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Blog posts December 2009

Energy Update, December 31, 2009

December 31, 2009

In the States

MS – Governor Haley Barbour discussed the future of energy in Mississippi at a meeting of energy policy experts, calling energy “the lifeblood of the world’s economy.”  He cited a potential new lignite coal power plant with carbon capture and sequestration technology and the possibility of two solar power companies beginning manufacturing in the state as positive steps.  Barbour: Energy is lifeblood of the world’s economyMississippi Business Journal

NY – Governor David Paterson has said that a new plan released by the State Energy Planning Board will help shape legislation to make New York a leader in clean energy.  The plan calls for greater efficiency in new building codes, requiring energy audits in home sales to encourage efficiency upgrades, and increasing the proportion of energy created by solar, wind, and natural gas.  The Governor has stated a goal for the State to meet 45% of its energy needs through reducing energy demand and increasing renewable energy.  State energy plan promotes clean, efficient alternativesNew York Times

VA – Governor-elect Bob McDonnell has sent a letter to US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar asking that the federal government move quickly to lease ocean-floor parcels off of Virginia’s coastline for oil and natural drilling, currently scheduled for 2011.  Governor Tim Kaine asked Secretary Salazar for a delay of the same leases earlier this year.  The Governor-elect believes a lack of movement in the past year and interference from federal politicians could further impede the process, which a 2005 study suggests could create up to 2,500 new jobs.  McDonnell wants offshore drilling in 2011Virginian-Pilot

Regional, National, and International News

Copenhagen Climate Talks – President Barack Obama and four other world leaders shaped a final accord at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting.  To the disappointment of representatives from many smaller countries, the document is not a binding pledge with firm targets for reducing greenhouse gases, but a non-binding statement of intention.  The accord aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, limit a rise in global temperature by two degrees Celsius, and for richer countries to provide aid of $30 billion over the next three years – and up to $100 billion per year by 2020 – to poorer countries.  There were many issues of contention between the countries during the meeting, to the point where some called for another, smaller conference, but the accord represents a small step forward in halting and mitigating climate change.  A grudging accord in climate talksNew York Times

US Cap-and-Trade Policy – At least six moderate Senate Democrats have asked President Barack Obama to hold off on cap-and-trade legislation next year.  The Senators cited the economy, a contentious health care debate, and election-year politics as reasons to hold off on another sweeping legislative change.  The While House has signaled that it is committed to cap-and-trade legislation, but there are other proposals currently being discussed by Senators, including setting a price on carbon emissions and capping emissions only for power plants.  Senate Democrats to W.H.: Drop cap-and-trade - Politico

Northeast and Mid-Atlantic US – The Governors of 11 Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic States have signed a memorandum of understanding to require reductions in the carbon content of fuel through a multistate low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS).  The mandatory requirement will not rely on a single technological resource, not will it fundamentally change the fuel used in automobiles, but will make the fuel used emit less carbon.  According to proponents, higher-carbon sources of fuel such as tar sands will be discouraged by the agreement, while alternative energy and low- or no-emissions vehicles will be favored.  Signatories to the agreement include Governors M. Jodi Rell (CT), Jack Markell (DE), John Baldacci (ME), Martin O’Malley (MD), Deval Patrick (MA), John Lynch (NH), Jon Corzine (NJ), David Paterson (NY), Ed Rendell (PA), Donald Carcieri (RI), and Jim Douglas (VT).  Governors take aim at carbon in fuelNew Haven Register

2009 Energy Review – Much advancement has been made in energy technology over the past year.  New technologies are allowing the recovery of natural gas, which is cleaner burning than coal, from places previously thought economically impossible, increasing its availability by 39%.  Clean coal technology has begun to be implemented on a larger scale, including power plants, and researchers are finding potential in less expensive carbon capture strategies.  Similar movement has occurred for biomass and cellulosic ethanol, which are now more viable as a replacement for gasoline and oil due to discoveries this year.  New technologies are creating potential for lighter batteries that will hold a greater charge, bringing plug-in hybrid and electric autos closer to reality.  The year in energyTechnology Review

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Energy Update, December 11, 2009

