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Blog posts April 2008

Energy Update, April 24, 2008

April 24, 2008
In the States

AZ – Although many energy-related bills have been introduced this year in the Arizona state legislature, very few have passed. Efforts to curb emissions in state buildings and vehicles or to promote alternative energy have been met with stalling tactics and other opposition. Proponents of such legislation contend that the federal government will have to force the state to produce any meaningful change. Environmental measures low priority in legislatureAZCentral.com

CA – The implementation of a cap-and-trade policy in California is proving to be controversial. Public-owned facilities use mostly coal, while privately operated utilities use more nuclear and hydroelectric sources. Thus, the public utilities would pay a higher price for the generation of power than the private ones when it comes time to buy carbon credits. The Los Angeles-based public utility might have to use money set aside for building renewable energy facilities to pay for the credits. The details of this plan are being discussed in public workshops and will be decided upon by the California Air Resources Board late this year. Electricity industry wrangles over California’s greenhouse gas lawLos Angeles Times

CO – A bill which would require that utilities in Colorado add solar plants to their development plans passed the state House and is to be taken up in the Senate. Power companies are already expecting a cap-and-trade system in the near future. Supporters of the bill, HB1164, cite the huge potential for renewable energy in the state while opponents claim prices for consumers will rise. Here comes the sun: Solar energy measure goes to SenatePueblo Chieftain

DE – Mark Denn, Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor, says he will push for tougher restrictions on emissions from power plants if elected. Although he would have no direct control over energy policy, he would use his influence to lessen the pollution from smokestacks, particularly those which harm children the most. Denn says he'll push for pollution regulationsDelaware Online

DE – Plans for an offshore wind farm in Delaware may have come to a halt due to a report modified by the state Senate which claims the project is too costly among other criticisms. There is much controversy surrounding the project with some legislators in full favor and others completely opposed. The plans are still in committee. Delaware Senate committee modifies wind farm reportCape Gazette

FL – Two nearly identical bills, one in each chamber of the state legislature, are expected to pass and overhaul the state’s energy policy. Changes include the following: a certain percent of the state’s energy must come from renewable resources; installation of smart meters; tax exemptions for renewable energy production at home; energy efficiency requirements for home builders; allowing utilities to raise rates for efficiency programs; requiring gasoline to be a 10% ethanol blend by 2011; the creation of a clean energy and climate change department within the state. Lawmakers set to pass comprehensive energy billMiami Herald

HI – Hawaii will receive $15 million over the next three years in order to update its electrical grid to support the adoption of alternative energy sources. This is the latest piece of Hawaii’s plan to become more energy efficient and less dependent on fossil fuels for its energy. $7 million will come from the U. S. Department of Energy as one of nine projects to modernize the electrical grid and $8 million will be from the private sector. State gets up to $7 million for energy researchHonolulu Advertiser

KS – In the fight between the governor and state house over the construction of new coal-fired power plants in Kansas, Governor Sebelius has fought back again, issuing another veto. The governor already vetoed nearly identical legislation, which would have allowed the plants to be built, last month. Coal issue vetoed againTopeka Capital-Journal

ME – Governor Baldacci and experts in the state are planning for the use of 1.8 million tons of waste wood to be turned into dry pellets for heating homes and small businesses. The product would only use branches and other wood left behind by the timber and paper industries in the woods and could heat up to 150,000 homes. Baldacci touts wood energy useBangor Daily News

MD – Governor Martin O’Malley has endorsed a plan which would allow a third nuclear reactor to be built in Maryland. The plan would allow Constellation Energy to take advantage of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal tax credits for building one of the first new reactors in the U. S. in the past 30 years. Proponents say that nuclear power would reduce greenhouse gas emissions while opponents, including some environmental groups, cite the dangers of potentially catastrophic safety hazards and the promise of alternatives such as solar and wind. Maryland on track for nuke reactorWashington Times

