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Blog posts October 2016

Energy Update, October 21

October 25, 2016

In the States

UT – Governor Gary Herbert’s Office of Energy Development hosted the second annual Utah Air and Energy Symposium to discuss the state’s air quality challenges vis-à-vis future energy development, which is set to be a key topic studied by the state legislature during next year’s 45-day legislative session. Much of the discussion at the Symposium focused on alternative fuel vehicles, air quality regulations for the oil and gas industry, and methane leaks, which the state’s Department of Environmental Quality is currently studying. Jon Goldstein of the Environmental Defense Fund spoke in favor of increased regulations, noting that neighboring Colorado was able to achieve a 75 percent reduction in methane leaks by implementing new rules on the state’s energy producers. In another session, state Representative Stephen Handy (R) discussed his work to secure Utah’s part of the settlement under Volkswagen’s violation of diesel emissions and his hope that the state will utilize the funds to replace diesel school buses. Utah air quality, energy event draws diverse crowdKSL Salt Lake City

VA – At an event showcasing the installation of a new solar system for public schools in Albemarle County, Governor Terry McAuliffe released an update to his 2014 Virginia Energy Plan, titled the “Energy in the New Virginia Economy,” which outlines his administration’s work on the Commonwealth’s strategic energy priorities. The update to the energy plan, which is required by statute, focuses on the Governor’s four priorities: strategic growth in the energy sector, best in class infrastructure, alternative fuels and advanced vehicles technology, and workforce development. Some of the achievements highlighted by the Governor include the construction of a 80 megawatt solar farm in Accomack County, the creation of the Commonwealth’s first Green Community Program, and the use of over 200 alternative fuel vehicles by the state government. “Today's installation is the perfect venue to formally unveil an update on the progress we are making toward making Virginia a leader in the global energy economy,” said Governor McAuliffe. “The clean energy sector has been a central part of our efforts to build a new Virginia economy and that effort has paid off as revenue in the sector has grown four-fold to $2 billion.” At Monticello High School, McAuliffe touts solar panels, energy planThe News & Advance

VT – Iberdrola Renewables, a Spanish energy company, is seeking to build the state’s largest wind energy project, which would consist of 24 turbines almost 500 feet tall generating close to 90 megawatts of power, or enough electricity for 42,000 homes annually. The project, which would be built in a private forest near the towns of Windham and Grafton, is on the ballot this fall for voters to approve or disapprove. Under increasing pressure and scrutiny from local officials and residents who are concerned the proposed project will generate noise and lower property values, and sensing the voters would reject the proposed wind farm, Iberdrola offered to pay “a total of $565,000 a year to the 815 registered voters in both towns, or $14.1 million over 25 years,” for their support. The project, which is supported by outgoing Governor Peter Shumlin, has become a key issue in the race to succeed him with Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott (R) opposing the project and Sue Minter (D), a former transportation secretary under Governor Shumlin, supporting it. “There’s nothing I’m more proud of than my legacy of having helped to get Vermont off of oil and coal and moved us more aggressively than any other state in the nation to renewables,” Governor Shumlin said. Vermont wind project needs support, so company offers to pay votersThe New York Times

Federal and Regional

The National Governors Association (NGA) published two papers focused on enhancing energy assurance planning and response and strategies for states to develop advanced energy storage. Both publications were developed by the NGA’s Center for Best Practices Environment, Energy, and Transportation Division, which “provides information, research, policy analysis, technical assistance, and resource development for governors and their staff.” The first paper summarizes the NGA’s findings from a 2015 project in which NGA and New Jersey state officials worked with six other states – Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Rhode Island – “to understand and apply lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy” while the second paper explores how states can use incentives, regulations, and policy to boost energy storage.

