State Policy Updates
Pennsylvania Policy Update
On June 22, 2020, Governor Wolf of Pennsylvania signed an executive order to begin a rulemaking process that will allow that state’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). In late January, the BPA submitted comments to emphasize the importance of joining RGGI in the establishment of a CO2 trading program. These initiatives will help boost the state’s lagging status in energy efficiency (currently ranked 41st in the country for energy efficiency jobs). In February, the Department of Environmental Protection began to review stakeholder feedback and ensure that the CO2 trade program is in effect by 2022. Additionally, as utility bill consumer protections under COVID-19 expire at the end of March, the Pennsylvania utility commission has urged its constituents to take advantage of any rebate or incentive programs for energy efficiency and home performance upgrades to guard against the expiring COVID safety net.
- SB199 Schools-to-Work Program awards grants to establish workforce training partnerships between schools, employers, and trade associations for the purpose of creating employment and training pathways. Applications for state grants for workforce apprenticeship programs must include a partnership with at least one school and pathways to registered certifications in new careers. The bill was introduced in the Senate on February 10 and referred to the Labor and Industry Committee.
Arizona Policy Update:
Late in 2020, the Arizona Corporation Commission approved the commission’s energy proposal requiring a 100 percent carbon-free utility system by 2050. With this goal, the proposal calls for strong energy efficiency measures including a mandate for utilities to implement enough measures to offset 35 percent of their 2020 peak demand by 2035. The proposed plan is currently up for public comment before a final vote. However, the GOP-controlled state legislature is concurrently working to strip the Arizona Corporation Commission of its power to require such changes from the state utilities. To demonstrate the adverse impact this bill could have on efficiency jobs in the state, electricity bills, and water savings, BPA sent out a letter on behalf of its 9,800 members to every member of the Arizona state legislature urging them to vote NO on the bill.
Lastly, the Arizona Public Service released a whitepaper in early February on strategies to achieve a carbon-free future. The report highlights the need to modernize cost-effectiveness testing for clean energy resources and a new value framework for energy technologies.
- HB 2248 / SB 1175 – Corporation Commission; Electric Generation Resources prohibits the Arizona Corporation Commission from adopting or enforcing a policy, decision, or rule that regulates the types of electric generation resources used by public service corporations. Introduced on January 19, both the House and Senate bills are sitting in committee awaiting a vote on the chamber floor.
- SB 1519 Energy Infrastructure Finance Authority establishes an Infrastructure Upgrade Finance Authority Board to develop programs for cost-effective infrastructure upgrades in the state. The board will consist of 13 members including the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality, 7 members appointed by the Governor, and members appointed by the legislative branch. The Authority will draft a 3-to-5-year infrastructure upgrade plan allowing for input from stakeholders across the state, issuing bonds for the funding of infrastructure projects to execute the drafted plan, conducting state partnerships to meet government infrastructure needs, and executing cost-effective energy and water efficiency programs required to meet federal, state, and local infrastructure targets.
Illinois Policy Update:
Despite aims to address a $3 billion deficit in the state budget, the Illinois state legislature still has a number of new efficiency mandates moving through the state assembly in an effort to modernize buildings, appliances, and electricity infrastructure.
- HB 0804 Clean Energy Jobs Act creates an Equity and Empowerment Clean Energy Advisory Board to administer workforce development programs and clean energy investment to move the state to 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2030. The bill includes energy efficiency measures and building performance enhancements in Illinois. After a similar version of the legislation faced resistance in 2020, the bill was reintroduced on February 9 with House Speaker Chris Welch as a chief co-sponsor.
- HB 3101 Building Energy Performance Standard Act to decrease energy consumption, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing buildings, and increase economic growth and job creation. To this end, the bill creates a Building Energy Performance Standard and sets forth that all state-owned buildings must comply by January 1, 2028, at the latest. The Standard will also set minimum energy efficiency requirements for each property type, and review and assess energy performance for all buildings in any jurisdiction in the state, beginning January 1, 2023.
