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Blog posts August 2012

Energy Update, August 24, 2012

In the States

IA – Governor Terry Branstad, joined by Alliant Energy’s chief executive officer and several state energy officials, announced the launch of a $345 million project upgrade for the Ottumwa Generating Station. The new emissions-reduction system at the south central Iowa plant is projected to reduce sulfur dioxide and mercury emissions by 90 percent thanks to a series of high-tech filters that curtail pollution. Governor Branstad, who predicts an increase in the use of such technology, called the project “a long-term investment in Iowa’s economy and environment.” Officials Tout $345 Million System at Ottumwa Generating StationThe Ottumwa Courier

KY – Governor Steve Beshear announced the opening of a $20.7 million facility committed to the research and development of renewable energy and energy storage technologies. The Kentucky-Argonne Battery Manufacturing Research and Development Center is an advanced manufacturing facility that will help researchers study and create new energy technologies, including biofuels and electrochemical devices such as batteries and capacitors. “This amazing facility, which includes one of the first federal battery manufacturing laboratories in the United States,” said Governor Beshear, “is more proof that Kentucky is now a leader in developing the energy and automotive technologies of the future." Gov. Beshear Announces Opening of $20.7 Million FacilityToday’s Energy Solutions and University of Kentucky Opens $20.7 Million Research LabThe Lexington Herald Leader

 Federal News

 The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled 2-1 to strike down an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule to control air pollution at power plants. The regulation, known as the Cross State Air Pollution Rule, targeted coal-fired plants and was projected to cost the utility industry $2.4 billion in pollution-control upgrades over several years. The EPA’s rule sought to require cleanup according to the cost of the reductions in pollution rather than “apportion the reductions according to the amount of pollution that each upwind state was contributing.” Ruling that the EPA had overstepped its authority, the Court’s majority stated the EPA had used a section of the Clean Air Act “to impose massive emission’s reduction requirements on upwind States without regard to the limits imposed by the statutory text.” Experts say a new rule may take years to draft. Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Obama Air Pollution RuleThe Washington Post and Court Blocks E.P.A. Rule on Cross State PollutionThe New York Times

 The Department of Energy released a new report noting the strong growth in the U.S. wind energy market in 2011. The wind energy market, according to the report, accounted for 32 percent of all new electric capacity additions last year, roughly $14 billion in new investment. The report also found the nation’s wind power capacity has reached 47,000 megawatts, or enough to provide power to approximately 13 million homes annually. "This report shows that America can lead the world in the global race to manufacture and deploy clean energy technologies," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. U.S. Wind Power Capacity IncreasingUnited Press International

 The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted 2-1 to require American oil and mining companies to disclose taxes and other fees that they pay to foreign governments. The rule, which derives its authority from a section of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, will apply to approximately 1,100 companies and mandates the reporting of payments made in excess of $100,000 beginning in fiscal year 2014. Industry groups maintained the rule will allow foreign, state-owned companies to discover the proprietary business information and strategy of their American competitors, thereby potentially forcing a decrease of American business in countries where foreign companies do not have to make such disclosures or are prohibited from doing so. In support of the new requirements, Luis Aguilar, an SEC commissioner, quoted former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis by stating, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.” U.S. Oil and Mining Companies Must Disclose Payments to Foreign GovernmentsThe New York Times

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Energy Update, August 10, 2012

In the States

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo recently visited Fort Drum to express his support for an Albany-based company to sell renewable energy to the army post.  Governor Cuomo stated he will send Defense Secretary Leon Panetta a letter asking his department to approve a supply contract between the Army and ReEnergy Holdings.  The company is retrofitting a coal-powered plant no longer in use to become a 60 megawatt biomass facility that will burn leftover products from the logging industry.  The new plant, which has received state and local tax breaks and other support, is scheduled to open in early 2013 and is expected to create 300 jobs in the North Country region.  “This is exactly what we’ve been talking about: Making New York open for business again,” said Governor Cuomo.  At Form Drum, Cuomo Supports Biomass Project for Post’s Energy NeedsThe Watertown Daily Times

VA – Governor Bob McDonnell praised the opening of an advanced nuclear fuel fabrication technology manufacturing center in Lynchburg.  The new 10,000-square-foot Fuel Technology Center will develop technologies for manufacturing  nuclear fuel used in small modular reactors (SMRs) produced by the Babcock & Wilcox Company.  Its mPower reactor currently generates 180 megawatts of electricity.  “This unique facility in Lynchburg,” Governor McDonnell stated, “is working to develop our domestic energy resources.  To local Virginians, it promises a new era of high-tech jobs.”  New Center Aims to Help B&W Make Fuel for its Small Reactor DesignThe Lynchburg News & Advance and Governor McDonnell Applauds Opening of B&W mPowerTM Fuel Technology Center in VirginiaPower Engineering

VT – Governor Peter Shumlin and the New England Governors’ Conference welcomed their Eastern Canadian counterparts to Burlington to discuss regional environmental and energy challenges.  Pledging to increase the use of clean energy throughout the region, the Governors expressed support for renewable energy coupled with emerging transportation technologies.  Additionally, the New England Governors passed a resolution to launch a coordinated regional procurement of renewable energy.  A request for proposals will be issued in 2013.  Governor Shumlin, promising to deploy and develop electric charging infrastructure in the Quebec-Vermont corridor, stated “It’s helpful to Vermont; it’s helpful to the Northeast states to have the Canadians competing for our business.”  NE Governors, Canadian Counterparts Talk EnergyHartford Courant and New England States Embrace Regional Procurement for Renewable EnergySustainable Business

