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Blog posts December 2018

Energy Update: December 21, 2018

In the States

CT – The Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) has approved five contracts with two utilities for long-term power purchases that will provide the state with 252 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy annually. PURA’s 20-year contracts with Eversource Energy and United Illuminating include the state’s first offshore wind power program and four fuel-cell projects. Combined, estimates predict the power produced will supply 4.6 percent of Connecticut’s annual power consumption. One project, dubbed Revolution Wind, is slated to generate 200 MW of electricity from a wind farm built in federal waters about halfway between Montauk, NY and Martha’s Vineyard, or enough energy to power 100,000 homes in the state. Offshore construction of the Revolution Wind project will begin in 2022 with operations online by 2023. According to the companies, approximately 1,400 jobs will be created. Connecticut regulators approve contracts for renewable energy projectsThe Hour

 

National and Regional

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, and Governor Claudia Pavlovich of Sonora, Mexico signed an agreement to develop a plan that may result in natural gas shipments to Asia. The four-year collaboration agreement, which does not require the commitment of any state finances, may include the connecting of several existing pipelines to transport natural gas in New Mexico west and south through Arizona and into Sonora and finally to the port of Guaymas in the Gulf of California. At the Port, the gas would be liquefied and shipped to Asian markets. New Mexico is currently producing 3.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day and is projected to produce 4 billion cubic feet per day by 2022. When asked how Arizona would benefit from the collaboration Governor Ducey said, “This is just a way for us to work with our neighbors and promote binational trade…this is just another way for us to bring that to life and be cooperative in economic development.” Neither Governor Ducey nor Governor Martinez are concerned about a shortage of gas in the United States as a result of the collaboration.

 

“Asia’s burgeoning demand, New Mexico’s abundant supply, and Arizona and Sonora’s strategic location and transport networks all combine to present an opportunity for continued regional growth,” according to the collaboration. Ducey signs pipeline pact with New Mexico, SonoraArizona Capitol Times

 

Newly elected and re-elected governors across the nation are making aggressive moves toward addressing climate change and renewable energy. Governor Kate Brown of Oregon is prioritizing a measure to create a cap-and-trade system similar to the one California is pursuing. The proposal, laid out in a budget blueprint in November and would seek to set a limit on greenhouse gas emissions. To manage the new strategy and supervise the state’s efforts, Governor Brown will create the proposed Oregon Climate Authority. However, several critics of the plan believe the Governor’s approach will negatively impact the state’s economy because the technology available does not yet allow businesses to reduce emissions as much as the Governor’s proposed mandate. Washington Governor Jay Inslee has gone on record with The Hill that he will make an attempt to advance new climate change measures through the legislature. In Colorado, Governor-Elect Jared Polis stated, “The sooner we can achieve true energy independence, the better economic growth we’ll have and the cleaner air we’ll have. Retiring coal is our priority. There’s good green jobs that can’t be outsourced.” Another Governor-Elect, Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, has made it a goal for her state to produce enough solar and wind energy to sell excess energy to neighboring states.  Governor-Elect J.B. Pritzker has said Illinois will increase its reliance on renewable energy to 25% of total consumption by 2025. Governor-Elect Steve Sisolak of Nevada backed a successful 2018 ballot measure requiring the state to run on 50 percent renewable energy by 2030. In Maine, Governor-Elect Janet Mills wants her state to run on 80 percent renewable energy by 2030. New Governors Plan Aggressive Climate StepsThe Hill

 

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Energy Update: November 16, 2018

In the States

LA – During a trade mission to Israel, Governor John Bel Edwards met with several energy companies, including officials from Houston-based Noble Energy and Delek Drilling, to explore partnership opportunities with Louisiana companies. The Governor, who also met with government leaders during his trip, hopes there are ways to involve Louisiana businesses in Noble’s supply chain and operations in Israel, as well as in the lucrative natural gas exploration taking place in eastern Mediterranean Sea. “From the outset, my goal for this economic development mission has been to explore trade, investment and partnership prospects between the State of Louisiana and Israel,” Governor Edwards said. “One of the key areas for us is our energy sector. Louisiana is an energy state and a global leader in oil and gas exploration and production. We have a long-established track record of exporting our technology and expertise to international oil and gas markets.” Louisiana trade mission to Israel explore energy industry collaborationThe Weekly Citizen

 

WA – Voters in Washington State rejected Initiative 1631, which would have imposed a carbon tax on fossil fuel emissions, with almost 60% against the proposed measure out of more than 1.9 million votes cast. If it had passed, it would have created the first-in-the-nation tax on carbon and the projected $1B in revenue generated would have been slated for water quality, forest health, and energy programs and investments related to communities. A comparable initiative was defeated two years ago by a similar margin as was a legislative effort by Governor Jay Inslee to pass a carbon tax in the state’s Democratic-controlled legislature earlier this year. Governor Inslee, after the initiative failed, said “Obviously we would liked [it to] pass, but we were up against about $31 million of big oil company money that obfuscated some of the complexities of the initiative.” Washington state voters rejected carbon-free initiativeThe Seattle Times

