Deployed equitably, solar energy can be an incredible catalyst for change. From new career paths to lower electric bills, solar changes lives every day.
Of course, each solar installation prevents more carbon from being emitted into our atmosphere—a cause that we can't allow to lose momentum.
GRID Mid-Atlantic's impact is magnified by policies that embrace renewable energy equity and see solar energy's potential to make a positive change in the world. Here's the latest on renewable energy policy in our region and beyond:
The Biden-Harris Administration continues to roll out the transformative investments of the Inflation Reduction Act in equitable access to clean energy and its many benefits, including reduced energy burdens, good jobs, community wealth-building opportunities, and resilience.
In just the past month, the Environmental Protection Agency received dozens of applications for portions of the $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, including $7 billion specifically set aside for Solar for All programs to promote single family and multifamily residential solar, residential-serving community solar, and associates storage and enabling upgrades nationwide. (Stay tuned to hear more about GRID Alternatives’ multistate and tribal applications!)
The IRS opened up its Low Income Communities Bonus Credit (LICBC) program to enhance tax incentives for projects benefiting income-qualified households and economic and environmental justice communities. IRS also proposed rules to make getting electric vehicle incentives easier at the point of sale.
The Department of Energy, in addition to being a key partner for the LICBC program, has been preparing for next week’s Justice Week 2023. The whole-of-government approach is intense, but very welcome in light of the climate and justice challenges—and opportunities!—that our country currently faces.
In Virginia, the big story is the upcoming legislative elections, which will be tremendously impactful for the Commonwealth’s energy and equity future. The entire State House and Senate is up for a vote, with new maps changing the playing field.
Continued support for the Virginia Clean Economy Act, participation in the resilience-funding Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, effective and equitable utilization of federal renewable energy funding, and other vital policy choices will depend on electing legislators who understand the interconnections between environmental, economic, justice, and workforce issues.
Every vote matters! Virginia is notorious for close races—there was even an actual tie recently where the election winner’s name was drawn from a hat. Virginians, don’t sit this one out, and spread the word to family and friends! Find your voting information at elections.virginia.gov.
District of Columbia
The DC Department of Energy and Environment has continued work toward the city’s Clean Energy DC 2.0 plan, hosting workshops and listening sessions for public input. If you haven’t been able to participate in one of those and would still like to contribute your thoughts and ideas on what should be included, you can do so here. A draft will be released for public review soon.
Meanwhile, the District is applying for federal funding to support inclusive and equity-first climate and resilience action planning, while the Council considers measures supporting building and mobility electrification measures.
Maryland’s energy regulators have been busy implementing laws enacted in the 2023 legislative session. One such law created a Task Force to Study Solar Incentives; another directed the Public Service Commission to establish a Maryland Energy Storage Program.
Other working groups are tackling time-of-use and net energy metering rates, interconnection processes, energy distribution system planning, electrification, and more. This attention to crucial issues is very welcome.
At the same time, the multiplicity of proceedings poses challenges for environmental justice advocates, who are often limited in time and capacity to be involved; GRID Mid-Atlantic urges participants in all of these processes to pay attention to who is at the table, who is not, and what steps and investments may be necessary to ensure inclusive participation. As Maryland leaders work to prioritize and operationalize environmental and climate justice, they must live the lessons that outcomes cannot be equitable and efficient without inclusive input and listening to communities.