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With the absence of serious federal policy directed toward meaningful long-term solutions for conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy, states are taking the issue into their own hands. Outlined below are a few examples of what states are doing on the issue:

The U.S. Conference of Mayors: On June 13, 2005, the U.S. Conference of Mayors (which represents 1,183 cities from all 50 states) adopted the Climate Protection Agreement. The agreement is similar to the Kyoto Protocol’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. Through the process of adopting the agreement, the mayors urged state and federal governments to adopt policies that would achieve the reduction targets set forth in the agreement. U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement (PDF)

North Dakota: Governor John Hoeven recently signed legislation that encourages utilizing wind power, ethanol and biodiesel. The legislation allows for renewable energy credits from in-state production to be sold to out of state purchasers. The legislature also authorized continued funding for ethanol incentives and tax breaks for the purchase and production of both ethanol and biodiesel. North Dakota also has established an Office of Renewable Energy to assist public and private renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Read the Governor’s Office Press Release.

Texas: On August 1, 2005, Texas passed a law which increased the amount of renewable generation required in the state. Texas implemented a renewable energy mandate in January 2002 that required that 2,000 MW of new renewable generation be built in the state by 2009. The updated law increases the capacity requirement to 5,880 MW by 2015, which will meet about 5 percent of the state’s projected electricity demand. Senate Bill 20

Illinois: On July 19, 2005, the Illinois Commerce Commission passed a resolution that called for both Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standards. To implement the plan, Illinois utilities have agreed to acquire 2 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by the end of 2006, add another 1 percent every year, and reach the goal of 8 percent by 2013. Electricity generated from wind, solar thermal energy, photovoltaic cells and panels, biomass, and existing hydropower are considered renewable energy under this resolution. Under the Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard, utility companies will create programs that reduce the increase in electricity demand 10 percent by 2008 with the goal of reducing Illinois’ growth in electricity demand 25 percent by 2015. Sustainable Energy Plan Press Release (PDF)

Washington: In May, Washington passed two pieces of legislation that increase the supply and demand for renewable energy generation. On the supply side, the legislation offers tax breaks to Oregon companies that manufacture and sell solar equipment. On the demand side, it offers the first state feed-in credit for solar and wind energy production. Read SB 5101 providing renewable manufacturing incentives (PDF) Read SB 5111 providing renewable generation incentives (PDF). In addition, in April Washington became the first state in the country to require all new public buildings to meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Environmental Design Silver standards (Read about the LEED standards). The law will apply to new public facilities over 5,000 square feet, as well as major renovation projects. A building can achieve the standard by earning points based on energy efficiency, use of sustainable materials, and other environmental attributes. Read the bill.

Montana: Days ago, Governor Schweitzer announced a program that will use the Montana Conservation Corps to weatherize 500 homes around Montana. The focus will be on low cost-no cost weatherization steps such as window wraps, water heater blankets, low watt light bulbs, and storm window installation for Montanans who are on the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program priority list. Utilities, businesses, and the Carpenters and Laborers unions are all providing assistance for the program. Read press release. In addition, Montana is actively pursuing development of coal-to-liquids technology as a means of converting coal reserves into synthetic gasoline and other fuels. Synthetic versions of petroleum fuels have been made for almost a century. At 120 billion tons, Montana’s coal is, in liquid terms, one quarter the size of the entire Middle East oil reserve. Read FAQ.

Arizona: Arizona has created a Climate Change Advisory Group for the state. The advisory group is charged with developing recommendations to reduce Arizona’s greenhouse gas emissions, culminating in the submission of a Climate Change Action Plan by June 2006. In addition, the advisory group will also produce an inventory of Arizona’s greenhouse gas emissions. Read the Climate Change Advisory Group Executive Order. Governor Napolitano has also signed an executive order that requires new state-funded buildings to derive at least 10 percent of their energy from renewable sources, either directly or through the purchase of renewable energy credits. This executive order also requires new state buildings to meet the “silver” level of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. Read the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Executive Order.

Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania recently passed the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard, which requires that qualified power sources provide 18 percent of Pennsylvania’s electricity by 2020. There are two tiers of “qualified sources” that electric generation and distribution companies may use to meet the standard. Tier 1 sources, which must make up 8 percent of the portfolio, include wind, solar, coalmine methane, small hydropower, geothermal, and biomass. Tier 2 sources make up the remaining 10 percent of the portfolio, and include waste coal, demand side management, large hydropower, municipal solid waste, and coal integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC). Read the legislation.

Colorado: Under Colorado law, utilities with over 40,000 customers must provide an increasing percentage of electricity from renewables, reaching 10 percent by 2015. Currently, renewable energy supplies 2 percent of Colorado’s electricity demand.

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