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Blog posts November 2008

Energy Update, November 21, 2008

In the States
CA – The alternative-energy industry got a boost from Governor Schwarzenegger, who has signed an executive order increasing the state’s mandate for renewable energy and making permitting much easier for new clean energy projects.  The order mandates that 33% of California’s energy come from renewable sources by 2020 and, to facilitate that mandate, streamlines the permitting process for alternative energy projects such as solar panel or wind turbines.  Governor Schwarzenegger boosts state’s renewable energy standard to 33% by 2020Clean Edge and Gov. Schwarzenegger looks to advance California’s renewable energy plansRenewable Energy World
KY – Governor Steve Beshear has released an energy plan for the state that calls for continued use of coal power (especially through coal-to-gas and coal-to-liquid technology), potentially lifting the state’s ban on nuclear power plants, making buildings more efficient, and promoting renewable clean energy.  He placed the most emphasis on energy efficiency and conservation, which he says could offset 18% of the state’s projected energy use for 2025 could be offset through efficiency and conservation.  Beshear releases energy plan for state Louisville Courier-Journal
On the Hill
House Democrats have voted Henry Waxman as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce, displacing longtime Democratic leader John Dingell.  Rep. Dingell, who is from Michigan and whose wife is a senior executive at GM, has worked to protect the US auto industry from environmental and energy regulations.  Rep. Waxman ran for the chairman position by touting his environmental record and saying he would be a better advocate for President-elect Obama’s agenda in the House.  Democrats oust longtime leader of House panelNew York Times
Federal News
The United States Environmental Protection Agency has issued its renewable fuel standard for 2009 that requires gasoline refiners to displace 10.21% of gasoline with ethanol or other renewable fuels.  Much of the gasoline sold in the US is a blend of 90% gasoline and 10% ethanol.  Since the standard requires more than 10% renewable fuels, and not all gasoline is blended, more biofuels must be made and sold either as E85 (85% ethanol, 15% gasoline) to drivers of FlexFuel vehicles, or more biofuels must be blended in with traditional gasoline.  EPA sets renewable fuel requirement of 10.21% for 2009US Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

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Energy Update, November 17, 2008

President-elect Obama’s Energy Plan

The following are the highlights of President-elect Barack Obama’s energy plan as put forth in his campaign:
  • Tax relief
  • Provide a tax credit of $500 for individuals or $1,000 for married couples to offset higher energy costs to be paid for through a windfall profits tax on oil companies
  • Cap-and-trade
    • Implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions
    • All credits will be auctioned rather than given away
    • The proceeds of the auction will go to alternative energy development, wildlife preservation, and financial relief for rate-payers and home-owners
  • Invest in cleaner domestic energy
    • Invest $150 billion over 10 years to boost commercialization of plug-in hybrids, commercial-scale renewable energy, low-emission coal plants, energy efficiency, biofuels, and workforce training and equipment with the goal of creating 5 million green jobs
    • Modernize manufacturing centers to make new green products through grants of $1 billion per year to states
    • Increase spending on workforce training and integrate greener technologies into the program
  • Reduce oil dependency
    • Increase fuel economy standards in autos by 4% every year
    • Put a million plug-in hybrids on the road by 2015 through federal fleet investment and consumer tax credits
    • Require that all new vehicles sold are capable of using either biofuels or gasoline
    • Develop sustainable biofuels and infrastructure that can produce and distribute at least 60 billion gallons of biofuels by 2030 through tax incentives and government contracts
    • Require that suppliers reduce carbon in fuels by 5% by 2015 and 10% by 2020 by introducing low-carbon, non-petroleum fuels into regular fuels
    • Increase supply of domestic oil and natural gas
    • Require that oil and gas companies drill on existing leases or lose them
    • Promote drilling for oil and natural gas in Montana, North Dakota, Texas, Alaska, and Arkansas
    • Support the natural gas pipeline project in Alaska
    • Use captured and sequestered carbon dioxide to extract more oil from existing oil wells through enhanced oil recovery techniques 
  • Promote renewable and clean energy
    • Establish a renewable portfolio standard requiring that 10% of the country’s electricity is generated from renewable sources by 2012
    • Invest in clean coal technology including carbon capture and sequestration
    • Support nuclear energy with the provision that strong guidelines regarding the safety and security of nuclear fuel and waste exist and are followed
  • Commit to reducing energy usage
    • Apply strict building and appliance standards to reduce the Department of Energy’s projected 2020 electricity usage by 15%
    • Make all new buildings 50% more efficient and existing buildings 25% more efficient in 10 years with a goal that all new buildings be carbon neutral by 2030
    • Existing federal buildings will be 25% more efficient and new federal buildings will be 40% more efficient in 5 years, resulting in a 15% energy savings by 2015; new federal buildings will be carbon neutral by 2025
    • Change incentives for energy companies so that they can make money on energy conservation rather than simply increasing supply
    • Implement a smart grid and smart meters
    • Provide weatherization assistance for one million homes per year for ten years
    • Promote communities with greater population density and transportation options

