State Policy Updates
Following are state-level policy updates from around the United States.
On April 20, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) proposed final rules for Pennsylvania’s CO2 budget trading program. These rules would establish a “Strategic Use Set-Aside Account” to fund projects that eliminate air pollution, including through residential and commercial building efficiency measures such as upgrading appliances, lighting, and HVAC, weatherizing and insulating, and improving industrial processes. The proposed rules are currently being considered by the Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board, and if approved, will be sent to the legislature for their incorporation into legislation introduced in March to mandate Pennsylvania’s entrance into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and the establishment of a statewide carbon trading program (see HB 989). These actions come after the BPA submitted comments in late January urging Pennsylvania and the DEP to move forward with a CO2 trading program and join the RGGI as a way to boost energy efficiency in the state and improve its current 41st state ranking in energy efficiency jobs.
2021 Regular Session Dates: January 5 - December 15, 2021.
- HB 989 An Act Establishing the CO2 Budget Trading Program would direct funds from the sale of carbon allowances sold at auction through RGGI to methods designed to achieve an emissions-free power sector in the state by 2050. This includes establishing an Energy Transition Fund to achieve electricity bill reductions for low-income residents, additional investments in environmental justice communities, and transition assistance for workers and communities affected by the closure of power plants and other energy infrastructure. The bill was introduced March 22 and is being considered in the Environmental Resources & Energy Committee.
- HB 637 Pennsylvania Carbon Dioxide Cap and Trade Act requires a process for legislative approval before Pennsylvania can join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative or take any other action to control carbon dioxide emissions or create its own cap and trade program. Representative Struzzi reintroduced this legislation in the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee on February 24 and it has not yet seen a vote in committee.
- SB 199 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 partnership with at least one school and pathways to registered certifications in new careers. The program was introduced in the Senate on February 10 and was referred to the Labor and Industry Committee where it has not yet seen a vote in committee.
The Arizona legislature was set to adjourn the 2021 session on April 24 but instead has extended this year’s session for two consecutive weeks until May 7. Unless the session is further extended, the legislature has until that deadline to consider a concerning piece of legislation that would restrict the Arizona Corporation Commission’s power to set statewide energy standards and impact the future of Arizona’s energy efficiency programs (see HB 2248/ SB 1175 below). Note, BPA submitted a letter in February to every member of the state legislature expressing concern with legislation and its potential to undermine efficiency programs in the state. Meanwhile, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), which regulates utilities, continues to finalize proposed rules that would require the power grid to be 100 percent carbon-free by 2050, and increase the energy efficiency resource standard (EERS) to 35 percent by 2035 (the state’s EERS is currently 22 percent). These new rules were passed by the ACC in November of 2020 but still need to undergo a finalized rulemaking procedure, with open meetings and public comment period currently underway. The date for a final vote on the proposed rules has not been set yet. The ACC also continues to address issues with distributed energy resources, grid reliability, and utility arrearages, as described below.
- The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) held its monthly Open Meeting on April 13 -14 in which commissioners voted to allow Arizona Public Service Company (APS) more time to develop and file its distributed demand-side resource aggregation tariff which would compensate aggregators for the value distributed energy resources (including smart thermostats, connected water heaters, and other energy efficiency and load management solutions) provide to the grid. APS was originally directed to file its aggregation tariff proposal by December 1, 2020 but the Commission has since extended the deadline three times, which is now moved to October 1, 2021. The tariff must be in place by April 1, 2022 to allow customers to take advantage of the program by summer 2022.
- At the same meeting, commissioners also approved draft rules to set a temperature threshold of 95 degrees Fahrenheit for which a utility cannot disconnect a customer’s service, as a measure to protect against periods of extreme heat. The proposed rules were amended to also provide relief for utility customers confronting bill arrearages. The summertime disconnection moratorium currently in place for June 1-October 15 will remain in effect until the thresholds are finalized.
2021 Regular Session Dates: January 11 - May 7, 2021.
- HB 2248 / SB 1175 – Corporation Commission; Electric Generation Resources would prohibit the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) from adopting or enforcing a policy, decision, or rule that regulates the types of electric generation resources used by public service corporations. The legislation received backing from Governor Ducey, who expressed his support for limiting the power of the ACC, and was passed in the House along party lines in early March. However the bill was stalled in the Senate which has until May 7 to take a vote on the legislation prior to the session’s conclusion. Similarly, the Senate bill, SB 1175, passed out of Committee but has moved no further since then.
