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Energy Update, April 29

In the States

AZ – The Arizona Public Service (APS) Company, the state’s largest utility, and SolarCity, one of the nation’s leading solar energy companies, agreed to withdraw competing ballot initiatives regarding residential solar projects, rates and leasing, and net metering. The agreement was brokered by Governor Doug Ducey and several Republican state legislators led by Senator Debbie Lesko of Peoria. The initiative backed by SolarCity would have mandated paying homeowners with rooftop solar panels the full retail price for any excess power they send to the grid while the APS-backed measure would have mandated separate rates for rooftop solar users, and would have also regulated SolarCity and other solar leasing companies as utilities. Instead, APS and Solar City agreed to a mediation process that involves the Governor’s office. "The people of Arizona resoundingly support solar," former Arizona Corporation Commissioner Kris Mayes said. "And I think that's why the Governor's office decided to show some leadership in this process and help these parties along." Deal ends fight between SolarCity, APS for nowAssociated Press

ME – The state’s House of Representatives failed to override Governor Paul LePage’s veto of a bill seeking to reform state policies and regulations for solar power. The legislation, LD 1649, would have replaced Maine’s net energy metering (NEM) policy with a market-based program requiring utilities to sign long-term contracts for solar energy across the residential, commercial, and grid market segments. The bill, which was negotiated over several months between legislators, industry, and consumer groups, also called for adding 196 megawatts of solar power over four year after enactment of the market-based program. The measure’s proponents claimed the bill would have also  created at least 650 jobs and saved ratepayers $58 to $110 million. “The cost of ever-increasing solar mandates in this bill would be borne by ratepayers with no price cap, allowing above-market contracts to be added to stranded costs,” said Governor LePage in his veto message. Maine Governor vetoes solar compromise bill – Solar Industry Mag and Maine solar bill defeatedMaine NPR

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced nearly $60 million in weatherization assistance program (WAP) funds and $150 million in funding to support large-scale renewable energy projects. The weatherization assistance funds, according to the Governor, will help cut utility costs for close to 9,000 low-income families and seniors. Additionally, the funds may be used for insulation, improving heating systems, and diagnostic tests to monitor air quality. The WAP is administered by the New York State Homes and Community Renewal Office with funds from the U.S. Department of Energy and Health and Human Services. Governor Cuomo said the renewable energy funding will help facilitate public-private partnerships and advance his Reforming the Energy Vision strategy. The Governor also said the funds will help the state achieve its goal of generating 50% of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030. “This funding, said Governor Cuomo, “will build on [our] success by helping more New Yorkers save money on energy costs while creating cleaner and more sustainable communities in every corner of the state.” Governor Cuomo announced $57 million in fundingThe Long Island and Cuomo announced $150 million available for renewable projectsReal Estate NY

Federal and Regional

The United States Senate recently passed bipartisan energy policy legislation, called the Energy Policy Modernization Act, by a vote of 85 to 12. The measure, which was spearheaded by Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Maria Cantwell of Washington, seeks to promote renewable energy, improve buildings’ energy efficiency, and speed the export of domestically-produced liquefied natural gas. Specifically, the bill requires energy infrastructure upgrades to electricity lines and transformers while also encouraging the creation of large-scale electricity storage systems and accelerating “the approval of permits to build coastal terminals for shipping American natural gas abroad.” The legislation, the first significant energy bill since 2007, now moves to a conference with the House of Representatives as negotiators from both chambers will meet to negotiate a compromise bill. “The Senate’s overwhelming approval of our broad, bipartisan bill is a significant victory that brings us much closer to our goal of modernizing our nation’s energy policies. From minerals to hydropower to innovation, this bill features a wide range of provisions that will strengthen our economy, our security, and our standing in the world,” Senator Murkowski said. Senate passes legislation tailored to a modern energy landscapeThe New York Times

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