MI – A legislative package is making its way to the state Senate which would alter the way electricity is produced and priced. The bills require more energy to come from renewable sources and that the cost for producing that energy be shifted more to residential consumers. Previously, businesses paid higher prices for electricity; this legislation requires that $350 million be transferred from commercial to residential bills over the next five years. House starts passing comprehensive energy legislationCrain’s Detroit Business

MIMichigan is hosting its own controversy over five proposed power plants which would all use coal for fuel. Environmental groups claim that not only are the plants harmful to the environment and foster climate change, but would result in the importation coal from other states, netting a loss of income in the state. Proponents say that the new plants would create more jobs than wind turbine production. Plant plans have environmentalists on firemlive.com

MN – The Minnesota House and Senate have approved bills which will define how the state will integrate itself into a Midwestern cap-and-trade agreement. The legislature essentially gave itself more power in the decision-making process and set how revenues would be spent. Greenhouse gas bills approvedPioneer Press

MO – The state legislature is considering the repeal of a law which requires gas stations throughout the state to sell E-10 (a blend of 90% gasoline and 10% ethanol) rather than pure gasoline. Some legislators have expressed regret over their support for the original law, citing rising corn prices as a result of the mandate. Missouri ethanol mandate is questionedColumbia Daily Tribune

MT
– It’s been three years since Southern Montana Electric Generation and Transmission applied for permits to build a coal-fired power plant in Montana and, though the permits have been granted, they are currently held up on appeals made by environmental groups. The Montana Board of Environmental Review is requiring that a study of tiny particulate matter from the smokestacks of such plants be performed before the plant becomes operational. It is believed that the tiny particles are the most dangerous and the Board decided that the federal EPA is acting too slowly in performing studies on them. State orders more study of emissionsGreat Falls Tribune

MT
– A compromise has been reached by regulators in the decision of who should pay for “regulating reserve power” or the power the utility would have to produce to make up for lost power when wind turbines are not turning. The utility company said the wind company should pay for the energy, while wind companies maintained they were being overcharged. The Public Service Commission decided that the wind companies should pay a discounted rate to the utility companies. Montana regulators decide wind integration chargesHouston Chronicle

NJ
– New Jersey is contemplating building a new nuclear plant in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The project is in its earliest stages of studying sites and reviewing permits. Environmental groups have already expressed opposition to the Governor’s energy plan which includes the construction of more nuclear plants. New Jersey weighs building another nuclear plant, first since 1973New York Times

OH
– As part of a comprehensive energy bill, Ohio lawmakers have agreed to change the incentive system for power companies. Until now, utilities have been encouraged by the state to produce as much power as possible. The new law would require the companies to produce less power next year, and a small rate hike, which would fund energy efficiency programs. The bill would also require 12.5% of the energy in the state’s portfolio to come from renewable sources with benchmarks for each year in between. Lawmakers push energy efficiencyToledo Blade and Group says wind an economic boonToledo Blade 
WI – In an effort to get more citizens of Wisconsin to get electricity from renewable resources, Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton is creating a website which will allow consumers to find utilities providing renewable energy. Although 2.3 million residents have access to renewable energy, only 39,000 receive it. The lieutenant governor is hoping more demand will create more supply of renewable energy. Making it easier to go greenWisconsin Radio Network

National and Regional


Five governors gathered at Yale University's Conference of Governors on Climate Change along with state officials from other states and signed a declaration that the states will continue to fight global warming and that Congress and the next president should work with them on establishing a new national policy. Eighteen governors have signed the declaration.
Governors convene at Yale to fight global warmingHartford Courant and Sub-national action on climate changeYale University

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Energy Update, April 10, 2008

April 10, 2008
In the States

AL – Alabama’s Governor Riley is supporting a measure in the state House which would simultaneously lower and temporarily raise taxes on oil companies. The bill is designed to ensure that companies, most notably Exxon Mobil, do not receive tax refunds on natural gas totaling more than $100 million, the legitimacy of which is the subject of a legal dispute. The House Appropriations Committee approved of the measure on Thursday. Panel OKs bill for higher gas taxMontgomery Advertiser