- HB 2555 Appliance Efficiency Standards Act establishes minimum efficiency standards for high-density energy, water, and air home appliances in accordance with EnergyStar Program Requirements. The bill prohibits the sale, rental, or lease of any non-compliant product after January 1, 2023. The legislation was introduced on February 17 and has been referred to the Rules Committee.
Kansas Policy Update:
As Kansas grapples with an intense winter and the aftermath of infrastructure damage, the state is making a push to deliver more energy efficiency and weatherization upgrades to residences. Partnerships between the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation, the Department of Energy, and local utilities have established a Weatherization and Energy Efficiency Assistance Program to fully fund audits and home energy service upgrades performed by local contractors in the state. On the same front, the Kansas state House of Representatives has introduced legislation to enact Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) financing to drive financing and investments for energy efficiency improvements on commercial and residential property.
- HB 23230 Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy Act enables financing for air, health, and energy efficiency improvements through assessment contracts between lenders and property owners in Kansas. Introduced on February 10 in the House, the bill has been referred to the Committee on Financial Institutions and Rural Development.
Maine Policy Update
On February 23, Governor Mills delivered the State of the State address calling for swift actions to provide COVID relief for Mainers. Through legislative action so far, it is clear that investment in energy efficiency and weatherization is one forum to provide economic recovery. The House and Senate are utilizing their partnership with the Maine Public Utilities Commission and the Efficiency Maine Trust to incentivize energy efficiency improvements through tax exemptions, public funding, and the establishment of a C-PACE program, specified below.
- HP 396 An Act to Accelerate Weatherization Efforts in the State allows Efficiency Maine Trust fund to be used to weatherize 17,500 homes and businesses by 2025, and 35,000 by 2030. The legislation also mandates that at least 1,000 low-income housing units are weatherized every year. The bill was introduced on February 22 and referred to the Committee on Energy, Utilities, and Technology.
- HP 132 An Act to Exclude Energy Efficiency Improvements from Property Tax provides property tax exemptions for energy efficiency improvements made on commercial, residential, or industrial property in the state. The legislation requires the Efficiency Maine Trust to identify a list of eligible improvements. Introduced on January 21, the bill is now in the Committee on Taxation.
- SP 147 An Act to Allow for the Establishment of Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy Programs which allows the Efficiency Maine Trust or a relevant municipality to establish a commercial property assessed clean energy program to finance energy savings improvements on qualifying property. The bill was introduced in the Senate on February 4 and was referred to the Committee on Energy, Utilities, and Technology.
Maryland Policy Update
As Governor Hogan signed the RELIEF Act of 2021, devoting 1.5 billion dollars to tax relief and zero-interest loans and grants for small businesses and direct payments to low-income citizens, the Maryland General Assembly has been active in home performance, energy efficiency, and workforce training. Significant bills in the legislature include expansion of scholarship eligibility for workforce apprenticeship programs, indoor air quality, and energy efficiency upgrade tax credits, and state-funded energy efficiency programs for low-income housing. More details are available below on the status of each of these active bills in the General Assembly.
- SB 198 / HB 0074 Income Tax Credit for Energy Efficiency Upgrades – Passive Houses allows a credit against state income tax for costs incurred by owners of residential property for energy efficiency upgrades that bring the house into compliance with Passive House criteria. The bill had its initial hearings in the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee in the second week of January. Note, this bill has been introduced in previous sessions.
- SB 462 / HB 379 Low Income Housing Energy Performance Targets which would establish a low-income energy savings goal for the EmPOWER programs, had its first committee hearing in the Senate this week. (The cross-filed House bill already had its initial hearing and is awaiting a vote in the House Economic Matters Committee). Note, this bill has been introduced in previous sessions.
- HB 0778 Healthy Indoor Air Quality Tax Credit establishes an income tax credit for homeowners and small businesses for the purchase and installation of technologies that improve indoor air quality, including enhanced ventilation, filtration, and bipolar ionization. The proposed tax credit is for 50% of the cost of eligible systems (not to exceed $1,000 for residential or $2,000 for small businesses), which must be installed by an MD-licensed HVAC contractor.
