Incorporating occupational wage and benefit standards into energy efficiency and renewable energy laws will, of course, be a state-specific exercise based on the structure of the relevant programs and the types of statutes, regulations, and incentives already in effect in those states. Section 2 of the model legislation is drafted based on a Washington State policy, which offers a tax incentive for renewable energy projects that use certain labor standards, and should apply in most jurisdictions. Section 3 of the model legislation, on the other hand, is generically drafted to demonstrate how robust labor standards can be lifted out and applied to other types of statutes, regulations and incentives currently governing energy projects in the state. Taken together with an accompanying memorandum that discusses existing state policies across the country, this model law provides state policymakers with a range of options from which to build appropriate wages and benefits into the clean energy transition.
- Biden’s Executive Order on Federal Carbon Neutrality. In December, President Biden signed EO 14057, which orders the U.S. government to be “net-zero” by 2050. EO 14057 directs the federal government to leverage its 300,000 buildings, 600,000 cars and trucks, and $650 billion yearly purchasing power towards the following targets:
- 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity in federal facilities by 2030
- 100 percent zero-emission vehicle acquisitions by 2035, including 100 percent zero-emission light-duty vehicle acquisitions by 2027;
- Net-zero emissions from federal procurement no later than 2050, including a Buy Clean policy to promote use of construction materials with lower embodied emissions;
- A net-zero emissions building portfolio by 2045, including a 50 percent emissions reduction by 2032; and
- Net-zero emissions from overall federal operations by 2050, including a 65 percent emissions reduction by 2030.
The scope of the plan, the order says, should catalyze the development of at least 10 gigawatts of American clean energy by 2030.
- Nevada Approves Transportation Electrification Plan: In November, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission approved a $100 million Economic Recovery Transportation Electrification Plan proposed by the utility, NV Energy, pursuant to SB 448. Nevada’s SB 448 was passed in June, soliciting a transportation electrification plan that includes: 1) An Interstate Corridor Charging Depot Program; 2) An Urban Charging Depot Program; 3) A Public Agency Electric Vehicle Charging Program; 4) A Transit, School Bus, and Transportation Electrification Custom Program; and 5) An Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Program. Not less than 40% of the total program expenditures under this plan must be dedicated to investments made in, or for the benefit of, historically underserved communities.
- Nevada Finalizes Equitable Solar Access Rules. In furtherance of AB465 (2019), in December, the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada also approved a final set of rules governing the state’s new expanded solar access program. Low-income customers, disadvantaged businesses, nonprofit organizations, and customers who cannot install solar on their property due to physical or legal constraints are all eligible to apply for expanded solar access programs, where applicants will be selected according to a lottery system. The approved rules define how electric rates for customers participating in the programs will be calculated, setting a cap on potential charges for low-income customers and creating a mechanism by which utilities may recoup potential costs associated with the program. The rules also require reports on the program and its progress at each utility, to be filed every three years.
- New Jersey’s Solar Ready Mandate on New Warehouses: In November, New Jersey enacted A3352, requiring all new warehouses containing 100,000 square feet or more to reserve at least 40% of their roof space for the future installation of solar generation. This requirement applies to all warehouses which have construction permits that are not declared complete by the enforcing agency before July 1, 2022. The Bill directs the Department of Community Affairs to adopt rules and regulations establishing standards for the design and construction of solar-ready buildings.
- California’s Rebuilds All-Electric After Disasters: In November, California’s Public Utility Commission (CPUC) adopted a statewide Wildfire and Natural Disaster Resiliency Rebuild Program (WNDRR Program) to provide incentives to help homeowners impacted by a natural disaster rebuild all-electric homes in alignment with the state’s long-term climate and energy goals. Participants from disadvantaged communities will receive even higher incentives. The program is open to eligible customers in all of the CPUC-regulated energy utility service territories. The new WNDRR Program is funded for 10-years, at $50 million.