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Blog posts October 2009

Energy Update, October 30, 2009

October 30, 2009

In the States

AK – Governor Sean Parnell is attempting to boost the state’s economy through increased traditional energy production.  He has met with Interior Secretary Salazar and other officials about drilling for fossil fuels offshore, which the Governor says could create 35,000 jobs.  He is also working on a $30 billion natural gas pipeline that would send fuel to the lower 48 states and create thousands of more jobs.  Palin successor focuses on energy agendaWall Street Journal

CA – Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed two solar renewable bills into law.  One new law will require utilities to pay consumers for any excess electricity produced by a home alternative energy installation such as a solar panel.  Utilities must begin paying such consumers a rate to be determined by the Public Utilities Commission in early 2011.  The other law requires utilities to pay higher rates for electricity generated from small alternative energy producers, also known as a feed-in tariff.  Both of these measures are expected to help the state achieve its goal of obtaining 33% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.  California passes feed-in tariff for solar energyCooler Planet and California expands its rules for feed-in tariffs and net metering – EERE News 

CO – As the debate over national energy legislation continues, the role of nuclear energy has emerged as a major concern.  Electricity produced with nuclear energy is virtually carbon-free which makes it attractive as an alternative to the more expensive renewable options such as solar or wind.  Governor Bill Ritter and other state officials have said that they support nuclear power and increased mining for uranium, of which Colorado is a major producer, as long as it is done in a manner that is safe for both mine workers and the environment.  Colorado in crosshairs of nuke boom if climate bill sparks uranium revivalColorado Independent

WY – Governor Dave Freudenthal talked with lawmakers from other western States this week to discuss energy issues particular to the region.  In response to a suggestion from some representatives that there be more cooperation between States regarding permitting and siting of interstate power lines, the Governor pointed out that such cooperation runs counter to the foundation of interstate relations, namely competition for economic development and human and natural resources.  He also expressed frustration that Wyoming creates power for other States from coal and natural gas while at the same time some of these States are touting new restrictions on carbon emissions.  Wyo. governor talks energy with Western lawmakersIdaho Statesman

Regional and National News

President Barack Obama has announced the largest-ever investment in the American energy grid, $3.4 billion in grants to 100 electric companies, which will be used to upgrade the grid to be more dependable and efficient.  Specifically the funds will, when combined with $4.7 billion in private investment, purchase 2.5 million smart meters, one million in-home energy displays, hundreds of thousands of smart devices for homes, 200,000 smart transformers, as well as hundreds of grid sensors and substations.  Combined, these improvements to the grid will allow rate-payers to save energy and money, operators to better monitor and administer electricity, and utilities to respond to outages more quickly, while creating tens of thousands of jobs needed for manufacturing and installing the new products.  US electrical grid gets $3.4 billion jolt of stimulus fundingWashington Post and President Obama announces $3.4 billion to spur smart electric gridsEERE News

The Senate Environment and Public Works committee conducted hearings this week on the cap-and-trade bill sponsored by Senators Kerry and Boxer (S.1733) that would lower emissions from power plants and other polluters more than 80% below 2005 levels by 2050.  Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer has pledged to hold a markup on the bill next Tuesday while Republican committee members, who have said the process is moving too hastily, have pledged to boycott such a meeting, effectively preventing it from beginning.  Republican committee members have said they would like more information from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Congressional Budget Office before holding a markup.  According to one already completed EPA analysis, the Senate cap-and-trade bill is “quite similar” to the House version, varying only slightly in the amount of allowed pollution and costs.  Senate climate markup set for Tuesday but will any Republicans show?New York Times and Economic impacts of S.1733: The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act of 2009Environmental Protection Agency

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Energy Update, October 16, 2009

October 16, 2009

In the States

GA – The State is deploying two economic development teams to compete nationally and globally to attract alternative energy companies.  Competition for such businesses among States is strong in the current economy because the industry is currently growing and the jobs they produce typically pay higher wages.  One of the teams will seek companies that will develop Georgia’s own energy resources such as biofuels, and the other will seek companies that make materials such as wind or solar products that Georgia could manufacture for use in other States.  State chasing alternative energy projectsAtlanta Business Chronicle

KS – Governor Mark Parkinson called on Congress in general – and the Kansas delegation in particular – to pass a federal renewable energy standard that would require a percentage of the nation’s energy to be produced from renewable sources such as wind or solar.  He also advocated the indefinite extension of the renewable energy production credit, saying that short-term extensions cause uncertainty among investors.  Parkinson calls for federal RESTopeka Capital-Journal

ME – Governor John Baldacci proposed ideas on how to increase production of energy from wind power in a speech to wind power proponents.  The Governor said he is interested in replicating ideas he saw in Europe on a trade mission, such as transforming manufacturing sites into factories for wind turbines and an offshore wind farm.  Governor Baldacci also called for a “participatory debate and discussion” at which all parties could voice their opinion, but stressed that “we need to take action.”  Baldacci touts wind potentialBangor Daily News

Regional and National News

Twenty-six out of 35 States have met or are on track to meet their renewable energy goals, according to research done by USA Today.  Some States have found the goals elusive due to regulatory issues, an outdated electric grid, or the economic downturn.  States’ experiences with renewable energy requirements could prove enlightening to the federal government as Congress is debating whether to impose a renewable energy standard nationwide.  States not meeting renewable energy goalsUSA Today