AK – Governor Palin has expressed support for a plan that would allow BP and ConocoPhillips to build a natural gas pipeline through Alaska and Canada to deliver the fuel to Canadians and possibly to the lower 48 States, despite the fact that the plan bypasses the state’s bidding guidelines. Last year, the governor signed those guidelines, the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA) to encourage ideas on pipeline development within the state, which resulted in a plan by TransCanada which has yet to be decided upon. ConocoPhillips, BP propose Alaska pipelineSeattle Post-Intelligencer and Palin praises gas pipeline planJuneau Empire

AR – Governor Beebe has signed a new severance tax increase on natural gas into law. The previous law had not been updated in over 50 years, making it one of the lowest tax rates in the country. The new tax rate is expected to bring in $100 million per year. Beebe signs severance tax hike into lawLog Cabin Democrat

CA – Organizations in support of alternative energy in California have expressed opposition to a ballot initiative that would require drastic increases in the production of alternative energy within the state. The state already has strict requirements the amount of energy to come from renewable sources in the coming years; the initiative being introduced by a father-son duo of billionaires from Arizona strengthens those requirements but these opponents, while sympathetic, believe there are too many loopholes and rules to be effective and enforceable. The initiative currently has enough signatures to get on the ballot and enjoys 75% support from the public. Opponents say California power initiative is ill-advisedLos Angeles Times

CO – The company whose bid to build two coal-fired power plants in Kansas was twice rejected by the governor, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, is making plans to build a nuclear power plant in eastern Colorado to meet increased demand. The company says the project is not related to the proposed coal plants in Kansas. Tri-State contemplates nuclear plant near Colo.Lawrence Journal-World

CT – A series of barriers has been built which is keeping Connecticut utilities from fulfilling this year’s requirement that 5% of energy delivered must come from renewable carbon-free sources. The requirement has pushed demand for wind turbines and solar panels beyond the point that the alternative energy industry can supply, leaving utility companies without enough production power to meet the requirement. The state itself has few resources which would allow it to create such a high percentage of alternative energy in such a short time span since there is little wind and the deployment of solar takes so long. And while alternative energy production is popular with politicians and residents, individuals with homes near the proposed energy production sites have opposed the installation of the facilities. One proposed solution is to promote the generation of alternative energy power in other states in the New England area and buy the power from them. Connecticut’s clean energy policy creating demandThe Hartford Courant

FL – Following up on his executive order requiring the increased use of alternative energy sources, Governor Charlie Crist has put forward energy bills in the state’s House and Senate which would allow for more nuclear power plants within the state. The bills’ introduction has met a mixed reaction from environmental groups in the state, some of whom have praise for the possible reduction in greenhouse gases, and others who have concerns about the safety of transporting and storing nuclear waste. Florida may see more nuclear plantsFlorida Capital News

KS – The state Senate has overridden Governor Sebelius’ veto of plans to build new coal-fired plants in the State. 32 out of 40 Senators voted for the overturn, making the House the only obstacle to an overruling of the Governor. The Speaker of the House claims to have a veto-proof majority, though a similar measure passed this week with just 83 votes – one vote shy of a veto-proof majority. The legislature has adjourned for three weeks before a wrap-up session without a vote on an override in the House. State Senate overrides Sebelius coal plant vetoLawrence Journal-World and House closer to veto override of billThe Hays Daily News and Coal plant issue left hangingThe Wichita Eagle

MD – The state legislature adjourned its session with a mix of approval and denial for Governor O’Malley’s energy bills. The most ambitious of these, which would require the state to lower emissions of greenhouse gases 25% by 2020 and by 90% by 2050 passed the Senate, but dies in a House committee on the last day of session. Other bills requested by the governor did pass, though, including one that sets a target of 15% energy reduction in the state by 2015 and another that requires energy utilities to double the amount of renewable energy by 2022. The governor also got a bill through which allocates money from the sale of greenhouse gas credits to projects for energy efficiency and assistance for energy payments. MD officials pass few bills before ending legislative sessionsNBC4