 

 

National and Regional

The Governors’ Wind & Solar Energy Coalition, a bipartisan group of 18 Governors, sent a letter to the members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), urging them to consider unifying and connecting the nation’s power grids. In its letter, the Coalition, which includes states from Massachusetts to Iowa and South Dakota to Maryland, noted it’s “nearly impossible to transmit electricity among the nation’s three major grids,” thereby “weakening the reliability of the nation’s overall transmission system.” The Governors hope the FERC will convene several discussions, in coordination with the Department of Energy and states, “to identify the nation’s transmissions needs … as well as multi-state and inter-regional transmission challenges.” Montana Governor Steve Bullock, who also serves as the chair of the National Governors Association, is the Coalition’s chair along with Delaware Governor John Carney, who is the vice chair. Governors cite benefits of single national power gridThe Daily News

 

Seven Governors-elect, including Janet Mills of Maine and Steve Sisolak of Nevada, have pledged to set strong renewable energy goals for their states, including deriving 100% of their electricity from renewable sources. The other Governors-elect who made the pledge to follow Hawaii and California’s lead include Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, Tony Evers of Wisconsin, Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, and Jared Polis of Colorado. Governor-elect Polis, for example, set a goal of 100% of renewable energy by 2040, or five years earlier than Hawaii and California. "It was a great night for clean energy, it was a great night for candidates that had chosen to embrace clean energy," said J.R. Tolbert, vice president of state policy at Advanced Energy Economy. “And that's easy to see when you see that every candidate who ran on 100% clean, or 100% renewable energy was elected as chief executives in their state." Seven new Governors may be the biggest election boon for climate and clean energyForbes

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Energy Update: October 24, 2018

In the States

AZ – A member of the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) proposed a “clean energy overhaul that would put the state at the front of the pack” among other clean energy-focused states. Developed by ACC member Andrew Tobin, the Energy Modernization Plan seeks an 80 percent clean energy target by 2050 in addition to a 3,000 megawatt energy storage target for 2030 – both goals, in essence, would put Arizona ahead of California and New York, which currently lead all states in terms of renewable energy and storage targets. Tobin has asked for the ACC to consider his plan during their next meeting on February 6. "We’re not trying to get on the train; we're trying to be the engine in the train," said Tobin. "This is Western people doing things and setting lofty goals and reaching them." If Tobin’s plan is voted on and accepted by the ACC, staff will begin a formal year-long rulemaking and stakeholder engagement process. AZ regulator proposes biggest storage, clean energy targets yetGTM

 

IA – NextEra Energy, a Florida-based company, announced it may shutter Iowa’s only nuclear power plant by the end of 2025. NextEra officials believes it main customer, Alliant Energy, will not renew its purchasing contract from NextEra’s Duane Arnold Energy Center in Palo, which is located northwest of Cedar Rapids. Alliant’s current contract goes through 2025, though the Energy Center is licensed to operate until 2034. The Energy Center current employs 600 people and started operations in 1975. “The cost of wind energy right now has really dropped as well as the cost of natural gas to be at levels where they are competitive and have never been before. We are continuing to pursue different options for our customers to make sure that they get the best value,” said an Alliant spokesman. Iowa nuclear plant may close in 2025The Gazette

 

NJ – Governor Phil Murphy announced his plans for New Jersey to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a regional cap-and-trade program that includes nine northeast states. The Governor signed an executive order to rejoin the pact after former Governor Chris Christie exited RGGI in 2011. The executive order directs state officials to “immediately begin negotiations with RGGI member states, and the Department of Environmental Protection will start determining the rules and guidelines needed to rejoin RGGI within 30 days.” According to the Governor’s office, the state lost almost $300 million in revenue by not participating in RGGI. “Pulling out of RGGI slowed down progress on lowering emissions and has cost New Jerseyans millions of dollars,” said Governor Murphy, “[funds] that could have been used to increase energy efficiency and improve air quality in our communities.” Murphy direct NJ to rejoin RGGIThe Observer

 

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo released his plan to develop a $6 billion offshore wind industry. The Governor, by 2030, would like New York to have ocean-based wind farms producing 2.4 gigawatts of electricity, roughly the equivalent of about five fossil fuel-burning power plants. The Governor’s offshore wind industry roadmap focuses on a 16,000 square-mile section of the Atlantic Ocean. The state will seek offers from wind farm developers beginning this year, first with an offering for projects totaling 800 megawatts. The funding for the projects will be derived from fees, known as compliance obligations, imposed on nuclear power plant owners. Governor Cuomo also announced his plans to use $15 million for workforce training programs related to the offshore wind energy plan. "We are encouraged by this development opportunity for New York's independent power generators, but the details matter," said Gavin Donohue, president and CEO of the Independent Power Producers of New York. State sees 5K jobs from offshore wind farm pushThe Albany Times-Union

