Will Your City Require Solar Power for New Buildings?

Solar power panels outside on a roof

Solar power is becoming a hot topic of discussion in America. Its innovation can benefit every aspect of our communities; from the businesses and organizations, right down to its individuals. Additionally, it promotes cleaner energy in a time where climate change is a concern for people across the globe. These reasons result in local governments adopting new regulations regarding this form of energy.

Agenda Discovery is your government relations assistant that alerts you on what’s happening in your local government. With us, you can stay on top of legislation that would impact your industry. Read the article below and learn how cities are adopting new regulations for solar energy and how our software helps you stay on top of new developments.

Why Are Cities Moving Towards Solar Power?

According to Solar United Neighbors, energy expenditures are typically the second-largest budget item in their operating expenses. Cities that adopt solar energy solutions are seeing reduced energy costs. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy states solar costs have fallen more than 60% since 2010, with another expected drop of 35% by 2022. Additionally, municipalities will receive full credit for every unit of electricity produced with their solar panels due to net metering

Solar power also has a tremendous impact on local economic development. Installing solar panels on buildings can help municipalities begin the process towards a clean energy economy. Leveraging community outreach resources to educate people about renewable energy systems during installation can help grow a local customer base. Also, municipalities can boost job creation by working with contractors on installation. This has led to more than 231,000 people employed in the solar industry. 

How Are Cities Transitioning to Solar Power?

In their transition to a more sustainable future, San Francisco and Santa Monica are the first major U.S. cities to pass laws mandating rooftop solar energy installations. California’s existing Title 24 Energy Standards law requires new small and mid-sized residential and commercial buildings to be solar-ready. Under this law, buildings with 10 floors or fewer must leave 15% of the roof free from obstructions so that solar panels can be installed. 

San Francisco and Santa Monica recently passed laws to add to Title 24. Now, property owners must install solar energy systems on the rooftops of any new building. Newly constructed buildings must have a minimum of 1.5 watts of solar power installed per square foot of building space. Multi-family homes, hotels, and commercial properties will need to install at least 2 watts for every square foot. 

Additionally, cities across the United States are adopting incentives for property owners to install solar energy. In June 2017, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed a bill that brought net metering to the state. The law allows new solar customers to be reimbursed for excess energy at 95% of the retail rate. This rate will decline as more solar systems are installed in Nevada. Also, the law created protection for homeowners, by offering a guaranteed net metering rate for 20 years.

How Does Agenda Discovery Help Monitor Solar Energy Regulations?

With Agenda Discovery’s easy-to-use legislative tracking tool, anyone can stay on top of local government agendas that could impact their business. Whether they’re in the utility, financial, or medical industry, we’ve made it easy to track policies that matter to any business. By plugging an unlimited amount of keywords, business leaders can feel empowered and secure knowing they have our software on their side. Contact us today to receive a free demo and learn how we give you the power to stay on top of laws that matter to your business!

How Local Governments Protect Water Quality

how to protect water quality

State and Federal regulations help protect water resources, but do not do the whole job. Local governments have a very important role to play in the protection of surface water, ground water, drinking water, and wetlands, often filling in the gaps in State and Federal regulations. If the local government does not do so with local zoning, those gaps may not be addressed. 

Roles of Local Government in Water Quality Control

Local governments are playing very important roles in environmental water quality management. One of their responsibilities includes establishing and implementing environmental water quality monitoring programs. Water quality monitoring programs include: 

  • Categories or parameters 
  • Identifying toxic substances 
  • Parameters and special parameters for living environment
  • Identification of other parameters including Phosphorus and Chloride ion
  • Identification of physical parameters such as weather, water flow rate, and atmospheric temperature

In addition to establishing and implementing water quality monitoring programs, local governments also undertake pollution control measures, which include: 

  • Regulating factories based on laws and ordinances 
  • Maintaining and constructing additional sewerage lines and sewage treatment systems 
  • Purifying water in waterways 
  • Controlling pollution from new high-tech industries such as the electronic industries 

One of the biggest topics addressed regarding water quality control is groundwater. Many steps are being taken to keep contaminants from getting into our groundwater supplies. Manufacturers are using fewer toxic raw materials and consumers have switched to phosphate-free detergents and other less polluting household products. Since groundwater is an important and vital resource for all people, it is important to protect it. 

How to Protect and Conserve Groundwater 

Conserving water is essential. By simply reducing the amount of water that we use, our water supply will last longer. The top 10 ways to protect and conserve groundwater include: 

  • Disposing of chemicals properly 
  • Take used motor oil to a recycling center 
  • Limit the amount of fertilizer used on plants 
  • Take shorter showers 
  • Shut water off while brushing teeth 
  • Run full loads of dishes and laundry 
  • Check for leaky faucets and have them fixed 
  • Abandon all wells that are not needed 
  • Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator
  • Get involved in water education 

By taking these steps, local communities can play a role in the conservation of groundwater in addition to the help of the local government. 

The Federal Environmental Protection Agency 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plays an important and unique role in keeping our environment clean, although most of the heavy lifting in American environmental protection is done by State and local governments. The EPA provides technical assistance to support recovery planning of public health and infrastructure, such as waste water treatment plants, technical assistance for long-term cleanup to minimize public health threats, and provides environmental surveillance. 

