Saturday, July 28, 2007
The House has moved closer to passing comprehensive changes to the state's current energy policy. Senate Bill 3 has passed the House Energy and Energy Efficiency, Public Utilities, and Finance Committees this week. The House Energy Committee, which I chair, voted the bill out on Monday afternoon after 6 hours of hearings. Rep. Grier Martin and I spent several hours Monday morning with utilities lobbyists negotiating changes to the bill and I think we came up with some good improvements which we added in the Energy Committee. By way of reminder, not much happens at the General Assembly that impacts the utilities that the utilities haven't signed off on. The bill is much improved, having added better environmental controls on the renewable energy provisions. We also added a requirement that utilities prove that they cannot meet any increased energy demands with renewables and efficiencies prior to getting approval to build a plant. The troubling swine set asides and CWIP provisions remain in the bill. At this point, I do feel that the good outweighs the bad. If we do not adopt a renewable energy standard this session, I think we have lost the chance for a few sessions. We can't wait much longer to start weaning ourselves off fossil fuels and pursuing a more sustainable energy future. Senate Bill 3 starts us on that path.