Solar panel on a red roof

A new report from the Colorado State University's Center for the New Energy Economy has found that shifts in public opinion about the climate as well as changes within energy markets have influenced state legislatures’ energy policies since 2013.

“In the absence of comprehensive federal clean energy policy, states have taken the lead,” the analysis states. “Between 2013 and 2019, over 3,500 energy-related bills were enacted by the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Popular support for climate and clean energy-related action is reflected in state and local policies.”

The authors found that between 2016 and 2019, the number of omnibus bills enacted increased, perhaps as a response to new technologies and the increased complexity of managing supply and demand. Public opinion has also shifted in support of action to address climate change, with an overwhelming majority of Americans supporting a move to 100% renewable electricity generation by 2050.

In 2019, states enacted the highest number of bills across three categories relative to prior years: direct incentives, education and workforce development, and research and development. The largest category, incentives, saw 94 bills enacted between 2013 and 2019, mostly to provide tax credits. In all, there were 3,542 energy-related bills that passed into law.

Thirty states also enacted in the time period renewable portfolio standards, requiring certain thresholds of renewable energy generation for electricity suppliers. Colorado’s renewable portfolio standard, the first enacted by ballot initiative in the nation, dates to 2004.

“State policymakers are also increasingly acknowledging the socioeconomic ramifications of the energy transition, as more states explore methods for facilitating a just transition for traditional energy workers, rural communities, and historically disadvantaged groups,” the authors noted.

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