In addition, the EPA subsidizes state and local programs, oversees states, and conducts scientific research, but state and local governments do the day-to-day work of environmental protection. 

Functions such as water supply and sewage treatment are critical environmental services typically performed by local governments. State and local governments have no choice but to keep our waste and poison out of our water supply. 

Stay Current on Policies That Matter with Agenda Discovery

You can expect to be the first to know about current policies when you invest in Agenda Discovery’s legislative tracking software. With it, you will consistently be updated on the latest developments happening in your local government and how their policies may impact you. Contact us today to schedule a demo and learn how our software can help you stay ahead of the curve.

4 Ways Microgrids are Energizing Local Economies

For years, cities in the United States have been working to transition into more flexible energy resources. In California, regulators believe microgrids are the answer they’ve been looking for. They’ve approved a $200 million budget that would adopt the technology to supply power through extended wildfire-prevention blackouts. In addition to withstanding natural disasters, they’re are providing communities with a number of ways that benefit their economy. Below are a few examples of how they achieve this.

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Microgrids are Generally Cleaner

According to Mike Byrnes, President and COO of SourceOne, people look to this technology because they offer a more sustainable energy solution than the electricity bought from the utility. Cities that adopt microgrids see an opportunity to deploy zero-emission electricity sources, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, they can improve the management of local power supply and demand, which can reduce energy waste and costly utility investments. That is why U.S. House lawmakers reintroduced a $1.5 billion bill that would help fund clean energy microgrids in low-income communities.

Smaller Facilities Are Using Microgrids

Before, microgrids were primarily used by universities, military bases, and corporate campuses. Today, smaller organizations are utilizing the technology to enhance and secure their energy. Industries, such as those in healthcare, education, and manufacturing are adopting microgrids to secure a source of energy for their facilities. According to Microgrid Knowledge, as people rely more heavily on the internet for commerce, wellness, education, and entertainment, there’s been a huge demand for reliable energy. When something as simple as a utility tower breaks down, it greatly impacts their everyday operations. 

Microgrids Can Supply Power During a Natural Disaster

As mentioned before, California is looking for a way to supply power in the event of a wildfire. Their plan to install microgrids is an excellent choice as the technology is known for its level of resilience. After Hurricane Sandy, many municipalities and businesses began installing the technology to withstand the devastating conditions and found great success by restoring power into their buildings efficiently. Now other cities are adopting their own system to counteract disasters in their area. 

Strengthen the Central Grid with Microgrids

Not only can a microgrid benefit local businesses and government buildings, but this sustainable energy alternative can service the average person too. One way is by helping ease the strain on a central grid during periods of peak demand for energy. Microgrids act as an additional resource grid that their operators can call upon during these times of high demand. Furthermore, this technology reduces line loss, which means using more electricity than we produce. This alleviates the need to build more power plants and transmission lines to the central grid. 

Stay Current on Developing Laws Relating to Microgrids

Microgrids can benefit local communities in many ways, and because of this demand is growing. As a utility company, it’s important to stay on top of laws relating to this technology as it directly impacts your business. With the Agenda Discovery legislative tracking software, you can benefit from a virtual assistant that will alert you of any discussions happening on the local level. Stay current on laws that matter most, contact us today to learn how we can help.  

How Does The Local Government Regulate The Utilities Sector?

Vast farmland that is populated with windmills local government

Most people receive their utility services from private companies that are regulated at the Federal, State, and local government level. These private utility companies must abide by regulations made at the State and local level by public service commissions. Whether the company specializes in water or energy, State and local governments will regulate the industry to look out for the public’s best interests and to ensure all utilities are natural monopolies. So, you may be wondering: how does the State government regulate utilities we all rely on? Read below to learn more. 

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How Government Regulates Water

When it comes to water regulations, State governments regulate areas such as production, prices, and distribution. However, the way water is regulated varies amongst States. For example, California is heavily regulated because of the water supply limitations and the high demand of the agriculture industry. However, in some cases, various municipalities put regulations on water to serve low-income housing communities. 

Water is not particularly easy to distribute to cities and there is a lot of controversy around it. As a result, governments regulate the industry to ensure the utility company properly controls its distribution. Public safety also plays a heavy role in regulation as water utility companies supply communities with clean, potable water.

How Government Regulates Electric Companies

Much like water utility companies, electric utilities are regulated by state and local agencies. Electric utilities govern the prices charged, the terms of services to consumers, budgets, and construction plans. Regulations ensure that fair pricing for service is offered and that service is adequate and responsive to consumer needs. The production and distribution of electricity are also heavily impacted by environmental and public health regulations through the emission of pollutants, land use, and noise. 

The Importance of Staying On Top of Local Government Agendas

In almost every industry, businesses are impacted by local government regulations that can either hinder or support their sector. Utility companies are constantly faced with changing regulations and it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. It’s imperative that these organizations find a way to stay on top of the latest agendas that could have an impact on their industry. 

Let Agenda Discovery Be Your Alert System

With Agenda Discovery’s easy to use legislative tracking tool, anyone can stay on top of local government agendas that could impact their business. Whether they’re in the utility, financial, or medical industry, we’ve made it easy to track policies that matter to any business. By plugging an unlimited amount of keywords, business leaders can feel empowered and secure knowing they have our software on their side. Contact us today to receive a demo!