WY – Republican Governor Matt Mead of Wyoming invited oil refinery and Department of Workforce Services officials to discuss increasing workforce safety at Wyoming oil refineries.  Governor Mead would like to see the creation of an industry safety alliance similar to the Wyoming Oil and Gas Industry Safety Alliance – especially following recent fires at one plant that left three workers severely injured.  Several refinery executives praised the Governor and the State for their leadership.  Hopeful for a positive outcome, Mead stated “I think there’s a real opportunity here.  I’m encouraged they’re eager to get on board with this.”  Wyoming Gov. Mead Encourages Refinery Reps to Join Force for SafetyThe Casper Star-Tribune

Federal News

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar have signed a memorandum of understanding to promote renewable energy projects on over 16 million acres of public lands reserved for defense-related purposes.  The Department of Defense hopes its opening of historically-restricted federal lands to new energy projects will harness solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass energy resources located on or near military installations.  Specifically, the military is interested in microgrids, or self-sufficient bases of power generation and storage that can, but do not have to rely on local utilities.  The Defense Department is hoping to have renewable sources account for 25 percent of its energy by 2025.  “Renewable energy,” said Dorothy Robyn, deputy under secretary of defense for installations and environment, “will allow a military base to maintain critical operations for weeks or months if an electric power grid goes down.”  U.S. Military’s Big Plan for Renewable Energy ProjectsForbes and White House to seek $7B in Green Energy Contracts for MilitaryThe Hill

According to a report released by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), fewer power plants were built in the United States during the first half of 2012 than the first half of 2011.  Power generating companies thus far have completed 54 fewer units – a total of 280 units were built in the first half of 2012 as compared to 334 during the same period in 2011.  More units are expected to come online later this year, even though energy experts view demand to be low, including a second 800 megawatt coal-fired unit in Illinois, which will provide power to approximately 800,000 homes.  U.S. Builds Fewer Power Plants in First Half of 2012Reuters

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Energy Update, July 27, 2012

In the States

MI – Republican Governor Mary Fallin of Oklahoma and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, together met with Detroit’s automakers to discuss the possibility of making more cars and trucks with engines that run on compressed natural gas (CNG).  Advocating on behalf of 21 states including their own, most of which contain substantial natural-gas stockpiles, the Governors met with industry executives from General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and Chrysler.  Both are committed, along with their colleagues from other states, to buy thousands of CNG vehicles for their state fleets.  The states involved in the coalition have issued a joint request for proposals through the National Association of State procurement Officials and are hopeful that the major domestic auto manufacturers will participate in the bidding process.  “What we want to do is be a partner to Detroit,” said Gov. Hickenlooper.  Colorado, Oklahoma pitch natural-gas cars in MichiganBloomberg and Oklahoma,20 other states seek bids for CNG vehiclesThe Oklahoman

MO – Governor Jay Nixon has announced the creation of a Local Government Task Force to assist in the development and creation of next-generation nuclear reactors and projects in Missouri.  The task force will assist two Missouri-based
companies that are competing for the Department of Energy’s $452 million set-aside to develop the new technology, called Small Modular Nuclear Reactions, or SMRs.  The new reactors, which are projected to generate 225 megawatts of power each, significantly less than a traditional nuclear reactor, are “more affordable, easier to build, and more likely to pass
regulatory muster.”  Governor Nixon stated the new nuclear technology could “spark a new global industry” to benefit not only Missouri but also the nation’s power supply.  Nixon:Reactor project could help define MissouriCBS Money Watch

NJ – Governor Chris Christie signed a bill into law to support the solar power industry and the State’s solar power credit
system, drawing praise from both sides of aisle, business and industry associations, and the State’s environmental groups.  The new law mandates New Jersey’s electric utilities to purchase a new total minimum of 2.05% of their power from solar projects in 2014.  State leaders believe the legislation will attract new companies, jobs, and investment to the State, which became the biggest U.S. solar market in the first quarter of this year. “Renewable energy not only helps meet our goals of increasing sustainability and protecting the environment, but can be an engine for economic growth,” said
Governor Christie.  Gov. Christie signs into law a rescue for New Jersey’s solar subsidy marketThe Star-Ledger and Christiesigns solar bill increasing N.J. energy requirementBloomberg BusinessWeek

Federal News

The Environmental Protection Agency is reconsidering its new standards for mercury, soot, and other emissions for five proposed coal-burning power plants in Georgia, Kansas, Texas, and Utah.  An agency technical review will take place, delaying regulation of the new power plants until experts conclude whether emissions limits should be relaxed. EPA
reviewing rule on toxic air pollution
The Washington Post

The Obama Administration has released a final proposal for the nation’s first comprehensive plan to develop power on public land.  Dubbed as the “All of The Above” program, the Administration’s plan sets aside 285,000 acres for solar energy power projects, which could produce enough power for nearly seven million homes over the next decade.  “This is a huge milestone in our solar energy efforts,” said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.  Another 19 million acres were identified for potential development, but applicants must first pay for environmental studies that will be used to evaluate their suitability. The Interior Department can proceed with implementation only after a 30-day comment period.  Interior
Department sets aside millions of acres for solar power
The Washington Post

The Environmental Protection Agency announced it will postpone issuing a final rule to regulate cooling water intake towers at power plants and other industrial facilities until June 2013.  The rule, originally proposed in March 2011 in response to a lawsuit seeking enforcement of provisions of the Clean Water Act, seeks to limit the environmental
consequences which may occur from the design and placement of cooling water towers at such facilities.  “The extension provides the agency ample time to complete its analysis of public comments, data and options prior to finalizing the rule,” the agency said.  EPA pushes back coolingwater rule to June 2013 under new settlementBloomberg BNA

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