The United States Navy announced its purchasing renewable energy from a new 150-megawatt solar farm in Arizona, or what is soon to be the largest procurement of renewable energy by the federal government, according to federal officials. The solar facility, called the Mesquite Solar Complex, is owned by Sempra U.S. Gar & Power and will supply a third of the electricity needs of the Navy’s installations in California, including the San Diego naval base and the Marines’ Twentynine Palms and Camp Pendleton bases The Navy’s purchase will support over 800 temporary construction and permanent jobs. “It’s going to be reliable, it’s going to be cheaper than what we’re paying for brown power, and it just diversifies our energy sources for these bases,” said Dennis McGinn, the assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations and environment. U.S. government makes biggest clean energy purchase everThe Washington Post and Tonopah solar farms to supply energy to military basesThe Arizona Republic

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Energy Update, October 7

October 25, 2016

In the States

AL – The Alabama Power Company, the state’s largest utility, posted a request for proposals (RFP) for renewable energy projects, hoping to bring more solar, wind, and geothermal energy generation to Alabama. The company, which has already announced more than 90 megawatts of solar power projects since last year, received approval from the Alabama Public Service Commission “to develop up to 500 megawatts of renewable energy projects,” including several projects at military installations across the state. In addition to solar, wind, and geothermal energy, the RFP calls for projects focused on tidal or ocean current energy, gas derived from waste or landfills, hydrogen obtained from renewable sources, and biomass energy. "Alabama Power supports renewable energy, where it makes sense for our customers," John Kelley, the utility’s director of forecasting and resource planning, said. "Renewable markets change a lot, and this proposal gives us a chance to see what may be out there in the 2017 and 2018 time frame." Alabama Power eyes future renewable energy projectsThe Huntsville Times

CT – Governor Dan Malloy discussed the importance of renewable energy generation with 26 local chambers of commerce, the Connecticut Green Bank, and officials from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. After the meeting, nearly a dozen of the local chambers present pledged to work with the Green Bank to “inform their businesses about affordable, long-term financing options” for clean energy projects and programs. Several other chambers also inquired about the state’s new Comprehensive Energy Strategy, which seeks reduce greenhouse gas emissions and will be released at some point this fall. “Local chambers of commerce play an important role in helping Connecticut continue to prosper from the growing economic development opportunities of cleaner, cheaper, more reliable energy,” said Governor Malloy. Governor, 26 local chambers show strong interest in clean energyChamber Innovation

ND – Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem sent a letter to Energy Transfer Partners, a Texas-based company developing the Dakota Access pipeline, to explain why it purchased 7,000 acres of land recently for an undisclosed amount. The company, which must respond within 30 days, must describe how its purchase complies with the state’s Depression-era anti-corporate farming law, which bars certain corporations from owning or leasing farmland and engaging in farming. Energy Transfer Partners continues to face public scrutiny over its proposed $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile pipeline that would carry approximately 450,000 barrels of oil per day from the Bakken oilfields to a hub in Illinois. The project’s construction has been delayed due to several lawsuits by local Native American tribes, which claim the company’s “bulldozers disturbed ancestral burials and other sacred sites.” General Stenehjem said "We'll treat this just like we do every case.” Stenehjem gives Dakota Access 30 days to explain land purchaseThe Jamestown Sun

Federal and Regional

The Governors’ Wind & Solar Energy Coalition, which counts Governors from 20 states as members, sent a letter to President Barack Obama seeking his administration’s support to quickly site wind projects, both on land and offshore. The letter notes that offshore wind energy could “create thousands of jobs in businesses ranging from R&D and engineering to manufacturing and marine construction.” Additionally, the Governors would like the administration to streamline the leasing and permitting process as well as to improve permitting collaboration between the states and the federal government. The Governors also noted their hope that the administration and its agencies continue working with the private sector, conservation groups, and states on final rules impacting wind and solar energy development. American Wind Energy Association CEO Tom Kiernan, who thanked the Governors for their support, said “These Governors are leading. They’re attuned to economic development needs and deployment challenges in their states, and they’re looking to the federal agencies to help rather than hinder.” Tax credits aren’t enough to spur renewables, Governors sayAgriPulse

According the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), which is part of the Department of Energy, Hurricane Matthew may cause problems for East Coast energy infrastructure.  The storm, which led four Governors to declare states of emergency, may affect product terminals, possibly reducing energy imports. EIA also published map highlighting energy disruptions, links for consumers to determine fuel availability during the storm, and made available its real-time information on electricity demand.

