The 2020 Legislative Session is just getting underway, and Utah Clean Energy’s policy team is working on bills to expand clean energy and high-performance homes in Utah. As the session unfolds, we will be offering more detailed information about specific bills and where you can be most impactful!
HB 194-Clean and Renewable Energy Requirement Amendments (Rep. Ward)
Reducing carbon emissions from our energy sector is vital for our climate, air, and quality of life. HB 194-Clean and Renewable Energy Requirement Amendments would update and strengthen Utah’s existing carbon emissions reduction requirements for electric utilities and cooperatives (Utah Title 54-17 Part 6). It would require Rocky Mountain Power to provide 50% zero-emissions electricity resources to its Utah customers by 2030. This includes renewable energy resources, certain hydropower resources, nuclear energy, and fossil resources with carbon sequestration.
Utah currently has a carbon emissions reduction requirement of 20% by 2025. In addition to increasing the goal to 50% clean energy resources by 2030, HB 194 would also change how renewable energy certificates (RECs) can be used to meet the new requirements. Currently, the utility can utilize 20+ year-old RECs to meet its clean energy generation requirements, which has meant that the existing standard has not been an effective driver for new clean energy development in Utah. This bill would have all RECs expire after 3 years, clearing the way for new renewable energy development to be utilized, thereby making the new standard far more impactful in reducing carbon emissions! HB 194 would also make RECs generated by solar energy resources equal to all other resources.
Home Energy Information Pilot Program (Rep. Arent)
The Utah Division of Air Quality estimates that by 2024 “area sources” of local air pollution emissions, which include our homes and businesses, will be the largest contributors to Utah air pollution. Improving the energy efficiency of new and existing homes is a strategy that can help reduce area source emissions, while also making homes more affordable to live in. For years, we’ve wanted to incorporate the equivalent of a car’s MPG rating for a home’s energy rating, and this bill is an opportunity to move forward on this important goal.
The bill would create a 2-year pilot program to provide single-family homeowners/prospective homebuyers with a "home energy performance report". The report will serve as a user-friendly tool for comparing and understanding a home’s estimated annual energy costs and emissions, and recommended efficiency upgrades for less-efficient homes. The home energy efficiency “score” would be based on either the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Home Energy Score or the RESNET Home Energy Rating System (HERS).
A $750,000 appropriation will fund:
- the cost of providing home energy assessments and home energy performance report to up to 2,000 participants;
- marketing and public education the pilot program; and
- administrative and implementation costs for the pilot program.
Funding for Electric Vehicle Charging & Weatherization in the Governor’s Budget
Governor Gary Herbert’s FY2021 Budget Recommendation calls on the Utah Legislature to provide new funding for clean energy projects. The Governor called for a one-time request for $66 million for electric vehicle infrastructure, including $63 million for electric charging “fast charging” infrastructure and $3 million in matching funds for a project at Utah State University supported by the US NSF that focuses on electric vehicle transportation infrastructure. It also would include new ongoing funding for the state Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). However, the repeal of the tax reform bill as a result of a citizen referendum has thrown most revenue projections for the state General Fund (sales tax revenues) into doubt, so additional funding for air quality and public transportation projects may be hard to come by. We will be watching this closely.