QUARTER 2 HIGHLIGHTS: APRIL - JUNE 2021 We use color-coded tags on individual highlights to help you find the news important to you. The tags in this edition include:
Energy Efficiency Policy State and Local Updates
companies and a 35-day grace period before shutoff notices are sent.
UA Energy-Saving Upgrades: The University of Arkansas in Fayetteville is beginning a sequence of energy-saving facility upgrades to their campus. They have consulted with Little Rock-based Entegrity, an energy service, solar development, and sustainability company, to facilitate this project. UA estimates that the upgrades will reduce the university’s expenses by $1.3 million annually.
Smart Grids: Alabama Power is preparing for the Atlantic hurricane season through smart grid technology and customer education. Alabama’s new smart grid technology reduced outages and outage times during tornadoes in March, and they have also improved outage communications in preparation for hurricane season. Arkansas COVID-19 Utility Disconnection Moratorium: On May 3, Arkansas ended a pandemic-related disconnection moratorium for regulated utility services. Customers with overdue balances will receive disconnection notices from their utility
Florida New Commissioner Appointment: On May 10, Governor Ron DeSantis selected Gabriella Passidomo to the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) to fill the seat of former Commissioner Julie Brown, who vacated the seat following her appointment by Governor
Quaterly Highlights |
DeSantis to lead the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Passidomo requires confirmation by the Florida Senate, which adjourned its 2020 session without taking up her nomination. The five-member commission will be facing decisions on several utilities’ rate cases this summer and may consider energy efficiency rule revisions being developed by staff.
analysis of modeling energy efficiency as a supply-side resource and published its findings in a white paper. The paper compares the results of Georgia Power’s current demand-side approach to determining energy efficiency potential among various customer classes with a supply-side modeling approach and concludes there are no significant differences.
Duke Energy Rate Case: On May 4, the Florida PSC approved Duke Energy Florida’s rate plan, which includes base-rate increases of $67.25 million in 2022, $48.93 million in 2023, and $79.2 million in 2024. In 2022 customers will expect to see a bill increase of 3-4%. The settlement includes energy efficiency offerings for those that may be at risk of having their electricity disconnected. Docket No. 20210016
Energy Burden Report: Greenlink Analytics released a paper on energy burden and its policy implications in three U.S. cities, including Atlanta. The research examines the causes of energy burden in these cities and considers how energy efficiency can be used to address the issue.
Energy Equity Study: On June 22, Commissioner Nikki Fried announced that the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Office of Energy will conduct a statewide study on energy equity in Florida. The study will examine energy burden and the disparities among different households. Local Energy Bans Preemption Bill: Florida lawmakers passed HB 919 to prohibit local governments from restricting what types of energy utilities can supply to customers. The bill was signed by Governor Ron DeSantis on June 21. Regulatory Asset Proceeding: On August 11, 2020, the Joint Utilities initiated a proceeding to request approval for the establishment of a regulatory asset to record and preserve their COVID-19 related costs and expected losses, including bad debt expense and uncollected late fee revenues. On June 23, 2021, the commission issued an order scheduling a public hearing for July 8, 2021. Docket No. 20200194 Georgia Energy Efficiency as a Resource: In accordance with the conditions of its stipulation agreement in the 2019 IRP, Georgia Power completed the
Georgia Power Leadership: On June 1, Chris Womack became the new chairman and CEO of Georgia Power, officially replacing Paul Bowers. He has served as the company’s president since November 2020. Georgia Power was founded in 1902, and Womack is the first Black CEO. Nuclear Testing: In April, Georgia Power began the final phase of testing for the first new nuclear reactor at Plant Vogtle, Unit 3. They are working to meet a November deadline but have faced unexpected costs and delays for years. To avoid further pushbacks and expenses, they must have their Unit 3 ready for commercial service by this November. Nuclear Plant Inspection: In June, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced their inspection of the Georgia Power’s Plant Vogtle, Unit 3 nuclear reactor. The purpose of the inspection is to review the improper installation of large quantities of electrical power cabling and other violations of electrical codes. The April testimony given by Georgia Power will review if the large amount of installation work fulfilled in a brief time caused some supervisors to accept work that was inadequately completed.
