Each year, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance tracks and scores states based on how their policies help or hinder local clean energy action. The states that score the highest allow individuals and communities to take charge of their energy futures through things like shared renewable energy sources and customer-friendly net metering policies.
In the 2022 Community Power Scorecard, 4 states excelled, 9 states and the District of Columbia saw above average scores, 9 were average, 15 were mediocre, and 13 states received failing grades.
Is good policy enough? Listen to a Local Energy Rules podcast episode explaining how ILSR’s Community Power Scorecard could better represent and mobilize local organizers.
States are awarded an A, B, C, D, or F letter grade. The 2022 scores are evaluated out of a total of 44 points. The scoring methodology and a breakdown of this year’s scores are available in this document.
Our scoring compiles data from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, DSIRE, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, PACENation, SolarReviews, and Vote Solar, as well as the data we regularly track on community solar, community choice aggregation, and state legislative changes in general. Last year’s scores are available in our 2021 Scorecard.
Read about Why ILSR’s Community Power Scorecard Matters and find out How Your State Can Get an “A” Community Power Score.
New to the 2022 Community Power Scorecard
This year, we added two factors to our evaluation. The first is policy or code allowing cities to negotiate their own utility franchise contracts and fees. Cities can use their franchise contract/fee authority in creative ways — for example, when Minneapolis’s franchise contract expired, the city leveraged the negotiations to create the Clean Energy Partnership and increase its franchise fee.
States earn up to two points for this policy: one point if they allow cities to negotiate their utility franchise contract and one point if they allow cities to levy their own franchise fee.
For maps of each individual policy, explore our interactive Community Power Map.
Also new to the scorecard this year, we docked states two points for requiring cities to continue their dependence on fossil gas. Preemption of gas “bans” swept state legislatures in 2021. In response to the growing list of cities where new buildings cannot connect to gas infrastructure, the gas industry stoked fears of change and 20 states passed preemptive legislation — diminishing local authority and decision making.
Policy and Regulatory Trends in 2021
By our count, states passed 30 policies last year that affected their 2022 community power scores.
In 2021, New Mexico launched its community solar program and Delaware legislators passed a bill to improve the state’s community solar program. Oregon and Virginia both finally set their rules for community solar. West Virginia passed a bill to enable third party solar power purchase agreements.
Maryland started a community choice energy pilot (only applicable in one county).
Tennessee passed a “commercial PACER” bill last year, which allows for property assessed clean energy and resilience financing. Though it had no impact on the community power score, the New Jersey legislature passed a 2021 bill to fix its so-far unworkable PACE program. Missouri and California also increased consumer protections for their PACE programs. Consumer protections are essential, as ProPublica found that Missouri PACE loans “have put a disproportionate burden on borrowers in predominantly Black neighborhoods.”
Delaware and Illinois both advanced their Renewable Portfolio Standard targets, which also increased the solar carve-outs. Illinois’s Clean Energy Jobs Act established an optional building stretch code for cities to adopt.
On a more negative note, 20 states passed some sort of preemption of local gas bans.
Click here for shareable images related to this year’s scorecard: states that excelled, states that did the worst, and regional comparisons.
This article originally posted at ilsr.org. For timely updates, follow John Farrell on Twitter, our energy work on Facebook, or sign up to get the Energy Democracy weekly update.