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Blog posts September 2015

September 25, Energy Update

In the States

ME – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded Maine $1.2 million for cleanup and redevelopment projects at contaminated industrial sites across the state. EPA Regional Administrator Curt Spaulding awarded an additional $2.35 million in brownfields funding to six communities and groups in Maine to asses and cleanup contaminated sites. Brownfields described land previously used for industrial or commercial purposes that may have been or is contaminated with hazardous waste or pollution. Groups receiving funding include several towns, the Penobscot Indian Nation, and the Portland Harbor Commission. "EPA's Brownfields program is a proven asset helping local communities to get abandoned or derelict properties assessed, cleaned up, and returned to productive use," said Mr. Spalding. EPA announced $1.2M in cleanup funds and Maine gets $2.3M to redevelop industrial sitesMaine Business Journal

NC – North Carolina recently passed one gigawatt (GW) of installed solar capacity, according to a new report by the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA). North Carolina becomes the fourth state to reach the 1GW milestone behind Arizona, California, and New Jersey. Additionally, NCSEA found that the state’s solar energy industry accounts for $1.6 billion in revenue and for about 4,000 full-time jobs in North Carolina. "Solar has been a fantastic economic driver in North Carolina's clean energy industry for the past several years, and reaching 1 gigawatt is the latest impressive milestone for this growing market," Robin Aldina, manager of energy research at NCSEA. In the state’s budget for next year, however, the General Assembly decided to include a sunset of the state’s renewable energy tax credit, hoping to have the industry compete “more evenly with other forms of energy production.” North Carolina reaches solar power milestoneUnited Press International and NC becomes fourth US state to pass 1GW solar milestonePVTech

ND – State regulators are extending the compliance deadline for new natural gas flaring rules by 10 months, giving private sector companies more time to meet the state’s targets. Flaring, or the burning of natural gas, oftentimes take place at oil and gas production sites that lack adequate transportation infrastructure. Industry leaders initially asked for a delay of two years, but Governor Jack Dalrymple and two other members of the state’s Industrial Commission rejected their proposal. The new rules, which will take effect on November 1, 2016, require companies to capture 85% of natural gas produced from their wells and by 2020, companies will be required to reach a flaring reduction target of 91%. "The industry's presentation has some very real reasons why the goal has become more difficult," said Governor Dalrymple. "Many of these items they've mentioned realistically could not have been expected." North Dakota postpones deadline for natural gas flaring rulesReuters

NM – Governor Susana Martinez released her state energy plan during an annual energy summit in Carlsbad, a town in southeastern New Mexico. According to the Governor, her proposal is the state’s “first comprehensive plan for energy since 1991.” The plan calls for improved energy infrastructure, including rail and transmission lines, storage options for renewable energy production, and job training. The plan also notes that the state may explore exporting coal and natural gas to other states and Mexico in addition to considering building small modular nuclear reactors and streamlining state regulatory processes. "New Mexico is one of the most energy-rich and energy-diverse states in the nation, and we have an excellent opportunity to utilize this position to grow our economy and create more jobs," Governor Martinez said. NM Governor unveils new state energy planThe Associated Press and NM governor announced comprehensive energy planThe Santa Fe New Mexican

Federal and Regional

Governors Kate Brown of Oregon, Rick Snyder of Michigan, Jay Inslee of Washington, Jerry Brown of California, and Terry Branstad of Iowa signed an agreement with Chinese President Xi Jingping to “boost businesses that create renewable and clean energy” and to expand energy collaborations among their states and China. The agreement was signed during the 3rd China-U.S. Governors Forum, which was titled “Clean Energy and Economic Development”, in Seattle, Washington. President Xi, who arrived in Seattle earlier this week for his first state visit to the United States, said he looks forward to exchanging ideas regarding clean energy technologies and reducing transportation emissions. Chinese governors from the provinces of Sichuan, Chongqing, Zhejiang, Shandong, and Shaanxi also attended the Forum. "We at the local level have the responsibility and the power and the opportunity to take very bold and creative initiatives. In order to really get at the threat of climate change, everyone has to do whatever they can," said Governor Brown of California, a co-chair of this year’s Forum, following his meeting with President Xi. 5 Governors, Chinese president talk clean energy in SeattleThe Salt Lake Tribune

