During uncertain times like right now, it can be challenging to predict the future or feel comfortable in the unknown. This year started off with a lot of action around policies for energy efficiency and climate, but things have changed quickly in the last few weeks. In response to COVID-19, a lot of state houses have closed their doors and adjourned early.
NEEP is tracking state legislative sessions across the region and will provide updates as they come. The table below provides an overview of the current status of sessions.
While many things may be on hold right now, it’s important to know where things left off. This will help us be prepared for when things pick back up. That’s the intent of this policy tracker.
Below are recent updates since NEEP’s previous blog in February.
In Connecticut, a lot of legislation has been introduced this year – from addressing natural gas infrastructure to energy storage to setting ambitious climate goals. SB354 establishes a Green New Deal and sets targets for 100 percent clean and renewable electricity, transportation, and buildings. If this bill passes, it will establish interim targets to achieve deep carbon reduction by 2050. This includes:
- By 2025, 27.5 percent reduction in GHGs from 2001 levels
- By 2030, 45 percent reduction in GHGs and 40 percent zero-emission Class I renewable electricity generation
- By 2035, 54 percent reduction in GHGs and 70 percent zero-emission Class I renewable electricity generation
- By 2040, 62.5 percent reduction in GHGs and zero statewide GHGs attributable to the electricity sector
- By 2045, 71 percent reduction in GHGs
- By 2050, 80 percent reduction in GHGs, and zero statewide GHGs attributable to the transportation and building sectors
The bill also requires Connecticut Department of Energy and Environment Protection (CT DEEP) to model and develop policies to achieve the goals, as well as establish a social cost of carbon for estimating the value of not emitting a ton of GHG. This can include the impacts and costs of extreme weather events that disrupt infrastructure due to changing climate from increased carbon in the atmosphere.
Vermont also has legislation relating to GHG reduction that passed a chamber, H688. This bill adopts GHG emission reduction targets including 26 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. It also establishes the Vermont Climate Council to identify and evaluate strategies to achieve these goals. The council will establish programs to build resiliency that prepares communities, infrastructure, and the economy to adapt to the current and anticipated effects of climate change.
In Connecticut, there are a couple of bills recently introduced relating to buildings. One, HB5480, establishes a 10-year pilot program that would start in 2021 and provide energy efficiency retrofits to at least 500 homes annually for 10 years. The program would run through the Department of Housing with non-lapsing funding from the Health Homes Fund. This would ensure funding for the duration of the pilot. The other, HB5008, establishes high performance green building standards that would be available for municipalities on a voluntary basis. The standards would be based on nationally-recognized models for sustainable construction codes, promoting high performance green buildings with reduced emissions and enhanced occupant health and comfort.
Maryland kicked off the year with a slate of bills being introduced. HB111, Electric Vehicle (EV) Recharging Equipment for Multifamily Units Act, passed the House. This bill prevents condominiums or homeowner associations from prohibiting or unreasonably restricting the installation of EV charging equipment by unit owners, as long as the owners follow certain rules, including installation by a licensed contractor and paying for separately metered electricity. This bill also establishes an EV infrastructure grant program for individuals, businesses, state and local government entities, retail station dealers and condominiums to install charging equipment.
On the senate side, SB656 passed the chamber. This bill addresses utility regulation and will require the Public Service Commission (PSC) to consider the protection of the global climate in supervising and regulating utility companies. It puts climate at the forefront of the commission’s considerations of utility operations, generation states, and more.
Two states have recently introduced appliance and water efficiency standards, Rhode Island and Maine. H7866 in Rhode Island would take effect July 2021 and prohibits certain appliances from being sold or leased in the state unless the efficiency of the new product meets or exceeds the efficiency standards provided in the bill or preempted by the U.S. DOE. In Maine, LD175 passed the house and would ensure that certain appliances and products sold or installed in the state meet or exceed energy and water efficiency standards adopted by the state starting in January 2021. Appliance and water efficiency standards provide an opportunity for states to realize significant energy and costs savings to help achieve climate goals.
Heading down to the Mid-Atlantic, there was also lots of activity. In the District of Columbia, B23-0130, passed both chambers and was signed by the Mayor. This bill establishes an Office of Resilience within the City Administrator's Office to develop and report on the implementation of policies, programs and actions with respect to urban resilience. Urban resilience is defined as the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems within a system to survive, adapt, and thrive regardless of stresses and shocks encountered. Urban resilience is an important tool for climate adaptation.
There has been a lot of progress already this year. It is important to find ways to keep pushing these efforts forward and think about them in context of our collective response to COVID-19. Many of these policies can provide relief to society and help during the recovery following this pandemic. To keep up to date on legislation throughout the region, see the policy tracker on NEEP’s website.