While Illinois concentrates on strategies to manage budgetary concerns in fiscal year 2022 and beyond, a number of new efficiency mandates, including the Clean Energy Jobs Act which creates workforce development programs in clean energy and energy efficiency industries to achieve 100 percent carbon free electricity by 2030 in addition to a bill to to modernize standards for buildings, appliances, and electricity infrastructure, remain under consideration in the General Assembly (see HB 0804 and HB 3101 below).
2021 Regular Session Dates: January 13 - TBD.
- 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 in February by House Speaker Chris Welch and has since gained over 20 cosponsors. Passing through the Energy & Environment Committee on March 15, the bill received a number of amendments on the House floor on April 23 and must be reapproved in the Rules Committee before being considered for a vote by the full House chamber.
- 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. The standard would also set minimum energy efficiency requirements for all state owned buildings over 10,000 square feet, and review and assess energy performance for all buildings in any government jurisdiction in the state, beginning January 1, 2023. The bill was deferred back to the Rules Committee on March 27 where it will need to be re-approved and re-referred to a committee before further consideration.
- HB 2555 Appliance Efficiency Standards Act establishes minimum efficiency standards for high density energy, water, and air appliances for the home in accordance with ENERGY STAR requirements. The bill would prohibit the sale, rental, or lease of any non-compliant product after January 1, 2023. The legislation was introduced on February 17 and referred to the Energy and Environment Committee. Since the House Committee deferred a vote in March, the bill has remained in the Rules Committee for further consideration.
This month, the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) released findings from its research partnership with Wichita State University on “Residential Attitudes towards Utility-Sponsored Energy Efficiency Programs in Kansas”. The report demonstrated that the state should provide additional energy efficiency education for low-income residents and include targets for low-income energy savings programs in the state energy efficiency programs. More specifically, the report recommends that KCC work with utilities and other stakeholders to investigate best approaches to low-income energy efficiency programs and open a new docket to consider a change to the current 5 percent spending cap (of the total energy efficiency budget) on low income educational energy efficiency programs.
Meanwhile, the Kansas House of Representatives continues to consider legislation to enable Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) financing to drive energy efficiency improvements (see HB 2320 below). The legislature has until May 14 to consider the C-PACE proposal before its legislative session adjourns until January of 2022 (barring the announcement of an extension or special session this year).
2021 Regular Session Dates: January 11 - May 14, 2021.
- HB 2320 Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy [C-PACE] Act establishes a C-PACE program in Kansas to enable financing for clean energy and energy efficiency improvements. Introduced on February 10 in the House, the bill has been referred to the Committee on Financial Institutions and Rural Development. This is the first time that the Kansas legislature has considered enabling legislation for C-PACE, and the bill has yet to receive a vote in committee.
On April 15, Efficiency Maine, the independent administrator for energy efficiency programs in the state, announced it is offering financing options for small business owners upgrading to high-performance heat pumps and variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems. Any registered small business in Maine is eligible for these low- and zero-interest loans.
Meanwhile, Maine’s legislature proposed a set of important weatherization and energy efficiency bills during this year’s regular session. After concluding the regular session on March 30 and breaking for most of April, the legislature reconvened for a special session starting on April 28 to reconcile party differences and pass a state budget which needs to be in place by July 1 for the start of the new fiscal year. Although passing a budget will be a primary focus for the special session, key legislation including the establishment of a C-PACE program and tax incentives for energy efficiency improvements from the 2021 regular session also continue to be considered.
2021 Regular Session Dates: Adjourned the Regular Session on March 30, Convened a Special Session on April 28 - May 28 2021.
- HP 396 An Act to Accelerate Weatherization Efforts in the State allows Efficiency Maine Trust funds to be used towards increased energy efficiency, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and lower energy costs to achieve the weatherization of 17,500 homes and businesses by 2025, and 35,000 homes and businesses 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 but has not yet received a vote in committee.
