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.
District of Columbia
GRID Mid-Atlantic is honored to have been invited to present testimony at an upcoming roundtable hearing before the DC Council’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment. Executive Director Elijah Perry will provide lessons from GRID Mid-Atlantic’s deep and community-based experience toward a green jobs and workforce development strategy for the District. We hope the hearing lays the groundwork for future legislation to provide additional support for these all-important goals, building on current bills like the Comprehensive Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Access, Readiness, and Sustainability Amendment Act of 2023, which has hearings scheduled for next month. We note that these issues have crucial intersections with some of the Council’s other work toward racial justice, including the Reparations Foundation Fund and Task Force Establishment Act of 2023, which recently also had a hearing.
Outside the Council, GRID Mid-Atlantic has participated in several recent agency events. These have included an Environmental Stakeholders Meeting as well as a listening session for the next iteration of the District’s climate and energy action plan, Clean Energy DC 2.0.
As in other states, electrification of buildings and transportation is a growing need in Maryland, one which ties in closely with equitable deployment of local solar. A recent report from the Building Decarbonization Coalition found that converting the sale of central air conditioning units to heat pumps could help decarbonize the vast majority of Maryland homes by 2030. Local trade associations, in which GRID Mid-Atlantic participates, are building up toward a successful 2024 legislative session on these issues.
On the regulatory side, GRID Mid-Atlantic continues to monitor regulatory discussions around distributed energy resource interconnection processes and costs, implementation of Maryland’s recent legislation making their community solar program permanent, and other state and local issues. We also applaud Governor Wes Moore’s efforts to fill commissioner roles on the five-member Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities and is taking on an increasing role in Maryland’s climate efforts.
Elections are key to good energy policy, and after this week’s primaries in the Commonwealth, the stage is now set for this fall’s enormously important legislative elections for the Virginia General Assembly. GRID Mid-Atlantic congratulates the candidates moving on to the general election, especially those who have committed to prioritizing affordable, clean energy and responsible governance.
Unfortunately, this month Virginia’s Air Pollution Control Board voted to withdraw the state from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), less than three years after Virginia joined the multistate pollution reduction program. While RGGI has been criticized for inadequately prioritizing environmental justice, departure from the program removes an important driver of fossil fuel pollutant reductions as well as a revenue source for climate resilience. There may be legal challenges to this action once finalized in light of the move’s harmful impacts on communities’ health and well-being.
June has been another tremendously busy month on the federal policy front, with implications for renewable energy equity throughout our region. Once again, implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has been a prime focus, especially the IRS’s Low Income Communities Bonus Credit program and EPA’s Solar for All program. As the IRA approaches one year from enactment, these agencies and others are moving as quickly yet thoughtfully as they can to craft rules and procedures for equitable clean energy incentives. Their success depends on input from organizations that have been doing this work, and GRID Mid-Atlantic is right at the intersection of many policy goals. Working closely with our many coalition partners, GRID Mid-Atlantic will continue providing our installation and workforce development experience to federal and state agencies as they deploy and seek the billions of dollars that IRA makes available to promote a just, equity-first transition to renewable energy for all.