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Energy Update, September 23

October 25, 2016

In the States

MA – Governor Charlie Baker signed an executive order directing state officials to “develop regulations for specific, annual reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by next summer.” The Governor also ordered states officials to develop a plan for an expected rise in the sea level and potential extreme weather events. The executive orders follows a state court decision that declared the Commonwealth has not met its obligations under a 2008 state law to cut greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent below 1990 levels. Environmental and utility industry advocates applauded the order, and noted the emissions reductions should apply to multiple types of businesses across different industry sectors, such as taxi operators, grocery stores, and trucking companies. “This executive order,” said Governor Baker, “signals our continuing commitment to combatting and preparing for climate change impacts across state government and in our communities.” Baker orders new rules to reduce greenhouse emissionsThe Boston Globe

ND – The state’s Emergency Commission, which is chaired by Governor Jack Dalrymple, voted unanimously to borrow up to $6 million from the Bank of North Dakota, the only state-owned bank in the United States, “to support policing efforts related to the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.” The proposed construction of the $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile pipeline by Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners was stalled recently by protestors and by a federal appeals court decision to review a legal challenge by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. According to Governor Dalrymple and Major General Alan Dohrmann, the state’s adjutant general, the state has already spent close to $1.9 million on protest-related expenses. If completed, the pipeline would initially carry approximately 450,000 barrels of oil per day from the Bakken oilfields to a hub in Illinois, eventually expanding to 570,000 barrels per day. “The problem that we have, of course, is that these public safety needs are imminent every day,” Governor Dalrymple said. “We really have no choice but to protect the public with law enforcement. Recovering funds from the federal government is definitely a top priority, but it undoubtedly will take some time.” Panel votes to borrow $6M from state-owned bank to deal with pipeline protestsNorth Dakota Forum News

OK – Oklahoma is on track to surpass California, which is currently third in the nation behind Texas and Iowa, for installed wind power capacity. The state, which already ranks third in construction activity and overall wind energy generation, produces enough electricity through wind to power approximately 1.3 million homes. In 2015, wind energy accounted for more than 18% of Oklahoma’s energy production while also supporting 7,000 jobs. Several companies are planning to bring numerous projects on line in the state by the end of this year, including Clean Line Energy Partners, which is building the 700-mile Plains & Eastern transmission project that will carry 3,500 megawatts of clean energy generation from Oklahoma to customers in Tennessee, Arkansas, and other markets. “This will be the largest wind energy project in the country, the largest electric renewable project of any kind,” said Mario Hurtado, the executive vice president of development for Clean Line. Wind a growing force in Oklahoma energyThe Tulsa World

Federal and Regional

An  analysis prepared for the Environmental Defense Fund finds that 21 of the 27 states suing to block the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) are “on track to meet [their] 2024 targets with existing plants and planned investments.” The report also finds that 18 of the states are on track to meet their 2030 targets with no changes to current plans. The suing state Attorneys General, however, noted their objections to the CPP are not political or because they do not agree with the goals, but rather that they view the CPP as a federal overreach and “want to maintain flexibility to make energy decisions at the state level that reflect changing market conditions.” "We don't have anything against clean air," Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said. "That really doesn't factor into my decision to say the federal government has gone beyond its legal authority.” The CPP, which was finalized in 2015, sets carbon emission reduction goals for each state but permits states to decide how to achieve the goals. “We are seeing reductions earlier than we ever expected,” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said. “It’s a great sign that the market has already shifted and people are invested in the newer technologies, even while we are in litigation.” Most states on track to meet emissions targets they call burdenReuters

Xcel Energy, a Minneapolis-based utility company, announced plans to expand its wind generation capacity in Upper Midwest by 60 percent. The company is planning to add eight to ten wind farms or 1,500 megawatts of new wind power, enough to power 750,000 homes, that should be fully operational between 2017 and 2020. The new wind farms, which represent a $2 billion investment, will serve Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Xcel expects that, by 2030, one-third of its power generation in these states will come from mostly wind power, while nuclear will continue to make up one-third, as it does currently. Chris Clark, Xcel’s Upper Midwest president said the company needs to take advantage of the soon-to-decrease federal renewable energy tax credit, noting “We think this is a great value for our customers.” Xcel plans big expansion in wind powerThe Star Tribune

