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State Net Capitol Journal: Renewable Energy Becoming Battleground Issue

Last month's "fiscal cliff" deal temporarily extended several federal renewable energy incentives, such as the tax credit for producers of wind energy. But with investor confidence in renewable energy still somewhat shaky in comparison to more established energy sources like natural gas and coal, at least a couple of states are trying to give the economic sector an added boost.

With Democrats having reclaimed Minnesota's House and Senate in November, environmentalists are optimistic the state will enact major renewable energy incentives, including legislation requiring utilities to derive 10 percent of their power from solar sources.

"I will be very shocked if we don't pass significant solar legislation this year," said Ken Bradley, chair of the Solar Works for Minnesota coalition.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is also expected to push several renewable energy initiatives in the state's Democrat-led Legislature, with the state pursuing a goal of generating 30 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2015.

In North Carolina, however, where Republicans control both chambers of the Legislature and the governor's office for the first time since Reconstruction, support for renewable energy appears to be going in the opposite direction. State Rep. Mike Hager (R), chairman of the House Public Utilities Committee, said he plans to introduce legislation to amend a 2007 law requiring the state to increase its reliance on renewable energy to 12.5 percent by 2021, changing that mandate to 3 percent indefinitely.

I think I've got the support for this effort," he said.

Lawmakers in Hawaii, meanwhile, may consider scaling back the state's wildly popular solar energy tax credit, which has made it one of the top 10 solar producers in the nation, but also depleted state revenues, an estimated $172 million last year alone. (STATELINE.ORG, MIDWEST ENERGY NEWS)

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