Quaterly Highlights |
Louisiana Louisiana Joins Climate Alliance: Following an executive order last year to make Louisiana carbon neutral by 2050, Governor John Bel Edwards committed to join the U.S. Climate Alliance. The state has assembled a Climate Initiatives Task Force to consider the changes Louisiana can make to achieve this goal. Louisiana is the most carbonintensive state in the Southeast, given its historic support of the oil and gas industry. New Orleans Adopts Renewable Portfolio Standard: In May, New Orleans City Council adopted rules that require Entergy New Orleans, the utility that serves the city, to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The council, which regulates Entergy, also requires that 90% of the city’s energy come from renewable resources by 2040. New Orleans is the only city that regulates an investorowned utility and the first city in the Southeast to adopt these types of energy requirements. Mississippi Regional Transmission Organization: On April 6, the Mississippi Public Service Commission opened a docket to evaluate Entergy Mississippi’s membership in Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO). The commission will investigate “the long-term benefits and costs and commitments of EML’s membership in MISO.” The investigation will include a comparison of potentially joining the Southeast Energy Exchange Market (SEEM). Docket No. 2021-AD-52 Rate Cases: • Mississippi Power Company (MPCO): On May 28, MPCO requested a stipulation on its rate schedule. It was approved by the commission on June 8 and will result in an increase of $2.80 per month for a residential customer using 1000 kWh. Projected expenditures for MPCO’s 2021 Environmental Compliance Overview (ECO) Plan would result in a decrease of $0.95 per 1000 kWh. Combined with the rate schedule increase, the net increase for a residential customer is
projected to be $1.85 per month using 1000 kWh. Docket No. 2019-UN-219 • Entergy Mississippi LLC (EML): On June 8, the commission approved EML’s Notice of Intent to Implement Revisions to its 2021 Formula Rate Plan. This will result in an increase of $6.50, which includes not just the Formula Rate Plan but also a collective impact on seven rider schedules. Docket No. 2018-UN205 • EML Net Metering: On April 30, the commission approved EML’s net metering schedule due annually on May 1. The additional charge for low-income eligible will be 7.7 cents per kWh and for non-low income-eligible 5.7 cents per kWh. Docket No. 2016-UN-32 Integrated Resource Plans (IRP): • MPCO: Mississippi Power Company filed its first IRP with the Mississippi Public Service Commission on May 15, with comments received by June 15. Docket No. 2019-UA-231 • EML: Entergy Mississippi, LLC filed their first IRP on June 15 and comments must be submitted by July 15. Docket No. 2019-UA232 North Carolina Rate Cases: • Duke Energy Carolinas (DEC): On April 16, the North Carolina Utilities Commission approved DEC rate increase. The partial fuel rider rate increase took effect June 1 and increased residential customer bills $6.30 for a typical use of 1,000 kWh. Docket No. E-2, SUB 1219 • Duke Energy Progress: On May 13 NCUC approved Duke Energy Progress calculations of a previously approved partial rate increase on March 31. Docket No. E-7, SUB 1213 Investor Proposes Splitting Duke: In May, Duke Energy received a proposal from a large investor to consider breaking the company into three regionally-focused companies. The investor indicates that doing so would increase the market
Quaterly Highlights |
value of the companies benefiting shareholders. Currently, Duke operates in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida, with additional operations in the Midwest. Senate Rejects Cabinet Nominee: The North Carolina Senate voted to remove Governor Roy Cooper’s nominee for Secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality. Dionne Delli-Gatti was nominated to replace Michael Regan, who was appointed Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by President Biden. Following the rejection, Governor Cooper appointed Delli-Gatti as state clean energy director. Clean Energy Organizations Merger: In June, the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association announced it was merging with the North Carolina Building Performance Association. The move adds 150 building performance professionals to NCSEA’s membership roster and unifies previously separate organizations that worked in parallel to advance clean energy in the state. The combined organization will continue its work across clean energy issues in the state. Governor Joins Clean Energy Podcast: NCSEA hosted Governor Cooper on the 50th episode of their podcast, “Squeaky Clean.” The Governor discussed several of his executive orders that address energy efficiency, carbon emissions, electric vehicles, and offshore wind. Legislature Debates Utility Changes: Negotiations continue in North Carolina after an energy bill negotiated between Duke and Republican leadership faced opposition from other stakeholders. The originally proposed bill addressed the role of the North Carolina Utilities Commission, which regulates Duke and other utility companies in the state, as well as the way Duke would manage and retire its coal plants. Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative: In June, a subcommittee of the North Carolina Environmental Management Committee (EMC) recommended that the entire body vote on whether the state should join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The proposed
July vote by the EMC would initiate a lengthy rulemaking and legislative process to enable the state to participate in RGGI, which operates primarily in the Northeast. If successful, North Carolina would join Virginia as the second Southeastern state in RGGI. Local Governments Engage at Commission: The Southeast Sustainability Directors Network (SSDN) provided support to local governments to participate in Duke Energy’s North Carolina Integrated Resource Plan. SSDN partnered with a variety of local and national partners to help local governments review and determine priorities for engagement. Many local governments in North Carolina have made climate and energy commitments that are affected by the decisions made by the utility and the commission. Duke Energy Renewable Energy Production: In April, Duke Energy announced its intent to triple renewable energy production across its grid by 2030. Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, Duke’s long-term energy goals continue to be influenced by the utility regulators of the state. Duke Energy also faces industry pressure to close its remaining coal plants by 2030 and decarbonize the energy sector. South Carolina Net Metering: On May 19, the Public Service Commission (PSC) approved Duke Energy and Dominion South Carolina Establishment of Solar Choice Net Metering Tariff. It is a time-variable net metering tariff, so customer rates will vary according to the time of day. Docket Nos. 2020264-E and 2020-265-E Integrated Resource Plans (IRP): • Duke Energy: On June 17, the PSC rejected Duke Energy Progress (DEP) and Duke Energy Carolinas (DEC) IRPs. At the business meeting, commissioners leveraged the Energy Freedom Act to ask Duke to revise the plan. They asked the utility to remodel future gas price forecasts and take account of solar contract prices.
Quaterly Highlights |
• Dominion Energy: On June 18, the PSC approved Dominion Energy South Carolina’s modified IRP. Dominion revised its December filing with PSC requests to comply with the Energy Freedom Act. Docket No. 2019-226-E Tennessee Memphis Light, Gas, and Water and TVA: In early April, Memphis Light, Gas, and Water (MLGW) hired a Georgia-based consultant to continue to explore the possibility of leaving the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). GDS Associates will compile options for the municipal utility which currently depends on the federally operated TVA for its wholesale power. MLGW is TVA’s largest customer and renewed its exploration of options following the winter storm that impacted Texas and other parts of the South. Weatherization Investment: In May, MLGW received funding from TVA and the Tennessee Department of Environmental Conservation to provide low-income homeowners with weatherization services. Delivered through Energy Smart Memphis, the improvements will be complemented by energy conservation training for over 3,000 customers. School Uplift Program: In May, TVA announced a $7.3 million investment in its new School Uplift program, modeled after their Home Uplift program for residential customers. Building on the state’s Energy Efficiency School Initiative, TVA’s program has completed a pilot with eleven schools that are expected to save an average of 20% through behavior changes. TVA is actively recruiting schools to participate in the program for the 2022-23 program year. TVA Reports on Sustainability: On May 6, TVA released its FY 2020 Sustainability Report, which makes organization-wide commitments in 19 specific areas of focus. The report emphasizes past and planned decarbonization efforts as the utility shifts away from carbon-emitting fuels for its power supply. Diversity and community