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Energy Update, September 9

October 25, 2016

In the States

CA – Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that requires the state, which is one of the world’s largest economies, to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. The new law, SB 32, sets reduction targets higher than previous goals set a decade ago by the state, though several policy and governmental institutions, including the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, admit that California may only be able to achieve a 20% reduction below 1990 levels by 2030. The state’s new plan encourages renewable energy use, an increased deployment of electric cars, and energy efficiency while placing additional emissions limitations on certain industries. Governor Brown also signed into law AB1 197, which grants state lawmakers with more regulatory oversight while also providing assistance to low-income and minority communities living near oil refineries and factories. “What we’re doing here is farsighted, as well as far-reaching,” Governor Brown said at the signing ceremony in downtown Los Angeles. “California is doing something that no other state has done.” Governor Brown signs sweeping legislation to combat climate changeThe Los Angeles Times

IA – Governor Terry Branstad, joined by U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, toured the Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP) facility, the world’s first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant, which uses corn kernel fibers as feedstock. During the tour, which Iowa Renewable Fuels Association and the Iowa Corn Growers Association also joined, the Governor discussed opportunities to increase the demand for ethanol and the need for engine manufacturing to include ethanol fuel in its planning and designs. "Renewable fuel is something I'm very passionate about," Governor Branstad said. "Renewable fuels are important for Iowa and they are important for America. A robust Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) will continue to diversify our nation's transportation fuels, add value to commodities grown in rural America, reduce emissions, and provide consumers low-cost choices at the pump." To date, the QCCP facility has produced at least 5 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol, or 90% of the United States’ total cellulosic ethanol production over the least three years. Governor Branstad, QCCP discuss future of renewable fuelsThe Pilot Tribune

VA – While touring three locations benefiting from energy efficiency improvements, Governor Terry McAuliffe challenged the Commonwealth’s leading utility company, Dominion Virginia Power, to better educate its customers about the value of energy efficiency in reducing consumption and lower their costs. “The progress we have made over the past year demonstrates the impact simple, low-cost energy efficiency measures can have on lowering energy bills,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Our electric utilities are in the perfect position to drive this education and outreach.” In response, Dominion’s President Robert Blue accepted the challenge, and announced an expansion of the company’s educational Energy Share program, which will developed training sessions and materials to enable its employees to serve as energy efficiency representatives. Mr. Blue said “We will continue to place strong emphasis on the energy efficiency measures that any consumers can take to reduce energy usage and save on their bills.” The challenge comes one year after the state legislature passed a measure to require utilities to use non-ratepayer funds to implement energy efficiency programs. Governor challenges Dominion to accelerate energy efficiency educationAlexandria News

Federal and Regional

The Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity is suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to address ocean acidification as required under the Clean Water Act. Ocean acidification, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), occurs as a result of decreased oceanic pH levels caused by an increase in carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. The lawsuit calls for the EPA to update its water quality criteria, which according to the Center have not been revised in 40 years, for measuring pollutants “to reflect the latest science showing carbon dioxide emissions are altering the chemistry of oceans.” The EPA, in the past, has acknowledged and published research demonstrating the effects of carbon dioxide levels on oceanic seawater and estimates that 28% of all carbon dioxide emitted over the past two centuries have been absorbed by the Earth’s oceans. "The EPA is ignoring the threat of ocean acidification, and that's very dangerous," Emily Jeffers, a Center attorney, said in a statement. "We need to act now to protect oysters, corals and other marine animals." EPA sued over clean water rules to curb ocean acidificationReuters

As part of their annual meeting, the six New England Governors and the Premiers of the five eastern Canadian provinces met recently in Boston, Massachusetts to discuss energy policy, rising energy costs, and climate change as well as other issues facing their states and provinces. The Governors and the Premiers discussed their efforts to cut carbon dioxide emissions as well as ongoing regional collaborative projects, such as the building of hydropower projects, wind turbines, and transmission stations. During last year’s annual meeting, the Governors and the Premiers pledged to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 35% to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and at least 85% per by 2050. “Our relationships with one another economically and culturally serve to benefit us all," said Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, who co-chaired the conference this year with Premier Wade MacLauchlan of Prince Edward Island. Leaders from New England, Canada talk energy, trade, opioidsThe Republican