- SB 0845 / HB 0905 Workforce Development Sequence Scholarships Eligibility which alters the definition of eligible students to include those enrolled directly in registered apprenticeship programs that partner with community colleges. The alterations will expand scholarship eligibility to deliver broader access to state funding awards for self-funded students who seek training and certification through registered apprenticeship programs but could not participate in these programs without scholarship support.
New Jersey Policy Update
New Jersey continues to encourage residential and commercial weatherization and energy efficiency efforts through the public utility commission. In June of 2020, the NJBPU approved the Energy Efficiency and Peak Demand Reductions programs which provide funds for residential, commercial, and industrial rebate programs on energy-efficient upgrades, workforce development training, and apprenticeship programs, and enhanced incentives for hiring local contractors. In the state assembly, C-PACE legislation, introduced into the Senate in February of 2020 had been stalled by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the bill has gained momentum in the state legislature this year as the Governor expressed intent to activate C-PACE, and Senate sponsor Bob Smith is looking to deem it an economic recovery measure and boost its priority in the legislature.
- S1953 An Act Concerning the Implementation of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Systems which directs the EDA to establish a program from public or private financing of renewable energy, water, and weather resiliency projects through use by municipalities of property assessed clean energy (PACE) lending and finance options. Officially introduced by Senator Bob Smith on February 25, 2020, the bill awaits a vote in the Senate Environment and Energy Committee.
- S3033 An Act establishing the School and Small Business Energy Efficiency Stimulus Program calls for the Board of Public Utilities to establish and administer a School and Small Business Energy Efficiency Stimulus Program. The purpose of this program would be to provide grants to boards of education and small businesses for the installation of certain HVAC systems and energy-efficient and water-conserving appliances to improve air quality and energy efficiency in school districts. This program would take place under the jurisdiction of a board of education and small businesses, including school districts and small businesses in underserved communities. The legislation officially passed in the Senate on February 19 and moves to the House under the Telecommunications and Utilities Committee.
Colorado Policy Update
As the state battles repercussions from inclement weather, the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies has continually encouraged low-income residents to take advantage of its Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) to help pay for winter home heating costs and weatherization HVAC upgrades. Meanwhile, the state legislature has sought to expand workforce apprenticeships and training opportunities.
- SB 119 Increasing Access to High-Quality Credentials provides financial incentives for school districts to fund and offer scholarships for high school students who enroll in industry apprenticeships, internships, or construction programs which result in credentials for high skill, high wage, in-demands jobs. The bill was introduced in the Senate on February 23.
- HB 1007 State Apprenticeship Agency establishes the State Apprenticeship Agency to oversee apprenticeship programs and is charged with overseeing registered apprenticeship programs for the building and construction trades in this state. The bill was introduced to the House Business Affairs and Labor Appropriations Committee on February 16, 2021.
Connecticut Policy Update:
This year so far, Connecticut has invigorated its energy efficiency and weatherization assistance programs. Due to increased awareness regarding barriers to weatherization and residential air quality, the state is looking to reallocate federal funding under the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to address the costs of barrier remediation, weatherization upgrades, and energy savings. To this end, the state legislature is seeking to reallocate $8 million to energy efficiency retrofit programs through the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
- SB 356 To require the Department of House to Establish a Housing Energy Efficiency Retrofit Program which creates a state grant program to fund the installation of energy efficiency upgrades in affordable housing. Grants are awarded to residential and commercial property owners who use the services of certified home energy auditors and local contractors. The bill was introduced on February 25th to the Senate Joint Committee on Housing.
- SB 863 An Act to Establish and Update State Appliance and Equipment Energy and Water Efficiency Standards updates state building codes and mandates new efficiency standards for energy appliances such as ventilation systems, refrigeration, lighting, and water controls to be enforced by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. The bill had a public hearing on 2/18 after its introduction in the Joint Committee on Energy and Technology in the Senate.
Ohio Policy Update:
In Ohio, the Public Utilities Commission is interviewing to fill its vacant position for Commissioner and plans to make an official decision this month. Late last year, Ohio ruled that the state’s energy efficiency mandates for utilities would end completely on Dec. 31 of 2020, as required under House Bill 6. However, the introduction of legislation in the house is seeking to repeal house bill 6 to continue funding for these programs. After BPA actively sought to stop the passage of HB 6 in 2020, this bill is another important opportunity to emphasize the benefits of energy efficiency programs for Ohio. In the meantime, utilities must independently determine if they plan to continue administering energy efficiency programs.
