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Blog posts October 2010

Energy Update, October 22, 2010

October 22, 2010

In the States

CA – Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is calling on voters to defeat Proposition 23, framing the initiative as a choice between big out-of-State oil companies and the environment.  The Proposition would delay the implementation of a 2006 law that will mandate emissions restrictions beginning in 2012.  The Governor asked that voters soundly defeat the measure in order to send a message that a new national energy policy is necessary.  Schwarzenegger urges voters to protect climate lawABC News

KY – Governor Steve Beshear is the second Governor to direct his State to sue the US Environmental Protection Agency over its regulations that limit mountaintop removal.  Governor Beshear called the regulations “arbitrary and unreasonable,” adding that they “threaten to end the responsible mining of coal and eliminate the jobs of an estimated 18,000 Kentucky miners.”  The suit was originally filed in US District Court by the Kentucky Coal Association, and was soon joined by the Governor’s Energy and Environment Cabinet.  EPA sued by Kentucky Governor Beshear, coal industryMiami Herald

MA – Governor Deval Patrick’s administration has successfully pushed to secure a lease for what could be the first offshore wind farm in the US, to be constructed off the coast of Cape Cod.  US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar recently signed a 28-year lease agreement with Cape Wind Associates for 130 wind turbines that will operate over  25 square miles of water in Nantucket Sound about 5 miles from the Cape Cod shoreline.  The project will generate up to 468 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 200,000 homes.  New Bedford will host a $35 million terminal onshore where the turbines will be built, and which will create about 200 jobs.  The Cape Wind project itself is expected to cost $2.5 billion and create a total of 600 – 1,000 new jobs during the construction and manufacturing phases, with an estimated completion date in late 2012.  The project has been a source of controversy due to concerns about visual and environmental impacts as well as its cost and potential impact on electricity rates.  Salazar signs cape wind lease, first for US watersBloomberg BusinessWeek and Cape Wind backers blew right by costBoston Globe and Mass. city chosen for offshore wind farm siteBloomberg BusinessWeek

RI – Governor Donald Carcieri says that Rhode Island still may be the first State to host an offshore wind farm, despite the recent approval of a lease agreement for Massachusetts’ Cape Wind project.  The Governor said that plans for an offshore wind power site off Block Island at Quonset Point are on schedule for fall 2011 (although no offshore lease with the U.S. Department of Interior has yet been signed).  The Governor also announced that a State ocean management plan has been completed, pushing the project forward.  Carcieri looks beyond Cape WindWJAR

VA – Governor Bob McDonnell convened an energy conference in Virginia with a speech about the future of energy in the State.  The Governor said that uncertainty about offshore drilling is hampering the State’s ability to produce more of its own energy, and called for federal environmental regulations to be loosened.  Governor McDonnell said that he hopes the State “will be an offshore energy leader” despite the regulations, and called for a strategy that relies on fossil fuels, nuclear energy, and renewable energy such as wind power, which he said was in abundance in Virginia, but that "what we've got to do is find a way to harness it in a commercially practicable way."  State’s energy future lies offshore, McDonnell saysVirginian-Pilot

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has released its fourth annual Energy Efficiency Scorecard, which ranks States on their efforts to increase and sustain energy efficiency pursuits.  While the results are not markedly different from previous Scorecard reports, they do show that States have nearly doubled their total energy efficiency budgets from $2.5 billion to $4.3 billion since the initial Scorecard report was released in 2007.  The five States with the highest marks for energy efficiency are relatively the same as last year, including California, Massachusetts, Oregon, New York, and Vermont.  The most improved States include Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Alaska.  ACEEE 2010 State Energy Efficiency ScorecardACEEE and 2010 ACEEE Energy Efficiency Scorecard Cites State LeadersEERE News

National News

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has approved the first solar project on public land in Nevada, a decision which will result in a 50-megawatt photovoltaic array 40 miles south of Las Vegas mad possible in part through federal tax credits in ARRA.  The project is the first of a long list of such proposals to gain approval after passing through the Bureau of Land Management’s extensive environmental review process.  Power from the solar panels will be sold in Nevada and should power up to 15,000 homes.  A 350-megawatt expansion of the plant is already proposed, but will require additional review before permits are issued.  Interior Department approves first solar project on Nevada public landsEERE News