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Energy Update, August 26

October 25, 2016

In the States

CO – In response to a court-ordered stay of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), Governor John Hickenlooper, during the annual Rocky Mountain Energy Summit, announced he is considering issuing an executive order to cut carbon pollution, directing state agencies to “incorporate additional climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.” The draft order mandates a 25% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2025 to 2012 levels, and a 35% reduction in emissions by 2030. The Governor’s draft order sets higher reduction target levels than the CPP, which called for the state to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 28% and overall emissions by 32% by 2030. Hickenlooper threatens executive order on clean airThe Durango Herald

MI – Governor Rick Snyder asked the Indiana-based Midcontinental Independent System Operator (MISO), a regional transmission organization (RTO) that provides open-access transmission services and monitoring of high-voltage systems, “to study the near and long-term benefits of electric transmission and generation expansion…to determine if there is an opportunity to lower costs while increasing reliability.” The Governor is specifically asking MISO to study connecting the state’s Upper Peninsula (UP) with systems in Canada as well as improving the connecting between the UP with the Straits of Mackinac. “Since Michigan has some of the highest prices for transmission in the MISO footprint, it makes sense to ask whether, in the long term, we can all spend less while increasing reliability by strengthening our ties to each other and our neighbors,” Governor Snyder said. The Governor previously asked for a similar study in 2012, which MISO completed, but did not look into potential connections to Canadian systems. Michigan Governor asks MISO to study transmission expansion in NorthT&D World

MT – Following the announced closure of two of Montana’s oldest coal-fired power plant units, state lawmakers are drafting measures to raise taxes on all electricity producers in the state. The lawmakers, as part of a package of legislative proposals to be debated in the 2017 legislative session, would also impose millions of dollars in fees on the power plants owners and require the state Department of Environmental Quality to approve any “decommissioning and remediation plans for coal-fired plants.” The two plants, which are part of the larger Colstrip power plant, are scheduled to close by 2022, as required by a legal settlement, and are currently owned by Puget Sound Energy and Talen Energy, which collectively employ approximately 700 people. Montana lawmakers want o make it costly to close Colstrip plantThe Billings Gazette and Montana lawmakers craft measures to deal with coal plant closureThe Olympian

Federal

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management received a little more than $18 million in bids to drill for offshore oil and natural gas in the western Gulf of Mexico. The lease sale was considered modest, in comparison to prior opportunities, with companies only submitting bids on 24 areas out of the close to 4,500 that were available. And according to BOEM, the acres that received bids represent less than one percent of the acres available for natural gas and oil drilling leasing. BHP Billiton Petroleum, BP Exploration and Production, and Exxon Mobil Corporation all submitted bids, with BHP leading the pack with 12 bids for around $10 million. “The relatively modest results of today’s lease sale are indicative of the current market conditions and regulatory environment,” said Randall Luthi, president of the National Ocean Industries Association. “Despite these challenging circumstances, the [participating companies] are investing millions of dollars in the future of America’s energy and economic security with no guarantee of success or financial return.” Lease sale for offshore drilling in Gulf of Mexico receives few bidsMorning Consult

Eleven state Attorneys General and the District of Columbia’s Attorney General sent a letter to House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith of Texas, requesting that he end his investigation into state probes of Exxon Mobil Corporation. The Attorneys General believe the Chairman’s latest attempt to subpoena documents related to state investigations in both New York and Massachusetts “exceed Congress’ constitutional authority.” Attorneys General from California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington signed the letter. The Chairman subpoenaed New York’s Eric Schneiderman and Massachusetts’s Maura Healey in addition to eight environmental groups to ask for records related to their investigations “into whether Exxon lied to the public about its knowledge of climate change.” So far, both Schneiderman and Healey have refused to respond or submit to the subpoena. Democratic AGs push back against GOP chairman’s Exxon probeThe Hill