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September 11, Energy Update

In the States

NH – Governor Maggie Hassan joined state and local officials and SolarCity leaders to commemorate the opening of a new solar energy operations facility in Manchester. SolarCity, which provides renewable solar energy  panels to residential properties, business, and governments, is planning to support at least 75 jobs for its Manchester operations center, a 26,000 square foot project and the first SolarCity facility in New Hampshire. “I am proud to welcome SolarCity to the Granite State," Governor Hassan said. "SolarCity's decision to open this facility in New Hampshire reinforces that our tax-friendly environment, small and responsive state government, highly skilled workforce and high quality of life make the Granite State attractive for growing businesses.” SolarCity employs 7,000 people nationwide and operates in 17 other states. SolarCity opens operations center in ManchesterThe New Hampshire Union Leader

NY – During a recent trip to Puerto Rico, Governor Andrew Cuomo pledged to help the U.S. territory by offering advice, technical assistance, and sending state teams specializing in energy issues. He also issued an action plan to assist Puerto Rico as it confronts bankruptcy. Governor Cuomo said he would like the territory to decrease its dependence on off-island energy sources, noting noted that Puerto Rico generates at least 55% of its electricity from oil-burning power plants as opposed to using renewable energy sources like wind and solar power. Anne Reynolds, executive director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, said “Given the success of the solar industry in New York, I could see the policy expertise of state agencies potentially being useful in Puerto Rico.” Cuomo wants to help Puerto Rico with its energy economyThe Albany Times Union

TX – Governor Greg Abbott, during a trip to Mexico, and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto announced the creation of a joint energy task force to strengthen cross-border collaboration and energy development. Governor Abbott noted three goals of the newly created task force: continue to strengthen and modernize electric and natural gas infrastructure; develop resources to find additional energy solutions, and; promote investments in the energy value productive chain.  “Texas and Mexico meet at the center of North America's vast energy resources,” said Governor Abbott, “and this task force will provide a unique opportunity to enrich economic growth and development for both sides.” Abbott to establish energy task force between Texas and MexicoThe Texas Lawyer

VA – Governor Terry McAuliffe recently launched VirginiaSAVES, a statewide program to help businesses reduce energy consumption. The program, which is funded through $20 million in federally-allocated Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds, will provide loans to help lower financing costs for energy efficiency, renewable energy generation, and alternative fuel projects. In addition to private sector companies, local government and institutional organizations can apply and qualify for the program. Governor McAuliffe said, “Providing the public and private sectors with the tools they need to reduce energy consumption and save on energy costs is critical for building a new Virginia economy.” Governor McAuliffe announced $20 million to improve energy efficiency in VirginiaThe August Free Press

WA – State energy regulatory officials announced that Washington’s investor-owned utilities – Avista, Pacific Power, and Puget Sound Energy – are on track to meet the state’s renewable energy requirements. In 2006, Washington voters  approved the Energy Independence Act, which requires these utilities to use more wind, solar, and hydro power and to file compliance reports on their energy utilization by mid-2017. Each utility, this year, must supply at least 3 percent of its electricity via renewable sources. “These filings reinforce the trend that we have been seeing since the Energy Independence Act requirements took effect in 2012,” said David Danner, the chairman of the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission. Electric utilities meeting renewable energy targets, state energy regulators sayThe Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Federal and Regional

According to an investigation by USA Today, the federal Department of Energy (DOE) was hacked 159 times out of a total of 1,131 attempts between 2010 and 2014. Of the successful network intrusions, 53 gave the hackers DOE personnel’s administrative credentials within the department’s systems. In addition, the National Nuclear Security Administration within DOE was successfully hacked 19 times during the same 48-month period. The newspaper was able to obtain the data through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. "DOE does not comment on ongoing investigations or possible attributions of malicious activity," Energy Department spokesman Andrew Gumbiner said in a statement. Records: Energy Department struck by cyber attacksUSA Today

