2019 Utah Legislative Session: Week Five Roundup

2019 Utah Legislative Session: Week Five Roundup
04 March 2019

Tick Tock! Things are picking up steam as we head into the last two weeks of the session. A major bill we’ve been following on building energy codes advanced this week, while legislation to help communities move to 100% net renewable energy has been released and a lively discussion is expected next week.

As always, check out Utah Clean Energy’s Legislative Tracker for a list of all the bills that we are monitoring.

Building Codes and Energy Efficiency Training Bills Finalized

Bills relating to energy efficiency standards for new buildings wrapped up last week. HB 218-Construction Code Modifications (Rep. Mike Schultz), which updates 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. Utah is now one of only a handful of states to have adopted this energy code. Representative Shultz sponsored an improvement to add one hour of energy conservation training for building contractors in a related bill, HB 187-Professional Licensing Amendments, which deals with professional licensing for contractors.

Status: Both HB 218 and HB 187 got approval from the Senate and now await a signature by Governor Herbert.

Bill to Expand Renewable Energy Options for Utah Communities Released

Legislation aiming to help Utah communities expand their renewable energy supplies is expected to go to committee for hearings this week. Utah Clean Energy supports HB 411-Community Renewable Energy Act (Rep. Steve Handy) which would allow Utah communities that are Rocky Mountain Power customers to create a program that would provide 100% net renewable energy supplies for all of their residents and businesses by 2030. As we shared previously, Salt Lake City, Park City, Moab, Summit County, and Cottonwood Heights have passed resolutions endorsing a move to 100% renewable electricity resources. HB 411 would create a rulemaking process before the Public Service Commission to identify the details of how this program would be created and administered. HB 411 has stringent provisions preventing costs resulting from this program to be shifted to non-participating customers.

Bill Helping Large Energy Users Access Renewable Energy to be Heard This Week

HB 407-Renewable Energy Facilities Amendments (Rep. Joel Briscoe), would modify “Schedule 32” rates for large energy users that seek to contract for new renewable energy resources. The current rate design makes it difficult for Schedule 32 customers to get credit for the capacity contributions of variable renewable energy resources. HB 407 would provide a capacity credit for new Schedule 32 projects.

Status: HB 407 1st Substitute will be heard by the House Public Utilities, Energy, and Technology Committee on Monday at 4pm. HB 411 will likely be heard theis week by the same House committee, though a hearing time is yet to be determined.

Vehicle Emissions Bills Move Forward but Air Quality Funding Remains Uncertain

A number of air quality bills that Utah Clean Energy supports advanced through The House Natural Resources, Environment, and Agriculture Committee last week, including HB 295-Vehicle Emissions Reduction Program (Rep. Jeff Stenquist) and Representative Briscoe’s proposal to expand free public transit days, HB 353-Reduction in Single Occupancy Vehicle Trips Pilot Program. SB 111- The Energy Storage Innovation, Research, and Grant Program Act (Senator Lincoln Fillmore) would create a $6.5 million grant program to help encourage adoption of residential and commercial energy storage systems also moved forward this week out of the House Public Utilities, Energy and Technology Committee.

However, with state tax revenues down by $200 million, total funding available for air quality and clean energy measures remains uncertain. SB 111, for example, is still in the House Rules Committee this week. Air quality funding will likely remain undetermined until the Executive Appropriations Committee wraps up its deliberations on Friday, March 8.

The latest on other utility bills we’re following

HB 107-Sustainable Transportation & Energy Plan Amendments (Rep. 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 has passed the House and the Senate Transportation, Public Utilities, Energy, and Technology Committee and now awaits a final vote in the Senate.

HB 307-Utility Online Usage Data Amendments (Rep. Eric Hutchings) 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. HB 307 has now passed the full House (70-0-5) and now goes over to the Senate for further consideration.

SB 150-Energy Balancing Account Amendments (Senator Daniel Hemmert) 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 this week and now needs a final vote to be approved by the House.