The Preliminary version of our 2021 Energy & Environment Legislative Digest is now available. This edition is current as of June 25, 2021. If you have any suggestions or additions for the digest, please contact Turney Foshee. Click below to read it now.
This year, our members passed their highest number of bills since 2015 for a total of 512 energy and environmental acts. At the time of printing, dozens more energy and environment bills awaited a Governor’s signature. Look for those in the final edition of the Digest in September. Copies will be available at our 61st Annual Meeting, held this year in Oklahoma City from September 27-29.
Several trends emerged in our member states over the past year. Chief among that trend was the passage of what is commonly known as “energy discrimination” laws. Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Texas, and West Virginia all passed some version of the law, which is generally intended to prohibit any political subdivision from halting the expansion, connection, or reconnection of a utility service based upon the type or source of energy provided to a customer.
The pandemic’s effect of necessitating high-speed internet access for a surge in virtual events, telemedicine, virtual schooling, and more means the trend that began last year with enhanced broadband deployment measures has continued this year. Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia all passed laws pertaining to broadband deployment via easement provisions with utilities, tax incentives, and the establishment of offices dedicated to the deployment of broadband access.
Our Digest also covers the trends surrounding the legislative push for electric vehicle infrastructure, electric vehicle ad valorem taxation and tax breaks, and the associated issue of battery production and disposal. Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia all addressed the topic.
Renewable energy saw a resurgence in bills this year as well. Several of our states passed tax incentives and other statutes affecting the deployment of wind, solar, and the associated energy storage systems both privately and commercially owned.
Related to the matter of renewable technology, several states also passed laws prohibiting the ability for housing associations to restrict solar installations and/or electric vehicle charging infrastructure. You can look for those bills in the states of Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Our members in Texas passed the most bills this year with 85 total. Many of the measures were directed at addressing the problems created by the historic winter storm Uri, which devastated parts of Texas in February 2021 with prolonged power outages. We offer our deepest sympathy to those who were affected by the storm. The bills passed in Texas this session will help to ensure the reliable delivery of critical energy services.