There was so much to follow in the 2018 midterms. Overall, we'd consider the election results a step in the right direction towards a clean energy future, with a couple setbacks in certain areas.
Kyle and Patrick discussed these elections results on Pick My Solar LIVE!
Here are the biggest takeaways for you on the state of clean energy following the elections...
Big Win for Clean Energy and Environmental Justice in Portland, Oregon
Voters in Portland approved a novel approach to promoting local renewable energy development. They passed Measure 26-201, which creates a 1% business licensing surcharge for companies in Portland with annual revenues over $1 billion.
This generates a $30 million annual fund that community non-profits can apply to receive grants from to install solar and energy efficiency upgrades in under-served communities, provide green job training, and other community environmental projects.
Mixed Elections Results on State-Level for Clean Power
There were both wins and losses for clean energy development across the state measures.
State-Level Clean Energy Wins
Nevada passed Question 6 to set the pathway for the state to enact a 50% Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) by 2030. Because this is an amendment to the state constitution, the measure needs to be approved a second time by voters in the 2020 elections.
Congrats to Nevada voters who overwhelmingly supported 50% renewable energy by 2030! A healthy, job-creating clean energy future is within reach! Our release >> https://t.co/fuekoMD2Hv - VS Action Fund ☀️ pic.twitter.com/FZm3GYyzC2— Vote Solar (@votesolar) November 7, 2018
Florida passes Amendment 9 to ban offshore drilling in state waters (and, interestingly, to ban indoor use of e-cigarettes).
California rejects Proposition 6 that would have repealed the state's higher gas tax. The 2017 act it sought to repeal increased the gas tax by $0.12 per gallon, and creates revenue for transportation infrastructure projects.
State-Level Clean Energy Losses
Back to Nevada...
Nevada rejects Question 3 and will not create a deregulated retail energy market, despite widespread support from clean energy groups and corporations.
Arizona rejects Proposition 127 and will not have a 50% Renewable Portfolio Standard by 2030. The measure was heavily fought by the state's utility, Arizona Public Service.
Washington rejects Initiative 1631 and, for the second time, will not enact a $15 per ton carbon tax.
Colorado rejects Proposition 112, which would have banned new drilling and fracking within 2,500 feet of buildings.
Climate-Friendly Governors Take Office
Seven formerly Republican governor's offices are now occupied by Democrat leaders.
The states switching from Republican to Democratic governors are:
- Wisconsin - Tony Evers
- Maine - Janet Mills*
- Nevada - Steve Sisolak*
- New Mexico - Michelle Lujan Grisham
- Michigan - Gretchen Whitmer*
- Kansas - Laura Kelly*
- Illinois - J.B. Pritzker*
* Candidates with an asterisk have stated positions in support of clean energy and climate policy.
This increases the number of states with full Democrat control of governor's office and state senate from 8 to 14, which will significantly empower the ability for these states to pass pro-environmental legislation.
It’s time Illinois had a governor who is committed to protecting our environment. Unlike Bruce Rauner, that’s the leader I will be for Illinois.— JB Pritzker (@JBPritzker) January 24, 2018
Read more about my priorities for the environment here: https://t.co/jMmWQuiZn1 pic.twitter.com/7t1lhr4qXk
Democrats Take Control of U.S. House, but Bipartisanship at Risk
Although likely not to be at the top of the list of priorities on Capitol Hill, Democrats capturing the House means that climate policy is back on the agenda. Notably, House Leader Nancy Pelosi has announced her intention to bring back the currently dormant Select Committee on Climate Change.
However, 18 of 45 Republican members of the Climate Solutions Caucus have either lost seats or retired and yielded seats to Democratic candidates.
This may affect the possibility of bipartisan environmental legislation passing the House that has a greater chance of being approved at the Senate and ultimately enacted into law.
The Main Takeaway for Clean Energy Development
While the midterm elections results for 2018 returned generally mixed results, expect progress on the state and local level. Look out for new policies, incentives, and renewable portfolio standards to encourage clean energy development.
SEIA's statement on the 2018 midterm elections:
"This election, we've seen more proof that voters and elected officials of both parties recognize the tremendous benefits that solar brings to our economy, environment, and the reliability of the grid."— Solar Industry (@SEIA) November 7, 2018
However, with solar panels already at an attractive cost for energy savings, homeowners looking into installing rooftop solar themselves shouldn't wait for better incentives or lower solar pricing, while continuing to rely on fossil fuels.
By utilizing online platforms like Pick My Solar to compile competitive bids from local solar providers, homeowners can easily find out if solar makes sense for their properties. Get an instant snapshot of a home's solar viability using Pick My Solar's newly redesigned solar calculator.
Cover image credit: Portland Clean Energy Initiative