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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, September 29

October 4, 2017

In the States

IL – Governor Bruce Rauner is proposing to replace regulations and limits on the rate of pollution from individual coal plants in the state with annual caps on the tons of emissions released by the entire group of facilities. The eight affected coal plants, which are based in central and southern Illinois, are all owned by Dynegy, a Houston-based company. The Rauner administration said “the goal is to keep the financially struggling coal plants open by giving…more flexibility to operate individual generating units, several of which are not equipped with modern pollution controls.” State Attorney General Lisa Madigan has questioned the Governor’s move, noting that the “proposed pollution caps are set so high that the state would end up encouraging Dynegy to pollute more” by operating its older plants more frequently. Alec Messina, director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, disagrees with General Madigan’s assertions and said this was the first time Illinois was placing a global cap on the entire fleet of coal plants in the state. Pollution could increase as Rauner EPA moves to rescue coal plantsThe Chicago Tribune

MS – Governor Phil Bryant was nominated to serve a second term as chairman of the Southern States Energy Board (SSEB), a nonpartisan interstate compact organization founded in 1960 and composed of 16 southern states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The SSEB is charged with guiding regional energy policy while also informing national perspectives. This is Governor Bryant’s second tour as chairman following his 2013 leadership during which he also unveiled Mississippi’s Energy Roadmap program. "Mississippi is an energy state, and it is good to help lead one of the nation's most influential and effective organizations for energy promotion," Governor Bryant said in a written statement. "America cannot only be energy independent but energy dominant." Governor Bryant is succeeding Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas. Bryant gets second stint chairing energy boardThe Clarion-Ledger

ND – Energy Transfer Partners, a Texas-based company that is building the Dakota Access pipeline, sent the State of North Dakota $15 million “to help pay law enforcement bills related to months of sometimes violent protests over the project’s construction” on federal lands earlier this year. The $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline began transporting oil from the state to an Illinois distribution plant on June 1, despite ongoing federal lawsuits by American Indian tribes. North Dakota also recently received a $10 million grant from the Department of Justice to cover some of its policing expenses. In a statement, Governor Doug Burgum said, “We remain committed to pursuing all available avenues to ensure that North Dakota taxpayers alone don’t bear the enormous costs of law enforcement, life safety, and other resources expended on the protests.” Dakota Access developer gives $15M toward security costsAssociated Press

Federal and Regional

Governor Andrew Cuomo, co-founder of the U.S. Climate Alliance, announced the organization’s members “are collectively on track to meet and possibly exceed their portion of the U.S. commitment under the Paris Agreement” while simultaneously releasing the group’s annual report. The U.S. Climate Alliance is a bipartisan coalition of 14 states and Puerto Rico that was founded in response to President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the international accord. Member states – CA, CO, CT, DE, HI, MA, MN, NY, NC, OR, PR, RI, VT, VA, and WA – have committed to advancing the goals of the Paris Agreement, track and reporting on their process, and accelerating new and existing policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while promoting clean energy development. “While the federal government abdicates its responsibility on climate change,” said Governor Cuomo, “Governors do not have the luxury of denying a scientific reality, and it is more important than ever for states to take collective, common sense action.” Cuomo touts growing climate alliance with fellow GovernorsPolitico

Four Governors – Brian Sandoval of Nevada, John Kasich of Ohio, Jerry Brown of California, and Charlie Baker of Massachusetts – are set to take the stage as the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas in mid-October. The Governors will lead a discussion on clean energy economic development and their states’ efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Governor Sandoval, the current chair of the National Governors Association, is hosting the event along with former United States Senator Harry Reid. Governors meeting Las Vegas to discuss clean energy initiativesThe Las Vegas Sun

Governors John Hickenlooper of Colorado, Brian Sandoval of Nevada, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, and Roy Cooper of North Carolina sent a letter to the U.S. International Trade Commission in opposition to imposing tariffs on solar panel products. The Governors noted such tariffs could cost the United States at least 88,000 jobs and “inflict a devastating blow on our states’ solar industries.” Additionally, the Governors cited a study by GTM Research that found a tariff would lead to a 50% drop in utility-scale and consumer-installed solar installations. Hickenlooper, three other Governors against tariffs on solar productsThe Denver Post

