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2019 Utah Legislative Session: Week Four Roundup

2019 Utah Legislative Session: Week Four Roundup
25 February 2019

Buckle up for the latest from the 2019 Utah Legislative Session!  Appropriations Subcommittees are finishing up their work on FY2020 Appropriations, which means multiple air quality and energy bills are gaining momentum. So be warned that this week’s update is a bit long as we dig into proposals for energy and air quality funding. As always, check out Utah Clean Energy’s Legislative Tracker for a list of all the bills that we are following!

Update on Energy and Air Quality Appropriations

Governor Herbert kicked off an important discussion about air quality and clean energy with his proposal to spend $100 million this year on investments to improve Utah’s air quality. Legislators filed a range of appropriations requests that seek to provide funds for measures to reduce emissions from homes, businesses, state government operations, and on and off-road vehicles.

 

Utah Clean Energy is supporting the following investments:

Weatherization Assistance Program: One of Utah Clean Energy's priority bills is an effort to expand energy efficiency programs for low-income homeowners through the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). Representative Steve Handy (Layton) requested $1.5 million in ongoing funds to support WAP. The Business, Economic Development, and Labor Subcommittee chose to fund the appropriation at $500,000 as a one-time appropriation at #50 on its priority list.

Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure: Representative Lowry Snow (St. George) and Representative Val Potter (North Logan) each requested about $5 million in funding to expand private and state electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Representative Snow’s request was prioritized as #9 of 9 on the Nature Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Appropriations Subcommittee bill list, while Representative Potter’s was included in the Infrastructure and General Government Appropriations Committee Appropriations bill.

High Emissions Vehicle Replacement Grants: This request would provide $6.5 million for grants of up $5,500 to help Utah citizens with pre-2004 high emissions vehicles with funds to replace those vehicles with newer and cleaner gas-powered cars or electric cars. This request is a companion to Representative Jeff Stenquist’s (Draper) HB 295, Vehicle Emissions Reduction Program.

Energy Storage Innovation Grants: Representative Eric Hutchings requested $1.5 million in one-time funds to support innovative energy storage projects at the discretion of the Office of Energy Development (OED). This is a companion request to SB 111, Energy Storage Research, Innovation, and Grant Program Act (Senator Lincoln Fillmore). This request was prioritized at #7 of 9 on the list air quality appropriations by the Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee.

Separately, the Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Appropriations Committee listed a one-time appropriation to provide $200,000 in funding for a transmission study work group as #16 on its priority list.

Status: Now that each of the Appropriations subcommittees has completed their work, the Executive Appropriations Committee will undertake the work to finalize the FY 2020 Appropriations bills. We will likely have to wait until the final week of the legislative session to see which requests will be fully funded by the Legislature.

Building Codes and Energy Efficiency Bills Move Forward

Two bills that relate to energy efficiency in buildings moved forward last week. HB 218-Construction Code Modifications (Representative Mike Schultz), which deals with the statewide building code, has significant implications for energy efficiency in new buildings. While HB 218 did not go as far as we would have liked to advance energy efficiency in new residential buildings, we commented in support of the bill as it does adopt the full 2018 commercial energy code. The sponsor, Representative Shultz, also helped add one hour of energy conservation training every two years for building contractors in a related bill, HB 187, Professional Licensing Amendments, which deals with professional licensing for contractors.  Both bills passed the full House last week and then were favorably recommended by the Senate Business and Labor Committee.

Status: Both HB 218 and HB 187, both sponsored by Representative Schultz, now go to the full Senate for consideration.

The Latest on Energy Storage and Multiple Utility Related Bills

SB 111- The Energy Storage Innovation, Research, and Grant Program Act (Senator Lincoln Fillmore, South Jordan), would create a $6.5 million grant program to help encourage adoption of residential and commercial energy storage systems. The bill passed the full Senate 26-0-03 and just passed out of the House Public Utilities, Energy and Technology Committee on Monday, February 25 on a 7-2-2 vote.

HB 107-Sustainable Transportation & Energy Plan Amendments (Representative Steve Handy) would authorize Dominion Energy to create and charge their customers for new gas programs under the Sustainable Transportation and Energy Plan (STEP) act, including renewable and natural gas vehicle infrastructure, commercial line extensions, and other technologies. The bill passed the full House 70-0-5 and now moves over to the Senate.

HB 307-Utility Online Usage Data Amendments (Rep. Eric Hutchings, Kearns) would allow nonresidential electricity customers of Rocky Mountain Power and rural electricity cooperatives access to more granular data on their energy use through an online portal. That bill passed out of the House Public Utilities, Energy and Technology Committee and will now go before the full House.

SB 150-Energy Balancing Account Amendments (Senator Daniel Hemmert, Orem) would allow Rocky Mountain Power to retain 100% of the balance of funds in its Energy Balancing Account, which the utility uses to pay for its power costs. SB 150 was approved by the Senate Transportation, Public Utilities, Energy and Technology Committee.

New Bills

HB 407-Renewable Energy Facilities Amendments (Representative Joel Briscoe, Salt Lake City): This bill would change the way that electricity customers that seek to contract for renewable energy supplies under “Schedule 32” can receive credit for the capacity value of the new energy supplies to the grid at times of peak demand.