NECEC Reviews a Successful Year in Clean Energy Policy
Nearly 80 clean energy business leaders and clean energy advocates came together in Boston’s Seaport District this Tuesday for NECEC’s Annual Legislative Roundup, during which an all-star panel of NECEC’s policy team and state coordinators reviewed what policies and bills passed this legislative session—and some that didn’t—related to clean energy.
Overall, it was a great year for clean energy policy, declared NECEC Executive Vice President Janet Gail Besser, with good bills passed in every New England state to advance clean energy.
NECEC’s Connecticut State Partner Mike Martone, a consultant for Murtha Cullina, kicked off the session and highlighted legislation passed in the Nutmeg State this year that expands the use of microgrid grants and loans to include energy storage systems and distributed generation projects, as well as legislation for a virtual net metering, and a Shared Clean Energy Facility Pilot Program.
Maine had a significant win for the renewable energy sector this year, when the Legislature passed LD1676/1693, which injects up to $13.4 million into Maine’s biomass sector through renewed and new power purchase agreements. It also establishes a commission to study economic, environmental, and energy benefits of biomass. While a good year for biomass in Maine, NECEC Maine State Partner Jeff Marks, Executive Director of E2Tech, also discussed several bills that did not pass in Maine. A notable bill that did not survive a veto by Maine Governor Paul LePage would have created a five-year, 250 MW successor to Maine’s net metering program, which would modernize Maine’s solar power policy and encourage economic development. The bill, which was widely supported by environmentalists, the energy sector, and consumer advocates will be back in session next year, and NECEC will work towards passage.
New Hampshire State Partner Kate Epsen, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Sustainable Energy Association, and Vermont State Partner Olivia Campbell Anderson, Executive Director of Renewable Energy Vermont, covered some ups and downs of their states legislative sessions.
New Hampshire was able to pass legislation this year that doubled the net metering cap to 100 MW and directed the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission to open a docket on fair compensation rates for net metering. The clean energy industry also worked hard to reverse a raid on New Hampshire’s Renewable Energy. Vermont saw legislation that included siting restrictions on renewables, which continues to be a challenge for renewable energy developers in the Green Mountain State.
NECEC Government Relations Executive Dan Bosley covered Rhode Island and Massachusetts—two states that passed major energy legislation this year. Rhode Island was the most successful state of all this year passing legislation that extended the Ocean State’s Renewable Energy Standard and renewable energy fund, adjusted clean energy property tax provisions, increased size of VNM projects from 5 to 10 MW, REG program expansion to allow multi-family that share one roof, and third party financing for net metering.
Fresh off the Massachusetts Legislative session, which ended in the wee hours of Monday morning, Bosley detailed the successful year NECEC had advocating for clean energy policy in Massachusetts. In addition to extending the solar net metering cap in March, lawmakers passed An Act to Promote Energy Diversity just after midnight on Sunday. The bill includes large scale procurements of clean energy and off shore wind, Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy program (which NECEC has been advocating for for three years!), and provisions that add fuel cells to the Alternative Portfolio Standard (APS). Along with these policies, the bill calls for an energy storage mandate, and allows small hydro to qualify for a net metering tariff.
Despite numerous gains in all the New England states, panelists foresee more work on clean energy policy in the year ahead and a growing need for the clean energy business community to engage in NECEC’s policy and advocacy efforts to ensure 2017 is another banner year.