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Every two weeks Viohl & Associates publishes an Energy Update, which provides summaries of significant federal and state energy news.  

September 25, Energy Update

September 29, 2015

In the States

ME – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded Maine $1.2 million for cleanup and redevelopment projects at contaminated industrial sites across the state. EPA Regional Administrator Curt Spaulding awarded an additional $2.35 million in brownfields funding to six communities and groups in Maine to asses and cleanup contaminated sites. Brownfields described land previously used for industrial or commercial purposes that may have been or is contaminated with hazardous waste or pollution. Groups receiving funding include several towns, the Penobscot Indian Nation, and the Portland Harbor Commission. "EPA's Brownfields program is a proven asset helping local communities to get abandoned or derelict properties assessed, cleaned up, and returned to productive use," said Mr. Spalding. EPA announced $1.2M in cleanup funds and Maine gets $2.3M to redevelop industrial sitesMaine Business Journal

NC – North Carolina recently passed one gigawatt (GW) of installed solar capacity, according to a new report by the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA). North Carolina becomes the fourth state to reach the 1GW milestone behind Arizona, California, and New Jersey. Additionally, NCSEA found that the state’s solar energy industry accounts for $1.6 billion in revenue and for about 4,000 full-time jobs in North Carolina. "Solar has been a fantastic economic driver in North Carolina's clean energy industry for the past several years, and reaching 1 gigawatt is the latest impressive milestone for this growing market," Robin Aldina, manager of energy research at NCSEA. In the state’s budget for next year, however, the General Assembly decided to include a sunset of the state’s renewable energy tax credit, hoping to have the industry compete “more evenly with other forms of energy production.” North Carolina reaches solar power milestoneUnited Press International and NC becomes fourth US state to pass 1GW solar milestonePVTech

ND – State regulators are extending the compliance deadline for new natural gas flaring rules by 10 months, giving private sector companies more time to meet the state’s targets. Flaring, or the burning of natural gas, oftentimes take place at oil and gas production sites that lack adequate transportation infrastructure. Industry leaders initially asked for a delay of two years, but Governor Jack Dalrymple and two other members of the state’s Industrial Commission rejected their proposal. The new rules, which will take effect on November 1, 2016, require companies to capture 85% of natural gas produced from their wells and by 2020, companies will be required to reach a flaring reduction target of 91%. "The industry's presentation has some very real reasons why the goal has become more difficult," said Governor Dalrymple. "Many of these items they've mentioned realistically could not have been expected." North Dakota postpones deadline for natural gas flaring rulesReuters

NM – Governor Susana Martinez released her state energy plan during an annual energy summit in Carlsbad, a town in southeastern New Mexico. According to the Governor, her proposal is the state’s “first comprehensive plan for energy since 1991.” The plan calls for improved energy infrastructure, including rail and transmission lines, storage options for renewable energy production, and job training. The plan also notes that the state may explore exporting coal and natural gas to other states and Mexico in addition to considering building small modular nuclear reactors and streamlining state regulatory processes. "New Mexico is one of the most energy-rich and energy-diverse states in the nation, and we have an excellent opportunity to utilize this position to grow our economy and create more jobs," Governor Martinez said. NM Governor unveils new state energy planThe Associated Press and NM governor announced comprehensive energy planThe Santa Fe New Mexican

Federal and Regional

Governors Kate Brown of Oregon, Rick Snyder of Michigan, Jay Inslee of Washington, Jerry Brown of California, and Terry Branstad of Iowa signed an agreement with Chinese President Xi Jingping to “boost businesses that create renewable and clean energy” and to expand energy collaborations among their states and China. The agreement was signed during the 3rd China-U.S. Governors Forum, which was titled “Clean Energy and Economic Development”, in Seattle, Washington. President Xi, who arrived in Seattle earlier this week for his first state visit to the United States, said he looks forward to exchanging ideas regarding clean energy technologies and reducing transportation emissions. Chinese governors from the provinces of Sichuan, Chongqing, Zhejiang, Shandong, and Shaanxi also attended the Forum. "We at the local level have the responsibility and the power and the opportunity to take very bold and creative initiatives. In order to really get at the threat of climate change, everyone has to do whatever they can," said Governor Brown of California, a co-chair of this year’s Forum, following his meeting with President Xi. 5 Governors, Chinese president talk clean energy in SeattleThe Salt Lake Tribune

