The Law of Clean Energy & Energy Efficiency
In the era of climate change, energy and environmental law have become inextricably linked. SCCCL’s energy law research focuses on how the field of energy law can be updated and expanded to tackle the challenges of creating a sustainable energy future. Our research places particular emphasis on energy efficiency as one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to mitigate climate change.
SCCCL's Clean Energy Investment-India project took place from 2010 through 2012. The project aimed to facilitate U.S. investments in clean energy projects in India, an estimated $1.1 trillion market, by making available free contract templates in an effort to reduce transaction costs.
Energy Facility Litigation Database
The Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School has created an energy facility litigation database that contains a list of energy facility litigation spanning the years 2005 through 2011. It is organized according to energy facility type (e.g., coal, nuclear, natural gas, etc.). Within each energy facility type worksheet, the citation, jurisdiction, court, date, and facility location are identified for each listed case. Cases may be sorted on the basis of any of these criteria. The database permits a variety of search permutations.
Navigating the Database
The “filter” function has been turned on in each sheet of the database to enable searching for energy facility cases by jurisdiction, court, date, and facility location. If the filters do not appear in the database as downloaded from the website, it is possible to turn them on by opening the document in Excel. Simply save the file as an Excel sheet onto your desktop and open it. The filter option can be found in the “Data” tab of Microsoft Word 2007. To turn it on, highlight the row containing the category names (this will usually be row 1; press on the number to highlight the entire row) and click on the “Filter” icon. You will see down-arrows appear at the top of every column in the cell containing the category label. Clicking on the down-arrow will produce a drop-down menu from which the relevant search criteria can be selected.
The goal of this project is to create best practices for municipal ordinances—covering green buildings, wind, and solar resources—which avoid the drafting problems and legal pitfalls that often plague other ordinances.
The framework of U.S. laws governing energy efficiency and renewable energy is one of fragmentation across levels of government, regions of the country, types of energy resources, regulatory techniques, and policy objectives. Those who attempt to navigate these various laws and accomplish a substantive objective, such as building a project, must be prepared to dive into a broad range of disparate, uncoordinated provisions that apply to the specific kind of facility and location where it would be built. The Law of Clean Energy provides a current, clearly written explanation of the laws that apply and the critical legal issues involved in the transition to a clean energy economy.
The book, The Law of Clean Energy: Efficiency and Renewables (Michael B. Gerrard, ed.), published by the American Bar Association in May 2011, includes as its appendix a 50-state survey of state actions on clean energy. The survey provides a brief overview of the laws and policies adopted by each state to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy. The 50-state survey maintained on this website includes more detailed coverage of the state actions discussed in the appendix.
The Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and the Modi Research Group in Columbia University's Department of Mechanical Engineering worked on a collaborative research project that sought a comprehensive understanding of the feasibility of combined heat and power (CHP) projects in New York City. The results of their study, which took the approach of evaluating the entire city as a single institution with many building types and functions available for load sharing, are available in this publication.
This report examines the range of legal and regulatory tools that state PUCs have to promote energy efficiency. It draws from a broad and deep body of literature on the topic, an examination of relevant state laws and regulations, and interviews with experts in the private and public sectors. The handbook sets forth a wide range of policies that PUCs around the country are using to successfully promote energy efficiency, including setting energy efficiency targets, aligning utility incentives with energy efficiency goals, financing energy efficiency, resource planning, demand response policies, and incorporating energy efficiency into state environmental policy act and siting procedures. The online Public Utilities Commissions Bibliography gathers together the resources used to produce our handbook into an easy-to-access online format.
This paper examines the ways that the Clean Air Act can be used to promote energy efficiency. It describes how advocates can participate in various actions under the CAA, as well as challenge final agency decisions that reflect insufficient consideration of the issue of energy efficiency and conservation. It includes discussion of the inclusion of energy efficiency in state implementation plans (“SIPs”), and opportunities for having energy efficiency considered in permitting decisions and technology-based standards.
Order 1000 has been widely touted for its potential to help update our national transmission grid to meet the increasing demand for new transmission created by policies promoting renewable energy. Less remarked upon is the role that Order 1000 could play in ensuring more thoughtful consideration during regional transmission planning of how energy efficiency and demand response policies—critical demand reduction strategies—affect the need for new transmission. This article describes some of Order 1000’s key planning reforms, discusses how the order can facilitate consideration of these demand-side policies, and offers suggestions on the ways that regional transmission planners might use Order 1000 as an opportunity to update transmission planning to better match our nation’s evolving priorities for the electricity grid. The paper is accompanied by a spreadsheet collecting potentially relevant energy efficiency, demand response, and renewable energy laws, prepared by SCCCL summer legal intern Kathleen Kline.
- The Law of Green Buildings: Regulatory and Legal Issues in Design, Construction, Operations and Financing, Michael B. Gerrard, ed., was co-published by the American Bar Association’s Section of Environment, Energy and Resources and the Environmental Law Institute in August 2010. It provides readers with an overview of green buildings and sustainable development. It highlights significant statutes and regulations as well as legal issues that attorneys and other building professionals should be aware of when advising clients seeking to construct, finance or lease a green building. It is available here.
- Through 2012, SCCCL maintained a blog called the "Green Building Law Update Service," which tracked developments in the field of green buildings law. The posts can be viewed here.
The Center works directly with governors, legislators, regulators, planners, policy makers, and other decision makers, providing technical assistance to help them create the policies and practices that will facilitate America’s transition to a clean energy economy. The mission of the Center is to incorporate best practices from around the nation and world to accelerate the development of a new energy economy.
EPA’s State and Local Climate and Energy Program launched a new tool in February 2014 that estimates the emissions benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy policies and programs. The AVoided Emissions and geneRation Tool (AVERT) is a free tool with a simple user interface designed to meet the needs of state air quality planners and other interested users. Non-experts can easily use AVERT to evaluate county-level reductions of electric power plant emissions due to energy efficiency (EE) and renewable energy (RE) policies and programs.
The Advanced Energy Legislation Tracker database contains information for advanced energy legislation across all 50 states for free to any user.
- Trailblazing Without the Smog: Incorporating Energy Efficiency into Greenhouse Gas Limits for Existing Power Plants, by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE)
"On June 25, 2013, President Obama called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to propose a rule to regulate greenhouse gases from existing power plants by June 2014. Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act is likely to be the authority upon which EPA relies to draft the rule. With the drafting of these regulations, a whole host of questions emerge concerning what a greenhouse gas regulatory scheme might look like. One of the most promising opportunities for emission reductions from existing sources is in low-cost end-use energy efficiency. This report makes several recommendations for how a 111(d) rulemaking could be designed so that end-use efficiency plays a role in achieving meaningful greenhouse gas reductions from the power sector."
- AEE Institute Public Utility Commission Portal
Public Utility Commissions (PUCs) around the country regulate over $100 billion of energy investments each year. To clarify the complex, high-stakes world of state energy regulation, the PUC Portal gives users insight into the key players and energy infrastructure in each state, as well as how states compare to one another.
This bibliography assembles and categorizes legal scholarly writing on energy efficiency law and policy (current through summer 2012).
This database collects some of the best resources on energy efficiency law and policy.
A resource guide that lists the various federal financing programs for which energy efficiency and clean energy qualify – meant to make it easier for state, local and tribal leaders, along with their partners in the private sector, to find capital for energy efficiency and clean energy projects.