MN – The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is crafting a plan which will require air pollution permit applicants to be subject to an environmental review to ensure the lowest amount of greenhouse gases are expelled as necessary. Minnesota has undertaken several initiatives with the end goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and plans to be part of the Midwest Governors’ Conference to develop a cap-and-trade agreement. Minnesota puts teeth into carbon-reduction policy MinnPost

OR – The details of Oregon’s cap-and-trade laws which will allow it entry into the Western Climate Initiative differ from its neighbors’. While other states plan to enforce the reporting of emissions from large vehicle fleets, all transportation is exempted in Oregon. The state also plans on tighter restrictions on industry than other states, including the reporting of all industrial emissions, no matter how small. Keeping tabs on greenhouse gasThe Oregonian

TN – An energy task force is to be formed by the Governor and charged with studying ways to lessen the energy usage of the state. Officials are optimistic that the audits on state buildings and vehicle fleets will have more impact than those of previous governors due to the increased political will. State says energy-saving effort won’t be short-circuited this timeThe Tennessean

TN – The Senate Tax Subcommittee has approved of a measure that has support from Governor Bredesen which would raise the severance tax on coal derived from Tennessee. An earlier version of the bill set the new rate at 4.5% but has since been revised to an incremental increase up to 3% of gross value. Much of the proceeds would go to reclaiming abandoned mines. Subcommittee OKs increase in coal taxKnoxville News Sentinel

VT – The state Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill which will help pave the way toward the upcoming cap-and-trade system, part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. The bill would create a greenhouse gas registry and set goals and benchmarks for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The bill must now be passed by the state House and signed by the Governor. Vt. Senate OKs energy, global warming bill, sends to House - The Barre-Montpelier Times Argus

National and Regional

Eight states and thirteen organizations will receive billions of dollars in a settlement against American Electric Power Corporation. The company was found to have violated the clean air act and will be required to pay the parties involved over the next five years. Vermont and New York, at least, will use the funds for environmental clean-up and energy efficiency projects. Settlement money to fund green projectsBurlington Free Press

On the Hill

Sen. Barbara Boxer has announced that the Lieberman-Warner cap-and-trade legislation will be taken up by the Senate on June 2. She and other senators are working to ensure the 60 votes necessary to prevent a filibuster and that the bill is not bogged down by the gathering pile of amendments, many of which are expected to alter the 70% level of greenhouse gas emissions to be cut by 2050. She also said that the option for states to enact more stringent regulations than those of the federal government is a non-negotiable component of the legislation. Senate to take up cap and trade bill June 2; Boxer draws line in sand on state’s rights – BNA (subscription)

About 40 Senate Republicans met privately on Capitol Hill to discuss the need for a consensus on climate change. The Senators gathered as a result of the Lieberman-Warner legislation making its way through the Senate. No consensus was reached after the hour-long meeting, but some did point out that Sen. John McCain, the presumptive nominee, supports a cap-and-trade arrangement and carries greater clout as the potential future head of the party. Senate Republicans seek consensus on greenhouse gases in privateCQ Today

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Energy Update, April 4, 2008

April 4, 2008
In the States

CO – A bill has been put forth in the legislature, HB 1350, which would allow state and local governments to loan money with low- or no- interest to homeowners for the purchase and installation of solar panels. The bill is designed to remove the barrier of upfront costs which homeowners face when purchasing a solar system. A similar bill, SB 184, would provide loans to low-income homeowners for energy efficiency projects like new windows or insulation. Bill gives solar panels brighter possibilitiesDenver Post

