Welcome to this month’s GRID Mid-Atlantic Policy Roundup, keeping you up-to-date on renewable energy policy that promotes equity and racial justice in our region and nationally.
In the past few weeks, there has been a huge federal policy push at the intersection of climate ambition, racial and economic justice, and building back our economy. GRID Mid-Atlantic is engaging Congress and the Administration to promote our vision of a clean energy future that includes everyone, while continuing to work with policymakers in states and the District to promote and protect strong and equitable clean energy and workforce development policies. We truly appreciate your support in continuing this work.
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Congress and the Biden-Harris Administration
Equitable access to the benefits of renewable energy, including bill savings, climate resilience, and good jobs, would get a massive boost in the infrastructure package and budget recently proposed by the Biden-Harris Administration. The American Jobs Plan would take major strides toward centering environmental justice and equity within distributed energy and transportation infrastructure and workforce programming. Overall, the plan targets 40% of the benefits of major new investments in climate and clean infrastructure to disadvantaged communities, in line with the Administration’s Justice40 Initiative.
As Congress and the Administration continue their work toward an infrastructure package this fall, GRID Mid-Atlantic will continue to advocate for the prioritization of energy justice and inclusive renewable energy career training in the final bill. Together with a coalition of partners, GRID has helped develop an ambitious but feasible set of federal policy recommendations for equitable access to solar, which will be released next week for Earth Day. Its key pillars will help ensure that at least 40% of the benefits of expanding access to solar reach underserved communities, with a target of 50%.
District of Columbia
As Congress held a hearing this week on statehood for the people of D.C., the District continues to be an example to other states on a clean energy transition that benefits everyone. Local political leaders recently celebrated the opening of the Oxon Run community solar project, a 2.65-megawatt array in Ward 8 made possible by the Solar for All statute under a GRID Mid-Atlantic partnership with DC’s Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE). The Oxon Run project will serve 750 District families, cutting their energy bills in half at a critical time.
The D.C. Council’s new Office of Racial Equity also issued its first Racial Equity Impact Assessment (REIA) on a piece of legislation, a bill on green food purchasing by District agencies. We look forward to seeing REIAs on future legislation, especially on renewable energy and workforce development.
Maryland’s General Assembly wrapped up its fast-paced 2021 legislative session this week with some important wins for renewable energy and equity, as well as some unfortunate setbacks and missed opportunities. Regrettably, the House’s and Senate’s competing versions of the Climate Solutions Now Act could not be resolved in the final hours of the session. However, GRID Mid-Atlantic applauds the passage of bills to enhance regulatory consideration of climate, adjust the solar renewable energy credit (SREC) market, and increase the statewide net metering limit, among other climate-focused measures.
Locally, the Montgomery County Green Bank is having a Low- and Moderate-Income Solar Stakeholders Meeting later this month to build the considerations and options to structure a new program. GRID Mid-Atlantic looks forward to providing our experience and perspective.
GRID Mid-Atlantic participated in a Low- and Moderate-Income Stakeholder Working Group process established by the State Corporation Commission (SCC), Virginia’s energy regulator, to shape the shared (community) solar programs that were signed into law in 2020. A final report was recently submitted to the SCC for consideration in final program rules. Virginia’s shared solar statute for Dominion, its largest utility, requires 30% of all projects to benefit lower-income subscribers with bill savings.
Around the Region
In New Jersey, GRID is a proud member of the NJ Shines coalition supporting the enactment of the Clean Energy Equity Act, S. 2484. This bill would establish an Office of Clean Energy Equity; deploy onsite or community solar, storage, and energy efficiency to reduce the energy burden of hundreds of thousands of low-income households by 2030; provide for paid workforce training; and more.
The team at GRID Mid-Atlantic is grateful for your support in continuing our work to make the benefits and opportunities of renewable energy accessible to communities on the front lines of economic and environmental injustice.