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Energy Update, August 12

October 25, 2016

In the States and Territories

MA – Hoping to stabilize electricity rates and diversify the state’s energy portfolio, Governor Charlie Baker signed a new energy bill, An Act Relative to Energy Diversity, into law. The measure will require utilities to “competitively solicit and contract for approximately 1,200 megawatts of clean energy generation” from either hydropower, onshore wind and solar supported by hydropower, or standalone onshore wind and solar power sources. According to the National Wildlife Federation, the new law is the largest-ever state commitment to offshore wind power to date. The bill also establishes a commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, program “that will enable property owners to finance comprehensive energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades that are repaid through a property tax assessment.” “Massachusetts is always at the forefront of adopting innovative clean energy solutions, and this legislation will allow us to build on that legacy and embrace increased amounts of renewable energy, including hydropower,” said Governor Baker. “With our partners in the Legislature, the Commonwealth has taken another major step towards providing residents and businesses with a cost-effective and reliable clean energy future.” MA Gov. signs comprehensive energy diversity legislationTransmission and Distribution and Newly-signed energy bill poised to jump-start offshore wind in Mass.NA Wind Power

ME – Governor Paul LePage has proposed an end to the state’s solar net metering program and policies, and favors replacing it with a market-based approach. The Governor believes net metering forces customers who do not use solar power “to pay an unfair share of maintaining the electric grid.” In his plan, the Governor proposes a three-year grandfather period to allow residents who have installed solar panels to recover some of their costs. After the three years, the plan still allows consumers who generate electricity from solar power to be compensated only for excess energy that aligns with the “real-time value of electricity in the region.” Patrick Woodcock, who directs the governor’s energy office, submitted the new proposal to regulators at the Maine Public Utilities Commission, which is expected to decide the state’s path sometime in the fall. LePage proposes end to solar net metering programMaine Public Broadcasting

NV – The state’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) decided to phase out a subsidy for homeowners who install rooftop solar panels over the next 12 years. The decision follows a ruling by the state Supreme Court that a referendum challenging the PUC’s decision would not be allowed on this November’s ballot. According to the PUC, the state has subsidized roughly 17,000 customers each year, costing around $16 million per year, under the state’s net metering program, which is also being phased out. Paul Thomsen, who chairs the PUC, said “As the rooftop solar industry has gotten larger and larger, we've seen this subsidy grow. What started as a legislative policy to kickstart the industry, now 18 years later, it's time for that industry to stand on its own two feet.” A separate proposal to grandfather rates for certain customers producing electricity from solar energy will be reviewed by the state legislature next year. Nevada starts to pull the plug on solar subsidiesFox News

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that Exelon is planning to take over the FitzPatrick Nuclear Plant is Oswego, New York. The Governor said Exelon, which also promised to keep the plant operations for at least another 12 years, will save more than 600 jobs. Exelon already runs two adjacent nuclear power plants, the Nine Mile Point plants in Oswego and the Ginna plant near Rochester. The announcement by the Governor and Exelon come after the state’s Public Service Commission, which still needs to approve the sale of the FitzPatrick plant to Exelon, agreed to supply $8 billion in subsidies to help keep the state’s nuclear plants open. “Saving these plants is part of our clean energy plan,” Governor Cuomo said. “If you lose the nuclear component, then it would make you much more reliant on other sources,” like natural gas and oil, which the Governor said would increase carbon emissions. FitzPatrick sale will keep nuclear as part of NY’s future energy mixNorth Country Public Radio

PR – Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed legislation into law that would “expedite the connection of consumers’ renewable energy systems to the Commonwealth’s Electric Power Authority utility, also known as Prepa. The bill requires Prepa to have power meters that can be read remotely while also mandating that Prepa develop an expedited process for power distributors with a capacity that is lower than one megawatt to connect to the utility’s grid. The territory first enacted net-metering legislation in 2007, allowing certain nonresidential systems and residential customers with a generating capacity of 25 kilowatts to transfer electricity they do not use back to the Commonwealth’s grid. Governor enacts law expediting net-metering connectionsCaribbean Business

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Energy Update, June 27

October 25, 2016

In the States

HI – Governor David Ige, and Dennis McGinn, Assistant Secretary for the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the State of Hawaii and the Department of the Navy focused on the reduction of greenhouse gases, fossil fuel usage, energy efficiency, water consumption, the use of renewable energy and the use of alternative fueled vehicles. According to Governor Ige, the MOU “allows us to capitalize to the greatest extent possible our combined wisdom, resources and experience to achieve greater energy efficiency, security, economic vitality and carbon reduction.” The Department of the Navy and the Department of Defense are the biggest customers of Hawaii’s electric utility and have an enormous impact on Hawaii’s economy. This agreement comes as Governor Ige and the Hawaii legislature are in the midst of creating policy framework to develop offshore wind energy technology, something that Hawaii is not previously known for. However, in conjunction with its solar energy industry, Hawaii is making progress towards its goal of producing all of its electricity from renewable resources. Navy Hawaii Sign Memorandum of Understanding  – Defense Video Imagery Distribution System and  Navy Hawaii Sign Memorandum of Understanding – Hookele News