December 11, 2009

In the States

MA – The first phase of Governor Deval Patrick’s plan to install 250 megawatts of solar-generating capacity by 2017 was so successful that it ran out of money more than a year ahead of schedule and allowed for the installation of more solar panels than originally anticipated.  The $68 million program called Commonwealth Solar provided homeowners and businesses with nearly half the funds to purchase and install solar systems.  The program exhausted its funds in just less than two years and allowed for the purchase of solar panels that can generate 29 megawatts of electricity.  $68m in solar rebates goes fastBoston Globe

MD – A law passed last year at the urging of Governor Martin O’Malley requires the State of Maryland requires utilities to obtain 20% of their electric power from renewable sources.   The sale of two alternative energy projects to utility companies should help them achieve this goal.  Constellation Energy will take over a $140 million, 28-turbine wind farm project that already has received state approval, while CPV Renewable Energy Company will install a solar energy facility next to a natural gas power plant.  Garrett, Charles to get wind, solar power plants Baltimore Sun

MT – Governor Brian Schweitzer’s goal of increasing the State motor fleet’s gas mileage to 30 miles per gallon has already been achieved, more than a year ahead of schedule.  The fleet’s mileage stands at 31.6 miles per gallon and will be increased to at least 34.2 miles per gallon in the coming year due to increases in hybrid vehicles.  Montana’s large size and rural nature requires state officials to travel long distances, so raising mileage requirements has a substantial budgetary impact.  State on track to surpass fuel goalBillings Gazette

OR – Governor Ted Kulongoski says that the subsidies offered to the wind and solar energy industries should be phased out after vetoing a similar measure earlier this year.  The Governor changed his mind after commissioning and receiving a report by two department directors who determined the most generous subsidies of up to $10 million for wind and $20 million for solar projects are no longer required in order to keep alternative energy companies investing in the State.  The State legislature is expected to explore phasing out the subsidies when it begins a special session in February.  Kulongoski changes course, supports phase-out of wind energy tax creditThe Oregonian

Regional and National News

Climate change legislation – Senators John Kerry, Lindsey Graham, and Joe Lieberman have released an outline of the “tripartisan” legislation that the three of them have been working on for the past month.  The outline says that the plan should reduce pollution to “in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels” in the “near term” and “approximately 80 percent below 2005 levels” would be “a long term target.”  The outline suggests the way to do this is to drill and refine more domestic oil and natural gas, establish a national regulatory system for reducing carbon emissions, encourage nuclear and clean coal development, and create incentives for green jobs for blue-collar workers, and maintaining carbon offsets for farmers.  Senators release ‘basic framework’ of climate billCQ Politics and Letter to President Obama and Framework for Climate Action and Energy Independence in the US SenateSenators John Kerry, Joseph Lieberman, and Lindsey Graham

The Senate Energy Subcommittee held a hearing this week on nine energy- and climate-related bills that could create more funding for the Department of Energy’s efforts to develop more advanced alternative energy.  Five of these bills have already passed the House and would authorize $3 billion in funds for vehicle technologies (HR 3246), $2 billion for solar energy research and development (HR 3585), $200 million for a wind energy research program (HR 3165), $20 million for research parks at which scientists can perform energy-related research (HR 2729), and grants for training designers to incorporate energy efficiency into buildings (HR 957).  The four remaining Senate bills would provide loans for manufacturers to increase energy efficiency or produce clean energy technology (S 1617), authorize $500 million for wind energy research and development (S 2773), expand current ethanol research and development programs (S 737), and provide a monetary prize for researchers that develop a way of taking carbon dioxide out of the air (S 2744).  Research panel to take up carbon capture, biofuels, research billsNew York Times

Governors Donald Carcieri (R-RI) and Jack Markell (D-DE) recently told attendees at a wind energy conference that they support offshore wind projects in their states.  Governor Carcieri said land-based and offshore wind power should be expanded and   the federal government should strengthen its renewable energy policy.  He also said  his state is moving as fast as it can to get an offshore wind project off the ground, and that “a failure to invest in renewable resources ... in today’s economic climate would verge on irresponsibility.”  Governor Markell spoke about efforts in Rhode Island to promote alternative energy, praised the Obama administration for its promotion of wind energy, and said a “steady stream of projects year after year” is needed to ensure the viability of the industry.  Seize the breeze: Carcieri urges speed in development of offshore wind projectsProvidence Journal

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