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March 2024: Electricity regionalization is underway in the Western Interconnection. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently approved tariff changes that enable the launch of an Extended Day-Ahead Market (EDAM) for the California Independent System Operator (CAISO). Southwest Power Pool (SPP) filed its Markets+ day-ahead concept at FERC in late March 2024 and continues to push ahead with western expansion of its full regional transmission organization (RTO). Further, discussions for an independently governed wholesale electricity market that could serve the entire West are gaining momentum in the West-Wide Governance Pathways Initiative. And two states, Colorado and Nevada, have required transmission owners in their state to join an RTO by the end of the decade, if their state commissions declare that such an action is in the public interest.

In this swiftly moving environment, Consumer Advocates are concerned that the locus of decision-making is shifting away from state commissions to regional entities, without appropriate safeguards for the public interest and the interests of the consumers they represent. At the state level, Consumer Advocates have statutory standing to represent consumers, typically those residential and small business consumers who are unable to effectively advocate for their interests before regulatory bodies. As consumer rates fund utility infrastructure and initiatives, representation and advocacy on behalf of consumer interests is vitally important to ensure just and reasonable outcomes – at the state and now at the regional level.

July 2023: Requested by the Colorado Future of Gas Steering Committee, this literature review examines a wide range of research on building emissions reductions. Under Colorado’s Clean Heat Standard (Senate Bill 21-264), gas utilities will be required to develop clean heat plans that meet the state’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 4% below 2015 levels by 2025, and 22% below 2015 levels by 2030. This literature review examines different emissions reduction strategies and provides an overview of the costs and emissions impacts associated with the eligible resources allowed under the Clean Heat Standard. The review also discusses how emissions reduction strategies could impact customers, disproportionately impacted communities, the workforce, existing infrastructure, and reliability.

October 2022: This research examined transmission siting authorities in 12 Western states to explore how existing law incorporates community consultation and evaluation of environmental impacts. The team at the Center for the New Energy Economy (CNEE) developed several recommendations that states might consider when amending existing policy to better avoid significant impacts to communities and the environment. We believe that effective policy design might also better avoid siting conflicts (including litigation), which can delay project completion and contribute to cost overrun. Our policy recommendations are grouped into three broad categories:

  1. Engage communities;

  2. Prioritize avoiding environmental impacts; and

  3. Require data sharing and inter-agency coordination.

April 2022: This overview highlights key program design elements for state economy-wide cap-and-invest programs. These key program components can be addressed by legislation alongside a directive to periodically analyze program outcomes. 

November 2021: Because states have taken the lead in developing the climate and energy policies that drive clean energy adoption, tracking state legislative activity is important for understanding the direction of U.S. energy policy. Watch the Center for the New Energy Economy’s discussion about the 3,884 advanced energy-related bills enacted by the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia between 2013 and 2020.

October 2021: Produced in partnership by Gridworks and CNEE, this report stems from the facilitated conversations of the WIRED Transmission Planning and Development Working Group, in which leading Western transmission operators and policymakers collaborate to develop a shared vision for coordinated regional resource and transmission planning. This report concludes that existing “bottom up” transmission planning processes will not lead to the inter-regional, cost-effective transmission we need in the West. Rather, we recommend a coordinated regional resource and transmission planning process. The report outlines steps for beginning this process.

Located near Garrett, Pennsylvania, the 10.4-megawatt Green Mountain Wind Farm is owned and operated by National Wind Power. The land on which the turbines sit was previously strip-mined for coal and has been reclaimed and is now farmed.

October 2021: Enacted in 1977, Title V of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) authorized the development of reclamation requirements for coal mining operations initiated after 1977. SMCRA allows states to seek primacy under which a state will be the lead authority in issuing and enforcing coal mine permits, including reclamation requirements, in its jurisdiction. For this report, CNEE evaluated and compared state implementation of SMCRA (through statute and administrative code) in the 23 states with primacy and active coal mining. We found that most states adopt the federal language nearly verbatim, and four areas of SMCRA afford opportunities for states to encourage the development of renewable energy resources and associated transmission infrastructure on reclaimed coal mine lands. This report details these policy opportunities.