    On the Hill

    In a press conference following the 2008 general election, President-elect Barack Obama announced that if an economic stimulus package was not passed in this year’s lame-duck Congress, it would be an “urgent priority” for his new administration.  Obama aides are working on a $500 billion stimulus package that some economists are saying is still too little.  Before the election, Obama proposed including “sufficient funding for home heating and weatherization assistance” in the stimulus.  One source that could influence Obama’s ideas on the stimulus is the Center for American Progress, the president of which currently heads Obama’s transition team.  The energy section of their recent book of policy proposals for the new president calls for investing in green energy infrastructure, tax credits for alternative energy production, and mass transit projects.  Obama, in his new role as President-elect, calls for stimulus packageNew York Times and How Obama will stoke the economyBusinessWeek and What a new energy economy might look and New energy for America [pdf]

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier called for a $300 billion stimulus, though when met with resistance from the White House, revised the plan to include an immediate $60-$100 billion stimulus and a measure next year to include tax cuts.  Little is known about this plan as it is still being discussed among members of Congress, but fighting within and between parties will probably keep any such plan from passing this year.  Chances are slim for stimulus, auto aid till ’09Wall Street Journal

    Bailout legislation for the auto industry is being considered by some members of Congress.  The industry is running out of money and many believe that a $25 billion bailout is necessary to keep the companies afloat.  Originally, Congressional leaders wanted Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to steer some of the original $700 billion bailout to auto companies, but his refusal sent them back to draw up new legislation.  Senator Chris Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, has said that he knows of no Republicans who would support such a bailout, though Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he wants to move forward with legislation this week.  President-elect Obama’s team has said that strings such as higher fuel-efficiency standards will be attached if a bailout is not passed before the new Congress next year. 
    Chances are slim for stimulus, auto aid till ’09Wall Street Journal and Pelosi and Reid urge aid for U.S. automakersNew York Times and Bush, Dems debate auto bailout, tradePolitico

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    Energy Update, November 7, 2008

    In The States

    HI – Governor Lingle has signed onto an agreement with utility companies and other state officials to speed up the transition to getting 70% of the state’s energy from renewable sources by 2030.  The agreement includes the following sweeping changes:  creating more renewable energy; building undersea power lines to connect some islands to the same grid; changing rate structures for utilities; retiring old power generators; creating new renewable power generators or converting existing ones to run on biofuels; a prohibition on new coal plants; and incentives for residents to create their own renewable energy.  State and Hawaiian Electric strike sweeping agreement for Hawaii’s energy futureGovernor Laura Lingle Press Release

    NJ – The previous proposal announced by Governor Corzine that called for 22.5% of New Jersey’s electricity to come from renewable sources has been revamped and now calls for 30% renewable energy.  The governor wants much of that energy to be supplied by offshore wind farms and projects that building turbines and other infrastructure will create 20,000 new jobs. Corzine focuses on energyAsbury Park Press

    OR – Governor Ted Kulongoski has unveiled legislation that would dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon.  The package would replace an existing $1,500 tax credit on hybrid vehicles with a new $5,000 tax credit for electric vehicles, help residents make their homes more efficient, require greater efficiency for new homes and buildings, and impose a cap-and-trade system as part of the Western Climate Initiative.  Oregon governor outlines climate change agendaYahoo News

    State Ballot Measures

    CA Among the ballot initiatives considered in California during this week’s elections were two unsuccessful items that would have lowered the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.  Proposition 7, which failed 65% - 35%, would have required utilities to lower their greenhouse gas emissions by two percent each year up to 50% by 2025.  Proposition 10, which failed 60% - 40%, would have issued $5 billion in state bonds to fund rebates for vehicles that use alternative fuels.  2008 Ballot Measure Results National Conference of State Legislatures and Election ResultsSan Francisco Chronicle

    CO – Voters failed to pass a measure that would have provided more funds for renewable energy and energy efficiency by levying higher taxes on oil and gas companies.  The measure failed 58% - 42%.  2008 Ballot Measure Results National Conference of State Legislatures and Election ResultsDenver Post

    FL – A proposal that would make renewable energy home improvements not subject to higher property values for tax purposes has been tentatively approved by voters but is subject to an automatic recount due to the small margin of approval.  2008 Ballot Measure Results National Conference of State Legislatures and Amendment 3 fate is still unknownPanama City News-Herald

    MO – Investor-owned utilities will be required to make or obtain 15% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2021 according to a new initiative that passed on Tuesday 66% - 34%.  2008 Ballot Measure Results National Conference of State Legislatures and Election ResultsSt. Louis Post-Dispatch

    New Governors

    DE – State Treasurer Jack Markell, the newly elected governor of Delaware, promoted energy efficiency and clean energy in his campaign.  Energy efficiency policies he campaigned for include tax incentives, revising building codes, and a home weatherization program for low-income households.  He also called on the state to create more renewable solar and wind power through financial incentives that would make these sources more viable.  Promoting energy conservation and efficiency and helping those who need it most [pdf]Jack Markell for Governor and New ideas, new energy [pdf]Jack Markell for Governor

    MO – Attorney General Jay Nixon, Missouri’s newly elected governor, made support of the ethanol and biofuels industries in the state an important part of his campaign and also supports developing solar and wind resources.  Protecting our environmentNixon for Governor and Turning Missouri’s economy around – ­Nixon for Governor

    NC – Newly elected governor Bev Perdue, currently the state’s Lt. Governor, campaigned on a broad agenda to make the state greener.  She has said that the state should be a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050 by refusing licenses for new coal-fired power plants until CCS is perfected, demanding energy efficiency from utilities and state buildings and vehicles, exploring a regional cap-and-trade system, and promoting green jobs and public transit. Beyond Cliffside: Making North Carolina a national green energy leaderBev Perdue for Governor

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