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Blog posts August 2008

Energy Update, August 22, 2008

In The States

CO/CA – Governor Ritter, in coordination with Governor Schwarzenegger of California, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, and National Automobile Dealers Association, has issued a packet of information to help vehicle owners to become more energy efficient when driving. The goal of the release is to reduce demand for gasoline – and save consumers money. "The cheapest gallon of gas is the gallon you never buy,” said Governor Ritter. Helping drivers shift to greenDenver Post

CT – Connecticut is on track to become a major producer of hydrogen and fuel cells. Proponents of hydrogen-powered automobiles say that consumers could be driving them in two to seven years, and companies within the state should be producing the hydrogen and the fuel cells that power those cars. The industry is pushing the State to provide some incentives to help it grow. Earlier this month, Governor M. Jodi Rell announced $250,000 of the state’s money would be used to build the state’s first hydrogen fuel station. State may play role in advancement of hydrogen vehiclesNew Haven Register

MD – Governor O’Malley told the Maryland Association of Counties that brownouts and blackouts in the state are imminent unless something in done to reduce the demand on the electrical grid. He called for more renewable energy in the form of offshore wind farms, more government regulation of the utility industry, more local electricity production, smart meters, and encouraging residents to use electricity in off-peak hours. Critics say that government regulations will not help and that the plans may cost more for consumers. Energy gets top billing at O’Malley’s MACo speechThe Gazette

ME – Just off Maine’s shore is the potential for 45 times as much wind-generated electricity as Maine consumes at its peak. Blue H has developed a way to create wind energy in deep waters out of sight of the shore, which is easier to set up, lighter, and more efficient than previous offshore wind turbines. Company officials, some of whom have met with state officials including Gov. Baldacci, say that not only is Maine rich in wind energy, but in skilled labor (such as shipbuilders) who can build the massive structures necessary to harness it. Wind power firm eyes MaineBangor Daily News

OR – A debate is already brewing for next year’s state legislature: whether to repeal the requirement that all gasoline sold in Oregon is a 10% blend of ethanol. The Governor has said repeatedly that he does not favor a repeal; lawmakers from both parties (though mostly Republicans) say the law drives up food prices and may cost consumers more at the pump if they don’t get as many miles per gallon as regular gasoline. Republicans join call for biofuel mandate repealOregon Public Broadcasting News

WV – Two groups of advocates are attempting to move West Virginia in two different directions. The Coal Forum, which includes Governor Joe Manchin, Senator Jay Rockefeller, and Representative Shelley Moore Capito is advocating more coal power; the Coal River Wind Project is promoting wind power as an alternative to coal, including new wind turbines in the state which will power 150,000 homes. Dueling PR campaigns compete for coal’s fateCharleston Gazette

National news

Due to historically high fuel prices, car use in the United States has declined significantly over the past year. Americans drove 12.2 billion miles less in June 2008 than in June 2007. In just the first quarter of 2008, Americans used 400 million fewer gallons of gasoline and 318 million fewer gallons of diesel than in the first quarter of 2007. Although these developments are positive for the environment, they are also negatively affecting the federal Highway Trust Fund, which finds highway and bridge projects, and for tourism, as families are venturing out less due to the high prices. More Americans keep their cars parkedABC News

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Energy Update, August 8, 2008

In The States

FL – Florida Power & Light’s Sunshine Energy Program, ostensibly designed for ratepayers to voluntarily fund alternative energy projects, has been shut down by the State’s Public Service Commission after an audit revealed that only 20% of contributions went towards its purported goal. Regulators and lawmakers expressed outrage at the program, claiming that its spending did not meet the wishes of its contributors. State shutters FPL ‘green’ programMiami Herald and Florida PSC terminates FPL’s Sunshine Energy ProgramRenewable Energy World

KY – Governor Beshear has ordered regulations to be written that would allow small, low-speed electric vehicles to be operated on public roads in Kentucky. The move is expected to help attract an electric car manufacturing company to build a plant in the state. Beshear authorizes electric cars on state roadsLouisville Courier-Journal

MA – Governor Patrick signed legislation which exempts cellulosic ethanol from the State’s gasoline excise tax and increases the amount of biodiesel required to be blended in with regular diesel at all of the diesel pumps and heating oil in Massachusetts. Massachusetts enacts advanced biofuels billRenewable Energy World

