December 2021 Policy Blog

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Kristen Cheriegate  |  ICAST Policy Analyst

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Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Signed into Law 

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (H.R. 3684) passed and was signed into law by President Biden this past month. The White House has released a Fact Sheet stating that this new law will “…ensure every American has access to high-speed internet, tackle the climate crisis, advance environmental justice, and invest in communities that have too often been left behind.” Here is a look at some of the provisions that are included: 

  • $3.5 billion dollars for the Weatherization Assistance Program 
  • $65 billion historic investment to broadband infrastructure deployment 
  • $7.5 billion to build out a national network of electric vehicle (EV) chargers
  • $550 million for energy efficiency (EE) and conservation block grants 
  • $250 million for a new EE revolving loan fund capitalization grant program
  • 40 million for energy auditor training 
  • $10 million for EE skills training that leads to certifications 

Reconciliation Bill Updates 

With the House’s recent passage of the $1.7 trillion budget reconciliation package (H.R. 5376), the Senate will be modifying the bill until it has the votes necessary for passage – most notably from Senators Joe Manchin (D) and Kyrsten Sinema (D). Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D) hopes to pass it by the end of 2021, but it does currently look promising given the fiscal deadlines on the horizon. Here are some highlighted sections of the bill that are up for modification: 

  • Tax incentives for EVs, including a $4,500 bonus credit for cars and trucks assembled within the U.S. by union workers 
  • $63 billion to repair, replace, and construct public housing 
  • $24 billion in housing choice vouchers, which low-income households can use for rent 
  • Reducing the tax-exempt bond financing requirement to expand qualification for low-income housing credits for five years 
  • $8 billion for an environmental justice program credit for higher education institutions to research environmental issues 

New Florida Bill Threatens Net Metering 

On November 22, Floridian Senator Jennifer Bradley (R) introduced a bill that could end net metering for rooftop solar customers as it currently stands. The bill, SB 1024, seeks to “revise and provide legislative findings relating to the redesign of net metering to avoid cross-subsidization of electric service costs between classes of ratepayers,” as well as “require the Public Service Commission to propose new net metering rules.”  The legislation would shift compensation rates to the utility’s avoided cost of generation, and open the door for a host of fixed charges aimed at solar. The Florida Solar Energy Industries Association is currently reviewing the legislation, but has suggested that this plan has the potential “to set the rooftop solar industry back nearly a decade.” 

Net Metering Agreement Found in North Carolina 

A net metering policy agreement has been achieved in North Carolina after years of negotiations between solar advocates and Duke Energy. If approved by the North Carolina Utilities Commission, the new net metering tariffs would go into effect for customers submitting applications on or after January 1, 2023. The agreement includes: 

  • Monthly Minimum Bill 
    • $22 for Duke Energy Carolinas (DEC)
    • $28 for Duke Energy Progress (DEP) 
  • Monthly Grid Access Fee (GAF) of generators with capacity greater than 15 kilowatt-direct current (kW-dc)
    • DEC GAF: $2.05/kW – dc/month 
    • DEP GAF: $1.50/kW – dc/month
  • Grandfathers customers under previous net metering policy until January 1, 2027 

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