 

WA – Governor Jay Inslee officially rejected proposals to build an oil-by-rail terminal for the Port of Vancouver. Concurring with the unanimous decision of the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, Governor Inslee said the project increases “the risk of a catastrophic earthquake, oil spills in the Columbia River, and fires or explosions.” The project, which was to be developed by Vancouver Energy, was slated to serve as a transfer point for up to 360,000 barrels of crude oil daily while creating several hundred temporary and permanent jobs. “When weighing all of the factors considered against the need for and potential benefits of the facility at this location, I believe the record reflects substantial evidence that the project does not meet the broad public interest standard necessary for the Council to recommend site certification,” Governor Inslee said. Vancouver Energy has 30 days to appeal the Governor’s decision. Inslee rejects Port of Vancouver oil terminalPortland Business Journal

 

 

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Energy Update: October 12, 2018

In the States

KS – Outgoing Governor Jeff Colyer hosted the annual Governor’s Energy Conference in Manhattan, Kansas. Topics included biofuel, energy storage, transportation innovations and alternatives, community initiatives, and how to improve solar and wind energy generation. “Energy is a top issue for the state of Kansas,” said Governor Colyer. “The diversity of our economy is dependent on a great energy system. We are one of the leading oil and gas states but we’re also a leading wind state and a leading ethanol state.” Kansas energy leaders gather for Governor’s Energy ConferenceWIBW

 

MA – Governor Charlie Baker’s administration awarded more than a half million dollars in grants to cities and towns across Massachusetts to help develop clean energy projects. The 41 Municipal Energy Technical Assistance (META) grants awarded were distributed to several localities participating in the Commonwealth’s “Green Communities” program or currently in the designation process, which is administered by the Department of Energy Resources. META grants help fund expert consultants and contractors to help localities with their clean energy projects and goals. “Our administration is proud to provide our municipal and regional partners with the tools they need to achieve our shared clean energy goals of reducing energy, emissions and costs,” said Governor Baker. “These grants deliver technical expertise on the local level that is essential to paving the way for innovative clean energy projects.” Governor awards grants for municipal clean energy projectsCape Cod Today

 

VA – Governor Ralph Northam released the Commonwealth’s updated 2018 Virginia Energy Plan, which helps to set Virginia’s strategic energy goals for the next decade. The Governor’s plan mostly focuses on modernizing the electric grid and promoting new technologies, in addition to reemphasizing the Commonwealth’s targets for renewable energy, electric vehicle deployment, and energy efficiency. The updated plan also includes benchmarks for expanding solar energy purchase options for corporations and small businesses and evaluating energy storage options. Virginia state agencies are also recommended to meet a 16% renewable energy procurement target as well as a 20% energy efficiency target. “The clean energy sector has the power to create new business opportunities, expand customer access to renewable energy, and spark the high-demand jobs of the 21st century,” said Governor Northam. “Virginia can shift to a more modern electric grid that is reliable, affordable, resilient, and environmentally responsible — and the Commonwealth can lead this critical industry as a result. This plan sets an ambitious path forward for Virginia, and I am confident we will charge ahead towards progress over the course of my administration.” Governor unveils modified 2018 Virginia energy planAlexandria News

 

WV – Governor Jim Justice and energy industry leaders gathered at the Greenbrier Resort during the state’s Chamber of Commerce Annual Business Summit to discuss economic changes and renewable energy in West Virginia. Dominion Energy’s Bob Orndorff believes the state “needs to make a quantum leap,” and consider wind and solar power’s appeal to the private sector in terms of potential future investment. “If we are to recruit companies to work in West Virginia,” he said, “to invest in West Virginia, we need to meet their needs,” which often include renewable energy. Appalachian Power President Chris Beam agreed, noting his company is open to renewable energy power sources as long as they are “economical for customers.” In his remarks, Governor Justice focused on the state’s improvements recently, including a declining unemployment rate and an easing of regulations at the state and federal levels of government. “It’s a miracle from God to look at how the numbers have changed,” Governor Justice said during his speech at his family-owned resort. Energy officials point to renewables at business summit highlighting coal ‘comeback’The Charleston Gazette-Mail

 

National and Regional

President Donald Trump nominated Bernard McNamee, director of the Department of Energy’s Office of Policy, to fill a vacancy on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which regulates, monitors, and investigates the transmission of electricity and its sources in interstate commerce. The seat was vacated by former Commissioner Robert Powelson, a critic of the Trump administration’s plans to financially support cash-strapped coal and nuclear power plants. McNamee has previously voiced support for fossil fuels, including subsidizing the coal industry. The Senate will need to approve McNamee’s nomination, and until then, the FERC has four members – two Democrats and two Republicans – which may result in several deadlock votes on key matters before the commission, including the approval of major pipelines and natural gas projects. Trump’s FERC pick could tip balance in favor of coal bailoutBloomberg News

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Energy Update: September 21, 2018

