Issue to Watch: Renewable Energy

Jan 25, 2013

 Although Congress’ “fiscal cliff” deal temporarily extended several key renewable energy incentives, including the wind production tax credit that many governors have loudly supported, investor confidence remains shaky. Lawmakers in several states are looking for ways to boost certainty for that sector, which has grown significantly in the past several years, but has yet to gain equal footing with long-established energy sources, such as coal and natural gas.

“At a time when Washington can’t or won’t act, states are stepping up and launching ambitious, sophisticated new experiments,” says Mark Muro, policy director for the Brookings metropolitan policy program.

In some states, however, advocates will see increased push back on policies that have been credited with spurring renewable energy production, either because of short-term budget concerns, or ideological disagreement. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), for instance, is backing legislation that would weaken energy portfolio mandates, policies enacted in 29 states that require utilities to produce a certain percentage of energy from renewable sources. The group of conservative lawmakers argues the mandates increase electricity rates.

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