- HP 132 An Act to Exclude Energy Efficiency Improvements from Property Tax provides property tax exemptions for energy efficiency improvements made on personal property (including weatherization of residential, commercial, and industrial buildings and facilities) in the state. The legislation requires the Efficiency Maine Trust to identify a list of eligible improvements. Introduced on January 21 in the House Committee on Taxation, this bill, alongside all others, was carried over to the 2021 special session and continues to be considered, though it has not received a vote in committee yet.
- SP 147 An Act to Allow for the Establishment of Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy Programs allows the Efficiency Maine Trust or a relevant municipality to establish a C-PACE program to enable financing for clean energy and energy efficiency improvements through assessment contracts between lenders and property owners. Maine considered C-PACE legislation for the first time in 2019, which never made it out of committee. The 2021 C-PACE bill was introduced in the Senate in February and held its initial hearing on February 25 in the Committee on Energy, Utilities, and Technology. On March 23, the committee produced a divided report of 6-4 (along party lines) on whether the legislation should pass out of committee. As a result, the bill can still move on to the full House floor for the chamber to vote or amend the legislation. However, a vote has not yet been scheduled on the floor for the C-PACE legislation.
Maryland’s General Assembly concluded the 2021 session on April 12 after passing a total of 817 pieces of legislation this year. While the General Assembly succeeded in a unanimous agreement on the state budget, passing tax cuts for citizens and small businesses through the RELIEF Act, and legislation to connect every Maryland household to the internet by 2026, many other bills never made it to the finish line. Among those that failed was a sweeping climate package which would have increased the annual savings targets for the EmPOWER program as well as setting new statewide greenhouse gas reduction goals and efficiency requirements for commercial building renovations.
- The Maryland PSC in its December 2020 Order on the 2021-2023 EmPOWER Program (Case No. 9648, Order No. 89679) ordered that a Future Programming Work Group be formed to consider program updates for beyond 2023 and file recommendations with the PSC by April 2022. The Future Programming Work Group has been tasked with considering issues including new goal structure, cost-effectiveness testing, state climate action plan coordination, promoting electrification, and measuring performance. In May, the Working Group will consider the New Goal Structure, and BPA has submitted a proposal emphasizing the importance of incorporating health and safety benefits of energy efficiency into cost-effectiveness, establishing a statewide low-income energy savings target, and aligning the program’s goals with broader state objectives to achieve greenhouse gas reductions.
- Affordable financing proposal - As part of the same order in December 2020 (Case No. 9648, Order No. 89679), the Maryland PSC considered financing proposals for the 2021-2023 EmPOWER program cycle. The PSC determined that the Maryland Clean Energy Center (MCEC) statewide pilot program proposal, which would provide zero- and low-interest financing options for residential energy efficiency upgrades with no contractor fees, is compatible with EmPOWER and ordered the Finance Work Group to file a report on the accountability, equity, financing, and feasibility of the MCEC program by April 15, 2021. BPA submitted comments to the PSC urging them to approve the Maryland Clean Energy Center (MCEC) Pilot Program Proposal and emphasizing the need for a financing option in the EmPOWER program to help homeowners of all income levels make energy-efficiency upgrades to their homes. BPA also stressed that MCEC’s Pilot Program is a critical opportunity to support local skilled jobs in residential energy efficiency and to drive energy savings in the state.
2021 Regular Session Dates: Adjourned Regular Session on April 12 until January 2022.
- SB 414 / HB 583 Climate Solutions Now Act of 2021 would raise the state’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction target to 60 percent by 2030 and net-zero by 2045. The bill increases statewide energy efficiency requirements through the Maryland EmPOWER program from 2 percent annual energy savings to 2.75 percent by 2027, establishes efficiency requirements for major renovations on large commercial buildings, and sets net-zero requirements for certain new school construction. The bill passed through the Senate in March. Upon arrival in the House, amendments were made to the bill to lower the greenhouse gas emissions reductions mandate and gut many of the energy efficiency requirements for schools and commercial buildings. Ultimately, the Climate Solutions Now Act died after the House and Senate were unable to reconcile their key differences in the final days of session.
- SB 198 / HB 74 Income Tax Credit for Energy Efficiency Upgrades - Passive Houses would create a state income tax credit for homeowners who invest in energy efficiency upgrades, including insulation, duct sealing, and window replacement. The tax credit would cover 10 percent of the costs, up to $2,000. Introduced in previous sessions, the bill again struggled to get adequate support this year, failing to receive a vote in either the House or Senate committees.
