We are nearing the halfway point of the Utah Legislative Session. It’s still been comparatively quiet on the climate and clean energy front, but we’re expecting things to heat up a bit in Weeks 4 and 5. More bills are coming out each day, so be sure to take a look at our Utah Legislative Bill Tracker at https://utahcleanenergy.org/ut2023legislativesession/.
As always, if you have questions or concerns, please send me a note at email@example.com.
What We’re Watching at the Capitol This Week
State Building Code Legislation: As we noted last week, one of our priorities is to get the Utah Legislature to adopt the recommendations of the Uniform Building Code Commission from this past August to update our state construction code, which includes important updates to our residential and commercial energy efficiency standards. We are still waiting for the text of the building construction code bills, which will need to be heard by the House Business and Labor Committee. We hope to have an update to share this week.
Electric Vehicle Charging Bills: We are still keeping a close eye on the following bills:
- SB125: Transportation Infrastructure Amendments (Sen. Chris Wilson): This bill would designate Utah State University’s “ASPIRE” electric vehicle charging research center as the lead on developing a statewide electric vehicle infrastructure plan, including a steering committee led by UDOT, the Office of Energy Development, the Department of Environmental Quality, and Rocky Mountain Power. This bill unexpectedly failed in the Senate Transportation, Public Utilities, Energy, and Technology Committee last week. It is back in Committee today (Monday, Feb. 6) in the afternoon.
- HB 301-Transportation Tax Amendments (Rep. Mike Schultz): This bill would establish a 12.5% sales tax on sales of electricity at electric vehicle charging stations to be collected by electric vehicle charging station operators. The revenue would be transferred into the state Transportation Fund. We believe that this bill needs some further amendments before it is approved to avoid double taxation of EV charging, as some EV station operators already pay state sales tax on the electricity that goes to EV chargers on site.
Other Bills We’re Watching
- SB 97-Public Contracting Amendments (Senator Chris Wilson/Rep. Rex Shipp): This is a modified version of a bill that takes aim at companies, especially financial companies or investment firms, that seek to reduce investments in fossil fuel companies by preventing all political subdivisions of the state of Utah from contracting with them for goods or services. Other states, like Texas and Oklahoma, have enacted similar policies. Recent reports show that these reports tend to be costly for the entities seeking to implement them. Investors are largely moving towards clean energy investment because of the opportunities they offer. We are opposed to this bill.
- HB 389-Renewable Energy Amendments (Rep. Colin Jack): This bill would require major electric utilities in the state to include efforts to mitigate supposed risks to the electricity grid from utility-scale and distributed renewable energy systems. It would also add new language to the state energy policy about promoting electricity resources that are “stable and capable of serving load without accelerating damage to customer equipment.” We are monitoring it.
- Renewable Energy Incentive Related Bills: We understand that there will be legislation to reduce the state production tax credit and other tax credits for renewable energy resources. Abruptly ending key incentives for renewable energy will undermine efforts to bring renewable energy projects to our state. We expect this bill to be made public this week.
- HB 217-School Energy and Water Reduction Amendments (Rep. Gay Lynn Bennion): Representative Bennion’s bill would seek to provide grants to local school districts for water and energy savings projects. The State Board of Education (USBE) would be responsible for evaluating applications and awarding grants. This bill failed in committee and is unlikely to pass this session.
- HB 220-Emissions Reduction Amendments (Rep. Andrew Stoddard): Representative Andrew Stoddard has filed a comprehensive bill that seeks to reduce air pollutants from a variety of sources including vehicles, buildings, and industry. We are awaiting word on what the path forward on this bill might be.