In the States

CA – Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that requires California to generate 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2045. The law, SB 100, requires the amount to be met in increments, with 50 percent of the state’s electricity deriving from solar, wind, hydropower, and other sources by 2026 and 60 percent by 2030. California became the second state to set a carbon-free electricity target, following Hawaii, which set their target in 2015. The law also stipulates that the last 40 percent of the 100 percent total can be derived from carbon-free sources, including large dams, nuclear power, and carbon-capturing natural gas-fired power plants. Environmentalist groups and allied Silicon Valley businesses applauded the measure while utilities, including the state’s largest, Pacific Gas and Electric and Southern California Edison, said the law would increase prices for consumers. While signing the legislation, Governor Brown said ““It will not be easy. It will not be immediate. But it must be done.” California mandates 100 percent clean energy by 2045The Mercury News

 

NJ – The state’s Board of Public Utilities (BPU) voted to allow 1,100 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind capacity to be developed, a first step towards a goal set by Governor Phil Murphy to install 3,500 MW worth of offshore wind power by 2030. The unanimous vote by the PBU follows Governor Murphy joining the Governors’ Wind and Solar Energy Coalition as its newest member. The Coalition now counts 20 states as members. “We campaigned on rebuilding New Jersey’s reputation as a clean energy leader and that involves setting an aggressive timetable on offshore wind,” said the Governor. “Thanks to the Board, today we took another enormous step toward realizing that goal with the largest single-state solicitation of offshore wind in the country.” The Governor also clarified future offshore wind solicitations, which are now scheduled for 2020 and 2022. New Jersey makes way for 1.1. gigawatt offshore windCleanTechnica

 

RI – Several requests for proposals (RFPs) were recently published by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) that call for 400 megawatts of power from new energy projects developed inside and outside the state. Eligible projects include geothermal, ocean-tidal and current-powered, onshore and offshore wind, small hydro, biomass, fuel cells, and solar power. The RFPs, which will be reviewed and selected by the PUC, will be managed by National Grid, a regional utility. “Our commitment to combating climate change is as strong as ever,” Governor Gina Raimondo said. RI orders up renewable energyECORI

 

TX – In partnership with Midland-based EagleClaw Midstream, Houston-based Kinder Morgan have authorized the construction of a $2 billion pipeline to transfer natural gas from West Texas to Houston. The 430-mile project, known as the Permian Highway Pipeline, is also backed by Exxon Mobil and Apache Corporation, is scheduled to be completed by 2020, transporting 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. The pipeline will mostly be used to transport gas for electricity generation in Texas and Mexico, but will also be sent new liquefied natural gas terminals in Freeport and Corpus Christi. "With the continued growth in drilling activity in the Permian Basin, this project will help to provide key infrastructure for producers to move natural gas to the best premium markets along the Gulf Coast and South Texas," said EagleClaw President Jamie Welch. Kinder Morgan authorizes $2B Permian Highway PipelineThe Houston Chronicle

 

VA – According to several reports, Governor Ralph Northam plans to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a multistate agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that establishes a mandatory regional cap-and-trade program. If the Governor joins RGGI, he will be the second new Governor to join following New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy earlier his year. RGGI, which was established in 2009, currently counts 10 northeastern and mid-Atlantic states as members.

 

National and Regional

The federal Department of Energy (DOE) is planning to deploy new technology at the Hanford Reservation “to capture and destroy dangerous vapors that have caused health programs for workers” at the nuclear waste site. The DOE’s decision follows a successful lawsuit by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who challenged the DOE’s inaction during the Obama administration. In the settlement, DOE is going to install a vapor monitoring, detection, and alarm system where the vapor exposure is most likely to happen, as well as maintain current safety measures since the General sued. DOE is also paying the state’s legal fees, which almost total $1 million. "It has not been an easy road to get here," General Ferguson said. "They (DOE) did not take this seriously. We should never have had to file a lawsuit. The federal government did not do right by these workers.” DOE will destroy worker-harming vapors at Hanford nuclear siteThe Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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Energy Update: August 3, 2018

In the States

MD – Governor Larry Hogan called the debris and sediment pouring into the Chesapeake Bay, following several strong storms in the northeastern United States, an “economic and ecological crisis.” Governor Hogan, who chairs the interstate Chesapeake Executive Council, also urged his fellow bay watershed Governors, particularly those upstream from the Chesapeake Bay, to help clean up and “take responsibility for the nation’s largest estuary.” The debris poses a significant threat to commerce, energy development, as well as ships bound for Baltimore. Maryland officials argues the debris originated mostly from Pennsylvania rivers, to which the Commonwealth’s Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell said was a “careless and insensitive remarks” by Maryland’s leaders. Governor Hogan, who is running for reelection, has made pollution from upstream states a serious campaign issue since he 2014, noting the high levels of pollutants and sediments from natural gas exploration that end up in the Chesapeake Bay. Maryland officials criticize upstream states for Bay debrisThe Associated Press

