The Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR) is a national research organization that supports policies accountable to people and the planet. Each year the ILSR tracks and scores states on whether their policies help or impede local clean energy action. While the focus is on the state environment, the ranking pays particular attention to the local level and whether communities are receptive to clean energy projects. States with the highest score give communities the most autonomy to advance clean energy, and states with the lowest score make that much more difficult. For example, a state with a high score enables communities to build clean energy projects that increase access to solar energy.
Why Is This Scorecard Important?
Leyline Renewable Capital is an investor in clean energy projects, and we are focused on supporting developers and communities where clean energy efforts succeed. Communities around the country want to build projects to benefit their residents but efforts only work if the right policies are in place. So how can you rank states based on their community support for clean energy? The ISRL scorecard seeks to answer that question.
The ISLR scorecard gives the strongest weight to the following:
The other policies scored in the ranking include interconnection rules that facilitate integration of renewable energy to the grid, standard contracts for feed in tariffs; third party solar ownership through PPAs or leasing; cities with building codes stricter than the state law; and whether/if cities may negotiate their own franchise agreements.
States are given a score from an A to an F, and points are subtracted for any laws that prohibit communities from banning gas hookups in new construction. The ILSR uses data from several organizations as well as their own information that they track. Data is taken from the American Council for Energy Efficient Economy, DSIRE, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, PACENation, SolarReviews, and Vote Solar.
What Does the Scorecard Reveal?
Only four states received an “A” in the 2023 scorecard: California, Illinois, New York, and Massachusetts. Fourteen states and the District of Columbia had above average scores, 4 states were average, 14 states were inferior, and 13 states had failing grades.
What merits an “A” grade? The top four states have local community renewable energy projects such as community solar; major cities with 100 percent city renewable energy mandates; distributed energy projects with simplified interconnection rules; community choice for clean energy suppliers; local directives that support electrification, and financing options for consumers. Regional leaders include the Pacific Region, the New England Region, Mid-Atlantic Region, and East North Central Region (which the ILSR defines as the states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio). The bottom states include Louisiana, Indiana, Kentucky, Idaho, and South Dakota because none of the aforementioned policies are present in these states.
The map below shows the scores for each state as indicated by the different colors.
Worthy State Actions in 2022
In 2022, four states - California, Illinois, New Mexico, and Maryland - made changes to their interconnection procedures for distributed energy resources (DER), including energy storage. Washington and New Hampshire added low-income set asides for their community solar programs. Colorado gave localities the option to have more stringent building codes than the state law. All these actions gave these states a more favorable ranking than their peers.
Interestingly, states such as Texas, which has an abundance of renewables, including 4 GW of solar energy capacity over the next five years, and North Carolina, which ranks fourth nationally in installed solar capacity, do not show up as favored states in the ranking. Even though Texas has an abundance of clean energy due to the low costs of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, it lacks policies like supportive net metering, community solar, community choice aggregation, and a feed-in tariff for distributed energy connection – all of which encourage local clean energy adoption. Low-cost renewables encourage its deployment, but supportive community policies also matter.
Check out the map of our projects across the United States, and you will find many in the favorable states and communities mentioned above. Leyline Renewable Capital seeks to make a difference in the projects we invest in and the way we operate as an organization. How can we help you with your project needs? If you want to explore capital solutions for your solar, storage, or wind project, please contact us at https://leylinecapital.com/home/contact.