ICAST Experts Weigh In: 2023 State Legislative Wrap-Up and Looking Ahead to 2024

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By Kristen Cheriegate: Senior Policy Analyst | Ms. Cheriegate navigates ICAST through the policy world to obtain real-world solutions, funding resources, and networks with potential partners to provide more services to low- and moderate-income households.

State legislatures are gearing up to pre-file bills for the 2024 season, but before we close the books on 2023, we wanted to provide some key updates from this year’s state legislative season. We’ll start with numeric highlights, compiled by the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, concerning policy trends and passed bills:

  • Utilities and the Grid:
    • At least 28 states introduced 99 bills to modernize utilities and the energy grid for the renewable energy transition. A total of 13 bills were enacted across 10 states, including Connecticut, Colorado, Virginia, and Washington.
  • Electric Vehicles
    • At least 40 states and territories considered over 259 bills related to the deployment of electric and zero-emission vehicles. A total of 31 bills were enacted across 15 states, including Illinois, Maryland, and New York.
  • Building Decarbonization
    • At least 27 states introduced 157 building decarbonization bills. A total of 16 bills were enacted across 10 states, including Colorado, Maine, Maryland, and Vermont.
  • Workforce and Energy Transition
    • At least 24 states and territories introduced 138 pieces of legislation supporting a just energy transition. A total of 15 bills were enacted across seven states and territories, including Colorado, New Hampshire, and Washington.

Additionally, affordable housing and disadvantaged communities across the nation saw wins in energy, environment, and housing. The following are excerpts from bills signed into law:

  • Virginia Senate Bill 1323
    • This law requires the State Corporation Commission to establish, for Dominion Energy Virginia, an annual energy efficiency savings targets for customers who are low-income, elderly, disabled, or veterans of military service.
  • Maryland House Bill 908
    • This law establishes the Community Solar Energy pilot program as a permanent state program and outlines the program’s structure and requirements; it requires a community solar energy generating system to serve at least 40% of its kilowatt-hour output to most low-income and moderate-income subscribers. When constructing or operating a community solar facility, developers must address critical areas, climate resilience, forest conservation concerns, and comply with other relevant local and state regulations.
  • Maine Legislative Document 1986
    • This law establishes the Distributed Solar and Energy Storage Program to increase solar deployment and storage facilities across the state. The Governor’s Energy Office is tasked with developing the program by July 1, 2024. The program must provide federal funding to support distributed generation solar and storage systems.
  • California Assembly Bill 2316
    • This law requires the Public Utilities Commission to establish the Community Renewable Energy Program to enable a customer of a large electrical corporation to subscribe to, and receive bill credits resulting from, the electricity generated by a community renewable energy facility. This law also requires the Commission to: 1) ensure the creation and financing of viable community renewable energy facilities; 2) establish a community renewable energy program tariff; and 3) establish financial incentives for community renewable energy facilities that have low-income customer subscribers, subscribers in underserved communities, or low-income service organization subscribers.
  • Illinois Senate Bill 0040
    • This law creates the Electric Vehicle Charging Act, which addresses the residential charging access gap by requiring new homes to have basic electrical infrastructure to support future EV charging and giving renters and condo owners a right to charge. It also requires that the Act apply to renovated multi-unit residential buildings that have parking spaces and are constructed or renovated after the effective date – ensuring that EV parking spaces are provided to affordable housing properties.
  • Maryland House Bill 834
    • This law requires the Public Service Commission to expand the EV Pilot Program to allow participating electric companies to install EV charging stations in multifamily dwellings in underserved communities.
  • California Senate Bill 355
    • This law authorizes the Public Utilities Commission to consider an advance payment loan to eligible projects for the Multifamily Affordable Housing Solar Roofs Program if there is reasonable evidence to suggest that an advance payment loan would lead to the delivery of a project that would not occur without the advance payment loan.

The uptick of energy-related bills was evident in multiple states in the nation, in comparison to previous years. This is likely due to the push in affordable housing, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and more, funding coming from the Federal Government, via BIL and IRA.

While the majority of state legislatures have wrapped up their work for the 2023 year and are looking forward to 2024, some exceptions continue their work through the Fall (including Massachusetts and Ohio). By the time the 2024 legislative seasons begin, an estimated sixteen states will have passed their 2025 budget and thus, only be considering supplemental budget items/bills in 2024.

We will likely see “carrying-over” of bills from the 2023 session in nearly a quarter of the country, as well as state legislatures providing state programmatic updates where needed – via the federal funding coming in from IRA.

In 2024, it will be critical for state energy office to motivate their respective state legislators for bills that improve public health by supporting marginalized communities’ access to affordable clean energy.

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