2017 – New Bioways for Highways – Year Four

A three-year University of Illinois study of using grasses mowed along Illinois highways for energy has been funded for a large pilot implementation during 2017-18. The multi-disciplinary team estimated the state-wide practice could defray the cost of mowing and add more than $2 million in income for the funding agency — the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Here Comes the Sun: A State Policy Handbook for Distributed Solar Energy

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The rapidly transforming energy sector presents a host of opportunities, such as increased resilience, cleaner energy technologies, a more efficient and reliable energy system, as well as greater flexibility, choice and control for consumers. One of the newer sector technologies driving this transformation is distributed generation, with distributed solar energy leading the way.

States have played a significant role in this energy revolution by creating policies, incentives and regulations that have transformed the solar and power markets. These efforts have been motivated by a range of factors, including economic development, job creation, improved air quality, sustainability goals, economic development, energy diversification and resilience to name a few.

Generating power on-site and close to where it is consumed has evolved over the past 20 years, requiring states to explore new regulatory and policy approaches. Most states’ electricity regulatory frameworks were designed with large centrally owned and operated power stations in mind. Adapting the grid and its supporting policies to accommodate consumers’ decisions to generate and use their own power, while sending some power onto the distribution grid, may require significant changes in regulatory and operational approaches.

The technical challenges of integrating consumer-produced power are being overcome by most utilities. Policy and operational approaches, however, can lessen the challenge, lower costs and increase reliability as distributed power gains market share.

This handbook is designed for state legislators, legislative staff, energy officials and others who want to learn about and assess their state’s distributed solar photovoltaic policies. It provides them with the tools to investigate options and practices to leverage the economic and reliability benefits of solar energy while addressing the challenges presented by this localized approach to energy generation. This document covers the many options and innovative approaches that states have implemented or considered when it comes to rate design, incentives, integration, financing, regulation and workforce development. While extensive, this report is by no means comprehensive, and provides readers with several references and resources for a deeper exploration of the topics covered.

This document will assist policymakers and planners that wish to tailor their state’s energy policy to best leverage the opportunities offered by the burgeoning of distributed solar energy.

Michigan Capitol going green with geothermal

Read the full story in the Detroit News.

The Michigan Capitol is going “green and clean” with a new geothermal heating and cooling system that officials say will be the largest of its kind at a state government building in the country.

How Vermont tackled farm pollution and cleaned up its waters

Read the full story from FERN and Eating Well.

From Vermont’s Lake Champlain to rivers and oceans across the nation, waterways are being overloaded with pollution from farms. But Vermont took an approach that could be a model for states – especially now that the federal government is in regulatory retreat.

Can States and Cities Really Uphold the Paris Climate Deal?

Read the full story in Governing.

They have pledged to carry out the landmark accord on behalf of America. We asked environmental experts for the most effective and politically practical ways they can help do that.

New York unveils state methane reduction plan with focuses on food waste, landfills

Read the full story at Waste Dive.

Dive Brief:

  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo released a new multi-agency “Methane Reduction Plan” that is part of the state’s goal to reduce energy sector emissions 40% by 2030, based on 1990 levels. According to the plan, landfills account for 58% of the state’s methane emissions and 5% of overall emissions.
  • Recovering or recycling organic waste from large generators is listed as the state’s top priority for reducing emissions from landfills. This is said to include support and funding from multiple agencies for food donation networks, composting facilities and anaerobic digesters.
  • As for landfills themselves, the report cites proposed revisions to the Part 360 permit system that would require the installation of horizontal gas collection wells in newly constructed landfills or cells. The state also plans to review strategies for active or closed sites and review its guidance in comparison to the Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse gas reporting criteria to identify any potential regulatory updates.

Green Report on Status of Environmental Agency Budgets

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State environmental agencies operate the majority of federally delegated and authorized programs and manage funds to implement related environmental regulations. In July 2016, ECOS sought state environmental agency budget data (EAB) for the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. ECOS received 48 responses.

This ECOS Green Report provides information on state EABs for fiscal years (FY) 2013, FY2014 and FY2015, and focuses on changes and trends in these budgets, including analysis of changes to the three main funding sources: state general funds, federal funding, and fees or other sources.