According to a new report from the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, “US offshore winds have a gross potential generating capacity four times greater than the nation’s present electric capacity,” without taking “siting constraints and stakeholder inputs” into account.  The study also showed that the US could obtain as much as 20% of its electricity needs from offshore wind as soon as 2030, creating 43,000 jobs, and that offshore resources would generate more electricity than land-based resources since wind speeds increase with distance from land.  Upon the study’s release, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said that "clean, renewable energy development that capitalizes on the nation's vast offshore wind and water resources holds great promise for our clean energy future and our economy."  Study: Offshore wind could generate all US electricityUSA Today and Large-scale offshore wind power in the United States: Assessments of opportunities and barriers [pdf]National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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Energy Update, October 8, 2010

October 8, 2010

In the States

AZ – Governor Jan Brewer, speaking to the Algal Biomass Organization, heralded plans for the Arizona Center for Algae Technologies and Innovations, a new research center for algae-based fuels to be built at Arizona State University’s Polytechnic campus.  It is to be constructed with $2 million in federal stimulus funds and $2 million in private investment bundled by the university and the Science Foundation, a public/private partnership created to diversify Arizona’s research and development initiatives.  The Governor said that the facility “will expand Arizona’s potential as a national global leader in research and production in algae fuel,” which she said could produce billions of dollars in investments and millions of gallons of fuel that would be used to power vehicles and aircraft.   Brewer announces investment in algae fuels researchArizona Republic

OH – A 500-acre section of land on a decommissioned coal strip mine in southeast Ohio – a piece of land comparable in size to a small airport – will soon be home to a 50-megawatt solar farm capable of providing electricity to 25,000 homes.  Governor Ted Strickland, who signed a 2008 law requiring 12.5% of electricity to be renewable, said “the future has recognized Ohio” and that the venture would bring 600 jobs to the area, 300 of them permanent.  Isofoton, the Spanish solar panel maker behind the project, passed over other States, in part due to State and federal tax credits, loan guarantees, and a grant.  Twenty megawatts will be installed in about two years with the rest completed in about four years.  Huge solar panel farm coming to southeast OhioCleveland Plain Dealer

TX – Governor Rick Perry spoke to academic and industry professionals at the Sixth Annual Clean Carbon Policy Summit and Project Expo this week.  In his speech, the Governor outlined the progress Texas has made toward diversifying the sources from which it obtains energy, cleaning the air Texans breathe, and growing the State’s economy.  Governor Perry also said that “technology and innovation could propel us into a world of cleaner, more efficient energy generated from all sources, and where the United States could be much less dependent on foreign countries for energy.”  Texas continues to lead way toward US energy independenceGov Monitor

WV – In response to regulations from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that restrict mountaintop removal – a process in which mountaintops are blasted off in order to more easily reach coal, and which releases toxic chemicals into nearby streams – Governor Joe Manchin directed his State to sue the US EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers.  Governor Manchin called the regulations “attempts to destroy our coal industry and way of life in West Virginia,” and said that only two of the 23 applications for permits that were pending last year – when the regulations went into effect – have been approved.  West Virginia sues US over mining restrictionsNew York Times

According to a new report released by the National Governors Association, every State and territory in the US has worked to increase its use of clean energy in some way.  The report identified seven categories of clean energy enhancements, ranging from energy efficiency to alternative fuels to green economic development, and found that States are undertaking these initiatives for environmental reasons, to save in energy costs, and to create jobs.  The report says that 49 States changed policies on clean electricity, 47 expanded energy efficiency, and 39 promoted clean energy as an economic growth strategy.  Report: States’ actions are promoting green energyAmerican City & County

National News

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has approved proposals to build the first solar farms on over 6,500 acres of federal land in California, and is expected to approve several similar projects soon.  More than 750 megawatts of electricity will be generated by the approved projects, enough to power over 550,000 homes, with more than three times that much capacity in the pending projects.  A new transmission line has also been approved to get the electricity into homes, but it is being challenged in court. A portion of the approved solar farms will be financed with federal stimulus funds and federal loan guarantees.  Solar power plants to rise on US landNew York Times

The Obama Administration has released four scenarios in a notice of intent outlining proposed requirements for fuel economy in cars and light trucks between 2017 and 2025.  Raising the fuel economy requirements three percent per year – the most modest increase – would result in a mileage standard of 47 miles per gallon by 2025, an increase from 34.1 in 2016, while the most ambitious proposal would increase fuel efficiency six percent per year, ending at 62 miles per gallon in 2025.  While more detailed proposals are due out in November, a point of contention with the proposals is how emissions from electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles will be calculated.  Since they do not produce any emissions themselves when powered by electricity, but do utilize  electricity generated by coal and  natural gas burning power plants, an alternative measure, such as grams of carbon emissions per mile, could be used to develop comparable emissions ratings. Fuel economy will be, um, betterNew York Times

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