Click here to view our power point presentation on the report (PDF).

September 2021: Tracking state legislative activity is important for understanding the direction of U.S. energy policy and its impacts. Using the Center for the New Energy Economy’s Advanced Energy Legislation Tracker (AEL Tracker) and serving as an addendum to our previous report, this report summarizes the 342 advanced energy-related bills enacted by 46 states and the District of Columbia in 2020. Throughout, the report highlights the trends and new policy developments of a year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain shortages, travel restrictions, rallies and protests, and climate change-induced extreme weather events.

Access all of our AEL Tracker Trends and Analysis White Papers here.

September 2021: Forming a more effective and efficient federal-state partnership requires increased efforts to share information between various levels of government, adopt best practices across state lines, address gaps in capacity, and build relationships between federal and state officials. The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and CNEE conducted a series of conversations with state leaders and identified several specific policy priority areas relevant to infrastructure proposals. This policy brief provides an overview of these priority areas.

December 2020: States have taken the lead in developing the climate and energy policies that drive clean energy adoption. The period between 2013 and 2019 was characterized by shifts in public opinion concerning energy and climate, dramatic changes in energy markets, and technological innovation. Managing energy supply and demand has become more complex, and as technological progress accelerates, state legislatures have been empowered to lay the policy groundwork to transform energy markets. State responses anticipating and reacting to systemic changes have varied widely.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach for advancing a clean energy economy. There are a multitude of policy tools to facilitate transitions in states with diverse economies, political dynamics, and social values. For these reasons, tracking state legislative activity is important for understanding the direction of U.S. energy policy. Using AEL Tracker data, this report looks back at the 3,542 energy-related bills enacted by state policymakers between 2013 and 2019. Throughout this report, the CNEE team identifies notable trends and new policy developments.

Access all of our AEL Tracker Trends and Analysis White Papers here.

Report in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

February 2020: The goal of this study is to assess offshore wind energy resources in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) and to quantify its technical and economic potential in order to inform Federal and GOM state strategic energy planning over the next decade. Based on the findings from the first phase, during which all renewable energy sources in the GOM were evaluated, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) determined that offshore wind has the highest potential to deliver utility scale electricity from ocean-based renewable energy in the GOM. This conclusion is based on the quantification and relative scoring based on three factors: resource adequacy, technology readiness, and cost competitiveness.

Report in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

February 2020: The goal of this study is to survey potential offshore renewable energy sources in the GOM and quantify their feasibility relating to resource adequacy, technology maturity, and the potential for competitive cost. The study provides a review of available technologies and concepts for generating offshore renewable energy, including a high-level assessment of the current state of each technology and its potential for future advances. It provides a breakdown of resource capacity for each renewable energy technology as well as a recommendation that offshore wind be pursued for future study as it was found to be the most promising ocean renewable technology.

Report in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

September 2019: This report is a quantitative and qualitative analysis of a single wind development: the 600-MW Rush Creek Wind Farm. The results highlight the jobs and economic activity supported during wind construction, manufacturing, and operation and maintenance activities. The case studies and qualitative research in this report provide context for the quantitative JEDI model results—describing the economic impacts to rural communities.

Report in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

July 2019: This report is intended to be a resource for a broad array of organizations interested in understanding the size, composition, and potential growth of the wind energy workforce and educational systems in the United States. Further, we hope that this information can help identify opportunities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness the pathway from education to employment, bringing together employers and educators so that those wanting to work in the wind energy industry and those looking for qualified candidates can more easily connect. These connections will help lead to the qualified workforce needed to innovate, install, operate, and maintain wind energy systems of the future.

Report in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

July 2019: The purpose of this report is to provide a brief assessment of the current U.S. hydropower industry workforce and educational programs, as well as potential future hydropower workforce needs. This report is based on data collected in 2016 for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) by Navigant Consulting and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which included a 2014 survey of hydropower employers to assess future workforce needs for potential growth scenarios.