MD – Several measures are being taken in Maryland with the goal of creating a more sustainable transportation infrastructure. Specifically, Governor O’Malley announced the construction of four new E-85 pumps which will allow consumers to burn less fossil fuel, a mandate for the state’s vehicle fleet to use a blend of 5% biodiesel and more ethanol, a request for guidelines which will allow for more electric vehicles more quickly, and a public awareness campaign for public transit. State announces plans for more sustainable transportation fuel systemSouthern Maryland Online

ME – Maine’s State Solar Incentive Program, which provides $500,000 annually in rebates to rate-payers who install solar power and solar hot water systems on their homes, ran out of money on June 20. There will be no more money available for rebates for the next two years under the current plan. The owner of a solar energy company in Maine has suggested that a new solar rebate plan be added into a proposal to spend $3 billion over 10 years to insulate Maine’s homes. Mainers go solar, snap up systems that make heat as the sun shinesPortland Press Herald

TX – A proposal by NRG Energy Inc to build a coal-fired power plant in Texas is no longer being opposed by environmental groups after the company offered a compromise. In exchange for the groups not continuing their fight against the plant, NRG has agreed to either capture or offset half of its carbon emissions. The company will also support either a large-scale solar energy project or an energy efficiency program in the state. Green groups drop opposition to Texas coal

WI - Governor Doyle expressed support for the Midwest Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord, a plan involving nine States and two Canadian provinces which would impose a cap-and-trade system on greenhouse gases. The Governor cited inaction on the federal government’s part to stem climate change as motivation to move forward with the plan. The group could begin reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2012. Doyle advocates regional emissions planMilwaukee Journal Sentinel

Regional News

The Western Climate Initiative (WCI), which includes seven States and four Canadian provinces, has released a draft on how it plans to implement a regional cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions. The draft plan would begin monitoring emissions in 2010, capping industrial emissions in 2012, and would add other emissions in 2015. Unlike the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in the Northeastern US that regulates only electric utilities, the WCI would regulate greenhouse gasses from several sources. Under the current plan, individual states would decide whether to hand out or auction off credits and polluters could write off up to 10% of their emissions by investing in offsets such as planting trees. Group proposes climate-saving strategySeattle Post-Intelligencer and U.S.-Canada carbon trading group eyes 2012 startReuters and Western states, provinces put together an emissions strategyOregonian

Despite the dramatic increase in talk of offshore oil drilling recently, there is little chance that such drilling would occur on the West Coast, even if Congress were to lift its ban on the process. The Governors of California, Oregon, and Washington have signed on to an action plan for the Pacific which opposes offshore drilling and promotes the health of the waters on the coast. 3 West Coast Governors oppose new offshore drillingLos Angeles Times

National News

The presidential candidates have been both touting their own and condemning each others’ energy plans recently. John McCain has called for the construction of 45 new nuclear power plants by 2030; Barack Obama has also called for more nuclear energy, but not without first studying how to deal with security of the fuel and disposal of waste. Sen. McCain recently reversed his earlier opinion and now enthusiastically endorses offshore oil drilling. Sen. Obama expressed doubts that it would help gas prices but that he is willing to compromise on the issue if a drilling bill also included alternative energy production and other green programs. Sen. Obama also proposed tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in order to tamp down gas prices in the short term. McCain at nuclear plant highlights energy issueNew York Times and Obama, in new stand, proposes use of oil reserveNew York Times

For the fourth time this year, Congress has failed to pass legislation providing $18 billion tax credits for the production of alternative energy and energy efficiency products. The bill passed the House in May and most Senators agree with the tax credits. The National Governors Association sent a letter to Congress signed by all 50 Governors expressing support for a five-year extension of the credits. However, disagreements over how to pay for it have prevented it from going to the Senate floor for debate. Republicans disagree with the Democrats’ plan to offset the costs by postponing a tax break for multinational companies and preventing hedge fund managers from deferring some overseas profits. The alternative energy industry has expressed to Congress that if the bill was not passed this time, many projects would halt due to uncertainty in funding. President Bush has threatened a veto if the bill is passed with the Democrats’ offsets. Solar, wind tax credits stalledSan Jose Mercury News and GOP blocks action on tax, renewable energy packageAssociated Press and Stalling our energy futurePolitico and 50 out of 50 Governors call for a renewable energy tax credit extensionIndustry Week

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