 

MT – The Montana Renewables Development Action Plan calls for substituting wind energy for coal as a source of power to utilities in Oregon and Washington. Two of four coal-powered units at the Colstrip power plant used to supply these utilities will be shut down during the next five years. An action plan developed by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) is taking advantage of extra transmission capacity freed up by the closure of the two units and renewable energy tax credits provided in Washington State to make wind energy an attractive source of power. Governor Steve Bullock’s administration helped to facilitate discussions between stakeholders, including the federal government, to make renewable energy competitive, principally through an agreement to low BPA transmission costs. The lower transmission costs, combined with the eligibility for tax credits, should make it possible for wind energy companies in Montana to compete for out-of-state sales. Up until now, Montana has relied on coal power to make it an energy exporter. According to Governor Bullock, “With this effort, we’re boosting the opportunities for more energy development in Montana and making Montana wind more attractive for West Coast buyers, all to create good-paying jobs and economic opportunity for Montanans.” Plans progressing to sell more Montana renewable energy out of stateBillings Gazette

 

National and Regional

The Coalition of Northeastern Governors (CONEG) and Canada’s Eastern Premiers are set to hold their annual gathering in Stowe, Vermont on August 12-14. Energy issues are perennially on the meeting’s agenda, as is regional trade and transportation issues. CONEG expects officials from the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont to attend as well as officials from the Canadian provinces of Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland. The northeastern U.S. Governors and Canadian Premiers have met regularly since 1973 to address cross-border interests.

 

The Trump administration is proposing to freeze U.S. automobile mileage standards at 2020 levels, which requires new vehicles to average 30 miles per gallon (mpg). The administration also wants to eliminate a special provision of the Clean Air Act that allows the State of California to set more stringent mileage standards. At least a dozen other states, representing about 40 percent of the nation’s total vehicle market, follow California’s standards. The national standard adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under President Obama increases to 36 mpg in 2025, 10 mpg higher than the requirement in effect. The administration believes that freezing that standard will reduce the cost of new cars, allowing more consumers to purchase vehicles with updated safety features. According to Heidi King, deputy administrator of the National Highway Safety Administration, highway deaths would drop by 1,000 each year “by reducing these barriers that prevent consumers from getting into the newer, safer, cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars.” Opponents argue that the savings in fuel costs derived from higher mileage standards also contribute to affordability of new vehicles. Commenting on the proposed changes, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said, “It’s going to cost drivers here and across the country hundreds of millions of dollars more at the pump.” While the Trump administration plans to seek public comment on the its proposal, as well as other options, including leaving the current standards in place, California and 16 other states have already filed a lawsuit to block any changes. One of the primary trade groups for the automobile industry, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, is urging California and the federal government to work out a compromise that would allow for continued increases. Trump proposes car-mileage rollback; states sue in protestThe Washington Post

 

The U.S. Climate Alliance, which counts as members the Governors from 16 states and one territory, released their policy options to “accelerate and scale up climate action.” The policy options include reducing super pollutants, modernizing the electricity grid, increasing energy efficiency standards set for appliances, requiring more carbon storage, and maximizing clean transportation options and financing for green energy projects. The member Governors (CA, CO, CT, DE, HI, MD, MA, MN, NJ, NY, NC, OR, PR, RI, VT, VA, and WA) plan to meet during the Global Climate Action Summit in September to discuss the Paris Agreement as well as other policy options to combat climate change.

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Energy Update: June 29, 2018

In the States

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo released the state’s Energy Storage Roadmap for speeding up the deployment of advanced energy storage projects, making New York State a national leader in promoting renewable energy and fighting climate change. The roadmap is intended to reduce the impacts of weather-related outages and maximize the benefits of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind by ensuring their availability during periods of peak demand. The plan sets a target of 1,500 megawatts of energy storage by 2025, an amount equivalent to the electricity demand of one-fifth of New York’s homes. According to Governor Cuomo, “This roadmap is the next step to not only grow our clean energy economy and create jobs, but to improve the resiliency of the grid to keep our power running in the face of extreme weather and other emergency situations.“ The New York Power Authority already has several projects underway, including a partnership with the State University of New York, to make it easier for the university system to utilize solar power during emergencies and times of peak demand through solar energy and battery storage systems at multiple campuses. State officials estimate that New York’s growing clean tech industry may potentially yield 30,000 new, well-paying jobs.  Governor Cuomo Announces New York Energy Storage Roadmap To Achieve Nation-Leading Target of 1,500 Megawatts By 2025 – LongIsland.com

 

PA – Governor Tom Wolf signed into law new legislation that provides low-cost, long-term funding for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation improvements at commercial and industrial locations. Senate Bill 234, which had bipartisan support, created the Pennsylvania Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, similar to programs in over 30 other states and the District of Columbia. Under this law, local governments choosing to participate in the program allow private lenders to providing financing for energy efficiency and clean energy improvements, which will be paid back through local assessments collected by these localities over a period of years and remitted back to the lenders. In a statement, Governor Wolf said, “This innovative financing mechanism will support the creation of new clean energy and energy efficiency projects throughout the commonwealth, while also enhancing property values and employments opportunities, while also lowering the cost of business.”  Governor Wolf Signs New Legislation to Support Low-Cost, Clean Energy Technology in Pennsylvania  – MyChesCo