MA – Charlie Baker is pushing for state lawmakers to act on key bills on energy and jobs before the two-year legislative session ends on July 31st. The energy bill would spur Massachusetts’s larger state power companies to sign long-term contracts to purchase hydropower from Canada if passed. In addition, the energy bill would incentivize offshore wind development in Massachusetts. Baker hopes concerns about the budget deficit will not have a negative impact on policy being passed, "this is one of those bills that absolutely positively has to make it through," said Baker.  Already, about $5 billion dollars in projects in Springfield Massachusetts are set to be announced, or are currently underway according to Rick Sullivan, CEO of the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council. Sullivan announced the news at a developer’s conference in Massachusetts attended by approximately 300. Baker strived to use the summit to convince developers who attended that western Massachusetts is a “good place to be” and can compete with other parts of the country. Gov. Baker Urges Legislative Action on Energy, Jobs BillsWAMC NORTHEAST PUBLIC RADIO

OH – As a result of an initiative started by Governor John Kasich, 59 percent of all rules that have been reviewed by the Common Sense Initiative Office that have had a “visible impact” on business in the past, have been amended or rescinded. In 2010 Governor John Kasich created an agency to streamline rules and regulations that impact Ohio’s business environment. Thus far the Common Sense Initiative has been making significant progress. A meeting attended by Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor, Public Utilities of Ohio Commissioner Beth Trrombold, which was held at the offices of the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, included a discussion about Ohio’s rapidly evolving energy landscape and how regulatory changes have affected it. Fifteen years ago, coal-fired electric generation dominated Ohio’s energy footprint, but now it is made up of nearly 50 percent natural gas and renewables. With natural gas prices so low, “the temptation is to go all in on natural gas,” said Trrombold. Lieutenant governor tells of aid to businessThe Blade

NY – Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo has proposed the Clean Energy Standard, (CES) a clean energy agenda that calls for 50% of the state’s electricity to come from renewable energy resources by 2030, as well as a mandate for a 40% decrease in carbon emissions in the same time frame. The CES is critical for upstate New York where many of the state’s power plants reside. The Battle Group recently reported that nuclear power from upstate New York accounts for "more than $3 billion toward GDP of New York State, provides 25,000 jobs and pays almost $150 million in taxes, locally and statewide." The CES includes subsidies to keep open several upstate nuclear power plants that are at risk of closing because of low electricity prices driven down by Natural Gas. The CES also includes substantial investments in wind and solar power. Good News from Diablo Canyon – The New York Times and Cuomo’s energy goals need support – The Democrat & Chronicle

Regional

California Governor Jerry Brown, plans to expand the state’s electrical grid. The plan seeks to connect California’s electric system to its western neighbors. (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah and California) When wind is blowing in a neighboring state, the electricity generated by windmills there can be sent to places in California where there is less wind production. A regional approach is thought to be more effective and cost efficient according to Robert Weisenmiller, Chairman of the California Energy Commission. “Much of California and the West is operating under an outdated operating model,” said Weisenmiller. “The question is not why we do this, but how we approach regionalization.” Regionalizing the grid could save customers up to $9 billion in the first 20 years according to California officials. It would also put the state in a better position to generate 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. Part of the plan is to combine the California Independent System Operator (CalISO) with Oregon-based electricity producer PacifiCorp. Since April of 2015 the two have been in talks exploring the feasibility of joining together. Not everyone is in favor of the merger however, “in weighing whether to support PacifiCorp’s participation, I will look at the proposal and the evidence to determine if I believe this is in the best interest of Wyoming ratepayers… as of today, I’m not convinced this is in the best interest of Wyoming” said Governor Mead of Wyoming. Plan for regional power grid raises hopes, doubts -The San Diego Union-Tribune and Brown wants to resurrect a plan to expand the state’s power grid, but some say it’s not that simple – The Los Angeles Times

