Lawmakers in state legislatures across the nation have proposed hundreds of bills this year relating to clean energy. While many propose to grow alternative energy resources, others work to impede them, creating a chaotic map of countervailing efforts.
State politicians have introduced measures to dramatically expand renewable electric power in nearly a dozen states in the first three months of 2017, some as ambitious as aiming to run entirely on renewables within a few decades; some would launch smaller-scale community solar ventures, like a pilot in Virginia; others would add tax breaks for solar users in South Carolina and Florida.
But other state legislatures are resisting the advance of clean power as it begins to transform the energy landscape. Less a new assault inspired by the Republican-led backlash against green energy under way in Washington, D.C., it’s the continuation of campaigns by conservative groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, Americans for Prosperity and the Heartland Institute with ties to the fossil fuel billionaires, the Koch brothers. Members of traditional energy companies, including utilities and fossil fuel companies, have also supported some attacks.
There are proposals to end the popular solar financial arrangement known as net metering in Indiana, Missouri and elsewhere. There are moves afoot to roll back statewide clean energy targets in North Carolina, New Hampshire and Ohio. There was even a bill to effectively outlaw utility-scale wind and solar in Wyoming, and a defiant measure seeking a two-year moratorium on new wind projects in North Dakota.
But many clean energy policy experts and advocates told InsideClimate News that despite the challenges, they remain encouraged by the conversations playing out at the state level. That’s because they are seeing examples of bipartisan collaboration for clean energy and polls showing widespread support for cutting emissions from the electric grid. And there is…