Last week saw a lot of state actions in the solar and renewables industry. Some were good, like California’s decision to ensure all new residences have solar. Others were bad like Michigan’s commission supporting a new gas power plant that could raise rates instead of more solar power.
The news from Michigan was actually a mixed bag. Even as the Michigan Public Service Commission approved a new gas-fired power plant amid criticism it would raise rates, a bipartisan group of state legislators introduced an Energy Freedom bill package that would grow the amount of solar in the state. The gas plant was criticized because wind and solar advocates, among others charged that renewable energy would create greater savings for DTE Energy consumers.
The Energy Freedom bill package would remove the state’s restrictive 0.5 percent cap on distributed energy generation for utilities. It also included Fair Value bills that would ensure net-metered utility customers are fairly reimbursed energy they put on the grind in the state.
In Connecticut, the controversial SB 9, “An Act Concerning Connecticut’s Energy Future,” has passed the legislature. The bill, introduced by Gov. Dannel Malloy (D), would end the current net-metering policy in the state, even as it expands renewables to 40 percent of the state’s energy portfolio. While the bill would grandfather net-metered customers in, it would also replace net-metering with a tariff-based reimbursement system, but the value of those tariffs is not yet clear, which concerns the solar industry.
On the positive front the Golden State continues to lead the US in solar. Last week California’s Energy Commission approved a new policy that will require new homes and residential dwellings three stories and under to have solar power installed starting in 2020. The new policy was hailed by the solar industry and environmental advocates. It was enacted as part of California’s new 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards and seeks to cut overall energy use in California homes by more than 50 percent.
All this happened as worldwide, renewable energy continues to be a major new jobs provider. International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) recently published the latest Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review, which found that renewable energy now employs more than 10 million people worldwide. Moreover, it created 500,000 new jobs in 2017 alone. The report found that solar power created the most new jobs across across the world. It also found that though China had the most renewable energy jobs—followed by Brazil—the US was the third largest employer for renewable energy jobs in 2017.Tweet