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Blog posts January 2016

Energy Update, January 8

In the States

NJ – The state legislature approved a proposal to support the construction of a windmill farm off the coast of Atlantic City. The bill would permit but not require the state’s Board of Public Utilities to “approve the wind farm off the coast.” The project, which is expected to be built by Fishermen’s Energy, an offshore wind development company, includes six wind turbines that could produce up to 25 megawatts of electricity, or enough to power 10,000 homes. Following the state legislature’s passage of the bill, Environment New Jersey Research and Policy Center announced New Jersey has the “highest potential to develop offshore wind energy of any mid-Atlantic or New England state.” The environmental group estimates that as much as 1,700 megawatts of wind power – enough to power at least 500,000 homes – could be built in New Jersey over the next five years. The legislation now heads to Governor Chris Christie’s desk for his consideration, though many expect the Governor will let it die as the legislative session closes. NJ lawmakers approve bill for windmill farm off Atlantic City coastCBS New York and Environmental group: NJ’s offshore wind power potential is tops -- PennEnergy

NV – The Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved a plan to cut and eventually sunset the state’s net metering payments for rooftop solar systems. About 40 states have net-metering programs, which allow homeowners with rooftop solar panel installations to be compensated with credits for any excess electricity they generate. Following the PUC’s decision, SunRun and SolarCity, two of the largest solar energy companies in the United States, announced they would cease all operations in Nevada. SunRun projects the move will result in hundreds of job losses and SolarCity already announced it eliminated 550 positions in Nevada and stopped all sales and installations. The PUC’s decision, according to solar advocates, benefits the state’s only utility company, NV Energy, which is owned by billionaire Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy company. “Nevada passed incentives to attract residents to go solar,” said Bryan Miller, senior vice president of public policy and power markets at SunRun, “But after baiting homeowners with incentives, the state switched the rules, penalizing solar homeowners to deliver additional profit to NV Energy." Governor Brian Sandoval said that while he supports solar energy and will assist employees who are losing or have lost their jobs, the solar companies should “respect the process.” “I’m not taking sides,” said Governor Sandoval, “You have 17,000 rooftop solar customers. You have [approximately] 700,000 NV Energy customers who are essentially subsidizing that." Governor Sandoval weighs-in on solar flare-upKTNV and Rooftop solar company SunRun says it is also exiting NevadaThe Las Vegas Review-Journal

OR – State Treasurer Ted Wheeler sent a letter to Governor Kate Brown asking the Governor to suspend the Oregon Department of Energy’s small-scale energy loan program (SELP), which Treasurer Wheeler called “no longer self-sustaining” and in need of a taxpayer bailout. The Treasurer noted that the program, which was launched in 1981 and provides low-interest loans to governments and small businesses, has a $20 million deficit. Additionally, Treasurer Wheeler believes a SELP bailout would cost Oregon taxpayers at least $15.3 million or more if more loans go into default. In 2012, Treasurer Wheeler sent a similar notice to then Governor John Kitzhaber though no action was taken. "The program needs to be reined in right now," said Treasurer Wheeler. State Treasurer asks governor to suspend Energy Department’s troubled loan programThe Oregonian and Wheeler: State must end faltering energy loan programThe Portland Tribune

Federal and Regional

The Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, a bipartisan coalition of 20 Governors dedicated to the development of wind energy resources, chose Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo as its new chair and vice chair, respectively, for 2016. “I look forward to working with Governor Raimondo and our Coalition colleagues to help the wind energy industry diversify our nation’s energy portfolio and drive economic development in our states,” said Governor Branstad. “We will continue to share best practices across the states and work with Federal leaders to deliver stability and predictability in supportive Federal policies.” According to Governor Branstad, 28.5% of the energy produced in Iowa came from wind power. Governor Raimondo said “Wind power expansion will create jobs, diversify our energy sources, and ensure long-term energy affordability.” Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition names new leadership teamNA Wind

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