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Utility Dive: Clean energy platforms win at the state level as 7 governor seats shift blue

Posted by Advanced Energy Economy on Nov 12, 2018

This Utility Dive piece examines the clean energy policies that some gubernatorial candidates adopted and how they may have helped them win. AEE’s perspective is included, quoting J.R. Tolbert, Vice President, Policy. Link to the full article here.

Excerpts of the Utility Dive story are below:  

The midterm elections had many looking toward the U.S. Capitol as Republicans maintained Senate control and Democrats gained the House majority. But as federal regulatory rollbacks give states more control, gubernatorial races proved to have some of the more significant campaigns for energy policy…

Seven governor's races flipped blue: Maine, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico and Nevada. The Alaska governor's seat was the only one to flip Republican, while Florida and Georgia are still pending final vote counts.

Although issues such as healthcare and immigration remained the top items for many candidates, observers say some of the gubernatorial candidates' strong stances on clean energy policy may have helped win them the election.

"It was a great night for clean energy, it was a great night for candidates that had chosen to embrace clean energy," J.R. Tolbert, vice president of state policy at Advanced Energy Economy told Utility Dive. "And that's easy to see when you see that every candidate who ran on 100% clean, or 100% renewable energy was elected as chief executives in their state."

The most aggressive renewable energy mandate proposed was by Gov. elect Jared Polis of Colorado, who is pushing his state to commit to 100% renewable energy by 2040 — a goal that would surpass Hawaii and California's 100% mandate by five years…

Other candidates who flipped their state's gubernatorial seats ran on renewable energy mandates as well, or brought other facets of the clean energy transition into their campaign…

"Michigan and Nevada are among the starkest examples of where clean energy was the right play for a candidate," said Tolbert.

"Governor elect [Gretchen] Whitmer in Michigan was supportive of clean energy all along … and her opponent Bill Schudy can best be described as the Scott Pruitt of the Midwest," he said. "He had filed lawsuit after lawsuit against the EPA, he had a thorn in the side on energy efficiency, on renewable energy, and there was a clear contrast and a clear opportunity for voters."

Nevada Gov. elect Steve Sisolak ran supporting the state's 100% clean energy mandate. Voters took a step in that direction Nov. 6, approving a ballot initiative to require that electric utilities get 50% of their generation from renewable resources by 2030. The measure must be approved again in 2020 before it's adopted into the state's constitution…

New Mexico Democratic Gov. elect Michelle Lujan Grisham ran in part on bringing the state to 50% renewable energy by 2030 and 80% by 2040…

Several states' legislative bodies also shifted toward the Democratic majority, which some analysts say will smooth the transition toward clean energy.

"Colorado is a perfect example of a place where the legislature and the governor are going to be very well aligned," said Tolbert. "Over the past several years, electric vehicle policy has stalled in the legislature because of the Senate … Now that that has shifted, I think there's real opportunity in Colorado for Governor Polis, who campaigned on an aggressive clean energy agenda, to work with a legislature that also campaigned on an aggressive clean energy agenda."…

Nevada's state legislature now has a Democratic majority as well, giving the state opportunity to turn the 50% renewable energy ballot initiative into law. 

"There's no need for [the initiative] to go back on the ballot, yet again, and for us to see another $50 to $100 million spent," said Tolbert…

For more Midterm insight, continue reading the complete UD story here.

 

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