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Energy Update, June 10

October 25, 2016

In the States

IL – Exelon, a national utility company, plans to shut down two nuclear power plants in Illinois after the company’s efforts to receive a bailout from the state legislature failed. The power plants include the Clinton Power Station in Clinton, Illinois and the Quad Cities Generating Station in Cordova, a small town located on the banks of the Mississippi River. According to Exelon’s CEO, Chris Crane, the power plants lost $800 million over the last seven years thanks to a “slowing demand for electricity and a flood of cheap natural gas.” The power plant closings puts a little more than 4,300 jobs at risk, including 1,500 plant workers who may be able to transfer to other company locations. “The premature closures of Clinton and Quad Cities continue an alarming trend – our nation is losing top-performing nuclear power plants due to flawed electricity market conditions,” said Marvin Fertel, chief executive of the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry trade group. “In the process, we are moving farther away from achieving our nation’s ambitious clean air commitments.” Exelon to close two nuclear plants in IllinoisThe New York Times

MA – The state legislature passed a measure requiring the Commonwealth’s utilities to enter into long-term contracts to buy 1,200 megawatts of Canadian hydro-electricity and offshore wind energy. If signed into law, the bill, which also requires utilities to determine the cost-effectiveness of these renewable energy sources, is projected to help the state derive 20% of its electricity from renewable sources. Governor Charlie Baker said he supports the bill’s mission, noting that several nuclear and fossil fuel power plants are shutting down, and that the Commonwealth needs to a develop a “proactive strategy to solving [these issues] collaboratively.” Governor Baker said all New England states need to continue working together to address their energy needs, pointing to an earlier multi-state clean energy request for proposal issued by Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. State lawmakers considering bill that would boost renewable energyWWLP and Baker: Power drain points to need for energy plan soonThe Lowell Sun

MD – Governor Larry Hogan vetoed the Clean Energy Jobs Act, which would have expanded the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS). The RPS currently calls for 20% of Maryland’s electricity to be produced via renewable sources by 2022. The measure raised the RPS to 25% by 2020, which according to the legislation’s proponents would have resulted in 1.3 gigawatts more of clean energy. In his veto message, Governor Hogan said “This legislation is a tax increase that will be levied upon every ratepayer in the state, and for that reason alone, I cannot allow it to become law.” The Governor noted that the increased RPS would tax state ratepayers an additional $49 million to $196 million by 2020. Advocacy groups and others supporting the bill have suggested the General Assembly, which finished its 2016 session in April, may seek to override the Governor’s veto. Governor vetoes clean energy bill, views it as taxThe Dispatch and Maryland governor vetoes renewable energy billSI News

NE – Testifying on behalf of the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Kansas City, Governor Pete Ricketts expressed his support of efforts to maintain the nation’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The Governor also asked the EPA to scuttle a proposed decrease in the renewable volume obligation (RVO) for the second consecutive year. “The Renewable Fuel Standard is one of the most successful energy policies adopted by Congress,” said Governor Ricketts in his testimony. “The RFS laid a foundation for biofuels to provide consumers with renewable fuel choices in a market controlled by the petroleum industry.” Governor Ricketts said the biofuel industry supports close to one million jobs and stimulates investments in states, including his native Nebraska. “A strong RFS,” noted Governor Ricketts, “means more jobs here at home, greater energy security, and a cleaner environment.” Ricketts calls on EPA to fulfill RFS promiseKTIC and Nebraska’s governor wants EPA to maintain the RFSBrownfield News

Federal and Regional

The Interior Department is expanding its offshore wind energy program to New York, adding more than 81,000 acres of the Atlantic Ocean available for wind energy leases. The section off the New York coast, which is called the New York Wind Energy Area, is on the outer continental shelf, approximately 11 miles south of Long Island. The area is expected to generate at least 700 megawatts of energy, or enough to power a conservative estimate of 245,000 homes. "These are significant steps for our federal offshore renewable energy program," said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. Once the leasing sale is completed, New York will become the 11th state that is either interested or participating in an offshore wind energy leasing project in collaboration with the federal government. Interior expands offshore wind program to New YorkThe Washington Examiner

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