Around the States: California Legislation, Offshore Wind Incentives, Montana Republicans

The California State Senate on Thursday approved clean energy jobs legislation that would give the state the most ambitious renewable energy requirement in the country, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). The bill (SBX1 2) would require California utilities to obtain at least 33% of their electricity from clean renewable sources, such as the wind and sun, by 2020.

Dan Kalb, UCS’s California policy manager, noted that it is important that the Legislature pass a renewable energy standard early in the legislative session.  “Without the force of law, clean energy investors lack the certainty they need to proceed with new renewable energy projects.”  Kalb said.  "Moving this bill forward quickly is critical to breathing new life into California’s clean energy economy and generating new jobs that the state needs."

For more information, see the UCS fact sheet, “California Renewable Electricity Standard.”

SCE Wants To Revamp Solar Program

Southern California Edison (SCE) has asked California regulators  to allow it to change its much-hyped rooftop solar program to focus more on ground-mounted installations.

California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in June 2009 approved a plan for 250 MW of utility owned installations and another 250 MW of solar to be owned by independent power producers. all but 10% of the installations in each category were required to be rooftop solar.

According to a Solar Industry story, SCE wants to scale both categories back to 125 MW, and designate the remaining 250MW for independent power producers with no restrictions on the type of installation. 

SCE said the economic downturn has reduced the amount of new large commercial and industrial rooftop space available for solar PV installations. It also asserts that the rooftop solar industry in California is already thriving without the utility’s assistance.

Iowa Plan Would Incentivize Small Wind and Solar

Democrats in Iowa’s Senate want to give $10 million in consumer rebates to jump-start the state’s small solar and small wind industries in Iowa.

$4 million in funding would support rebates of up to $3,000 for roughly 1,300 residential projects each year. The remaining $6 million would fund about 400 business projects at a maximum of $15,000 per rebate.

Federal tax credits would multiply the impact of the state rebates. The federal government provides a personal tax credit that is equal to 30% of the qualifying expenditures of a residential renewable energy system, including wind, solar thermal and photovoltaic.

New Jersey Regulators Approve Offshore Wind Incentives

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) approved financial incentives for offshore wind farms earlier this month, according to the New Jersey Star Ledger.

However, the funding mechanism has yet to be decided. The state currently has an incentive program for solar energy that rewards projects with credits. The rules approved by the board will expire in 18 months, by which time more permanent rules are expected to be in place.

"We need to get these programs up and running," Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, told the newspaper. "Having a credit program in place that gives financial assurance will help make these windmills happen, because it will allow for windmill companies to borrow money. Without it, it makes it very hard to borrow the money."

Montana Legislator Wants to Embrace Global Warming

Republican Rep. Joe Read of Ronan, Montana, is proposing the state embrace global warming and pass a law that says global warming is a natural occurrence that "is beneficial to the welfare and business climate of Montana."

Read the full Bozeman Daily Chronicle story at the link below.

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