Jan. 29 2019 — Legislation is key to understanding the direction a given state is heading regarding energy policy. Legislative activity affecting the energy sector has been robust in recent years, and 2019 will be no exception.
For the past several years, renewable energy has been a hot topic for Legislatures, and while several major bills have been enacted in a handful of states, renewable energy standards will most likely remain at the forefront. The 2018 general election results indicated that the issue remains a priority for several jurisdictions and state leaders. The 2019 legislative sessions will be no different than previous sessions as states look to bolster their renewable portfolio standards or increase the favorability of other resources such as wind, biomass, energy storage etc.
During the 2018 general election, several gubernatorial candidates took a pledge to support clean energy and move the “country toward 100% clean energy” by 2050. Governors in eight states — Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon and Washington — took the pledge during their 2018 campaign trail. Several of those states had attempted to pass legislation in prior sessions that would have increased their respective RPS requirement.
The West Coast may have been unsuccessful in implementing a carbon emissions tax in recent years, but climate groups have turned their carbon pricing focus to the other nearby western states as well as the East Coast.
In recent years, several states have enacted measures to help nuclear power generating facilities avoid premature closure. This trend may continue as the several states that failed to advance zero-emission credits laws in previous sessions may revisit the issue in 2019.
Electric vehicle sales reached 1 million in 2018 with the help of pro-electric vehicle and electrification policies. With Americans becoming more climate-conscious, measures that support electric vehicles may be more prevalent during the 2019 sessions than in prior sessions. Lawmakers may continue to support pro-EV policies as more states continue to implement and enact greenhouse gas emission-reduction goals and targets.
With the recent announcement that California-based utility PG&E Corp. and its utility subsidiary, Pacific Gas and Electric Co., plan to seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, several California legislators have said legislation similar to that enacted in September 2018 is unlikely to be introduced during the new session. New Gov. Gavin Newsom said he would "be working with the Legislature and all stakeholders on a solution that ensures consumers have access to safe, affordable and reliable service, fire victims are treated fairly, and California can continue to make progress toward our climate goals."
In 2019, the District of Columbia and Legislatures in all states are scheduled to be in session. During January 2019, 44 legislative sessions are set to convene. With 14 Democratic government trifectas in 2019, measures may be introduced that continue the advancement of renewable energy and maintain initiatives put into place to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Obama-era Clean Power Plan. These states may follow in the footsteps of the U.S. House of Representatives and its proposed Green New Deal.
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RRA Finds More U.S. Governors Focused on Clean Energy Opportunities