The US Department of Energy is hosting a webinar for State and local officials on how to best implement feed-in tariffs to advance renewable energy and energy efficiency projects on Wednesday, October 28 from 3:00pm to 4:15pm.  Participants must register in advance online at this site, after which they will be provided with a link and a password to attend the webinar.  More information can be found hereDOE webcast October 28 for State and local officials: Feed-in tariffsEERE News

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Energy Update, October 2, 2009

October 2, 2009

In the States

CA – This week, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger hosted the Global Climate Summit 2, which gathered over 1,200 participants from across the U.S. and the world to help discuss climate change issues and influence national policy in their countries prior to the UN summit planned for Copenhagen, Denmark in December.  California officials also hoped the summit would allow other governments to see what the state has accomplished and build on its achievements in negotiating a new global climate change pact at that meeting.  Topics included how to decrease energy usage, how to obtain cleaner energy, and how to best offset greenhouse gas emissions.  Schwarzenegger leads governors’ summit on global warmingChristian Science Monitor and Climate summit delegates like state’s planned carbon trading marketLos Angeles Times

NC – In a letter to US Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, Governor Bev Perdue indicated she may be willing to consider offshore oil and gas drilling depending on the amount of reserves located off North Carolina’s shore and whether a panel of scientists and engineers she plans to assemble indicate drilling can be done safely and without hampering offshore wind energy development.  Governor Perdue commented on a draft proposal prepared by the Bush administration, which would allow certain sites to be explored for possible extraction of fossil fuels.  The Governor would also like more information on the share of oil and gas revenues the State could expect to receive.  Secretary Salazar has indicated he is likely to scale back the proposal before presenting it to President Obama and Congress prior to final approval.  Perdue indicates she’s open to offshore drillingWinston-Salem Journal

PA – Governor Ed Rendell spoke at a news conference to covey the importance of clean energy to Pennsylvania’s financial and environmental goals.  He cited the State’s $900 million of investment since 2003, an energy portfolio standard that mandates the development of alternative energy sources, energy conservation laws, and adoption of the California Clean Car Rule to reduce emissions from mobile sources as actions that have helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions and created thousands of new jobs.  The Governor also expressed support for more research on carbon capture and storage technologies.  Rendell calls for clean energy developmentPittsburgh Post-Gazette

TX – Governor Rick Perry voiced strong opposition to federal climate change legislation during a meeting with State business and political leaders.  The Governor said that Texas has done well in balancing the interests of business and the environment and that new federal mandates on carbon emissions and other climate changing pollution would raise the prices of many everyday products for consumers and eliminate 200,000 to 300,000 jobs in the State.  He suggested the Federal Government should follow Texas’ lead by expanding the nation’s alternative energy portfolio, reducing the cost of alternative energy forms like solar and wind, and promoting investment in technology that captures emissions of carbon dioxide rather than institute a cap-and-trade policy.  Texas governor voices opposition to climate billAustin American-Statesman

WV – Governor Joe Manchin gave a speech to the US Chamber of Commerce in which he noted that while coal may create pollution, coal-producing states such as West Virginia have helped build a vibrant American economy.  The Governor believes that the pending House cap and trade legislation, in its current form, will cost too many jobs and that there may be ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by recycling carbon dioxide into a useful product.  He also raised concerns about the potential for newly created alternative energy industry jobs moving offshore if production costs prove to be too high in the US.  Manchin calls for energy balanceCharleston Daily Mail

Regional and National News

Attracting renewable energy manufacturing plants and workers is less difficult for states that have generous incentive programs than for those that do not.  Some states provide millions of dollars in tax and other incentives for companies to build such facilities – which produce not only renewable energy technology but high-paying and high-skill jobs – while other state provide little or none.  With renewable energy becoming a key component of economic development, states are competing to provide more generous subsidies in return for new clean energy investment and jobs.  Clean-energy jobs touch off bidding wars between statesUSA Today

Senators John Kerry and Barbara Boxer have introduced the Senate’s version of climate change legislation.  Many details are missing from the bill as it is currently written, though the two sponsors say it will be deficit-neutral.  The bill would require a reduction in carbon emissions to 20% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 80% below 2005 levels by 2050 through a cap-and-trade mechanism, cleaner coal technologies, natural gas, and nuclear energy production, more solar and wind energy production, and increased energy efficiency.  Republican leaders have already voiced opposition to the bill, calling it a tax on families and small businesses while environmental advocates have expressed mixed reactions.  Boxer, Kerry launch campaign to pass Senate cap-and-trade billNew York Times and Overview [pdf], Section-by-section summary [pdf], and Bill text [pdf] for S.1733 – Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act

To date, more than $1 billion in stimulus funds has already been spent on clean energy projects, including $550 million that was just awarded for new renewable energy production (in lieu of tax credits), $300 million for energy conservation efforts in public housing projects, and $36 million for energy efficiency projects in Pennsylvania.  An additional $410 million in stimulus funds have been recently announced, including $161 million for a wind power transmission line, $144 million to advance the smart grid, and $106 million for Energy Efficiency Community Block Grants.  Treasury, Energy surpass $1 billion milestone in Recovery Act awards for clean energy projectsEERE News and U.S. Treasury and DOE award $550 million for renewable energy projectsEERE News and HUD grants $300 million in Recovery Act funds for green housingEERE News and DOE delivers $36 million to Pennsylvania for energy efficiency projectsEERE News and Recovery Act helps to fund transmission line for Montana wind powerEERE News and DOE announces $144 Million in Recovery Act funding for the smart gridEERE News and Obama administration delivers more than $106 million for energy efficiency and conservation projects in nine statesEERE News

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