energy management programs are also described throughout the report. Virginia Dominion Leadership: On April 1, Dominion Energy executive chairman Tom Farrell announced his retirement after 14 years leading the utility. Farrell will be succeeded by Robert Blue and remain as an advisor through June 2021. Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Hearing: In June, the Louisa County Board of Supervisors hosted a public hearing on whether the county should permit commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. PACE financing works by enabling building owners to install clean and efficient technologies on their property with no out-of-pocket cost. The investment is recouped annually on the property tax bill. Grid Modernization Proposal: In June, Dominion Energy Virginia submitted Phase II of its Grid Transformation Plan to the State Corporation Commission. This phase calls for a $669 million investment in optimizing the integration of distributed energy resources into the utility’s grid. If approved, the plan would be implemented in 2022-2023. Establishing Green Banks: In June, the Virginia Department of Energy (formerly the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy) hired an energy efficiency and financing programs manager to help local communities establish green banks. Green banks, which attract and lend capital for clean energy and other purposes, are attracting interest as state and local governments plan to increase clean energy commitments and investment. The Biden administration has called out green banks as key to the federal government’s climate strategy. Gubernatorial Election: On May 10, Virginia Republicans nominated Glenn Youngkin, former private equity executive, to be their nominee for November’s gubernatorial election. Youngkin has endorsed repealing or amending the Virginia Clean Economy Act to make Virginia’s electric grid run on 100% clean energy by 2050.
Quaterly Highlights |
Disconnection Moratorium Continued: In May, Dominion Energy announced that it will continue a pause on disconnection for nonpayment of bills and offer credits to ratepayers who may qualify for back-payment forgiveness in Virginia. They reported that many customers are still facing hardship due to COVID-19 and hope that this will ease financial burdens. Energy Efficiency Policy: Regional, National, and Federal Updates Peer City Climate Action Evaluation: Reporters compared two peer cities’ climate and energy activities, Jacksonville, FL and Nashville, TN, and illuminated similarities and opportunities to learn from one another. Southeast Energy Exchange Market (SEEM): Duke Energy, Southern Company, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and other Southeastern utilities are endeavoring to create SEEM, extending the current bilateral market and creating a 15-minute energy exchange to use current transmission more efficiently. In May, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) asked the utilities to provide more details on the proposal, and the utilities responded, saying they would provide weekly confidential data, public market auditor reports, responses to regulatory inquiries, and more to increase transparency. Infrastructure Report Cards: The White House released infrastructure report cards for every state which include a breakdown on the condition of roads and bridges, public transportation, drinking water, affordable housing, broadband, manufacturing and more. Report cards for each state in SEEA’s regional territory are listed below: • • • • • • • •
Alabama Arkansas Florida Georgia Kentucky Louisiana Mississippi North Carolina
• South Carolina • Tennessee • Virginia TVA Leadership: On April 20, President Biden nominated four new candidates to join the board of the Tennessee Valley Authority: Beth Geer, Robert Klein, Kimberly Lewis, and Michelle More. The candidates all have backgrounds in environmental justice, community-based clean energy, and labor. President Biden wants to make the TVA a model for how public power can lead an equitable and clean energy transition. Appliance Standards: In April, the Department of Energy announced a proposed rule that would undo the Trump administration’s “Process Rule” that set major roadblocks for updating energysaving standards for appliances and equipment. According to a report released by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP), updating appliance standards can cut carbon emissions by 1.5 billion metric tons by 2050 and save the average American $230 annually by 2035 on utility bills. State of the Electric Utility Series: On April 1, Utility Dive released its State of the Electric Utility in a four-part series. This report provides survey results on industry trends from about 500 utility professionals as well as insight from a diverse group of industry professionals. Department of Energy Appointees: On May 12, the Biden administration announced new Department of Energy appointees, including Matt Dannenberg as Deputy Chief of Staff at the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and Tony Reames as Senior Advisor at the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity. Tony Reames has a background in energy justice, while Matt Dannenberg has a background in civic engagement and advocacy to impact climate change. Innovation and Economic Competition Package: On June 9, the U.S. Senate approved a bipartisan innovation and economic competition package
