- Nevada aims for aggressive 2030 targets
- Arkansas & South Carolina pass progressive clean energy legislation
- Maine unleashes wind potential and revamps net metering policy,
States like California and New York tend to grab headlines when it comes to setting ambitious new climate targets or reporting growth in the renewables sector. Flying beneath the radar are a handful of other states that are now making significant progress advancing clean energy legislation. They offer the latest evidence why the economics of renewable energy investment are stronger than ever, especially in places where policies on renewables previously could not gain a foothold.
The state of Arkansas, despite a 500% increase in solar generation last year, still has large amounts of untapped solar energy potential. In order to take advantage of the favorable solar conditions the state passed a bipartisan Solar Access Act allowing third parties to finance solar projects. Backed by the state’s largest employer, Walmart, who themselves have committed to powering 50% of their operations with renewables in six years, this legislation will drive investment into the green sector and job growth in Arkansas.
Another southern state where utilities and bipartisan lawmakers worked together to advance renewable energy policy was South Carolina. The state’s new Energy Freedom Act means more homes will be eligible for net metering, enabling the potential for rooftop solar as homeowners rush to reduce their utility bills. The bill, which the governor is expected to sign shortly, also benefits commercial and industrial businesses by guaranteeing them 10-year large-scale solar contracts with utilities, decreasing their risk of investment.
In the northeast, Maine has ended a moratorium on new onshore wind projects as it seeks to expand the industry’s development both on and off the coast, meaning it can take advantage of areas promising enormous wind potential. The state also got rid of an outdated “gross net metering” policy (which charged transmission and distribution fees for any energy produced by rooftop solar, regardless of whether or not the electricity left the building) and instituted a more conventional net metering policy that directly benefits homeowners and businesses for solar energy they feed into the grid. Already producing three-quarters of its electricity using hydropower, wind and biomass, Maine has also put forward legislation to generate 80% of its energy from renewables by 2030, and then shooting for 100% renewables by 2050.
Finally, out west, Nevada passed an energy bill on Earth Day requiring that half its electricity come from renewables by 2030 — a sharp increase from its previous goal of 25% by 2025. Already the fourth biggest solar market in the U.S., Nevada estimates it could add more than 11,000 full-time jobs in clean energy and $1.5 billion to the economy. Such forward-thinking legislation is the latest sign — especially considering that more than 10 other state legislatures have enacted similar renewable forward measures so far in 2019 — that the economics behind investing in clean energy are strong, no matter a state’s size or geography.
What We’re Reading: “Four U.S. States Scoring Under-the-Radar Clean Energy Wins,” as published on World Resources Institute