This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

May 01, 2002

New State Initiatives and Laws to Boost Renewable Energy

A proposed initiative in Michigan and new laws and regulations in Massachusetts and New Hampshire are likely to increase the production and use of renewable energy in each of the states.

In Michigan, Governor John Engler announced in mid-April his "NextEnergy" economic development plan, which focuses on hydrogen-powered fuel cells but also encourages the establishment of other renewable energy industries in the state. The energy blueprint proposes a 700-acre, tax-free "NextEnergyZone" near Ann Arbor, including a state-of-the-art clearinghouse and information resource called the NextEnergy Center. With its proposals for a national certification and standards program, tax incentives and exemptions, microgrid demonstrations, and an international conference, the NextEnergy program could catalyze the development of renewable and fuel cell industries in the state. See the NextEnergy Web site, with links to the governor's announcement.

In Massachusetts, new regulations are in place for a statewide standard for production of electricity from renewable energy sources. The Massachusetts Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) specifies that retail suppliers of electricity must draw on new renewable energy projects to provide one percent of their power in 2003, increasing to four percent by 2009. However, electricity suppliers can avoid the requirement by purchasing credits from the Massachusetts Technology Park Corporation, which administers the state's Renewable Energy Trust. For 2003, the credits will cost $50 per megawatt-hour, or 5 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is likely to be higher than the incremental cost of new renewable power sources. The regulations took effect on April 26th. See the RPS regulations on the Massachusetts Division of Energy Resources Web site.

New Hampshire is approaching power production from the opposite direction, through regulation of power-plant emissions. The state's new multiple pollutant reduction program is the first in the country to include carbon dioxide emissions. The program caps emissions at their current levels and establishes a system of emissions credits that can be traded among power generators. It also requires the state's Department of Environmental Services to establish an integrated strategy to reduce emissions, including the use of energy efficiency and renewable energy. The legislation anticipates lowering the carbon emissions cap in 2010. See the New Hampshire bill.