June 2019: The primary purpose of this project was to develop emissions information for use in regional modeling as part of the ongoing implementation of the Regional Haze Rule, and for ozone analysis and planning.

This report describes results related to the project’s two major objectives: 1) A comprehensive database of information on the fleet of fossil fuel-fired EGUs in 13-Western states (circa 2014-2018) that contains information on the plants operating characteristics and NOx and SO2 emissions; and 2) A projection of 2028 NOx and SO2 emissions based on expected plant closures, fuel switching, and emission controls under a “rules on the books” scenario. The data developed through this project will also be used by WESTAR and WRAP to quantify how emissions from fossil fuel-fired EGUs affects ozone formation at urban and rural locations across the West.

December 2018: In this guest blog post, the Center for the New Energy Economy discusses the trend of closing coal plants and mines and the impact these transitioning economies have on communities around the U.S.

Featured in: Prometheus – The Science Policy Blog for the University of Colorado’s Center for Science and Technology Research. Originally created in 2004, Prometheus is designed to create an informal outlet for news, information, and opinion on science and technology policy.

April 2018: In this report, the Center for the New Energy Economy identifies clean energy opportunities in the agricultural sector and indicates policy changes and programs that will maximize the use of agricultural land in a manner that benefits agricultural producers, electric utilities, and the community. While this report focuses on Colorado’s agricultural sector, it can also be used as a model to promote the adoption of clean energy technologies in the agricultural sectors of other states and regions.

Clean Energy Policy Guide for State Legislatures

July 2017: States have led the shift to cleaner energy and that trend is likely to continue. The Center for the New Energy Economy’s (CNEE) e-book, The Clean Energy Policy Guide for State Legislatures, is a comprehensive resource that builds on two other state energy policy resources developed by CNEE: the Advanced Energy Legislation (AEL) Tracker and the State Policy Opportunity Tracker (SPOT) for Clean Energy.

The Clean Energy Policy Guide for State Legislatures is a how-to resource for state clean energy policies in the areas of energy efficiency, infrastructure, transportation, renewable energy, financing, and emissions. For each policy, CNEE outlines key policy components and provides example state programs and relevant resources, including maps, charts, videos, and podcasts. CNEE also identifies 11 New Policy Frontiers – areas prime for new, innovative policy development.

The e-book is available for free download through Apple or Amazon.

2016 Clean Energy Innovation Series

Summer 2016: Since the late 1990s, state Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and Energy Efficiency Resource Standards (EERS) have been the largest drivers of the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors. However, state target dates are quickly approaching: by 2026, 29 RPS and 11 EERS policies will need to be extended or replaced in order to maintain market certainty for continued investment and business growth.

In this paper series, the Center for the New Energy Economy analyzes energy efficiency policies (Parts 1 and 2) and renewable energy policies (Parts 3 and 4). Parts 1 and 3 discuss the prospects for extending and enhancing established policies and Parts 2 and 4 propose innovative options that could work with or without an EERS and/or RPS.

March 2016: A historic energy revolution is underway in the United States. Wind, sunlight, and other sustainable resources are now the fastest growing sources of energy in the U.S. and worldwide. American families are installing power plants on their roofs and entire communities are switching to 100 percent renewable energy. The urgent need to prevent climate change is causing people around the planet to question their reliance on carbon-intensive oil, coal, and natural gas. Author Bill Ritter, Jr., the 41st governor of Colorado and one of America’s key thought leaders on this topic, discusses the forces behind the energy revolution, the new ways we must think about energy, and the future of fossil and renewable fuels. It is an essential read for anyone who wants to understand one of history’s biggest challenges to peace, prosperity, and security in the United States. 

December 2015: At the suggestion of the White House, the Center for the New Energy Economy convened more than 100 of America’s thought leaders to identify additional steps President Obama and his Administration could take to address climate change and the nation’s transition to clean energy. The result was Powering Forward, a report containing more than 200 new ideas for presidential action on five specific topics: energy efficiency, renewable energy, alternative transportation fuels, responsible natural gas production, and 21st century business models for electric utilities. Although the Obama Administration implemented many of the ideas, Powering Forward remains a useful resource.

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