- HB 57 Repeal HB 6 of the 133rd General Assembly seeks to continue funding and state programs pertaining to energy efficiency provided through electric utilities designed to retrofit and upgrade homes for energy savings and peak demand reduction. Introduced on February 3, the bill was referred to the Committee on Public Utilities.
Oregon Policy Update:
The Oregon PUC provided guidance on determining target states for regulatory action and providing PUC regulatory coverage in selected states. Utilities Commission is actively working in 2021 to update commercial energy building codes. Proposed updates require investments in new and existing buildings that achieve federal efficiency standards for HVAC systems, pumps, heat recovery, and lighting. These codes are in direct response to an executive order issued by the Governor last year to adopt new building energy efficiency goals to achieve a 60 percent reduction in new building energy consumption by 2030. The Commission is set to have a public rulemaking hearing on March 17, which is a key opportunity for stakeholders to weigh in on the benefits of investment in modernized building codes. These goals are reflected in legislative activity from the general assembly.
- HB 2398 Relating to Building Codes adopts a building code that increases energy efficiency in newly constructed, reconstructed, and altered buildings in the effort to achieve goals set under the Governor’s executive order. Introduced in January, the bill is up for its second public hearing on March 17 in the House.
- HB 2062 Relating to Energy Efficiency Standards authorizes the Department of Energy to update energy efficiency standards for household energy and water appliances in order to boost energy efficiency for household energy products such as dishwashers, refrigeration, and heating systems. The first public hearing is scheduled for March 1 in the Energy and Environment Committee.
Virginia Policy Update:
In the midst of designing a clean energy state plan, the Virginia legislature has proposed the Green New Deal Act which calls for at least 80 percent clean energy electricity by 2035 and a 36 percent reduction in energy consumption in buildings by 2036. In addition to the Commonwealth Clean Energy Policy which calls for net-zero statewide emissions by 2045, the state legislature has proposed to allocate substantial investment in building and home performance measures to achieve clean energy.
- HB 1397 Green New Deal Act requires the state to achieve a 36 percent reduction in electricity and energy consumption from buildings by 2036. To support this goal, the legislation establishes a carbon cap and trade system with RGGI and devote forty percent of the revenue to low-income energy efficiency program through the Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy. That said, the bill was introduced on January 11 and has not yet had its initial hearing or committee vote.
- HB 2227 / SB 2227 Uniform Statewide Building Code amendments for Energy Efficiency and Conservation directs the Board of Housing and Community Development to consider adopting amendments to the Uniform Statewide Building Code. The bill creates an opportunity for stakeholders to address any needs or improvements for Virginia building codes, especially regarding energy savings and air quality. Passing in the House on February 5, the bill has moved to the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee.
West Virginia Policy Update:
In January, West Virginia appointed Harold Ward as Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. Secretary Ward has served in the Division of Mining and Reclamation for over 20 years and plans to “continue to protect state air, land, and water.” Meanwhile, the West Virginia legislature has proposed two bills in an effort to deliver clean energy to the state through energy efficiency and cost-savings for buildings.
- HB 2667 A Bill to Create a Cost-Saving Program for State Buildings regarding Energy Efficiency which creates the Energy Savings Program to reduce energy usage in all state buildings by 25 percent by 2030. The legislation establishes funding to contract audits and energy-saving projects including HVAC and lighting replacements on state property. The bill was introduced in House Energy and Manufacturing Committee on February 23.
- HB 2588 WV Energy Efficiency Jobs Creation Act with goals to expand energy efficiency programs in West Virginia and achieve energy efficiency, conservation, and demand response targets which include nine percent reduction in peak demand levels from 2019 by 2032. To do so, the Public Service Commission requires each utility to establish energy efficiency rebate and loan programs. The legislation was introduced in the House Energy and Manufacturing Committee on February 17.