Archive for the ‘Clean Power Plan’ Category

Clean Power Plan: 2016 & Beyond

Posted March 9th, 2016 by SRECTrade.

On February 9th, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered in a 5-4 decision to issue an unprecedented emergency stay on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan (CPP), as states and other stakeholders continue to present legal challenges before lower courts. The Clean Power Plan calls for a 32% reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 (from a 2005 baseline), requiring states to present their initial compliance plans to the EPA by 2022.

The implementation of the CPP could encourage the states to consider instituting new–or to improve existing–state Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) to help meet their goals. Today, only twenty-nine states, Washington, D.C., and two territories have adopted an RPS. Seven of these RPS states have a solar carve out, where a specific percentage of renewable energy requirements must be satisfied with solar energy resources. In addition, eight states and two territories have set some form of renewable energy goals. The CPP’s call to action will mandate all 50 states to develop cost-effective plans to combat climate change, improve air quality and create new jobs.

Twenty-nine states, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other entities invested in fossil fuels are challenging the CPP. Many of these CPP opponents argue that the EPA is acting beyond its authority and that, at a minimum, the CPP’s merits must be fully reviewed before imposing federally mandated plans upon the states. CPP opponent Wyoming Governor Matt Mead stated that he is “thrilled” that the EPA’s climate rule was stayed, because the stay may leave the door open for the new administration to evaluate whether there is a “better way to go” than what the CPP would require. However, it is possible that the issue will be brought back to the Supreme Court for a decision before the new president is sworn in on January 20, 2017, leaving time for President Obama to make the Plan law before he leaves the White House.

Litigation in the lower courts is scheduled to begin on June 2, 2016, and a ruling from the Court of Appeals is expected by the end of 2016. Once an appellate decision is made, the case is expected to go back to the Supreme Court. But the sudden passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia adds additional uncertainty and complexity to the future of the CPP, as the late Justice Scalia’s successor may very well shape the future of the Clean Power Plan. A new voice on the Court could result in a vote in favor of the CPP, which could swing the 5-4 decision in favor of lowering carbon dioxide emissions and fostering a sustainable change.

Alas, it remains to be seen if President Obama will successfully appoint a new Justice before the end of his term, potentially leaving the appointment to the next President. And if a new Justice is not appointed before the Court revisits the CPP, there is a chance we could see 4-4 decision from the Court on the issue, which would mean that the Court of Appeal’s ruling would be automatically upheld. As D.C. plays tug-of-war over the Supreme Court vacancy, CPP opponents are working to convince the lower courts that the CPP would spell economic disaster for the nation, while CPP’s proponents assert that the Plan would guide our nation away from coal-fired electricity and forestall millions of metric tons of greenhouse-gas emissions.

The Obama Administration vowed to press forward with the President’s climate policy. If approved, the Clean Power Plan would set a historic precedent on how environmental laws are structured and serve as an example for national and global policies. The CPP was instrumental in influencing heavily polluting nations such as China and India to sign the Paris Agreement at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference.  The Paris Agreement aims to prevent, mitigate and respond to climate change. If the Clean Power Plan is ultimately struck down, the decision would challenge the implementation of national and worldwide environmental policies. Evermore, the selection of our next President and Supreme Court Justice will greatly influence the future of clean energy and shape how environmental issues are prioritized and responded to in the years to come.

Ohio Revisits RPS for Post-freeze Plans

Posted February 21st, 2016 by SRECTrade.

In June 2014, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed a bill that froze Ohio’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) for two years. With the freeze lifting after 2016, Gov. Kasich called upon Ohio’s Energy Mandates Study Committee in 2015 to provide guidance on how to proceed with the state’s RPS. The 12-member legislative committee released its report in September 2015, recommending that the RPS be frozen indefinitely. Now, despite having signed the bill freezing the RPS in 2014, Gov. Kasich has taken the stance that gutting the state’s renewable mandates would be “unacceptable“, positioning himself for a fight with his General Assembly on the state’s clean energy goals.

Enacted in 2008, the Ohio Renewable Portfolio Standard establishes annual benchmarks for renewable energy procurement. The RPS sets the percent of electricity that must be generated from renewable energy resources by 2027. Within the overall RPS, a percentage must be fulfilled with solar resources. This solar carve-out establishes how many SRECs must be purchased by electricity suppliers. The overall RPS and solar carve-out were originally structured to increase annually between 2009 and 2024, but were frozen at 2014 levels through 2016. The RPS is currently frozen at 2.5%, with the solar carve-out at 0.12%. In the 2014 bill, the RPS schedule was revised to resume with a two year delay after the freeze, but it is possible that Gov. Kasich and Ohio’s General Assembly will now move the RPS in another direction.

SB310, the bill enacting the freeze, also removed the in-state RPS requirement and adjusted the Solar Alternative Compliance Payment (SACP) schedule. The freeze and concurrent changes made to the RPS resulted in devaluing OH-eligible SRECs, harming those who invested in solar in reliance on the state’s commitment to clean energy. Since the bill passed in mid-2014, the value of OH SRECs has dropped from $45 to as low as $15.

While Gov. Kasich claims that the original Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard is “unpalatable“, he has vowed that he would return the program back to its original state if the General Assembly refuses to unfreeze the program. But Ohio’s mixed record on renewable energy and the recent developments on the Clean Power Plan make the future of the RPS uncertain. For now, Ohio joins many other states in the tug-of-war battle over renewable energy policies, making 2016 an important year in shaping the states’–and country’s–clean energy future.