IL – Plans to build a coal gasification power plant on the campus of Southern Illinois University Carbondale have stopped in the pre-feasibility-study phase. Officials said the results of the study provided “more questions than answers,” but said they will continue pursuing new opportunities and remain proactive. No real answersThe Southern

KS – The state Senate has produced another bill which would allow two new coal-fired power plants to be built in Kansas, despite the veto of Governor Sebelius last month. The House created another similar bill last week. It appears doubtful that the House has enough votes to override the governor’s veto at this time. New coal-plant bill emerges in Senate Lawrence Journal-World

MD – Governor O’Malley attempted to pass several energy proposals in the final two weeks of this legislative session. As of Friday, two bills had passed in both the House and the Senate: one (SB 205) sets a goal of reducing consumption of energy by 15% by 2015 and the other directs money received from the auction of carbon credits through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative toward renewable energy projects (though the exact amounts will have to be worked out). Another bill which has passed the Senate (SB 209) would increase the amount of renewable energy in the state’s portfolio with a goal of 20% by 2022. Senate gives initial approval to energy billsThe Daily Times and Senate rejects energy billBaltimore Sun and Part of O’Malley’s plan hits snag in SenateWashington Post and Senate reverses on energyBaltimore Sun and Constellation settlement gets preliminary approvalWashington Post

MO – Kansas City is waiting for Governor Blunt to decide whether the city will get a waiver, allowing the sale of gasoline with no ethanol. The state passed a law last year that requires all gasoline sold in the state to be an E10 blend, unless the governor grants a waiver. The city wants the waiver because of concerns over smog. KC awaits Blunt’s waiver of ethanol blend mandateThe Kansas City Star

OH – The Republican-controlled state House is rewriting Governor Strickland’s energy bill, and is pushing for a change in the way rates are determined. There is also disagreement on the way a mandate on changing the renewable energy portfolio should be implemented. The rewrite is due to be released soon. Ohio House wrapping up rewrite of energy billCleveland Plain Dealer

TN – The plan to ban coal mining above 2,000 feet to protect mountains and streams, which had mild support from the governor, has died in a House subcommittee and will not be discussed this session in the Senate. Bill on surface mining haltedKnoxville News Sentinel

VA – Governor Kaine has said that he has no control over whether a new coal-fired power plant will be built in VA’s coal country and that he does not oppose it anyway. He agrees with Dominion, the energy company attempting to build the plant, that more power will become necessary as more people move to the state and said that “We are not going to eliminate coal, a native source that we have, as one of the sources that will power our country. The portion [of the energy supply] that is coal is going to get smaller, and it is going to get cleaner, but we are not going to abandon coal from the portfolio.” Kaine says coal-burning power plant is necessaryThe Washington Post

WI – Governor Doyle has announced a new energy initiative that would increase the amount of energy from renewable sources to 25% of all energy within 17 years, produce 10% of all renewable energy products, and lead the nation in researching alternative energy. The plan calls for interaction between the state’s Office of Energy Independence and communities from around the state to find the best solution for that particular community. Another goal of the initiative is to provide green-collar jobs, which one organization estimated to be over 35,000. Doyle pushing for renewable energyThe Badger Herald and Governor launches program focusing on renewable fuels, energy research Green Bay Press–Gazette

WV – A new study from WVU claims that residents that live in coal-producing counties have a greater risk of early death and disease than those that do not, even after controlling for other factors such as age, obesity, smoking, and diet. Governor Manchin said he has no immediate plans to investigate the effects of coal in WV and the state’s Dept. of Environmental Protection secretary says that such an investigation “isn’t DEP’s job.” Manchin plans no investigation of coal, health Charleston Gazette

On The Hill

Lobbyists are counting on grassroots efforts to help pass the Lieberman-Warner bill and the Renewable Energy Tax Credits bill. Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and other volunteer-driven organizations are using education centers to motivate citizens to call their representatives while industry groups and the National Taxpayers Union’s have a mixed advertising and grassroots campaign. Green lobbyists seek grass-roots lovePolitico

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