Iowans are plenty familiar with the drill going on right now: Candidates from both sides of the aisle traverse our state, promising different ways they’ll help enrich our families and businesses. But let’s take a moment to thank one man with a 30-year history of delivering on those promises: Gov. Terry Branstad. In particular, Branstad’s strong, consistent support of wind energy has driven economic growth, created thousands of jobs and delivered billions of dollars to our state.
“Rhode Island should be heavily focused on the green economy because that’s where we’re shining,” she said in a phone interview with the Narragansett Times. “Agriculture and aquaculture are doing very well despite some of the regulatory hoops they have to jump through.”
The vote by state regulators to implement the new, less favorable net metering rates for all rooftop solar customers came after the Legislature in 2015 opted not to take up the issue. Instead, legislation was passed directing the PUC to make the decision, which included the question of whether nonsolar customers of NV Energy, doing business as Nevada Power in Southern Nevada, were subsidizing their net metering neighbors. Net metering allows solar customers to receive a credit for the excess energy they produce.
California utility regulators approved payments for excess rooftop solar generation yesterday but warned that solar customers are getting more than their share of benefits compared to other ratepayers. The California Public Utilities Commission’s 3-2 decision largely preserves the current structure of the state’s net-metering regulation, which pays solar customers retail rates for the electricity they send back to the grid.
Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) filed an amendment to address the battles playing out nationwide over state net-metering policies. The proposal, backed by Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), would preserve consumer agreements on net metering by limiting state regulators’ powers to impose higher rates.
Texas gets an F for net-metering policies, according to a new Vote Solar and Interstate Renewable Energy Council report. Released Tuesday, the report asks states about pro-solar policies including net metering, which compensates energy customers for energy they add to the grid through solar panels or other means. It gave 10 states including Texas that lowest score, noting that the state made connecting panels to the grid difficult and had no statewide net-metering law.
A Virginia lawmaker introduced a bill in the General Assembly on Jan. 22 that would convert the state’s voluntary renewable portfolio standard to a mandatory program for investor-owned electric utilities. Virginia’s voluntary RPS law gives electric utilities the option to meet a renewable energy target of 15% of electric energy sales by 2025. S.B. 761, introduced by Sen. Donald McEachin, a Democrat, would require utilities to make investments in solar energy generation, onshore wind, offshore wind and cumulative energy efficiency savings by 2030 to meet mandatory RPS standards.
he U.S. wind energy sector notched its second-largest quarterly growth in history during the last three months of 2015, according to figures released yesterday by the American Wind Energy Association. The industry saw 5,001 megawatts of new capacity come online during the fourth quarter. For the full year, new wind power capacity jumped 77 percent from 2014. At just under 8,600 MW, it drove the nation’s total installed capacity to 74,472 MW (or 74.4 gigawatts).
Policy creates politics. It’s not a new observation, but it is a somewhat counterintuitive one. Normally, we think of the causation as running the other way: Politics is often conceived of as the process of competing for the authority to determine policy. Politics, as we normally think about it, causes policy.
Sparring over net-metering payments for rooftop solar systems is continuing in the West, with solar companies forming a political action committee this week aimed at overturning a recent Nevada decision. The No Solar Tax PAC filed papers Monday with the Nevada Secretary of State, along with a ballot initiative that would overturn a December decision by the state Public Utilities Commission that dramatically reduced the benefits that solar producers receive for sending power back to the grid.