 

National and Regional

Under a proposal being considered by the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources, states that don’t allow offshore oil and gas drilling in at least 50 percent of lease blocks designated for such activity along the Outer Continental Shelf would be required to pay the federal government for the lost production. Such payments would be calculated based on proven mineral potential, oil prices and lease-sale demand over the past five years. Conversely, states that agree to allow drilling in at least 50 percent or more of available lease blocks would receive some portion of bonus bids, rentals and royalties. This legislation follows an earlier decision by the Trump administration to open up most of the U.S. coastline to potential offshore oil and gas development. Five governors – Roy Cooper of North Carolina, Dan Malloy of Connecticut, Ralph Northam of Virginia, Phil Murphy of New Jersey, and Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island – sent a letter to House leadership opposing the measure. In stating their case, the Governors said, “We ask that Congress recognize and respect the rights of states to protect our waters without being held hostage by the combined effects of the Interior Department’s dangerous proposal and this misguided legislation.” Steep penalty for passing on drilling? House Panel considers idea Daily Press, Northam joins coastal governors in urging Congress to reject offshore drilling legislation  – Augusta Free Press

 

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by two California cities against a number of fossil fuel companies over the costs of climate change. In rejecting the suit, the judge, William Alsup of the Federal District Court of San Francisco, acknowledged the seriousness of the health risks that were raised, but deferred to the executive and legislative branches of government in finding solutions. In his decision, Judge Alsup wrote, “The problem deserves a solution on a more vast scale than can be supplied by a district judge or jury in a public nuisance case.” In bringing this action, the cities of Oakland and San Francisco had alleged that the energy companies’ activities had posed a public nuisance under state common law and must be required to pay for mitigation and abatements. A group of 15 state attorneys general, led by Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, had filed a friend of the court brief urging the dismissal of the lawsuit on the basis that Congress alone had authority to regulate interstate commerce. Judge Dismisses Suit Against Oil Companies Over Climate Change Costs  – The New York Times, State AGs Urge Court To Dismiss California Climate Lawsuit  – The Heartland Institute

 

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Energy Update: June 8, 2018

 

In the States

HI – Governor David Ige signed three energy- and climate-focused bills into law. The first bill, HB 2182, seeks to make Hawaii carbon neutral by 2045 and establishes a state task force on Greenhouse Gas Sequestration. The second bill, HB 1986, which was passed by the state legislature unanimously, crafts a framework for a carbon capturing, offsetting, and crediting program while the third bill, HB 2106, requires a sea level rise analysis in environmental impact statements before projects can be approved. “Climate change is real,” said Governor Ige, “and we’re seeing its impacts right now in our island state. Taken together, this suite of bills establishes policies and programs that acknowledge and address this reality.” Governor Ige signs three bills combating climate changeThe Honolulu Star-Advertiser

 

IL – Several bills focused on solar energy development, notably the standardization of requirements for solar installations on farmland, await Governor Bruce Rauner’s signature. One bill, SB 486, determines how property taxes are calculated for land with ground-mounted commercial solar systems while another measure, SB 2591, requires the same agricultural impact requirements for wind farms to apply to solar projects with 500 kilowatts or more of generation. Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, which worked on the bills, said “the trio of solar energy bills passed in Illinois by a strong bipartisan majority reflects the growing progress of solar energy development. There’s now sufficient development growing and moving forward that it makes sense to flesh out the policy framework.” Illinois bills for solar on farmland await Rauner actionEnergy News

 

NM – Testifying before a House subcommittee in support of four energy bills, Governor Susana Martinez urged  Congress to to reduce bureaucratic red tape in federal review of energy projects. Noting that oil and gas revenue are critical for funding education, healthcare, and other public services, the Governor pressed for streamlining the federal permitting process. According to Governor Martinez and Secretary of Energy, Minerals, and Naturals Resources Ken McQueen, who also testified, “the average time it takes federal land managers to approve a drilling permit application is 250 days, [which] can amount to a potential loss of $2 million a day for the state.” Two of the bills are sponsored by Representative Steve Pearce of New Mexico who is running succeed the Governor in this year’s gubernatorial election. “Each backlogged permit represents New Mexicans losing out on good paying jobs and rural communities losing out on economic growth. We need a solution that will streamline layers of bureaucratic requirements and expedite the approval process,” Martinez said. Red tape slows oil and gas projects, New Mexico Governor saysThe Salt Lake Tribune

 