- SB 462 / HB 379 Low-Income Housing Energy Performance Targets would establish a low-income goal for the EmPOWER program, requiring the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to procure or provide energy efficiency and conservation programs and services for low-income households to achieve 1 percent gross annual energy savings starting in 2022. The bill was reintroduced this session after failing to move out of committee last year, but once again did not make it up for a vote in either the House or Senate committee.
- HB 0778 Income Tax Healthy Indoor Air Quality Tax Credit would create a new income tax credit for homeowners and small businesses who invest in HVAC improvements, including enhanced filtration, ventilation, and bipolar ionization, that can both help address COVID and improve indoor air quality and health over the long term, and which must be installed by a Maryland-licensed HVAC contractor. The proposed tax credit is for 50 percent of the cost of eligible systems, not to exceed $1,000 for residential properties or $2,000 for small businesses, and was amended to require that 30 percent of the residential tax credits go to low-income households. Introduced for the first time this session, the bill was not able to see a vote to move out of committee.
- SB 0845 / HB 0905 Workforce Development Sequence Scholarships Eligibility amends the state-funded Workforce Development Sequence Scholarship to broaden the definition of eligible students to include those enrolled directly in registered apprenticeship programs that partner with community colleges. The alterations will expand access to registered apprenticeship programs like those in the HVAC industry, helping students who otherwise would not be able to afford the tuition. The bill passed in the House and Senate and was signed into law by the Governor on April 13. It will take effect on July 1, 2021.
In April, the New Jersey Legislature continued to consider bills that would encourage residential and commercial energy efficiency efforts, including a bill to update the state’s appliance standards (S 3324 / A 5160) and C-PACE legislation (S 1953). Meanwhile, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) marches forward with the state’s transition to a new generation of energy efficiency programs as mandated in the Clean Energy Act of 2018. Below, you can find a recap of key energy efficiency related activity on both the regulatory and legislative side.
- The NJBPU’s New Jersey Clean Energy Program staff held an Energy Efficiency Committee meeting on April 28 to discuss updates to the state’s energy efficiency programs. New Jersey’s next generation of energy efficiency programs are on track to launch on July 1 (which will be the start of a 3 year cycle). New utility programs will be launching this summer, with PSE&G’s anticipated to launch by June 1 and to include a Home Performance with Energy Star (HPwES) program. At the end of April, NJBPU approved program settlements for the state’s other major electric utilities, Atlantic City Electric (ACE) and Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L), which also include HPwES and moderate-income weatherization programs. At the beginning of the month, South Jersey Gas (SJG) and Elizabeth Town Gas (ETG) were approved for new expanded energy efficiency programs which will include HPwES, rebates, free energy audits and other offerings.
- New working groups have been convened in order to provide recommendations and further refine specific aspects of the state’s energy efficiency transition. The groups include a Workforce Development Working Group, an Equity Working Group, and an Evaluation, Measurement & Valuation (EM&V) Working Group—of which the first two include industry stakeholder participation. The Workforce Development Working Group, specifically, is focused on advancing economic opportunities for underrepresented and socially or economically disadvantaged individuals through the state’s energy efficiency programs.
- In a step towards greater deployment of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI, “smart meters”), the NJBPU continues to move forward with AMI dockets for the state’s electric utilities. On April 29, NJBPU held a public hearing to consider Atlantic City Electric’s (ACE) AMI proposal to deploy a Smart Energy Network throughout the Company’s service territory. The proposed network is an integrated system of smart meters, communications facilities, and data management systems that will enable two-way communication between ACE and its customers, and will entail replacing existing customer meters with smart meters over a period of approximately 39 months. Note, the NJBPU has already approved earlier this year PSE&G’s $778 million AMI rollout plan, with a target to replace 80,000 existing meters with new, smart meters in 2021 and over 200,00 smart meters between 2022 and 2024.
2021 Regular Session Dates: January 12 - TBD.
- S 3324 / A 5160 An Act Establishing Minimum Energy and Water Efficiency Standards sets updated efficiency standards on home appliances sold and installed in New Jersey, which has not established new energy and water efficiency standards since 2005. New state regulation would be imposed on 19 products to comply with energy efficient standards such as ENERGY STAR and WaterSense specifications. The House and Senate legislation passed through the House and Senate Committees, respectively, in early March and currently await a floor vote in each chamber.
