Blog posts February 2010
In the States
CA – Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a bill into law that doubles the amount of electricity utilities must purchase from homeowners with solar panels or wind turbines under a net metering arrangement, calling it “great for the environment and great for our economy.” Net metering allows homeowners with alternative energy generators like solar panels to receive credits for electricity they do not use, but feed to the grid. These credits can then be used when more electricity is needed than a home system can provide, such as when it is less sunny in the winter. Prior to the new law, utilities were required to issue net metering credits for 2.5% of electricity generated by the utility; the new law doubles that percentage to 5%. Gov. Schwarzenegger signs bill to raise net-metering limit – Sunpluggers.com and California doubles net-metering cap on wind and solar to 5% – Treehugger.com
FL – Governor Charlie Crist’s energy office is “trying to encourage energy efficiency, water conservation, and recycling” by implementing a program in which consumers will be eligible for an additional $75 rebate for replacing their inefficient appliances with new Energy Star rated ones. Florida residents already receive up to $100 in rebates for purchasing efficient appliances, so the additional $75 per appliance will substantially increase the amount consumers will save. The program only runs April 19-25 and consumers must produce a receipt from a certified disposal facility confirming the destruction of the old appliance to be eligible. Florida sweetens deal for clunker appliances – Miami Herald
Regional and National News
The Federal government and 11 Atlantic Coast states have taken initial steps towards forming a Wind Consortium to help coordinate offshore wind permitting processes and electric transmission planning. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar participated in a news conference in Washington DC announcing the initiative, along with Maine Governor John Baldacci, Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri, Delaware Governor Jack Markell, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. Offshore wind projects are currently in the planning or permitting processes off the coasts of several of these states. Feds plan offshore wind consortium with 11 Atlantic States – Environment News Service
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson recently sent a letter to eight coal-state Democratic Senators who had sought a moratorium on new emissions regulations. In her letter, Administrator Jackson assured the Senators that only the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions would be subject to any limitations before 2013, with limits placed on smaller entities beginning in 2016. The group of Senators, led by John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, had argued that significant decisions about energy, the economy, and the environment should be left to Congress. In addition to the concerns of these Senators, Republican members of Congress, industry groups, and officials from Texas, Alabama, and Virginia have challenged EPA’s proposed regulation of industrial emissions. EPA plans to phase in regulation of emissions – New York Times
In the States
AZ – Governor Jan Brewer has announced that Arizona will no longer fully participate in the Western Climate Initiative, citing potential higher costs for consumers. The Governor signed an executive order effectively withdrawing the State from the planned cap-and-trade system and ordering the Department of Environmental Quality to review a plan to place more regulations on vehicle emissions. Although these two programs will not be implemented, the State is not fully withdrawing from the Initiative, and will continue to work with other States to promote solar energy, limit pollution by setting smart growth policies, and taking steps to adapt to climate change. The State is also continuing a program to make its entire state vehicle fleet hybrid, low-emission, or alternative fuel by 2012. Arizona quits Western climate endeavor – Arizona Republic
MA – Governor Deval Patrick’s recently announced new plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions. When combined with measures he and others have already put into place, these proposals would result in an 18.6% decrease in emissions from 1990 levels by 2020, according to a new draft report by the Eastern Research Group. The Global Warming Solutions Act, signed by the Governor in 2008, requires Massachusetts to lower greenhouse gas emissions 10% to 25% by 2020. The Governor cited the move toward reducing emissions as good for the environment and the economy, saying “[o]ur investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy are creating jobs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions dramatically.” Mass. to meet gas reduction target – Boston Globe and Draft Report to Climate Protection and Green Economy Advisory Committee [pdf] – Eastern Research Group
WY – Governor Dave Freudenthal is proposing stricter regulations on the wind power industry, including an excise tax of $3 per megawatt hour, and more restrictions on land use and zoning that would make building wind turbines and producing wind energy more expensive. The Governor said that the wind energy industry “remains a profit-oriented business that should be treated the same as other energy producers." Gov.: Tax wind power – Star-Tribune
State of the States – Most Governors have given a State of the State address, and many of them have included energy issues in their speeches. Some of these are highlighted below. The full text and summaries of all of the State of the State addresses can be found on the Stateline.org website.
CT – Governor M. Jodi Rell proposed eliminating the sales tax on “machines, equipment, tools, materials, supplies, and fuels used in renewable energy and green technology” in her annual State of the State address. She also proposed a loan forgiveness program for students who get certain degrees related to renewable energy or health and choose to stay and work in the State.
MI – Governor Jennifer Granholm said the Federal economic stimulus has helped the State make investments in clean energy and “take us from the rust belt to the green belt” in her State of the State address. The Governor also said that several billion private sector dollars have been invested in building electric cars, batteries, wind turbines, and solar cells resulting in the creation of tens of thousands of new jobs.
NV – In his State of the State address, Governor Gibbons said that his office is working to promote solar, wind, and geothermal energy as well as research and development for new green technologies. The Governor noted economic and environmental benefits, saying these industries would create long-term high-paying jobs.
President Barack Obama met with a bipartisan group of 11 Governors recently to discuss the future of energy. While the President underscored the need to produce more biofuels, especially ethanol, and cleaner coal, Governor Gregoire of Washington expressed interest in nuclear power, Governor Rounds of South Dakota asked for help in developing biofuels resources in the Midwest, and Governor Beshear of Kentucky praised Obama’s interest in clean coal and expressed concern over cap-and-trade proposals. Also in attendance were Governors Riley of Alabama, Baldacci of Maine, Schweitzer of Montana, Strickland of Ohio, Bredesen of Tennessee, Douglas of Vermont, Manchin of West Virginia, and Freudenthal of Wyoming. Governors talk energy with Obama – Stateline.org and Wash. Gov. says nuclear energy must be considered – Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Rounds says he pushed for SD in energy meeting – KTIV.com and Kentucky Gov. Beshear praises Obama clean-coal initiative – Courier-Journal
More than 200 companies, including some major energy companies, have combined efforts to promote the passage of a Senate climate change bill this year. Leaders from the companies and business groups have cited the need to compete with China, reduce dependence on foreign oil, and reduce carbon emissions as all worthy goals that can be achieved through climate change legislation. In the Senate, Senators Kerry, Lieberman, and Graham are working together to craft legislation that will attract Republicans and Democrats. President Obama has also shown a willingness to compromise to pass a bill this year: he proposed allowing more nuclear power in his State of the Union address, requested more Federal loans to build nuclear power plants in his FY2011 budget, and asked Secretary of Energy Steven Chu to address the issue of nuclear fuel and waste. Coming together on climate bill – Politico