Quaterly Highlights |
that would provide $100 billion for research and development activities over five years at the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy. The bill, S. 1260, heads to the House of Representatives for approval. Justice40 Initiative: On June 8, The Department of Energy nominee to lead the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity, Shalanda Baher, said that traditional fossil fuel communities would be among those that will qualify for investment under an executive order meant to bolster disadvantaged communities. The Justice40 Initiative, signed by President Biden in January, directs that 40% of investments made by the federal government that plan to tackle the climate crisis will go to disadvantaged communities. This order will include funding for transitioning energy communities. Rural Energy Pilot Program: The USDA accepted comments on how a $10 million Rural Energy Pilot Program might be used, with an emphasis on soliciting feedback on how technologies could impact or be deployed to address and propel work on racial equity, environmental justice, and economic opportunity. EPA Leadership: President Biden has appointed Carlton Waterhouse, an environmental law and justice expert, as assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management. This office oversees recycling and waste issues, as well as the superfund program, which focuses on the country’s most contaminated sites. Energy-Efficient Lightbulbs: On May 20, Department of Energy (DOE) moved to reverse the Trump administration’s decision to block the phaseout of incandescent lightbulbs. Trump previously claimed that energy-efficient lightbulbs would cost more, despite conflicting information on the DOE website. According to Noah Horowitz, director of the Center for Energy Efficiency Standards at the Natural Resources Defense Council, customers could save $2.5 billion annually with more efficient bulbs, and 50 million tons of carbon pollution could be prevented by 2030, as LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights use onesixth the energy of incandescent bulbs to deliver
the same amount of energy and last more than 10 times longer. Expanding Power Markets: In June, nine bipartisan former federal commissioners and chairs called for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to expand organized power markets across the U.S. They cited considerable customer benefits and greater levels of renewable energy as reasons for restructured competitive markets to expand nationwide. Electric Grid Security: In June, Tom Fanning, Southern Company CEO and co-chair of Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council, said that utilities must work with each other and the federal government to discourage cyber-attacks on the electric grid following the May shutdown of Colonial Pipeline due to hackers. New Energy Efficiency Metric: In May, California’s Public Utilities Commission passed new rules to look at energy efficiency benefits beyond economic savings, adopting a “total system benefit” (TSB) metric to promote energy conservation at high-value locations and times. According to the proposal, TSB will optimize and combine energy and peak demand savings goals and will encourage longer-duration energy-saving and high-value load reduction. Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal: On June 24, President Biden announced his support for a bipartisan infrastructure framework that will spend $73 billion in power infrastructure. Of that investment, $579 billion will also be spent on a variety of infrastructure priorities, including new transmission lines to accommodate renewable energy and a new Grid Authority to oversee power infrastructure upgrades. Energy Efficient Transportation State, Local, and Utility Policy Updates Alabama EV Charging Stations: In June, Governor Kay Ivey approved a $4.1 million grant to build 18 electric vehicle charging stations through seven counties
Quaterly Highlights |
Quaterly Highlights |
along the I-20 corridor between Tuscaloosa and the Alabama-Georgia border. The funds were made available from a settlement between the Environmental Protection Agency and Volkswagen. Alabama currently ranks 48th in the country with 2.3 electric charging stations per 10,000 vehicles.
plant in Ridgeville, SC to build Polestar 3 electric vehicles with its affiliate, Polestar Cars. This will be their third car built at this plant and brings Volvo Cars full investment in South Carolina to $1.2 billion.