September 11, Energy Update

September 14, 2015

In the States

NH – Governor Maggie Hassan joined state and local officials and SolarCity leaders to commemorate the opening of a new solar energy operations facility in Manchester. SolarCity, which provides renewable solar energy  panels to residential properties, business, and governments, is planning to support at least 75 jobs for its Manchester operations center, a 26,000 square foot project and the first SolarCity facility in New Hampshire. “I am proud to welcome SolarCity to the Granite State," Governor Hassan said. "SolarCity's decision to open this facility in New Hampshire reinforces that our tax-friendly environment, small and responsive state government, highly skilled workforce and high quality of life make the Granite State attractive for growing businesses.” SolarCity employs 7,000 people nationwide and operates in 17 other states. SolarCity opens operations center in ManchesterThe New Hampshire Union Leader

NY – During a recent trip to Puerto Rico, Governor Andrew Cuomo pledged to help the U.S. territory by offering advice, technical assistance, and sending state teams specializing in energy issues. He also issued an action plan to assist Puerto Rico as it confronts bankruptcy. Governor Cuomo said he would like the territory to decrease its dependence on off-island energy sources, noting noted that Puerto Rico generates at least 55% of its electricity from oil-burning power plants as opposed to using renewable energy sources like wind and solar power. Anne Reynolds, executive director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, said “Given the success of the solar industry in New York, I could see the policy expertise of state agencies potentially being useful in Puerto Rico.” Cuomo wants to help Puerto Rico with its energy economyThe Albany Times Union

TX – Governor Greg Abbott, during a trip to Mexico, and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto announced the creation of a joint energy task force to strengthen cross-border collaboration and energy development. Governor Abbott noted three goals of the newly created task force: continue to strengthen and modernize electric and natural gas infrastructure; develop resources to find additional energy solutions, and; promote investments in the energy value productive chain.  “Texas and Mexico meet at the center of North America's vast energy resources,” said Governor Abbott, “and this task force will provide a unique opportunity to enrich economic growth and development for both sides.” Abbott to establish energy task force between Texas and MexicoThe Texas Lawyer

VA – Governor Terry McAuliffe recently launched VirginiaSAVES, a statewide program to help businesses reduce energy consumption. The program, which is funded through $20 million in federally-allocated Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds, will provide loans to help lower financing costs for energy efficiency, renewable energy generation, and alternative fuel projects. In addition to private sector companies, local government and institutional organizations can apply and qualify for the program. Governor McAuliffe said, “Providing the public and private sectors with the tools they need to reduce energy consumption and save on energy costs is critical for building a new Virginia economy.” Governor McAuliffe announced $20 million to improve energy efficiency in VirginiaThe August Free Press

WA – State energy regulatory officials announced that Washington’s investor-owned utilities – Avista, Pacific Power, and Puget Sound Energy – are on track to meet the state’s renewable energy requirements. In 2006, Washington voters  approved the Energy Independence Act, which requires these utilities to use more wind, solar, and hydro power and to file compliance reports on their energy utilization by mid-2017. Each utility, this year, must supply at least 3 percent of its electricity via renewable sources. “These filings reinforce the trend that we have been seeing since the Energy Independence Act requirements took effect in 2012,” said David Danner, the chairman of the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission. Electric utilities meeting renewable energy targets, state energy regulators sayThe Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Federal and Regional

According to an investigation by USA Today, the federal Department of Energy (DOE) was hacked 159 times out of a total of 1,131 attempts between 2010 and 2014. Of the successful network intrusions, 53 gave the hackers DOE personnel’s administrative credentials within the department’s systems. In addition, the National Nuclear Security Administration within DOE was successfully hacked 19 times during the same 48-month period. The newspaper was able to obtain the data through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. "DOE does not comment on ongoing investigations or possible attributions of malicious activity," Energy Department spokesman Andrew Gumbiner said in a statement. Records: Energy Department struck by cyber attacksUSA Today

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