- S 1953 An Act Concerning the Implementation of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Systems directs the Economic Development Authority to establish a C-PACE program to enable financing for clean energy and energy efficiency improvements through assessment contracts between lenders and property owners. C-PACE legislation, introduced in early 2020, was stalled by the pandemic. However, the bill has been reintroduced by Senator Smith and Assemblyman Mukherji. Current holdup over the legislation lies in debate over program timelines (shortening the EPA period from 365 to 180 days) and challenges around local bonding. As a result, the bill has remained in committee as lawmakers continue to work through these issues before taking a vote.
- S 3033 An Act establishing the School and Small Business Energy Efficiency Stimulus Program calls for the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to establish and administer a School and Small Business Energy Efficiency Stimulus Program for the purpose of providing grants to education boards and small businesses for the installation of certain HVAC systems and energy efficient appliances to improve indoor air quality and efficiency in schools and small businesses, including in underserved communities. The legislation passed in the Senate in February, and was referred to the House Telecommunications and Utilities Committee where it was subsequently amended to extend application deadlines. The legislation awaits a vote on the House floor with the new amendment.
Colorado is in the midst of considering climate legislation which would require 50 percent emissions reductions by 2030, and add greenhouse gases to the list of regulated pollutants for which large industrial emitters (like utilities) would have to pay a fee. The bill also requires the Air Quality Control Commission to finalize emissions limits for the buildings sector by March of 2022 and requires electric utilities to cut emissions entirely by 2030, either through energy efficiency or clean energy investment. However, the legislation has stirred up strong opposition including from Governor Jared Polis who, at the end of April, said he could not support the regulations and incentives in this bill if it came to his desk. Governor Polis instead emphasized his Greenhouse Gas Reduction Roadmap, published earlier this year, which does not set specific requirements for energy efficiency or savings and instead allows the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to consider “any clean energy plan that achieves at least 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions” (by 2030) and “employs best available energy efficiency practices”. The Colorado General Assembly will continue to weigh the Governor’s proposed roadmap against the Democrat-backed climate proposal before the legislature concludes its regular session on May 13 (see below SB 200).
Meanwhile, the Colorado PUC granted a motion to reopen a settlement in 2017 to allow Xcel, a statewide utility, to install advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) for all of its Colorado customers, in light of new smart meter capabilities which now come with on-board Linux computers capable of doing detailed disaggregation analysis. Colorado is the first state to begin a detailed investigation of these issues.
2021 Regular Session Dates: January 13 - May 13.
- SB 200 Reduce Greenhouse Gases And Increase Environmental Justice directs the Air Quality Control Commission to enforce 50 percent greenhouse gas emission reductions by 2030; establishes a fee on greenhouse gas emissions; requires electric companies to present a plan for how to achieve reductions; and creates an environmental justice ombudsperson position to focus on how to redistribute funds from the emission tax to disproportionately-impacted communities. The legislation was introduced in the Senate on March 29 and had its initial hearing in the Senate Finance Committee on April 28. The bill passed 4-2 along party lines in the Senate Finance Committee and was subsequently referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee on April 29.
- 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 registered apprenticeships, internships, or construction programs which result in credentials for high skill, high wage, in-demands jobs. The bill passed in the Senate on April 7 and was referred over to the House Committee on Education.
- HB 1007 State Apprenticeship Agency establishes the State Apprenticeship Agency to oversee registered apprenticeship programs, including programs for the building and construction trades. The bill has passed out of the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee with an amendment requiring a focus on accelerating new apprenticeship programs on a geographically diverse basis. It is now under consideration in the House Appropriations Committee.
Connecticut is currently considering legislation proposed by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) which would authorize municipalities to adopt a voluntary “stretch” building energy code that would apply to new or substantially renovated buildings larger than 40,000 square feet. Developers would have to demonstrate that the buildings will use at least 10 percent per square foot less energy than the maximum levels permitted under the state building code in order to comply with the stretch code. Enacting a stretch code would put Connecticut in line with Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont, all of which give municipalities the option of going beyond the state code for building efficiency. Meanwhile, pushback has emerged from homebuilders and developers in the state. More details on the ongoing activity is below (see HB 6572).