Electric Autonomous Vehicle Testing: In April, Knox County in eastern Tennessee became a testing site for an autonomous electric vehicle known as Olli. Olli uses the IBM Watson supercomputer and has a variety of capabilities, including learning from individual’s preferences and patterns.
Duke Energy Florida Rate Plan: In May, the Florida Public Service Commission approved an agreement on customer rates between Duke Energy Florida and other parties through 2024. With this approval, Duke Energy Florida will offer a new electric vehicle charging program building on their existing pilot program. EV Readiness Ordinance: City of Orlando staff is proposing an electric vehicle readiness ordinance that will require portions of new construction parking spaces to meet current EV charging needs and prepare for future EV charging demand. The Municipal Planning Board is considering this ordinance on June 28, and it is expected to be considered by the city council in August. Louisiana
First All-Electric School Bus in the State: In June, Washington County debuted Tennessee’s first all-electric school bus. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation granted the school system nearly $220,000 to purchase the bus and its charging station. The bus is meant to lower fuel costs and carbon emissions, as well as promoting a cleaner environment for the community and students. The school system plans to add more electric buses in the future and hopes that other districts follow their lead.
EV Tax Credit: On June 22, SB 8 was signed by Governor John Bel Edwards, accelerating the sunset date for the alternative fuel and electric vehicle tax credits to July 1, 2021. The alternative fuel vehicle conversion tax credit will remain in effect until January 1, 2022.
Ultium Battery Plant: On April 16, General Motors and LG Energy Solution announced that they are building an Ultium battery plant worth $2.3 billion in Spring Hill, TN, outside of Nashville, with plans to come online in 2023. The batteries will support electric Cadillac and Honda vehicle models. The plant will employ about 1,300 people.
Electric Transportation Program Proposal: In its Annual Energy Delivery Plan filed on April 15, Mississippi Power proposed two new program incentives. A Residential Electric Transportation Program and Commercial Electric Transportation Program will both educate and provide customer support and incentives. Docket No. 2019-UA-231
Clean Cars Bill Passed: On March 19, Governor Ralph Northam signed HB 1965, an advanced clean cars bill, into law. This law creates a zero-emissions vehicle (ZEV) program that will ensure more electric vehicles are made and sold in Virginia, and a low-emissions vehicle (LEV) program that will strengthen regulations on emissions of newly constructed vehicles.
South Carolina Volvo EV Investment: In June, Volvo announced that they are investing $118 million into their
Quaterly Highlights |
Energy Efficient Transportation Regional, National, and Federal Policy Updates Battery Manufacturer Settlement: On April 12, two of South Korea’s largest electric vehicle battery makers, SK Innovation and LG Energy, reached a multi-billion-dollar settlement that ended a trade dispute between the two companies. Previously, the U.S. International Trade Commission issued a 10-year import ban on SK Innovation after LG filed a complaint against its rival company for stealing trade secrets. The import ban threatened a vital supply chain for Ford and Volkswagen electric cars, and thousands of manufacturing jobs in Georgia. Electric School Bus Funds: On June 25, EPA administrator Michael Regan announced a COVID-19 relief package of $50 million focusing on environmental programs. $7 million of these funds will go towards electric school buses to reduce pollution from diesel emissions. DOT Invests in Electric Transportation: The Department of Transportation (DOT) has released its proposed 2022 budget, which emphasizes electric vehicles and sustainable transportation. The budget includes $15 billion for building a national electric vehicle charging network in five years, $100 billion in consumer rebates for electric vehicles, and $25 billion for zero-emissions transit vehicles. EV Battery Supply Chain: In May, Ford Motor Company entered a joint venture with battery producer SK Innovation to build two North American factories to make batteries for roughly 600,000 electric vehicles per year by mid-decade. This marks the beginning of Ford vertically integrating key components of their electric vehicle supply chain. EV Infrastructure Equity: According to an American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) report, only a few states and utility companies are committed to ensuring communities of color and low- and moderateincome communities’ benefit from the transition
