Welcome to this month’s GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic Policy Roundup! Each month this newsletter highlights the role of policy advocacy in making renewable energy equitable in the Mid-Atlantic and across the nation.
On July 26, GRID Mid-Atlantic Executive Director Elijah Perry and GRID Alternatives HQ Policy Director and Counsel Andie Wyatt will be speaking at the opening session of the RE+ Mid-Atlantic renewable energy conference, on the topic of “Expanding Access to Clean Energy & Advancing Environmental Justice in the Mid-Atlantic.” Presented by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA), RE+ Mid-Atlantic will be a great forum for sharing insights from GRID Mid-Atlantic’s work making environmental and economic justice real through equitable access to renewable energy and job training.
District of Columbia
The Washington Informer highlighted the Solar Works DC program in an article on July 20, relating the experience of a trainee and a homeowner receiving solar from GRID! From the story:
"Solar for All advertises a 50% cost reduction in bills for its participants, who qualify for the program based on income requirements. (Homeowner Linay) Foreman also had her roof repaired so that it would be ready for solar panels. This service, too, was free through the program."
We offer a heartfelt hello to incoming DC Green Bank CEO Trisha Miller. She recently served as Senior Director in the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy. She's coming in at a key time: federal funding from the Inflation Reduction Act will soon be flowing through the Green Bank to promote environmental and energy justice.
In the DC Council, councilmembers have been active on a number of bills that would help make the renewable energy transition more accessible and equitable:
- A bill that would provide rebates and vouchers for e-bikes and related services, with income-qualified enhancements, received unanimous support.
- The Council is considering an important bill relating to Healthy Homes and Residential Electrification.
- Finally, the Council recently received the District’s Resilient DC Progress Report.
The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) is soliciting public input as it develops the state's Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan. The Climate Solutions Now Act, GRID Mid-Atlantic-supported legislation enacted in 2022, requires this Plan to be submitted to the Governor and General Assembly by the end of 2023.
Input can be submitted online or at a series of public outreach sessions this summer and fall. You can find information on this planning process, as well as Maryland’s recent Climate Pathway Report, here.
Shoutout to MDE for specifically requesting input on equity and workforce impacts that should be incorporated into its plan, especially for low-income and historically disadvantaged Marylanders.
There are plenty of electoral and regulatory developments we're watching in Virginia this summer.
On the electoral side, Virginia—which has “off-year” state legislative elections—is less than four months away from every state delegate and senate position being on the ballot.
On the regulatory side, battle lines have been drawn between the state’s largest utility and proponents of distributed solar. Solar proponents argue that the utility’s interconnection rules impose major costs and roadblocks that are hindering project development. These hurdles make it harder to ensure Virginia's energy transition promotes economic and environmental justice.
As busy as June was on the federal policy front, July has been even busier!
GRID was invited to attend Vice President Kamala Harris’s announcement earlier this month of $20 billion in EPA Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund competitive grants. Since it was just up the road at Coppin State University in Baltimore, we didn't pass up the opportunity.
Crucially, these initiatives are another exciting way to ensure that the most equitable clean energy projects can get the favorable financing they need. Coppin State itself, a historically black university, is benefiting from hundreds of thousands of dollars of savings from its own financed solar and energy projects.
Meanwhile, GRID Mid-Atlantic’s experience preparing individuals for careers in solar is helping to shape Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) implementation. It's been less than a year since the IRA was enacted, and we're already seeing agencies putting equity front and center in their programs and guidance.
The work is only beginning. The Mid-Atlantic region and the nation as a whole will need a strong and inclusive workforce to meet the needs of our transition to clean, renewable energy. This requires deliberate support for paid job training and holistic wrap-around services for trainees so that the opportunities leave no one behind.
In this new policy landscape, the work GRID Mid-Atlantic is doing is laying the foundation for effectiveness and justice.