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Blog posts April 2009

Energy Update, April 17, 2009

In the States
AR – Several energy-related bills based on recommendations from Governor Mike Beebe’s Commission on Global Warming were brought up in the just-finished legislative session, but only one passed and has been signed into law.  At least two bills, one that would require utilities to get 2% of their electricity from renewable sources and another to require all diesel fuel sold in the state to contain 5% biodiesel, failed before the end of the session.  The one new law will require state buildings to reduce energy consumption by 20% by 2014 and 30% by 2017.  Beebe signs energy efficiency bill into lawArkansas News and Helmets, global warming bills die in Ark. sessionYahoo! Finance

FL – More than $1 billion has been slated for investment in solar energy in Florida and new solar projects are appearing all across the state in record numbers.  The state has gone from being one of the lowest users of solar generated power to one of the states with the highest consumption in the nation and is expected to be second only to California within a year.  The solar industry is hoping to make the state a focus of activity in the coming years, creating jobs and state revenues while easing reliance on fossil fuels.  Governor Charlie Crist has proposed a mandate for generating 20% of total electricity from renewable fuels by 2020, which, along with existing policies such as rebates and tax incentives, could produce as many as 85,500 new jobs within the state.  Solar energy: Florida is poised to become a leader, but it must act soonSt. Petersburg Times

NM – Governor Bill Richardson has signed legislation that should make it easier for companies to convert to renewable energy.  Under the new laws, municipalities can now sell bonds or use federal economic recovery money to finance renewable energy projects in homes or businesses that would be repaid by the property owner.  Property owners will also be eligible for rebates and other incentives to install renewable energy devices.  New Mexico gov signs renewable energy

VT – Governor Jim Douglas has announced the recipients of $2.57 million in Clean Energy Development Fund awards.  The awards range from $20,000 to $250,000 and will help utilities and energy companies develop alternative energy including wind, solar, biomass, landfill gas, and hydroelectric power.  Douglas announces energy awardsBarre-Montpelier Argus Times

Other news:

Innovative financing options could allow many more property and business owners access to alternative energy equipment and installation.  Leases and power purchase agreements would provide the benefits of investing in solar energy right away and give property owners more time and resources to pay the debt.  The real ‘green’ innovation - Newsweek

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Energy Update, April 3, 2009

In the States
HI – Governor Linda Lingle’s plan to change the state’s energy portfolio from 90 percent imported oil to 70 percent clean sources by 2030 is reportedly on track.  A major part of that transition consists of a $600 million to $2 billion underwater web of cables that would allow the State’s electrical grid to transmit wind power between islands.  This plan is currently attracting investors such as First Wind, which has pledged $50 million to help the local community buy part of an island that would house a wind farm to produce energy for other islands.  Currently, planning is underway on how and where to route the cables and how to complete the project with minimal environmental impact.  Hawaii dreams to be renewable islandsMSN Money

MA – The New England Clean Energy Council has launched the Governor’s Clean Energy Challenge, a free voluntary program that will offer opportunities and responsibilities for businesses in Massachusetts to lower energy consumption.  Those that agree to the challenge will gain access to expertise from other businesses that have reduced energy through a mentoring program and from businesses that specialize in alternative energy and energy efficiency in an upcoming conference and expo.  They will also receive recognition for their achievements on the Council’s website, reimbursements for certain energy projects, and lower energy bills.  The end goal of the challenge is to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from these businesses by at least 10% in three years.   New England Clean Energy Council launches “Governor’s Clean Energy Challenge” to help Commonwealth businesses significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2012FoxBusiness and Governor’s Clean Energy Challenge Website

ND – Governor John Hoeven has signed three bills that will provide tax breaks for companies that produce or build wind towers.  The Governor received accolades from legislators and business leaders for signing the new laws that will extend property tax reductions for land on which wind towers are built, exempt equipment used to build the towers from sales tax, and allow certain tax credits to be carried forward for up to 20 years.  Gov. Hoeven signs energy bills into lawMinot Daily News

TN – Governor Phil Bredesen has released a plan developed by the Governor’s task force in which the State would use revenues from bonds to pay for weatherization of state buildings, energy-efficient equipment, and the conversion of a quarter of the State’s vehicles to hybrids.  The bonds would then be repaid through the State by using a portion of the savings on energy bills.  The bipartisan legislation has eight co-sponsors and would also make the clean energy industry eligible for a State tax credit.  Governor wants Tennessee to borrow, get greenThe Tennessean

Federal News

New House Climate Change Proposal – Earlier this week, two key House Democrats circulated draft climate change legislation intended to reduce the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions and to establish the first federal energy efficiency standards.  The 648 page “discussion draft” was released by Rep. Henry A. Waxman, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Edward J. Markey, who chairs the Energy and Environment Subcommittee.  The bill would require utilities to derive 25 percent of their electricity from renewable resources by 2025 while also achieving a 15-percent electricity savings and a 10-percent natural gas savings by 2020.  The bill is deliberatively silent on whether the federal government would auction 100 percent of the pollution allowances that would be gradually reduced over time.  The legislation also includes a $10 billion fund to promote carbon capture, a provision rewarding carbon-intensive manufacturers able to operate more efficiently in the global market, and offers financial support in the form of grants or loan guarantees to cities, states, or private companies for large-scale demonstration of electric vehicles.  It also would strengthen federal fuel economy standards.  Democrats launch push for climate change billWashington Post and Discussion Draft - US House Energy & Commerce Committee and
Summary - US House Energy & Commerce Committee

U.S. Military Goes Green – The U.S. Department of Defense is helping to drive the development of energy-saving technologies by providing a large market for industry innovation.  The Air Force and the Army, the Department’s two biggest energy consumers are leading the way.  Energy savings measures include both low-tech approaches, such as lightening the loads of Air Force heavy cargo planes, to more advanced technologies, like electric vehicles.  The Army plans to deploy more than 4,000 “neighborhood electric vehicles” for passenger transport and security patrols over a three-year period and is also planning for the use of hybrid-electric “manned ground vehicles” in the future.   Military officials have also rewritten building design standards to better utilize natural light, installed solar panels at military bases, and used geothermal energy to generate electricity and power installations.   Another energy saving innovation, covering battlefield tents with a 2-inch hard foam cover, reduces the amount of fuel needed to power portable generators.  The Army has calculated that a 1 percent reduction in fuel consumption in war zones results in 6,444 fewer soldiers in convoys, decreasing the number casualties.  How the US military is trying to cut its enormous energy appetiteUS News & World Report

International Meetings on Climate Treaty – Representatives from 16 countries, including the United States, will meet in the coming months to discuss the possibility of an international climate treaty.  The meetings will include the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, including China and India, and are intended to generate political support for lowering emissions and promoting clean energy.  The Obama administration also hopes the meetings will create an agreeable platform for the participating countries to bring to UN-sponsored climate change negotiations slated to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark in December.  Those talks will be focused on developing a new international agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol. White House announces international meetings to address energy and climate issuesNew York Times and Obama sets international climate forumWashington Post

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