to the report, strong policies are needed to ensure communities of color and low-income communities have access to electric vehicles, charging stations, and other direct benefits. Tailpipe Emissions Rule Review: On June 24, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent its revised tailpipe emissions rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget for evaluation. While the details of the revised rule are widely unknown, many expect that the EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will set aggressive clean car standards that would act as a catalyst for electric vehicle adoption. Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal: On June 24, President Biden announced his support for a bipartisan infrastructure framework that allocates $7.5 billion for a national EV charging network and another $7.5 billion for electric school buses, transit buses, and other public transportation. American Jobs Plan: The White House released a fact sheet on the American Jobs Plan, a comprehensive investment strategy into the country’s infrastructure. The American Jobs Plan proposes investing $174 billion in electric vehicles through tax incentives, supply chain support, infrastructure deployment, medium- and heavyduty vehicle deployments, and electrifying the federal fleet. The INVEST in America Act: The INVEST in America Act is a five-year surface transportation reauthorization bill proposed by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. The bill proposes a $547 billion investment into transportation infrastructure priorities defined in President Biden’s American Jobs Plan, including investment into electric vehicles. The bill dedicates $4 billion to electric vehicle charging infrastructure, supports fleet conversion, and incentivizes transit-oriented development. Bus Service Provider Electric Vehicle Pilot Program: Student Transportation of America (STA), an independent provider of school transportation services is creating an electric vehicle pilot
Quaterly Highlights |
program with plans to deploy electric buses to select areas across the east and west coasts. Built Environment State, Local, and Utility Policy Updates Alabama Community Infrastructure Revitalization: In June, Live HealthSmart Alabama celebrated its first phase of bringing improvements to Birmingham neighborhoods. The project aims to revitalize community infrastructure like sidewalks to advance healthy lifestyles and outcomes within Birmingham’s most underserved neighborhoods.
Louisiana Solar-Powered Neighborhood: Trinity Bluff, a new neighborhood in Shreveport, Louisiana, will be developed with its own microgrid within the SWEPCO grid (Southwestern Electric Power Company). Using about 750 kilowatts of solar panels, a solar array will feed into a battery storage system and connect to the SWEPCO grid. The array and microgrid will help residents maintain power during extreme weather events. The homes are also being built with other energy efficiency features like air source heat pumps, smart thermostats, LED lighting, and induction cooktops. North Carolina
Florida County Hires first Chief Heat Officer: On April 30, Miami-Dade County became the first local government to establish the position of chief heat officer to address concerns of heat-related illnesses, increased temperatures, and mitigation measures as it relates to gentrification driven by sea-level rise. In partnership with the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center and hosted by the Miami Foundation, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava appointed Jane Gilbert to the new position. Gilbert will develop partnerships and focus on the disproportionate impacts heat has on low-income residents and communities of color. A top priority for the chief heat officer will be addressing the Miami-Dade housing stock to ensure energy efficient cooling among vulnerable communities. Kentucky Kentucky Disaster Declaration: In April, President Biden approved a federal disaster declaration after a harsh weather storm left many residents without electricity in early February. The declaration will support Kentucky public assistance in costs towards debris removal, emergency protective actions, and the restoration of damaged infrastructure.