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Energy Update, August 28

In the States

AK – Governor Bill Walker is expected to recommend to state legislators that the state buy out TransCananda Corporation’s stake in a major liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in which Alaska is also interested. TransCanada, a Canadian pipeline company, currently holds the state’s interest in the pipeline and gas treatment project, which is in a preliminary phase of design and engineering. Alaska may purchase back TransCanada’s interest by reimbursing the company for its development costs plus 7.1%. Governor Walker estimates that potential buy-out costs under the current contractual agreement, which was entered into by a prior administration, could total close to $100 million. The LNG project’s partners, in addition to TransCanada, include Exxon Mobil, BP, ConocoPhillips, and the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation. Governor Walker said "We need a seat at the table…right now, they have our seat.” He added that the project will be the state’s “strongest get-well option fiscally.” Governor plans to call for company buy-out in LNG projectAssociated Press

HI – Governor David Ige said he opposes the importation and use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as an energy source for Hawaii and the state’s utility company, the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO). Governor Ige, while speaking during the Asia Pacific Resilience Innovation Summit and Expo, said LNG would not help the state reach its newly set goal of 100% renewable energy by 2040. The Governor also said he would oppose the construction of future LNG terminals because such projects would be too expensive. As part of its August 2014 power supply improvement plan, HECO included LNG as a “bridge” or “transition” fuel as the state move towards utilizing more renewable energy sources. “Any time and money spent on LNG is time and money not spent on renewable energy,” Governor Ige said. ““It’s time to focus all our efforts on renewables.” Governor David Ige opposes use of liquefied natural gasThe Honolulu Star Advertiser and Ige opposes LNG for HECOThe Honolulu Civil Beat

NV – The state’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted unanimously to keep current solar energy reimbursement rates in place through the end of the year, even though Nevada recently hit its 235 megawatt (MW) net metering cap for residential solar power. The PUC’s 3-0 decision on the rates and the net metering cap, which was reached earlier than expected, allows the PUC more time to work on new rules and rates for the solar energy industry. The PUC earlier this month rejected a move to expand the net metering cap, noting it was an issue for the state legislature. NV Energy, a public utility serving nearly 1.3 million Nevadans, said the net metering cap was hit earlier because “a rash of applications for solar installation.” Nevada keeps solar net metering rates for nowThe Reno Gazette-Journal

OR – Governor Kate Brown created an offshore wind energy group known as the WindFloat Pacific Offshore Wind Advisory Committee to find “smart solutions for Oregon’s economy through the burgeoning offshore wind energy industry.” The Committee will advise the Governor and provide support for WindFloat, a project managed by Principle Power, a wind energy developer focused on intermediate and deep-water projects. Principle Power recently received a grant worth almost $50 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to demonstrate the potential of offshore wind energy and the company has “identified the waters 198 miles off the coast of Coos Bay, Oregon” as a preferred site. "The WindFloat Pacific Project,” said Governor Brown, “has the potential to simultaneously work toward creating new energy solutions for the nation while creating hundreds of new jobs across multiple sectors here at home." The project is estimated to generate at least 8,000 megawatts (MW) of power and create more than 25,000 jobs. Oregon forms offshore wind advisory groupNA Wind Power

Federal and Regional

In advance of the upcoming Annual Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers, which is expected to focus on energy and innovations in the energy sector, including strategies to minimize climate change, the New England Coalition for Affordable Energy released a study highlighting the need for increased natural gas pipeline capacity. The report, which was completed by La Capra Associates and the Economic Development Research Group, finds that the New England region may lose up to 52,000 private sector jobs over the next five year if action is not taken to expand natural gas and electricity infrastructure. The study also contends that a lack of such infrastructure would cost regional consumers more than $5.4 billion in higher energy costs. Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, who has expressed interest in building transmission lines for the transportation of hydropower to New England, has engaged Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy and Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo on the natural gas pipeline capacity topic, and is planning to discuss it with them during the approaching conference. “Gov. Baker views this conference as an opportunity to work collaboratively with other New England governors and Eastern Canadian premiers in pursuit of sustainable solutions to strengthen our energy network while lowering costs for families and businesses,” said Lizzy Guyton, Governor Baker’s press secretary. Governor Baker headed to Newfoundland for energy talksState House News Service

