Clean energy resources for state lawmakers

Model legislation & advocacy toolkits to help accelerate the transition to 100% renewable energy

Environment America encourages lawmakers to introduce, support and champion policies at the state level to keep renewable energy on the rise. Below are resources to help.

James Rivas | Used by permission
CALPIRG’s Clara Castronovo speaks at the press conference

Renewable energy is growing in America. In 2022, America produces more than three times as much power from the sun, the wind and the earth as we did in 2013, with growth in all 50 states. State governments will continue to play an important role in driving renewable energy growth.

Environment America and our federation of state organizations encourages lawmakers to introduce, support and champion at the state level to keep renewable energy on the rise. Below are resources to help.

Tim O'Connor | Used by permission

Go Solar

Solar on highways 

In 2023, California enacted legislation to encourage the installation of solar power infrastructure along California’s highways. You can read the bill language here.

Here’s a report that documents the potential for solar power along California’s highways, coauthored by Environment California Research & Policy Center and the Ray: 

Reduce permitting costs and delays by adopting SolarApp+

States should encourage or require the adoption of Solar Automated Permit Processing (SolarAPP+), a fast, automated online permitting system developed by the U.S. Department of Energy and available free of charge for local governments. California’s bill requiring most California cities and counties to implement an online, automated permitting platform is linked here. Prior to passing this bill, California created a funding source to help cities and counties cover the costs of transitioning to the new system. Now over 100 CA cities are using SolarAPP to instantly review solar roof or battery energy storage permits.

Solar homes

In 2023, California enacted legislation to encourage the installation of solar power infrastructure along California’s highways. Now other states including Massachusetts and Rhode Island are considering similar policy. After all, the best time to put solar on a home or business is at the time of construction. You can read the bill language here

Energy efficiency

Clean lighting

Seven states have phased out the sale of most fluorescent light bulbs in favor of LEDs, generating significant energy, carbon dioxide, and utility bill savings while avoiding a source of mercury pollution. Interested in doing the same for your state? We’ve partnered with the Appliance Standards Awareness Project to put together a toolkit of resources for state lawmakers. You can access that toolkit here

Appliance efficiency standards

By setting appliance efficiency standards, states can decrease energy use, save consumers and businesses money, and reduce greenhouse gases and other pollutants. The Appliance Standards Awareness Project provides information to assist state energy offices, legislators, and policy advocates on appliance efficiency standards. 

Electric vehicle charging

Electric vehicles

Clean car standards

States should encourage or require the transition to electric vehicles through strong “clean car” standards. To date, 17 states have adopted all or part of California’s low-emission and zero-emission vehicle regulations, as allowed under Section 177 of the Clean Air Act.Information. Resources about the Advanced Clean Cars II is available here at the California Air Resources Board.

Fleet electrification

Here’s a link to legislation introduced in Massachusetts that aims to electrify public and public-serving motor vehicle fleets by 2035, establish a centralized procurement process for public fleets, and set goals for converting private fleets to electric vehicles.

This bill introduced in Massachusetts requires regional transit authority bus fleets to be electrified by 2035, and establishes an office to provide technical and planning support for the transition to electric buses.

This report by U.S. PIRG Education Fund shows how state and local governments around the country could save a total of nearly $11 billion in lifetime expenses by purchasing EVs as opposed to gasoline-powered vehicles for their light-duty fleets over the next 10 years.

This report by U.S. PIRG Education Fund explores the potential to equip electric school buses with technology that allows them to deliver power to buildings and back to the grid. 

Ricky Mackie Photography | Used by permission
Environment California State Director Laura Deehan speaks at an event in support of offshore wind in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Wind power

Goals to go big on offshore wind

According to the Department of Energy, 13 coastal states have announced planning targets or procurement mandates for offshore wind energy. The New England for Offshore Wind website, a coalition of which Environment America is a member, details state-level procurement goals and links to policies in New England. The Southeastern wind coalition offers state-level fact sheets for NC, LA, VA and SC. 

The report Offshore Wind for America shows how twenty-nine states have the potential to generate offshore wind energy and how big those resources are compared to current electricity use.

Coordinate offshore wind procurement

New England governors just embarked on a multi-state procurement plan for offshore wind – the first of its kind in the United States. Other regions could consider similar action to speed adoption and reduce costs.

Liam Louis, Elle Vignette Photography | Used by permission
Staff don hats to show their support for 100% renewable energy.

100% clean energy goals

100% clean or renewable energy goals

To date, 11 states have codified goals to reach 100% clean or renewable electricity, with plans and benchmarks in place to hit those goals. States including Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania are actively considering 100% goals. You can view the text of the 100% Clean Act introduced in Massachusetts here and download a fact sheet on the bill here

State-by-state renewable energy potential

For a state-by-state assessment of each state’s solar and wind potential, here’s We Have the Power, a report by Environment America Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group.

State-by-state clean energy growth

For a state-by-state assessment of the growth of key clean energy technologies and the ability to compare that growth across states, here’s the Renewables on the Rise dashboard.

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Pennsylvanians for Renewable Energy

Clean energy

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Johanna Neumann

Senior Director, Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy, Environment America

Johanna directs strategy and staff for Environment America's energy campaigns at the local, state and national level. In her prior positions, she led the campaign to ban smoking in all Maryland workplaces, helped stop the construction of a new nuclear reactor on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and helped build the support necessary to pass the EmPOWER Maryland Act, which set a goal of reducing the state’s per capita electricity use by 15 percent. She also currently serves on the board of Community Action Works. Johanna lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, with her family, where she enjoys growing dahlias, biking and the occasional game of goaltimate. 

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