State legislatures across the country have been active this spring debating ambitious new targets and renewable energy market reforms, following the successful passage of multiple renewable energy mandates in certain states. Last year California passed SB 100, which sets the target of 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045. At least other three states—Hawaii, New Mexico, and Washington—have also adopted 100% renewable energy targets and, according to Inside Climate News, several other states debated 100% renewable energy legislation this spring including Minnesota, Illinois, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts.
Like other states adopting renewable energy mandates, the Washington legislature specifically concluded “that Washington must address the impacts of climate change by leading the transition to a clean energy economy … by transforming its energy supply.” To support this goal, the Act mandates 100% renewable electricity generation by 2045. To help achieve this, section six of the Washington law mandates that utilities must file a
“four-year clean energy implementation plan” by 2022 and every four years after that. Each action plan must include “specific actions to be taken by investor-owned utility[ies] over the next four years … that demonstrate progress toward meeting the standards … of [the] act.” By requiring the utilities to provide relatively frequent updates, the Washington legislature appears to indicate a desire for strong oversight of the transition to 100% renewable electricity generation.
In other states, such as Minnesota, 100% carbon-free targets were the subject of substantial attention and debate but were not ultimately adopted. The Minnesota legislature ultimately passed a jobs and energy omnibus bill in a special session this year with more limited ambition—including provisions for energy storage pilot programs, which will allow public utilities to pursue and recover costs for such programs. The pilot program petitions, at a minimum, must provide: (1) the storage technology utilized; (2) the energy storage capacity and the duration of the output at the capacity; (3) the proposed location; (4) the cost of purchase and installation; (5) the interplay between the storage facility and existing distributed generation resources; and (6) the overall goals of the project. Continue Reading