Invest in a Clean Energy Transition for Rural Communities


Climate change poses a grave danger to rural communities. Fires, floods, and droughts, rising temperatures, and extreme weather pose a physical danger and disrupt rural economies. Transitioning to clean energy will reduce carbon emissions, create clean energy jobs, and lower energy costs for consumers, small businesses, and municipal governments.

Read more

State Policy Priorities

  • Enact bold renewable portfolio standards with environmental justice requirements.
  • Support expanding the energy grid with green energy infrastructure.
  • Direct financing toward green energy projects and eliminate tax credits for dirty energy projects.
  • Hold oil and gas polluters accountable, and be mindful of false green energy solutions, such as biogas or methane digestors that process animal waste.

State Examples

  • Massachusetts (2021 MA SB 9) recently set a net zero greenhouse gas emissions limit by 2050.
  • Colorado (2021 CO SB 264) recently established clean heat targets to reduce carbon dioxide and methane emissions from gas distribution utilities, with a “significant potential to reduce emissions of methane from active and inactive coal mines, landfills, wastewater treatment plants, agricultural operations, and other sources of methane pollution through development of methane recovery and biomethane projects.”
  • Colorado (2019 CO HB 1314) has taken steps to plan for the transition of coal workers by creating a just transition office to develop education and training programs and a just transition advisory committee to draft recommendations to share with the governor and legislature.
  • A recently passed constitutional amendment in New York (2021 NY Prop 2) added the “right to clean water, clean air, and a healthful environment to the New York Constitution’s Bill of Rights.” New York (2019 NY SB 6599) has taken additional steps to address environmental justice, including the New York State Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which requires state agencies to follow equity-based programmatic and investment goals.
  • California (2018 CA SB 1339) and Hawaii (2018 HI HB 2110) have established service tariffs to compensate microgrid owners for use of their stored energy, and Connecticut law (CT Statutes § 16-243y) created a microgrid and resilience grant and loan pilot program. Recently enacted legislation in Maine (2021 ME LD 1053) creates a section within the state’s public utilities statutes for the regulation of microgrid, and Minnesota (2021 MN HF 6) recently allocated funds to a university microgrid research center for research and development of near-commercial microgrid products.
  • Connecticut (2011 CT SB 1243) was the first state to create a green bank, and a new Connecticut law (2021 CT HB 6441) expands the types of projects that the Connecticut Green Bank can promote investment in to include environmental infrastructure projects related to water, waste, and recycling, climate adaptation and resilient agriculture, land conservation, and parks and recreation.
  • Michigan (MI No. 2019-14), via executive order, established a task force that, among other things, was directed to assess the Upper Peninsula’s energy needs, with a focus on security, reliability, affordability, and environmental soundness.
  • Recently enacted legislation in Virginia (2021 VA HB 1919) authorizes localities to establish green banks.
  • Illinois legislation (2021 IL SB 2408) directs the Illinois Climate Bank to accelerate investment in clean energy projects that reflect the diversity of the state, including emphasis on racial, gender, and income diversity.
  • Maryland (2020 MD HB 980) recently increased the maximum tax credit for commercial energy storage systems from $75K to $150K.
  • Iowa (2015 IA HF 645) pegged their solar installation tax credit to 50 percent of the federal energy credit, with a maximum commercial tax credit of $20K.
  • Although now expired, Colorado (2015 CO HB 1219) created an enterprise zone investment tax credit of up to $750K for renewable energy investments, including from biomass, coal mine methane, and standard renewable energy resources. Oregon (2011 OR HB 3672) created a tax credit for renewable energy, which has since expired, that included “biomass, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, wind, landfill gas, biogas or wave, tidal or ocean thermal energy technology.”
  • In Colorado (2019 CO SB 181), lawmakers strengthened regulatory authority over oil and gas operations, including requiring that operators install continuous monitoring equipment for hazardous air pollution and new local government permitting requirements. The new law also requires the state regulatory agency to adopt new rules that would increase the financial assurances required of operators to cover future cleanup costs.
  • California recently passed a bill (2021 CA SB 158) to increase accountability for environmental waste cleanups by establishing an ombudsperson to receive and respond to public complaints, increasing financial assurance requirements for entities that handle hazardous waste, and establishing an Impacted Community Grant program to fund community efforts to respond to and independently examine contaminated sites.
  • Legislation enacted by Illinois (2019 IL SB 9) lawmakers created new protections against coal ash polluters, including establishing financial assurance requirements for closure and cleanups and creating new standards for meaningful community participation in decision making processes.


Inspired? Ready to dig in on these issues with your rural neighbors? Our practical communications toolkits will help you connect with new communities through common values. The toolkits provide examples on narrative framing, press release templates, sample talking points, and more. 

Click here for the communications toolkit on Building Rural Infrastructure.

Navigate the Report