commission voted unanimously in late July to adopt the Governor’s Sustainable Energy Plan, which includes a significant investment renewable energy power beginning with 2 percent of the electricity mix in 2007 and ramping up to 8 percent by 2013, and deriving 75 percent of the renewable energy from wind power. –Arizona: On August 10th, the Arizona Corporation Commission, voted by a 4-1 margin to draft rules which, if adopted, would increase the state’s Environmental Portfolio Standard (EPS) from 1.1 percent renewable energy by 2007 to 15 percent by 2025. –California: Earlier this summer, the California Senate approved the Million Solar Roofs bill, SB 1. The bill has bipartisan support in both chambers and with the governor, and the Assembly will hold two votes on the bill before the end of August. If passed, it would be the largest solar energy law in the country. The reports have been released as the National Conference of State Legislatures meets in Seattle, WA for their annual conference to discuss a variety of policy issues of common concern for the states, including energy.