(Photo by eXtension Farm Energy via Creative Commons)
A policymaking storm is brewing in Michigan as state officials and lawmakers simultaneously devise a plan to comply with proposed federal carbon rules and also revisit the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard that expires next year.
It appears regulatory officials and lawmakers are attacking the two issues separately — the Department of Environmental Quality recently appointed an official to lead the process of complying with President Obama’s rules; meanwhile, the chairman of the Senate Energy and Technology Committee has a task force studying a new RPS.
Somewhere in the middle will likely be a debate over ramping up renewable energy production and considering other non-renewable power sources to lower emissions. Michigan may have the added benefit of tackling the two issues at the same time, as each process could inform the other.
Michigan’s state capitol building. (Photo by Matt Katzenberger via Creative Commons)
A Michigan lawmaker wants to expand the state’s definition of renewable energy to include more fuel made from municipal and industrial solid waste.
State Rep. Aric Nesbitt, a Republican who represents a district near Kalamazoo, is sponsoring legislation that would eliminate what he calls “unnecessary burdens on the appropriate use” of burning solid waste, and would expand the definition to include byproducts like petroleum coke.
Opponents have called it a “gerrymander” of the definition of renewable energy at a time when the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard of 10 percent from renewables is set to expire next year.
Nesbitt says it’s a logical alternative to storing the materials in landfills.
“This is a very important discussion to have,” said Nesbitt, who chairs the state House Energy and Technology Committee. “There’s a lot of picking winners and losers. I think we need to really decide on what course and what standard we need to go for.”
The Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. (Photo by Mike King via Creative Commons)
Critics showed up in force this week as Ohio’s House of Representatives began hearings on a bill that would dramatically alter the state’s clean energy laws.
The Public Utilities Committee for the Ohio House could vote on the bill as early as next week. If Senate Bill 310 becomes law, it could hurt both consumers and businesses, say opponents.
As passed by the state Senate last week, SB 310 would freeze Ohio’s energy efficiency and renewable energy standards for two years, pushing final targets from 2025 to 2027. Meanwhile, a study commission would review the law’s mandates.
However, last-minute changes made to the bill would also dramatically change both standards.
“They essentially gutted the standards, so that when they do come back they’ll be essentially meaningless,” says Ted Ford, president of Ohio Advanced Energy Economy.
(Photo by Peggy Riley via Creative Commons)
The debate over Ohio’s energy laws took another turn Tuesday, as Republican lawmakers introduced a substitute bill that threatens to destroy a compromise plan developed over the past few days.
State Sen. Bill Seitz, who chairs the Senate Public Utilities Committee released a substitute bill late Tuesday afternoon that would impose a three-year freeze, eliminate in-state requirements for renewable energy, and make other changes to the state’s energy law.
The bill would undo the work done by legislators, consumer, business, and environmental groups on a proposed compromise that would have preserved the state’s efficiency and renewable energy standards, but with significant changes.
(Photo by Chris H. via Creative Commons)
Hearings begin today on an Ohio bill that would cancel requirements for additional renewable energy and energy efficiency after 2014.
Senate Bill 310 would freeze Ohio’s renewable and alternative energy requirements at 2014 levels. Those levels are about one-tenth of the current law’s target of 25 percent by 2025.
Energy efficiency requirements would stay at the 2014 level of 4.2 percent. Current law calls for a 22 percent cumulative reduction in retail electricity sales by 2025. That’s about five times as much as the 2014 levels.
The bill, introduced last Friday by state Sen. Troy Balderson of Zanesville, would also set up a study committee, let larger electrical customers opt out of the law’s energy efficiency requirements, and require utility bills to have separate line items for the costs of energy efficiency and renewable energy compliance.
Introduction of SB 310 follows after vigorous opposition throughout the fall to Senate Bill 58. That bill, introduced by Cincinnati-area State Senator Bill Seitz, would have substantially weakened the energy efficiency and renewable energy standards, while nominally leaving their targets in place.
“If I had a preference, it would be for 58,” Seitz says. But, he adds, “We’re also trying to get something passed, so I’m comfortable with either approach.”
A wind turbine near Alma, Michigan. (Photo by Corey Seeman via Creative Commons)
With Michigan’s renewable energy standard set to expire at the end of 2015, and a high-profile fight over the standard in 2012 still fresh in many minds, debate has swirled about the costs and benefits of renewing or strengthening the law.
