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

Energy Update, Nov. 7

November 10, 2014

In the States

NY – New Yorkers can begin applying for household heating assistance on November 17 via the State’s Home Energy Assistance Program, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced. Households that are eligible for assistance, which is determined by income and the number of people living in a household, may receive up to $625 through the State’s program, which is run by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. The Home Energy Assistance Program assisted more than 1.5 million households last winter. “As another cold winter season approaches, we are reminding New Yorkers that help is available to keep their homes warm as temperatures drop,” Governor Cuomo said. Governor Cuomo announced home energy assistance available beginning Nov. 17The Riverhead Local

WV – Governor Earl Ray Tomblin recently hosted the Governor’s Energy Summit during which the Governor and U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, a former governor of West Virginia, said the State could “become a leader in energy production if the different branches within the industry work together.” The two-day event, which was held near the center of the State in Lewis County, showcased 24 different speakers and touched upon several energy topics, including coal production and industrial energy efficiency. Governor Tomblin also discussed West Virginia’s energy workforce initiative to educate and prepare students to join the energy industry. “We’re one of the major energy producers in the country, if not the top energy producer,” Governor Tomblin said. “I just think it’s important that they come here to share ideas and so forth, to be able to look at what the prospects are (for) the future of energy.” Tomblin and Manchin close out the Governor’s Energy SummitThe West Virginia Metro News

WY – In Cheyenne, the State capital, Governor Matt Mead recently helped to dedicate a new zero-emission Microsoft data and fuel cell center, which will be powered by methane biogas and other waste-to-energy power sources. The Governor was joined by officials from Microsoft and FuelCell Energy, which developed the waste-to-energy fuel cell technology that will help to power Microsoft’s data center. The new plant will use biogas from a local wastewater treatment facility to power the data center’s fuel cell,. “Growing Wyoming’s technology sector has been a priority and Wyoming is seeing results,” Governor Mead said. “This alternative energy project is not only a zero-carbon data center, (it’s) a laboratory for biogas and fuel cell research. Wyoming is on the cutting edge.” Microsoft’s new biogas-powered plantThe Associated Press  and Microsoft ‘data plant’ to open by turning off electricityWyoming Business Report

Federal and Regional

Members of the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, which includes 23 States, called on the Department of Energy to support Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Order 100, which calls for the reforming of “electric transmission planning and cost-allocation requirements for public utility transmission providers.” The Coalition believes FERC Order 100 will help to enable the inclusion of additional renewable energy sources in the United States’s power grid. “It’s time to begin in earnest a discussion of our nation’s transmission needs and to focus on the benefits of getting renewable energy resources like wind to the people and businesses who want them,” said Governor Jay Inslee of Washington, who helps to chair the bipartisan Coalition with Governor Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota. US Governors call for grid action Renewable News and Governors call on US DOE to support FERC Order 100North American Wind Power News

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released its final environmental review for a proposed 124-mile, 30-inch-diameter pipeline that would increase natural gas supply to the New York and New England markets. If approved, the pipeline, which is scheduled to be completed early next year by Constitution Pipeline Company, will transport enough natural gas each day to serve about 3 million homes. A final decision on the project is expected in late November. FERC’s final environmental review favors Constitution PipelineReuters


Energy Update, Oct. 24

November 10, 2014

In the States

ND – State energy regulators announced the State’s oil production increased less than expected in August, even though production has hit an all-time high. The state's oil wells produced 35.1 million barrels in August, up from 34.5 million barrels in July. The regulators faulted “stringent flaring-reduction standards and sliding oil prices” for the fall in production. Regulations on flaring, or the wasteful burning of natural gas that is extracted along with oil, were issued earlier this year as an attempt to curb the technique. The States will impose production cuts beginning with October flaring data if more than 26 percent of produced natural gas is flared. "I know oil producers are incredibly focused on gas capture and spending a lot of money to get there, but not all producers will get there right away," said Lynn Helms, director of North Dakota's Department of Mineral Resources. Flaring rule changes limit North Dakota oil production growth -- Reuters

TX – The Texas State Comptroller, Susan Combs, recently released a report criticizing renewable energy industry tax credits. The report, which portrays wind power as a “massive strain on taxpayer dollars,” cited Texas’s state property tax reductions and federal production tax credits as reasons to phase out other energy tax credits. Proponents of renewable energy and other industry experts disagreed with the report for several reasons including its failure to address oil and gas industry incentives and benefits derived from the renewable energy sector. Following the report’s release, the comptroller’s office announced they would publish another report on the State’s natural gas drilling tax exemption – an incentive that has saved drilling operators more than $7 billion over a five year period. Tax credits for energy industry are under scrutinyThe New York Times

VA – Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that his administration intends to establish a state solar energy development authority. The new authority, which will mirror the Commonwealth’s Offshore Wind Development Authority, will “facilitate public-private partnerships in solar energy use.” The new solar authority will also examine barriers to solar energy development in the Commonwealth, which currently has only about 16 megawatts of solar generating capacity. The new solar energy development authority has not yet been created since it is not immediately clear if the state legislature will need to approve the agency. In 2010, according to the Commonwealth’s recently released energy plan, “renewable energy resources provided about 6.2 percent of the electricity capacity in Virginia and about 5.1 percent of the electricity generated.” “By working together,” Governor McAuliffe said, “I am confident that four years from now we will live in a stronger commonwealth that is less dependent on external forces and is fueled by cleaner, cheaper, and more abundant Virginia energy.” McAuliffe to establish solar energy authorityThe Richmond Times-Dispatch

Federal and Regional

According to a new report by the Oil and Natural Gas Industry Labor-Management Committee, natural gas exploration in the Marcellus shale formation has created at least 45,000 construction jobs. The report’s findings are based upon actual hours worked in four states – Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, and Ohio – and assume 1,600 hours worked each year per laborer. The report credits the use and expansion of certain drilling techniques, including hydraulic fracturing or fracking, for the increased production from the Marcellus shale. Study: Marcellus shale created 45,000 construction jobsThe Hill

The American Wind Energy Association (AWAE) announced that at least 419 megawatts of wind power capacity was added in the United States during the third quarter. Thus far, wind energy capacity generated in the first nine months of 2014 surpasses all installations last year. According to the report, “nineteen projects have added 1,254 megawatts this year, up from 1,088 megawatts in 2013.” U.S. wind installations in first 9 months beat last yearBloomberg

The Pentagon released a report that called climate change “an immediate security threat.” According to The New York Times, this is the first instance of the military considering the risks, both in terms of national security and potential political strife, posed by climate change. The report, which Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel discussed in a recent meeting of defense ministers, discusses how the armed forces will adjust to rising sea levels, droughts, and storms. The report did not offer any financial or budgetary recommendations for Congress. The Pentagon is currently operating a survey of its more than 7,000 bases, installations, and other facilities “to asses (their) vulnerability.” “The loss of glaciers will strain water supplies in several areas of our hemisphere,” Secretary Hagel said. “Destruction and devastation from hurricanes can sow the seeds for instability. Droughts and crop failures can leave millions of people without any lifeline, and trigger waves of mass migration.” Pentagon signals security risks of climate changeThe New York Times


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