States Tackle Energy in 2009
Volume 5: Renewable Energy Zone Legislation
In 2009, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Nebraska, Nevada, Utah and Washington introduced legislation directed at identifying, studying and establishing renewable energy zones. Renewable energy zones are areas that show promise for producing energy from renewable resource such as solar, wind, geothermal or biomass at a higher level than other areas. Establishing these zones may lead to a more efficient use of land as well as facilitate the development of renewable resources and speed the development of transmission need to bring renewable energy to markets.
Development of Requirements to Identify Renewable Energy Zones
Eight bills in Hawaii focus on developing processes for identifying geographic areas that are rich in renewable energy resource potential. If enacted, these bills would designate areas as renewable energy zones and would develop and recommend incentive plans and programs to encourage the development of renewable energy resource projects within these zones. All eight of these initiatives are currently pending and will carryover into Hawaii's 2010 session.
Establishing, Designating and Creating Renewable Energy Zones
Hawaii, Iowa, Utah and Washington introduced legislation focused on establishing, designating and creating renewable energy zones. Hawaii's pending-carryover bill directs the Department of Land and Natural Resources, the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism and the Public Utilities Commission to assist the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute in the identification and designation of one or more renewable energy zones in the waters not more than three miles from Oahu for a wave energy converter platform. Iowa introduced three bills which establish small wind innovation zones. Two of these bills are pending-carryover and one of these bills is enacted. Utah enacted a bill which will allow the Governor's Office of Economic Development to create renewable energy development zones. Washington recently enacted legislation which will focus on a plan to establish suitable areas for sighting renewable resource projects based on available resources and existing infrastructure with sensitivity to adverse environmental impact.
Studying and Examining Renewable Energy Zones
Hawaii and Maine introduced bills focused on studying and examining renewable energy zones. Hawaii's pending-carryover legislation directs the Public Utilities Commission to prepare a study on the creation of renewable energy zones and to report its findings to the legislature. Maine's enacted legislation directs the Governor's Office of Energy Independence and Security to convene a stakeholder group to examine and make recommendations regarding the concept of cogeneration energy zones and requires the office to report to the Joint Standing Committee on Utilities and Energy.
Renewable Energy Zone Programs and Task Forces
Iowa and Nebraska introduced legislation that established programs or task forces for renewable energy zones. Iowa's enacted legislation provides for the establishment of a green energy zone program while Nebraska's pending-carryover legislation creates the Wind Energy Development Zone Task Force.
Much of the renewable energy zone legislation is currently pending and will carryover into the 2010 session. If this legislation is enacted in 2010 it will help promote renewable energy zones in various states and hopefully help lead the way towards an energy independent and sustainable United States.