NJ – Governor Phil Murphy signed a measure to subsidize three nuclear power plants in the Garden State. The legislation requires ratepayers to “spend more than $300 million a year to rescue [the plants] run by Exelon and Public Service Enterprise Group. The Governor also signed bills that mandate that half of the state’s electricity is generated from renewable energy sources by 2030. “To reach our clean energy goals, we will need to keep these plants open and safely operating,” Governor Murphy said at the bill signing. He also noted that New Jersey’s nuclear plants support almost 6,000 jobs. Nuclear plants play pivotal roles in New Jersey’s economy and environment, and Governor Murphy is to be commended for signing into law today a Zero Emissions Credit program to help preserve these critical energy assets,” said Maria Korsnick, president and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute. NJ Governor signs law to save nuclear plantsThe Washington Examiner

 

PA – Governor Tom Wolf announced his administration would more strictly enforce air pollution standards for the state’s natural gas industry, which has boomed in recent years thanks to the development of the Marcellus Shale’s natural gas deposits. The Wolf administration is planning, through the deployment of new permits, to require the exploration industry “to use more advanced equipment to reduce methane emissions and other air pollutants, control emissions from a broader array of sites, and check for leaks more frequently along pipelines and connections.” Applying to new well sits and compression, processing, and transmission stations along pipelines, the permits will take effect in August. “We are uniquely positioned to be a national leader in addressing climate change while supporting and ensuring responsible energy development, while protecting public health and our environment,” Governor Tom Wolf said. Pennsylvania sets methane requirements on natural gas wellsStateImpact Pennsylvania NPR

 

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Energy Update: May 18, 2018

 

In the States

CA – The California Energy Commission (CEC), on a unanimous vote of 5-0, approved regulations to require all newly-constructed single-family houses to have solar panels. The new regulation also applies to multifamily buildings with three stories or less. Beginning in 2020, the new requirement, which does not require approval from the state legislature, is expected to decrease consumers’ costs through reduced utility bills. According to an analysis by the CEC, “monthly mortgage payments should rise by an average of $40, but utility bills should fall by $80.” Currently, only 20% of new single-family houses in California have solar panels and the new requirement may make homes, on average, more expensive to build. "The cash flow position of the homeowners is actually improved in these homes," said Commissioner Andrew McAllister of the new regulation. Following the publication of the mandate, the California Building Standards Commission is expected to review and also approved the regulations. Regulators approve mandate for solar panels on new homesThe Los Angeles Times

 

CT – Energy and environmental groups filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s approved budget that allows the transfer of $175 million in energy conservation program funding to be redirected towards the state’s budget deficit. The funds from the energy conversation programs in question are generally collected through fees on residents’ utility bills. The two-year budget was approved back in October and sought to take $127 million from the state’s Energy Efficiency Fund, $28 million from Connecticut’s Green Bank, and $20 million from the state’s share of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. “This should come as a surprise to no one,” said Governor Dan Malloy. “I have long maintained that these shortsighted sweeps would increase energy costs for consumers and businesses and cause untold harm to our green energy economy.” Federal lawsuit filed to block state from using energy conservation funds to solve budget deficitThe Hartford Courant

 

NJ – The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a 45-day extension to decide what to do on a contentious pipeline crisscrossing central New Jersey. The proposed 26.8-mile Northeast Supply Enhancement of Tulsa-based Williams’ Transco Pipeline is estimated to be a $926.5 million project that would transport natural gas through  Old Bridge, Sayreville, and the Raritan Bay and eventually to a compression station in Franklin Township. The DEP has until June 23 to approve four permits associated with the pipeline, and any extension granted by FERC would begin from the date supplemental material is received from Williams. Christopher Stockton, a company spokesman, said, “It is normal to issue what are known as ‘data requests’ any time they need additional information from the applicant. It doesn’t mean there is a problem with the application. It’s actually a normal part of the exchange of information during the review.” Transco protests continue as state asks feds for permit extensionMy Central Jersey

 

UT – Governor Gary Herbert unveiled his updated energy blueprint for Utah at his 7th Annual Governor’s Energy Summit, which featured former Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. The Summit focused mostly on creating jobs and expanding energy production in Utah, and notably a list of coal and solar power projects that Governor Herbert would like completed before his term ends. Overall, Governor Herbert would like Utah to increase energy production by 25 percent by the end of 2020. When discussing challenges, Governor Herbert, cited the difficulties in renewable energy storage as one potential barrier to additional solar and wind energy capacity. “We have people in other departments [of the Trump administration] who, again, whether they’re governors or not,” said Governor Herbert, “have a respect for the sovereignty of the states and are trying to give us more flexibility to find our solutions that are unique to the respective states.” Herbert releases 10 goals in Utah ‘Energy Action Plan’ KSL

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Energy Update: April 27, 2018