Energy Update, September 15

October 4, 2017

In the States

MD – A group of clergy, solar and wind energy companies, and environmentalists recently launched a campaign calling for half of all the state’s electricity to be derived from renewable sources by 2030. Maryland’s current goal is to derive 25 percent of its electricity by 2020 through renewable sources. The coalition believes a new goal will continue to attract clean energy jobs to Maryland and will promote “environmental and social justice” by attracting those jobs to low-income, economically-depressed areas of the state. The coalition, however, is not seeking to require utilities to directly purchase renewable power but rather certificates that represent a megawatt of renewable power, similar to credits employed currently in Maryland and in other states. Governor Larry Hogan, when asked, did not offer a position on the new proposal, though his spokeswoman said the Governor “strongly supports efforts to combat climate change,” including statewide greenhouse gas reduction goals, Maryland’s participation in a regional cap-and-trade system for Northeast power plants’ carbon emissions, and incentives for use of electric vehicles. New campaign seeks to require half of Maryland energy to come from renewable sourcesThe Baltimore Sun

MO – According to a report released by the Clean Energy Trust and Environmental Entrepreneurs, employment in renewable energy, energy efficiency and related fields grew by nearly six percent between 2015 and 2016 with actual number of employees totaling 55,500. The reports estimates more than 25,000 of those jobs are based in St. Louis, one of the state’s main urban areas. More than 70 percent of the total jobs are focused on energy efficiency and more than half are clean energy construction jobs. “Previous surveys indicate that 80 percent of businesses working in clean energy in Missouri employ fewer than 25 individuals, illustrating the importance of small businesses in the clean-energy sector,” the report said. Missouri sees strong growth in ‘clean energy’ jobsSt. Louis Post-Dispatch

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation to increase the use of biodiesel in heating oil, mandating certain downstate counties to blend at least five percent biodiesel into all home heating oil sold by July 1, 2018. The federal Environmental Protection Agency has designated biodiesel, which is often developed from a mix of recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats, as an advanced biofuel that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent compared to petroleum. “New York has long been a leader in recognizing the environmental, public health and economic benefits of biodiesel, not only in transportation applications but in the heating oil market as well,” said National Biodiesel Board CEO Donnell Rehagen. NY governor signs bill requiring biodiesel in heating oilBiodiesel Magazine

WV – State environmental regulators, in a recent letter, decided to rescind approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The project, was estimated to cost at least $3.5 billion, would have transported natural gas, beginning in 2018, from the Marcellus and Utica shale formations under the Appalachian Mountains through the central part of the state for 195 miles. "This decision will allow the agency to re-evaluate the complete application to determine whether the state's certification is in compliance with Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act," wrote Scott Mandirola, director of the state’s Division of Water and Waste Management under the Department of Environmental Protection. EQT, the pipeline’s main developer, also has an application pending for approval with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. West Virginia withdraws approval of Mountain Valley PipelineWV Public Broadcasting/AP

Federal and Regional

The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) held a two day summit on energy policy, smart cities, and energy technologies. About 20 mayors from across the country gathered to share best practices and listen to the latest data on renewable energy use. The Mayors also discussed how to create a new energy economy, energy preparedness in the face of natural disasters, and private sector partnerships. USCM Executive Director Tom Cochran said the organization and several mayors will participate in Climate Week in New York City, further arguing that local officials should have a role in federal and state policy discussions. Piscataway, New Jersey Mayor Brian Wahler echoed that sentiment, stating “You know you have governors, and members of the legislature, or members of Congress coming up with policy initiatives that just aren’t workable at the local level and it defeats the whole purpose of what they’re trying to do.” Many other Mayors participating in the summit focused on how to attract innovation and investments to their cities, including Shane Bemis, Mayor of Gresham, Oregon, who said Mayors’ could still achieve the mission of the Paris Climate Accord through investments in green energy technologies. USCM wraps up renewable energy summitNew Bedford News

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