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Blog posts June 2008

Energy Update, June 25, 2008

June 18, 2008
In The States

IA – Governor Chet Culver received the American Wind Energy Association’s 2008 State Leadership Award on behalf of the Iowa Department of Economic Development at the WINDPOWER 2008 Conference and Exhibition in Houston, Texas. The IDED received the award for generating more wind energy in Iowa than in any other state and attracting so many wind energy companies to the state. Iowa blows away competition, wins wind awardRadio Iowa

KS – Speaking at the same conference, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius called on Congress to renew tax credits for renewable energy production. She strongly suggested that the length of the extension was a paramount concern as investors shy away from projects with unknown future costs. See below in National News for an update on HR 6049, which extends tax credits for renewable energy production among other things. Wind backers lobby for extension of tax creditsSalina Journal

MA – Governor Deval Patrick and House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi are working together to make Massachusetts one of the greenest states in the country. DiMasi’s bill, which is in conference after passing the State House and Senate, would provide tax incentives to homeowners and cities who install equipment like solar panels or wind turbines, mandate that utility companies engage in long-term contracts with producers of alternative energy, and require that 20% of the state’s energy come from renewable sources. Leaders unite on push to go greenDaily News Tribune

NJ – A new bill sponsored by state Senator Bob Smith in New Jersey would allow owners of preserved farmland to produce alternative energy on their properties, or also sell it to a utility company. Under the proposed legislation, alternative energy production would fall under the term “agricultural activity,” and would immunize farmers from nuisance complaints from neighbors. Opponents claim that farmland preservation would be more difficult; they say new construction on the land could spur other kinds of development. NJ weighs bill encouraging alternative farm energyWashington Post

NY – A coal fired power plant that will capture and store its carbon emissions underground has received the support of the Governor of New York, David Paterson. With that support comes a grant of $6 million from the state to the Oxy-Coal Alliance, a coalition of enterprises which will research the project. Up to 90% of the plant’s carbon emissions would be stored up to 5,000 feet underground. Opponents say that the plant’s technology is untested and that the cost of creating the electricity will soar 40%. The plant could be online as soon as 2013. Governor supports cleaner coal plant in Chautauqua CountyNewsday

TN – Governor Phil Bredesen is confronting climate change with conservation and energy-efficiency efforts. Since two state buildings near the Capitol underwent an energy-efficiency overhaul in the 1990s, cost savings have become more pronounced. The Governor has expressed interest in creating the same type of changes in many, if not all, state buildings including the Capitol and public schools. These projects could also show the citizens of Tennessee that small changes can both save money and help cut greenhouse gas emissions. Tennessee: Bredesen Looks to Improve State's Energy EfficiencyChattanooga Times Free Press


National News

The bill to extend tax breaks for producers of renewable energy has twice failed to gain enough votes for cloture in the Senate. A major point of contention is whether the bill will contain offsets to pay for the provisions. Sen. Baucus has introduced a substitute bill, which makes minor changes in offsets in an effort to accommodate both parties, but at least $61 billion of spending on the one-year Alternative Minimum Tax patch would still not be offset. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has said that if the bill goes back to the House without completely offsetting the costs, it will not reach the floor. Senate will try to revive tax billCQ.com (subscription) and Senate again fails to initiate debate on tax breaks - CQ.com (subscription)

A bill in the Senate that would repeal tax breaks on oil and gas companies to pay for alternative energy projects has stalled in the US Senate and it is doubtful that it will move anywhere for the rest of the year. Even if the bill were to somehow pass, the President has already issued a formal veto threat. Energy debate continues, largely for showCQ.com (subscription) and Statement of Administration Policy on S. 3044Executive Office of the President

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Energy Update, June 18, 2008

June 5, 2008
In The States

CA
– Supporters of an alternative energy ballot initiative have gathered enough signatures to put it on the ballot this fall, and has been certified by the Secretary of State. Initiative 07-0066 will require the state’s utilities to generate 20% of their power from alternative energy by 2010, 40% by 2020, and 25% by 2050. Four more measures make fall ballotSacramento Bee (free registration required)