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Energy Update, August 14

In the States

CO – Governor John Hickenlooper declared a state of emergency following the leak of more than three million gallons of toxic waste into several of the state’s waterways, including the Animas and San Juan Rivers. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accepted blame for the spill, which began while the EPA was using heavy machinery to check for pollutants at the abandoned Gold King Mine. The EPA recently announced, after testing the affected waterways in Colorado, that the water has returned to “pre-spill levels of toxicity.” The spill also affected Utah, New Mexico, and the Navajo Nation reservation, all of whom also declared states of emergency. In Utah, state officials are concerned the spill’s toxic waste, which includes several chemicals and heavy metals like iron and copper, may have reached Lake Powell, one of the largest reservoirs in the United States. Dr. Larry Wolk, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said “"We have our preliminary results back and at this point, we don't feel that there's any potential risk for human health." Governor John Hickenlooper drinks Animas River waterABC7 and Animas River spill: Hurdles remains at Gold KingThe Denver Post

MA – Governor Charlie Baker recently filed legislation to raise net metering caps, hoping to speed the development of solar power in the commonwealth. Net metering provides solar power owners a credit for any unused energy provided to the electric grid. The legislation seeks to encourage solar panel installation, reduce the costs of deploying solar power technology, and help the commonwealth meet a goal of 1,600 megawatts of solar power use by 2020. Specifically, the bill would raise net metering caps by two percent for both private and public solar panel owners. “In filing this bill, our administration reaffirms our commitment to diversifying the commonwealth’s energy portfolio, reducing our carbon footprint and protecting ratepayers,” Governor Baker said in a statement. Utility companies, including National Grid, said they were opposed to the legislation, noting that costs would increase and that residents without solar panels would be disadvantaged. Governor’s bill takes shine to more solar powerThe Boston Herald

TX – Governor Greg Abbott is encouraging residents to conserve energy use, especially during peak afternoon hours. The Governor’s office said statewide demand for electricity is increasing while temperatures have also quickly climbed, leading to a monthly record for electricity use in August. The Electricity Reliability Council of Texas noted that on August 10, hourly demand surpassed 69,000 megawatts (MW), beating a record set four days earlier of more than 68,000 MW. “I encourage all Texans to implement responsible energy practices,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement. “In order to mitigate stress on our state’s electricity grid, Texans should take simple measures to save as much energy as possible.” The Governor and the Council said residents should turn off all unnecessary lights, appliances, and other equipment, close their blinds and drapes, and avoid opening their refrigerators or freezers more than necessary. Additionally, residents were encouraged to use microwaves for cooking instead of electric ranges or ovens. Abbott to Texans: Try to use less powerThe Texas Tribune

WY – Governor Matt Mead is working to update his state’s energy strategy and recently scheduled six meetings to gather public input on his plans. The Governor last updated the state’s energy strategy in 2013, and since then, according to the Governor’s office, more than three-fourths of the initiatives in the previous strategy have been completed. More details on the Governor’s proposals will be available in the coming weeks. “I said when I announced the energy strategy that it is designed to be regularly revised, updated and integrated into budgeting and planning,” Governor Mead said. “The past two years have seen many successes and we want to build on them.” Governor Mead announced public meeting to discuss updated energy strategyThe Casper Journal

Federal and Regional

Fifteen states, ranging from Alabama and West Virginia to Kentucky and South Dakota, filed a petition requesting the U.S. Court of Appeals, which is based in Washington, DC, to block new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules for carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. The states asked for a ruling by September 8, exactly one year before they need to submit regulatory compliance plans to the EPA, which has not yet issued the proposed rule in the Federal Register. The Attorneys General believe the upcoming rule will invalidate existing state air quality protection plans. “This rule is the most far-reaching energy regulation in the nation’s history, and the EPA simply does not have the legal authority to carry it out,” said West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. The Obama administration recently said it feels confident its Clean Power Plan will withstand legal challenges while noting that several states, including New York and Illinois, issued statements in support of the upcoming EPA rule. Fifteen U.S. states seek to block EPA carbon ruleReuters and Morrisey, other AGs seek stay of EPA Clean Power Plan deadlinesThe West Virginia Record

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