Report of the Renewable Energy Committee

Energy Law Journal, January 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Report of the Renewable Energy Committee


This report summarizes key legislative, regulatory, and judicial developments affecting renewable energy, both on a state and federal level, during 2011. This report is organized by region, with key information presented for each state that has had significant changes in policy or legislation over the past year.*

I. NORTHEAST

A. Connecticut

Connecticut significantly changed its energy law in 2011 with the passage of Public Act 11-80, An Act Concerning the Establishment of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and Planning for Connecticut's Energy Future (Public Act 11-80).1 Public Act 11-80 consolidated the development and implementation of Connecticut's environmental and energy policies within a newly created Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.2

Many of the changes implemented by Public Act 11-80 relate to the area of renewable energy. One significant change was the creation of a new quasi- public authority, known as the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority (CEFIA), to administer the Clean Energy Fund.3 Resources available for inclusion in the Clean Energy Fund were also expanded by Public Act 11-80, to include private capital and revenues reallocated by the legislature for that purpose.4 The CEFIA is required by the act to, among other things, develop "programs to finance and . . . support clean energy investment" in various areas, including residential, "stimulate demand for clean energy . . . in the state," and "support financing or other expenditures that promote investment in clean energy sources."5 In addition, the act requires the CEFIA to establish a program to promote residential photovoltaic (PV) systems, resulting in at least thirty megawatts (MW) of new PV installed capacity by December 31, 2022,6 and to establish a three-year pilot program to provide financial incentives for installing small combined heat and power and on-site anaerobic digestion facilities.7

Public Act 11-80 also creates two new types of renewable energy credits that electric distribution companies (EDCs) are required to procure through long- term contracts; "ZRECs," which will be produced by on-site zero emission Class I generation projects, and "LRECs," which will be produced by on-site low emission Class I technologies.8 Finally, the act allows state EDCs to build, own, or operate up to a per-company aggregate of thirty MWs of grid-side renewable generation and allows municipalities to adopt ordinances exempting class I renewable energy projects from municipal building permit fees.9

B. Maine

In June 2011, Maine enacted two new pieces of legislation relating to renewable energy. An Act to Reduce Maine's Dependence on Oil (L.D. 553) directs the Efficiency Maine Trust (EMT) to develop a plan to reduce Maine's dependence on "oil by at least 30% from 2007 levels by 2030 and by at least 50% from 2007 levels by 2050."10 The EMT must consider a number of reduction strategies, including transitioning to renewable energy for heating, including energy from offshore wind, solar, geothermal, tidal, and sustainable biomass.11 L.D. 553 also requires the EMT to report to the State of Maine's Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities, and Technology by December 1, 2012, with recommendations for policies and legislative actions needed to achieve overall reductions in oil use.12 The second piece of legislation, An Act to Provide Rebates for Renewable Energy Technologies, allocates funds to the EMT to "provide rebates for cost-effective renewable energy technologies" utilized by government and nonprofit entities subjected to a competitive bid process.13

C. Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (MA DOER) submitted new proposed regulations for biomass facilities under its Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard to the state legislature in May 2011.14 These proposed regulations would require biomass generators to meet stricter greenhouse gas emissions standards for clean energy financing. …

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