FL
– New solar plants are being proposed in Florida in response to high fuel costs. One utility in the state is attempting to build a new solar concentration plant which would become the largest in the state, creating 75 megawatts. This is still significantly less power than is created with traditional power plants. Other projects include traditional solar cell plants, creating a total of 35 megawatts. FPL seeks OK for large solar plant in Martin, with 2 more in wingsPalm Beach Post

MN –
A new law in Minnesota requires that all diesel sold in the state be made up of a blend of 80% regular diesel and 20% biodiesel by 2015. There are a series of steps, however, that must be met before that happens. Every three years, the legislature must approve of an increase in biodiesel blend, first to 5% (up from the current 2%) in May 2009, then to 10% and then 20%. The legislature will determine whether to raise the biodiesel mandate by evaluating supply and demand of the product. Also, 5% of the fuel must come from non-traditional resources such as algae or waste oil. Minnesota Passes B20 MandateRenewableEnergyWorld.com

UT
– State Department of Environmental Quality Director Rick Sprott is distributing a plan to help Utah lower its carbon emissions while not creating new restrictions or mandates on businesses or individuals. Sprott used examples of greater efficiency, such as in autos or coal plants, and iterated that the plan is not a mandate, but is only to guide future policy decisions. State setting greenhouse gas goalsDeseret News

National News


The US Senate has voted to debate the Climate Security Act legislation (S. 3036) which would impose a cap-and-trade system on emissions which contribute to global warming. The first day of debate focused on the cost of implementing the bill, a major concern in the veto threat. Talks quickly broke down, however, when Majority Leader Harry Reid moved to introduce Sen. Barbara Boxers substitute amendment. To protest a different issue, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell asked that the bill be read aloud, causing a four-hour wait before talks could begin again. Senate Republicans also expressed concern at the speed with which the bill was moving, saying that the importance of the legislation requires lengthy debate and many amendments.
Senate moves ahead on climate billCQ.com (subscription) and Statement of administration policyExecutive Office of the President and Senate debate on climate legislation stallsCQ.com (subscription)

A bi-partisan majority passed legislation in the US House (HR 6049) that would both create new and extend existing tax breaks totaling over $55 billion for individuals, businesses, and energy producers. Thirty-five House Republicans and all but one Democrat voted for the bill. Many Republicans opposed it because it does not extend the Alternative Minimum Tax patch and it includes pay-go provisions. The bill includes billions in tax relief for renewable energy production which, if nothing is done, would expire at the end of 2008. If signed into law, the tax incentives would expire at different times: wind energy production incentives would expire in 2009 while solar, geothermal, and other clean energy production tax breaks would expire at the end of 2011. Tax breaks for homeowners who install solar technology would be extended to 2014. Other uses for this money include projects for carbon capture, energy efficiency, and conservation, and various tax breaks and credits for education and homeowners. This tax break is not offset by a reduction in tax breaks for oil and gas companies, making it potentially more appealing to the Senate.
House votes to extend tax breaks to individuals, businessesCQ.com (subscription) and House-passed legislation to extend tax breaks faces uncertain future - CQ.com (subscription) and US House passes renewable energy tax credit extension billrenewableenergyworld.com and Summary of H.R. 6049: Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act of 2008 (pdf)US House Ways and Means Committee

After dozens of hearings as chair of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, and a year of crafting legislation, Sen. Edward Markey will introduce a cap-and-trade bill next week which would decrease American carbon emissions even more than the Lieberman-Warner legislation. The new bill would cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 85% by 2050, auction nearly all pollution credits, and use half of the estimated $8 trillion in proceeds to subsidize energy costs for low- and middle-income households and the other half to promote alternative energy.
Markey unveils sweeping new global warming billBoston Globe and Markey unveils sweeping climate change legislationPolitico and Executive summary of Rep. Markey’s climate legislation (pdf)Congressman Markey’s Website

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