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Blog posts March 2010

Energy Update, March 26, 2010

March 26, 2010

In the States

CA – Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a bill into law that will provide a sales tax exemption on equipment used for manufacturing alternative energy products that have a tangible effect on greenhouse gas emissions or energy efficiency.  The new law is expected to be of fiscal benefit to the State since the jobs it creates or keeps will produce more tax revenue.  The Governor also signed a new law that will streamline the permit process for construction of large solar and wind projects, thereby helping alternative energy developers meet deadlines for expending stimulus funding.  California creates green tech manufacturing sales tax exemptionEnvironment News Service and Schwarzenegger signs energy law – Clean Skies

CO – Governor Bill Ritter has signed a new law that will require utilities in the State to obtain 30% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020, the highest renewable energy standard in the region.  The previous standard required 20% of total electricity power to come from renewable sources by 2020.  Provisions in the new law also promote home-based alternative energy production through solar panels or wind turbines and require certifications for solar panel installers.  Ritter signs bill requiring greater use of renewable energy by 2020Denver Post

MA – Governor Deval Patrick’s administration is working to ensure that the benefits of several high-profile projects make their way to taxpayers.  Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles is pushing for contract commitments from companies involved in one of these -- the country’s first offshore wind farm – that would guarantee that tax incentives from federal stimulus legislation and other Department of Energy assistance used for this project lead to lower, more stable rates.  Mass. Gov supporting renewable energy initiativesBoston Herald

SD – Governor Mike Rounds has signed a bill into law that will prohibit easements or leases for wind turbine towers from being finalized until 10 days after of an offer in order to provide homeowners more time to study the contracts.  The new law will also prohibit developers from requiring that the terms of easement contracts  be kept secret and will allow construction of certain larger projects to be completed in up to 12 years, rather than the 5-year timeframe required for smaller projects.  SD Governor signs changes in wind tower easementsBusinessWeek

Regional, National, and International News

A bipartisan group of 29 Governors has sent a report to the US Congress and the White House calling for a mandatory increase in renewable energy, an interstate system of electricity transmission lines, more federal funding for research, and an easier permitting process for offshore wind development.  The report was compiled by the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition and specifically requests enactment of a renewable energy standard of 10% by 2012.  Group of 29 Governors seeks renewable power standard – ­Los Angeles Times and Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition Letter to President Obama and Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition Letter to Congressional Leadership and Great Expectations, US Wind Energy Development - Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Energy (DoE) are strengthening verification methods for the Energy Star program, which provides special designation to appliances that meet certain energy efficiency standards.  The agencies say they will test each product seeking the label at independent laboratories starting with 200 base-level models in the next several months.  The change comes amid revelations that auditors have found many problems with the current verification process.  For example, auditors obtained verification for several nonexistent products, including a gasoline powered alarm clock.  A recent audit showed that 100% of computer monitors that had the logo were compliant with the standards, but 80% of those tested that did not have the logo were also compliant.  And it also found that some products without Energy Star designation consumed less power than those with it.  DoE, EPA announce new Energy Star testingClean Skies and Audit finds vulnerability of EnergyStar programNew York Times

For the first time, China now leads the United States and all other G20 countries in clean energy technology investments, pouring almost twice as much private capital as the United States into clean energy technology and designating one-third of its recent stimulus package for clean energy projects.  Developing countries such as Brazil and India are also greatly increasing their clean energy efforts through adoption of national renewable energy standards and investment in the development of biofuels and conservation funds.  In contrast, U.S. investment in renewable energy has fallen 40% since 2008.  China leads major countries with $34.6 billion invested in clean technologyNew York Times

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Energy Update, March 12, 2010

March 12, 2010

In the States

DE – Governor Jack Markell has proposed an extension and expansion of existing law that would increase the use of renewable energy within the State.  Current law dictates that Delmarva Power must obtain 20% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2019; the proposed changes would require that other utilities comply, that 30% of electricity come from renewable sources by 2029, that preference be given to renewable energy producers within Delaware, and other minor changes.  The Governor hopes these changes will prompt more “green” jobs in the State as well as more home-based solar power production.  Markell pushes for renewable energy in DelawareThe News Journal

VA – Governor Bob McDonnell has signed legislation that endorses the Federal government allowing oil and gas drilling off Virginia’s coastline.  The plan that Governor McDonnell endorsed would funnel royalties to the State, though some of this funding would be directed to the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium, a partnership between industry, government, and universities to research and develop renewable energy.  McDonnell signs offshore energy bills Virginian Pilot and Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium

WY – Governor Dave Freudenthal has signed three bills into law that will centralize control over wind farm development and impose a new tax on electricity produced by wind.  The new laws will require a tax of $1 per megawatt of wind power, place a moratorium on using eminent domain laws to take private land for power lines, and extend permitting authority for the State over those power lines.  The Governor praised the legislature for passing the bills, saying that the wind energy industry is welcome in the State, but only if it pays its way.  Gov signs 3 wind bills into lawCheyenne Tribune

Regional and National News

Two Democratic Governors joined a group of 18 Republican Governors in sending a letter to the Congressional leadership asking that Congress keep the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from imposing regulations on greenhouse gases.  The Governors wrote that the EPA is unable to fully consider the economic effects of the regulations, which the Governors believe would place heavy administrative burdens on state environmental agencies, prove costly to consumers, and have a devastating impact on state economies and jobs. The EPA has responded to the Governors, dismissing the premise that regulatory action would necessarily weaken the economy.  Several pieces of legislation, introduced in Congress by members of both parties, would delay or eliminate the ability of EPA to regulate greenhouse gases; those in favor of a delay have been encouraged by the Governors’ letter, while supporters of the EPA have been relatively silent on the matter.  US Governors ask Congress to stop EPA RulesWall Street Journal and Governors’ letter to Congressional leadershipGulf Coast News and EPA defends greenhouse gas capsPolitico

Four Democratic Senators have called for a halt to stimulus spending on wind farm projects on the grounds that too much of the money has been sent outside the United States.  The Senators specifically cited a potential project by a company that has not yet applied for stimulus funds, but has signaled that it might install wind turbines manufactured in China.  Union leaders have supported the Senators’ position, while the Obama Administration has disputed it, as has the project manager for the referenced wind initiative, who said at least 70% of each turbine would be fabricated and assembled in the United States.  The American Wind Energy Association has also disputed the claims of the Senators, saying that 53%-63% of the value of equipment bought with stimulus funds has come from within the United States, and that 50,000 jobs would be lost if grants were suspended.  Four Democratic Senators aim to halt stimulus wind projectWashington Post

President Barack Obama met with several members of his administration and a bipartisan group of 14 Senators to discuss concerns about a potential energy bill that would include caps on carbon emissions.  The President offered concessions on nuclear power and drilling for oil and gas while emphasizing the importance of capping carbon emissions.  The Senators attending the meeting represented diverse viewpoints.  Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, for example, made it clear that any proposal must include safeguards for coal and Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio remarked on the importance of job creation.  Senator LeMieux of Florida dismissed the possibility of supporting a cap on carbon, focusing instead on promoting nuclear power, and Senator Lugar of Indiana, who also said he was unlikely to support putting a price on carbon emissions, announced he has begun drafting legislation to promote nuclear power and clean coal technology, as well as stricter auto fuel efficiency standards.  Obama, key Senators make their pitch for climate and energy billNew York Times

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