Additionally, Connecticut continues to assess the reallocation of federal funding under Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to address health and safety barriers that prevent households from accessing weatherization, and to fund more weatherization upgrades. With this goal, the state legislature is considering legislation which would redirect $8 million to the DEEP energy efficiency retrofit programs (See SB 356).
2021 Regular Session Dates: January 6 - June 9.
- HB 6572 An Act Concerning the Establishment of Energy Use Buildings Standards for Voluntary Adoption allows municipalities to adopt regulations that would require new construction or significant renovations for buildings that exceed 40,000 square feet to be at least 10 percent more efficient than the State Building Code requires. The legislation received a passing vote along party lines in the House Energy and Technology Committee in March and now awaits a vote on the House floor.
- SB 356 To require the Department of House to Establish a Housing Energy Efficiency Retrofit Program 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 in February and passed unanimously out of the Senate Joint Committee on Housing on March 9. However, the bill still has not received a vote on the Senate floor.
- 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. The bill had a hearing on February 18 in the Joint Committee on Energy and Technology. However, the bill has seen no action in committee since February.
Legislation in Ohio was introduced this year to repeal House Bill 6, a bill passed in 2019 which lowered the state’s utility energy reduction mandates from 22.5 percent by 2027 to 17.5 percent (a level which they have already achieved) and ended state-supported utility energy efficiency programs. The legislation introduced this year to repeal the law and continue funding for energy efficiency programs in Ohio passed in the Senate but has not seen activity in the House since early March. BPA actively sought to stop the passage of HB 6 in 2019, so this bill is another important opportunity to emphasize the benefits of energy efficiency programs for Ohio (see SB 44 below).
2021 Regular Session Dates: January 4 - December 31.
- SB 44 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 2, the bill passed unanimously in the Senate on March 3 and was referred over to the House Committee on Public Utilities where it has not yet had an initial hearing or committee vote.
In response to an executive order issued by the Governor last year to adopt energy efficiency goals for new commercial and residential buildings to achieve a 60 percent reduction in energy consumption by 2030, Oregon adopted new commercial building energy codes which took effect on April 1 and will become mandatory October 1, 2021. The 2021 Energy Efficiency Specialty Code sets new requirements for energy efficient heating, cooling, lighting and insulation measures in commercial buildings. The commercial building code is aligned with standards for residential building codes which were updated in January to require high efficiency insulation, HVAC equipment, window installation, and lighting for newly constructed residential buildings. These new codes from the Oregon Department of Energy work in tandem with some of the efforts underway in the state legislature to increase efficiency in buildings and appliances (See HB 2398 and HB 2062 below).
2021 Regular Session Dates: January 12 - TBD.
- HB 2398 Relating to Building Codes adopts a building code which increases energy efficiency in newly constructed, reconstructed, and altered buildings. Introduced in January, the bill passed along party lines in the House Energy & Environment Committee on April 12 and was then referred to the House Ways & Means Committee where it has not yet seen a vote.
- HB 2062 Relating to Energy Efficiency Standards authorizes the Oregon Department of Energy to increase energy efficiency standards for household energy and water appliances such as dishwashers, refrigeration, and heating systems. The legislation passed in the House in a 39-19 vote and had its initial hearing in the Senate Committee on Energy and the Environment on April 27.
Adjourning for the year on April 7, the Virginia General Assembly built off last year’s momentum in energy efficiency with the Virginia Clean Economy Act which set a 5 percent energy reduction standard by 2025 for state utilities, and passed the Commonwealth Clean Energy Policy. In doing so, the state set a goal of net-zero emissions by 2045, and called for building and construction practices that reduce emissions, including by developing new energy efficiency targets and building standards. Additionally, on march 30, the Governor signed into law a bill to direct the Board of Housing and Community Development to develop a new state building code which has not been updated since 2015 (See SB 1284 and HB 2227 below).
2021 Regular Session Dates: January 13 - February 8, Special Session Dates: February 10 - April 7, adjourned until January, 2022.
