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Red and Blue Equals Green

George P. Shultz served as U.S. Secretary of State, Treasury and Labor under two GOP Presidents. Today, Shultz is co-chair of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution task force on energy policy.

Jeff Bingaman is a former five-term Democratic Senator from New Mexico. During his tenure, Sen. Bingaman was Chairman of Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Now, he is a distinguished fellow at Stanford’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance.

Last year these two men, from different ends of the political spectrum, combined efforts to explore energy policies at the state level that could, and should, be replicated. 

On Thursday, their collective report, “The State Clean Energy Cookbook”, was released. This report comes at a moment of both significant opportunity and challenge for states looking to energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s recently proposed carbon emission standards.

“The target of this report is state policy-makers,” Bingaman told a gathering of state energy officials in Savannah, Georgia on Thursday morning. “Governors, regulators and legislators.”

Speaking by phone with more than 40 governor-designated energy officials from across the country, Bingaman said the report highlights 12 policies for state action on energy efficiency and renewable energy. The dozen “recipes” include examples, recommendations for implementation, and lists of additional policy resources.

The policies are broken into three categories – energy efficiency, renewable energy and financial.

The energy efficiency policies include energy efficiency resource standards, building energy codes, building energy benchmarking and disclosure laws, and utility incentives.

The renewable energy policies consist of renewable portfolio standards, net metering, community renewable solar gardens, and renewable energy tariffs on large users of energy.

Financing policies are comprised of energy savings performance contracting, third-party ownership for solar, on-bill repayment, and PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy).

Bingaman told the audience that states are a laboratory in democracy and that they should try and learn from what other states are doing.  “That’s where we came from and that’s where we ended up,” he said.

Bingaman urged the state energy officials attending the National Association of State Energy Officials annual conference to persuade policy-makers in their states to do more.  He also urged Congress to provide more funds to states through the State Energy Program, the key federal grant program supporting the states in advancing energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Among the examples cited in the “Cookbook” is Arizona’s pioneering use of time-of-use meters. Colorado is cited as the first state to allow “community solar gardens,” in which people who don’t own property or whose property is not conducive to solar, can jointly develop a project.  Minnesota and California have approved similar policies.

Although this bi-partisan effort is encouraging in light of the gridlock that is Washington today, it is also in stark contrast to the rhetoric and efforts of a number of Arizona politicians that are trying to dismantle or rollback similar policies here at home. While Schulz and Bingaman were working on their “cookbook”, a number of Arizona policy-makers have been attempting to undo the state’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Standards, and have approved disincentives in the form of new fees and taxes for solar homeowners.

Hopefully, as demonstrated by the Stanford team, Arizona will replicate the bi-partisan approach to solving our energy problems. As our leaders begin to look for ways to reduce Arizona’s carbon emissions – they should take a look at the promising solutions highlighted by Schulz and Bingaman – and keep Arizona moving forward.   

Jim Arwood
Communications Director
Arizona Solar Center

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