Amid the discussion, a recent study finds that Michigan could more than triple its renewable energy resources by 2030, with virtually no extra cost to consumers
Michigan’s current Renewable Energy Standard (RES) – created by a 2008 law – is among the least ambitious in the country. It requires just 10 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2015.
That compares to Illinois and Minnesota standards that call for 25 percent by 2025; a number of states calling for 20 percent by 2020; and on the high end, a New York standard of 29 percent by 2015 and California’s 33 percent by 2020.
Increasing Michigan’s standard to more than 30 percent is not only feasible, according to the March 12 report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, but would result in only a 0.3 percent increase for ratepayers over 15 years.
Ameren is currently meeting most of its share of Missouri’s renewable energy standard with electricity from this century-old dam in Iowa. (Photo by Ian Petchenik via Creative Commons)
More than five years after Missouri residents approved a renewable-energy standard, very little has changed about the state’s power supply.
The 2008 law, known as Proposition C, requires the state’s three large investor-owned utilities to gradually phase in renewable power, starting with 2 percent of the electricity sold in 2011 to 2013, and gradually ramping up that proportion to 15 percent by 2021. The law also requires that 2 percent of that total be derived from solar.
However, not long after voters approved the law by a two-to-one margin, state officials removed language requiring that energy to be generated in Missouri.
As a result, “the utilities are not building renewables,” said P.J. Wilson, director of Renew Missouri, a non-profit that advocated for Proposition C. “They have found ways around it. We’ve been challenging that.”
Wind turbines in Butler County, Kansas. (Photo by Brent Danley via Creative Commons)
©2014 E&E Publishing, LLC
Republished with permission
By Jeffrey Tomich
In Kansas, home of sprawling wind farms and the Koch brothers, conservative groups and renewable energy advocates are girding for a battle over the state’s green power law — a fight with broad political implications that’s drawing interest from far outside the state’s borders.
Kansas was the last among 30 states to put a renewable standard into law — one that requires utilities to step up their use of renewable resources for electric generation to 20 percent by 2020. Now opponents seek to be the first to win a repeal of a clean energy mandate.
The legislative tussle began two years ago in Kansas and is set to intensify this spring after the state Chamber of Commerce, led by a former Kansas House speaker, made a rollback of the renewable energy standard one of its legislative priorities.
Wind turbines in McLean County, Illinois. (Photo by Tim Lindenbaum via Creative Commons)
Cross-posted from Greentech Media with permission
By Chelsea Barnes and Justin Barnes
Numerous schemes to scrap or diminish state renewable portfolio standard (RPS) policies have attracted a lot of national attention this year. Grim media forecasts for RPS policies, and the hefty renewables markets these policies facilitate, were not uncommon. These reports were worrisome to renewables supporters.
And for good reason. Meeting existing state RPS requirements will require 93,000 megawatts of new renewables capacity by 2035, according to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
That’s a lot of new renewables capacity. And a lot of investment.
Jeff Deyette is a senior energy analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Cross-posted from The Equation
By Jeff Deyette
Members of the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee heard testimony this week on two bills that would roll back Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards. Backed by fossil-fuel funded special interest groups and their political allies, these proposals would undermine Ohio’s emerging clean energy industries and make the state even more dependent on coal and natural gas.
It is no coincidence that the primary sponsors of these bills are both members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Last year, the Washington Post, UCS, and others exposed ALEC’s scheme to deploy model legislation written by the Heartland Institute, and backed by deeply flawed and soundly refuted analyses from the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University, that would repeal renewable electricity standards (RES) now in place in 29 states.
ALEC, the Heartland Institute, and the Beacon Hill Institute all come to the table with dubious records of spreading disinformation to sow doubt about the scientific evidence on climate change and the consequences of tobacco use. Each has received funding from fossil fuel and tobacco interests.
So far, their campaign to roll back RES policies across the country has failed. Policymakers in states like Kansas and North Carolina exhibited sound judgment in rejecting the disinformation and repeal attempts. Likewise, Ohioans should be skeptical of claims about the Buckeye State’s clean energy policies coming from these groups, and the politicians who repeat them.