- SB 1284 Commonwealth Clean Energy Policy sets out the energy policy and objectives of the Virginia Commonwealth Clean Energy Policy, which include addressing climate change and enhancing resilience by reaching net-zero emissions by 2045 in all sectors, including the electric power, transportation, industrial, agricultural, building, and infrastructure sectors. The legislation was signed into law by Governor Northam on March 26.
- HB 1937 Green New Deal Act would require the state to achieve a 36 percent reduction in energy consumption from buildings by 2036, in addition to 80 percent clean electricity by 2035. To support this goal, the legislation devotes 40 percent of the revenue from the carbon cap and trade system with RGGI to low-income energy efficiency programs. Ultimately, the bill was not taken up by the committee before the deadline.
- HB 2227 / SB 1224 Uniform Statewide Building Code amendments for Energy Efficiency and Conservation directs the Board of Housing and Community Development to consider updating the state’s building energy codes for residential and commercial buildings, upon each publication of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). The bill creates an opportunity for stakeholders to address any issues with Virginia’s building energy codes, with a focus on energy savings and air quality benefits. Passing through the House on February 5, the House bill was also approved on the Senate floor March 15. The Governor signed the legislation into law on March 30.
Prior to the state’s legislative session conclusion on April 10, West Virginia passed legislation to mandate energy efficiency and energy cost-savings in all state buildings. A separate bill to institute statewide energy efficiency and conservation targets did not make it across the finish line before adjournment.
2021 Regular Session Dates: February 10 - April 10, adjourned until January, 2022.
- HB 2667 A Bill to Create a Cost Saving Program for State Buildings regarding Energy Efficiency creates a new program to reduce energy usage in all state buildings by 25 percent by 2030. The legislation establishes funding for audits and energy-saving projects including HVAC and lighting replacements on state property. The bill passed 97-3 on the House Floor at the end of March and then subsequently was approved unanimously by the Senate in April. The bill is now on Governor Justice’s desk, with an early May deadline for him to sign or veto the legislation. Beyond this deadline, the bill may pass into law without the Governor’s signature.
- HB 2588 WV Energy Efficiency Jobs Creation Act sets goals to expand energy efficiency programs in West Virginia and achieve energy efficiency, conservation, and demand response targets which include a 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 but was not taken up for a vote before the end of the session.
District of Columbia
As the District of Columbia seeks to implement the Clean Energy Act of 2018 which set the Building Energy Performance Standards (see legislative monitor) to reduce energy consumption in all building types and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050, the DC Public Service Commission has been actively considering issues related to energy efficiency and emissions reductions including advanced metering infrastructure, data access, and cost-benefit analysis for distributed energy resources.
- Last month, in a positive development for data access, the DC Public Service Commission (PSC) moved to reconvene a working group to consider implementation of Green Button Connect My Data (CMD) and ordered the local electric utility Pepco to provide a report with information on feasibility, cost, technological capabilities and timelines for implementation. On April 29, the working group held its first meeting to hear “proposals on how market participants can obtain customer consent to share customer information with third parties” and “a cost estimate for the implementation of the functionalities and tools” related to the CMD initiative from Pepco.
- As part of implementing the 2018 Clean Energy Act, which required for the DC PSC to set building performance standards for new and existing residential, commercial, and educational buildings beginning in January of 2021, the DC PSC convened a Benefit-Cost Analysis Framework working group April 13 to begin discussing improvements to their cost-effectiveness test specifically for the assessment of distributed energy resources (DERs) in city buildings. The cost-benefit analysis framework will be used in developing building performance standards and incorporating the value of DERs through the National Standard Performance Manual to help the District achieve 50 percent emissions reductions by 2032.
- In addition, on April 7, Emile C. Thompson was confirmed as the new Commissioner for the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia for a term ending June 30, 2022. Commissioner Thompson noted that he looks forward “to advancing the [Commission’s] mission of safety, reliability, affordability and meeting the District’s climate policy commitments.”
2021 Regular Session Dates: January 2 - December 31.
- Implementation of Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS) - in 2018, DC passed comprehensive clean energy legislation which included the creation of Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS) to set a minimum threshold of energy performance for existing commercial/public buildings. The first set of standards (BEPS Period 1) went into effect on January 1. The BEPS applies to all privately-owned buildings with at least 50,000 square feet and all DC-owned buildings with at least 10,000 square feet, and it will be updated in 6 years to apply to smaller buildings.