Efficient Government Buildings and Savings Act: In April, the North Carolina House of Representatives passed H245, requiring prisons, public universities, and other state-run buildings to cut their energy use by one-tenth. The bill is estimated to save taxpayers $1.1 billion in energy costs. The bill would leverage energy performance contracts to realize net benefits in real time. In 2007, North Carolina required state buildings to reduce their energy consumption by 30% by 2015, saving over $1.4 billion in gross utility costs. Tennessee Knoxville Joins DOE Carbon Pilot: Better Building partners City of Knoxville, Eastman Chemical, and Schneider Electric are participating in Department of Energy’s Low Carbon Pilot. The program is designed to help buildings and manufacturing plants reduce their carbon emissions by piloting approaches and sharing successful solutions. Energy efficiency will feature as a key strategy to help partners achieve low or zero carbon emissions. Virginia Building Energy Codes: Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development announced the 2018 Virginia Energy Conservation Code effective date of July 1, 2021, with a mandatory date of July 1, 2022. The 2021 Virginia code development process will begin in late 2021. Quaterly Highlights |
Built Environment Regional, National, and Federal Policy Updates Southeast Energy Insecurity Stakeholder Initiative: In May, the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University launched the Southeast Energy Insecurity Stakeholder Initiative in partnership with Appalachian Voices and North Carolina Justice Center. The intention of this initiative is to continue discussions on reducing energy insecurity in the Southeast. Built Environment Project Manager, William Bryan along with SEEA board members, Therese Griffin and Michael Bryan, are on the group’s advisory board. Extreme Weather Costs: Eight counties in Alabama, Florida, and Louisiana accounted for half of the $1.2 billion in claims paid by the federal flood insurance program in 2020. This increase in claims is due to global climate change creating more widespread and less predictable instances of extreme weather events, specifically flooding. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) plans to revisit insurance rates to better support policyholders that experience damage from flooding. Blackouts and the Energy Grid: Extreme weather events in the Southeast have revealed the vulnerabilities in the nation’s energy grid. State and local policies can encourage improved building codes, renewable energy projects, and efforts to support vulnerable communities on the energy grid. Building Decarbonization Equity Lens: In June, Chicago’s newly created Building Decarbonization Working Group announced that they will develop a framework that guides the city’s building decarbonization from an equity lens. The working group includes 55 individuals from nonprofits, private businesses, organizations, and community groups.
Efficient Building Investment: On May 17, the Biden administration announced that it will invest $30 million to train individuals to build and maintain buildings that use renewables, energy demand management, efficient lighting, and other clean energy technologies. The Department of Energy also announced a grid-interactive efficient buildings roadmap to provide efficiency and renewable integration recommendations for buildings that could save $200 billion. The White House also released building performance standards for the federal government, which is the largest single energy consumer in the U.S. Efficiency Workforce Bills: In May, two bipartisan bills were introduced to incentivize and offset energy efficiency retrofit costs in buildings and homes. The HOPE for HOMES Act would create a rebate program for homeowners and bolster the energy efficiency workforce. A second bill would offset the costs of efficiency retrofit for buildings owned by nonprofit organizations. Report on Manufactured Housing: The National Association of State Energy Offices (NASEO) released a new report to support the Rural Energy Task Force, “Manufactured Housing in Rural America: How States are Supporting Energy Efficient Homes and Reducing Energy Costs for Residents”. The report summarizes existing federal regulations which pre-empt state and local building codes for manufactured housing, as well as the energy and economic implications of these stagnant codes. Then, the report identifies existing federal resources and explores state-led efforts to improve the efficiency of existing and new manufactured homes and to support energyefficient home building with competitive prices. National Building Energy Efficiency Loan Program: On June 15, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduced a bill that establishes a revolving loan fund program for energy efficiency improvements. The bill would help states improve residential and commercial building efficiency at $250 million annually.
Quaterly Highlights |
Climate Change DOD Costs: At a Senate hearing in May, the Department of Defense reported spending more $8.5 billion to counter the effects of climate change since 2018 on restoration projects and strengthening facilities against extreme weather. In the past year, service branches begun integrating climate and energy resilience into their master plans for military installations. Climate-Smart Agriculture Funding Opportunity: In June, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a $10 million funding opportunity “to support climate-smart agriculture and forestry through voluntary conservation practices” across selected states, including Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and North Carolina. The intent is to support conservation practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the effects of global climate change.
Quaterly Highlights |
50 Hurt Plaza, Suite 1250 Atlanta, GA 30303 404-856-0723 email@example.com seealliance.org