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Covid 19 Creates Mixed Results for Energy Efficiency Legislation

image credit: ID 101424285 © Cgracer |

The Covid 19 pandemic impacted all events, including energy efficiency legislation. Since the lockdowns began in the middle of March, government officials suspended traditional legislative sessions and scrambled to implement virtual replacements. Since then, a few energy efficiency initiatives moved forward but others stalled as a New Normal took hold.  


Legislation Passes


Some bills passed. In May 27, 2020, South Carolina extended tax credits for the purchase of energy efficient manufactured homes for an additional five years. The credits were set to sunset this year. By meeting US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and US Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Star program specifications, homeowners gain a tax credit of $750 and an exemption from any taxes amounting to more than $300 when buying a home.


St. Louis, MO because the first Midwest city and the fourth major US city to pass a building energy performance standard. The legislation establishes incrementally increasing energy saving and emission targets for buildings. The Site Energy Use Intensity (EUI) specification will be the performance metric used by the new law, which covers buildings 50,000 square feet or larger. Such structures account for about 80% of St. Louis’s emissions.


Legislation Stalls


Energy efficiency legislation also took a few hits. The federal government’s multi-trillion stimulus bills did not include any funding for energy efficiency initiatives. Progress on state initiatives slowed in a few cases.


Maryland’s Climate Solutions Act, which focused mainly on reducing carbon emissions,  included passages designed to spur energy efficiency. The bill increased mandated annual efficiency savings to 2.8%, up from its current 2% requirement. Another bill, which is still in process, is designed to help low-income households reduce energy costs by increasing energy efficiency. It sets an annual incremental gross energy savings of at least 1% starting in 2021.


In Minnesota, bill HF 4502 is essentially an update and modernization of the state’s previous energy efficiency plans. The new bill includes a number of energy efficiency measures designed to boost its annual energy efficiency savings to 2.5%. The bill passed the state House of Representatives but not the Senate.


Utilities have been trying to adjust to the changes stemming from the pandemic. Energy efficiency legislation has made some progress but more work remains.

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