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Blog posts September 2009

Energy Update, September 18, 2009

In the States

CA – Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed an executive order that will require 33% of electricity consumed in the state to come from renewable sources by 2020.  He prefers this approach to a bill recently passed by the state legislature that would require the same reduction, but also mandate that much of the renewable energy be produced in the state.  The Governor indicated he plans to veto this bill and said, “I am totally against protectionist policies.”  California will now have one of the country’s strictest renewable energy requirements. The state has an existing goal of obtaining 20% of energy from renewable sources by 2010, but that goal may be difficult to meet within the prescribed timeline.  Schwarzenegger orders renewables goalNew York Times

HI – Geothermal, wind, and other renewable sources are already producing nine percent of Hawaii’s electricity, which Governor Linda Lingle intends to greatly increase under the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative she unveiled last year.  The plan states that by 2030, renewable sources should produce 40% of the energy in the state, which has heretofore relied on imported oil for most of its electricity needs.  Several issues must still be resolved before that goal can be met.  Backup and storage systems must be devised and constructed, an underwater cable will be needed to connect the state’s six separate power grids, agreements must be developed between the power demands of urban areas and the rights of native populations, and environmental concerns for land use and plants and animals must be addressed.  Hawaii tries green tools in remaking power gridsNew York Times

KS – In a speech to the Kansas Wind Working Group, Governor Mark Parkinson noted the decline in construction of wind turbines in 2009 and called on the federal government to create a renewable energy standard to drive the market for wind power.  Statehouse Live: federal renewable standards, transmission needed for more wind development, officials sayLawrence Journal-World

MI – A Ford assembly plant in Wixom is being redeveloped into a renewable energy industrial park that will produce solar panels and storage batteries.  Governor Jennifer Granholm is strongly in favor of the $725 million project saying that it is “symbolic of the Michigan that we are to become.”  The new park will employ 4,000 highly trained workers and use local resources and existing infrastructure when it begins operations in about two years. Ford and Granholm cheer Wixom plant redevelopment planDetroit Free Press  

Regional and National News

The Federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department have released details on a plan for eventually raising fuel economy standards for passenger cars, light duty trucks, and medium duty passenger vehicles.  Carmakers will need to increase fuel economy in these models to an average of 35.5 miles per gallon – four years sooner than Congress mandated in a 2007 law – and limit carbon dioxide emissions to 250 grams per mile under the new regulations.  White House rolls out details of auto fuel economy, emissions standardNew York Times

The US Department of Energy has recently announced nearly $430 million in energy-related stimulus spending for weatherization, water power technology development, and energy efficiency and conservation projects.  Most of the funds will be delivered to states, but the water power projects funds will go to companies to study potential and cost of hydrokinetic power and improved traditional hydropower.  DOE and Treasury have announced that $502 million in stimulus funds have been released in lieu of tax credits for alternative energy projects and USDA released another $13 million for rural clean energy projects.  DOE also unveiled a new program called “Retrofit Ramp-Up” that will provide $454 million in stimulus funds to improve energy efficiency in residential, commercial, and public buildings.  DOE delivers $60 million in recovery act funds for weatherizationEERE News and DOE awards 14.6 million to develop water power technologiesEERE News and DOE delivers more than $354 million for energy efficiency and conservation projects in 22 statesEERE News and DOE and US Treasury award $502 million for renewable energy projectsEERE News and DOE to offer $454 million for “Retrofit Ramp-ups” in energy efficiencyEERE News and USDA awards $13million for rural clean energy projects – EERE News

The US House of Representatives has passed a bill that would establish a $9 million two-phase three-year program for research and development of heavy-duty hybrid and plug-in hybrid trucks.  The House Science Committee’s Ranking Republican member, Ralph Hall (TX), noted that while trucks use more fuel than passenger vehicles few federal dollars have been expended to research the potential of hybrid technology in heavy duty trucks.  Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) has introduced a companion bill in the Senate.  House passes bill to encourage hybrid trucksCQ Politics

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Energy Update, September 4, 2009

In the States

HI – Governor Linda Lingle testified before the US Senate Appropriations Committee on the both the beneficial effects of the federal stimulus legislation on Hawaii and the challenges faced in tracking and reporting the use of funds.  The Governor also discussed her administration’s five-point plan for managing the State’s economy, which includes attracting and retaining private investment for its renewable energy sector.  Lingle testifies before US Senate on American Recovery and Reinvestment

OR – Governor Ted Kulongoski and the Oregon Business Development Department are increasing efforts to reduce unemployment by generating more clean energy technology jobs within the state.  The Governor hopes the Department’s efforts to reach out to clean energy companies will help the state compete for federal stimulus funds.  Oregon already provides some of the most generous tax credits for clean energy and has the highest percentage of workers in that field nationwide.  Oregon looks to clean tech for revivalWall Street Journal

UT – Governor Gary Herbert plans to host a forum on climate change, which will include skeptics of human-caused global warming.  The Governor has said that he is interested in bringing all points of view into the discussion and believes it still important to “take care of the planet” and “be good stewards of the Earth” regardless of whether climate change is real.  Governor Herbert currently has no plans to withdraw the State from the Western Climate Initiative in which his predecessor, former Governor Jon Huntsman, entered into an agreement with neighboring states to lower emissions through a cap-and-trade system.  Utah Governor says climate change debate not

Regional and National News

David Crane, President and CEO of NRG Energy, wrote an Op-Ed in the Washington Post that suggested using regional strengths as part of a national strategy to lower greenhouse gas emissions.  For example, the Western United States would use solar energy while the South would use nuclear.  To lower emissions nationwide, he suggests a push toward “clean coal” technology.  An energy plan we can start nowWashington Post

A record number of patents for clean energy technology were filed in the second quarter of 2009 according to the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index.  Compared to the first quarter of 2009, there were 31 more patents, which included increases for wind, solar, biofuels, tidal/wave and fuel cells, but fewer patents for hybrid/electric vehicles.  There were also more fuel cell, solar, hybrid/electric, and biofuel patents and fewer wind and tidal/wave patents than in the same quarter of 2008.  Clean energy patents set quarterly recordReuters

A trade group for the oil industry says that if the proposed cap-and-trade legislation that passed the House earlier this year is enacted, US oil refineries would produce 2.5 million barrels fewer than today, or about a 17% drop.  A report commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute (API) shows that refineries would increase output if the bill does not pass and that more oil will need to be imported if the bill does become law and domestic refinery utilization rates drop.  Oil industry details costs of climate billWall Street Journal

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