In the States

NH – Governor Chris Sununu released his plan to transform New Hampshire’s energy resources and priorities, titled the New Hampshire 10-Year State Energy Strategy, in coordination with the Governor’s Office of Strategic Initiatives. The new plan seeks to “inform decisions about [the state’s] energy challenges and energy future” whole updating the last state energy strategy, which was released in 2014. Noting that New Hampshire energy prices are among the highest in the United States, the Energy Strategy seeks to prioritize cost-effective energy policies utilizing all resources, encourage market-selection of those resources, and improve energy infrastructure. The plan further recommends an increase in the use of natural gas-fired and nuclear power generation, as well as a rewriting of the state’s renewal energy portfolio standards. The Governor’s Energy Strategy also notes the state will reconsider net metering policies for solar power. "Electricity touches every aspect of the economy, and New Hampshire's costs are among the highest in the region,” said Governor Sununu, and “our 10-year  strategy provides direction and leadership to our state's policymakers that is squarely aimed at helping our ratepayers.” NH energy strategy shifts from subsidizing renewables to lowering ratesThe New Hampshire Union Leader

 

Regional and National

Three Appalachian state Governors – Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, John Kasich of Ohio, and Jim Justice of West Virginia – extended an interstate memorandum of understanding to generate investments focused on their energy resources, arrange partnerships between their universities and the private sector, as well as offer technical training for careers in the oil, gas, and petrochemical sectors. Known as the Tri-State Shale Coalition, the agreement seeks to “transform the Appalachian Basin into a global energy hub on par with Texas and Louisiana” while making “the region as a whole more attractive [for] midstream and downstream investments.” All three states contain substantial energy formations known as the Marcellus and Utica shales and account for roughly 29 percent of the United States’ natural gas output. “The shale gas resources in the Appalachian Basin represent enormous economic opportunity not just for Pennsylvania, but for the region as a whole,” Governor Wolf said. “I’m proud to continue our successful collaboration with Ohio and West Virginia to ensure that we are doing everything we can to support additional development.” The agreement, which was originally signed in 2015, will now be extended through 2021. Appalachia markets itself as global energy hubU.S. News

 

According to a new study from the consulting firm Analysis Group, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a multi-state emissions-capping program, has “generated $4 billion in net economic activity,” finding the money produced more than offset the cost of the program. Under RGGI, power plants pay states to exceed the caps on emissions and the funds generated are spent on renewable energy and efficiency programs, electricity bill rebates, and other energy-related state priorities. RGGI includes all the New England states, as well New York and Delaware. New Jersey is planning to rejoin the interstate group after leaving in 2012, while Virginia is expected to join, too. “Rather than being an economic drag on the RGGI states, it’s actually providing economic benefits,” said Paul Hibbard, one of the study’s authors. RGGI spurs $4 billion in economic activity, study findsThe Baltimore Sun

 

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released its latest Energy Infrastructure Update, noting that wind and solar power accounted for 98 percent of all new power generation capacity so far in 2018. While 12 units of wind power was created generating 1,568 megawatts, solar power accounted for 40 new units generating 565 megawatts of power in the first two months of 2018. The new FERC report predicts that renewable energy will continue “to dominate new power generation capacity installed over the next several years.”

 

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Energy Update: April 6, 2018

In the States

MA – Governor Charlie Baker filed legislation recently to require properties up for sale to include a home energy and efficiency rating. If lawmakers approve the bill, Massachusetts would become the first state with such a mandate. Some cities, including Berkeley, California and Portland, Oregon have similar requirements. Supporters of the legislation said the bill could help increase home modernizations, improve insulations, and lead to installing high-tech HVAC systems. Matthew Beaton, Baker’s energy and environmental affairs secretary, said “this is a market-based incentive to give the consumers a reason…to make an investment, [to make] a unified score that is digestible and understandable, that the general public would grow familiar with.” Mr. Beaton also said he hopes the bill will lead to lower carbon emissions thanks to a spurring of energy-efficiency and clean energy improvements the bill would help encourage. Home sellers would either be required to hire an energy assessor, the Mass Save program, or a local utility for an energy audit of their home’s insulation, air sealing, heating and cooling system, LED light bulbs, and programmable thermostats. Governor seeks to mandate energy efficiency scores for homesThe Boston Globe

 

MO – Clean Line Energy Partners, a Houston-based company, enlisted former Governor Jay Nixon to help overturn a decision by the Public Service Commission (PSC) blocking the construction of a proposed 780-mile power line to transport energy generated from wind turbines. Nixon, now a practicing private attorney, will argue before the Missouri Supreme Court that “utility regulators he appointed wrongly rejected the power line while relying on an incorrect ruling written by a judge whom Nixon also appointed.” If the PSC decision is overturned, the 2.3 billion high-voltage transmission line project, known as the Grain Belt Express, would transport wind-generated energy from western Kansas across Missouri and Illinois to Indiana. "I think it's a great opportunity for our state and an important one policy-wise" for the nation, Nixon said in an interview. Clean Line transmission project turns to ex-Missouri GovernorAssociated Press

 

NH – Addressing an audience of clean energy advocates, Governor Chris Sununu announced that he is soon planning to release a “New Hampshire First” energy policy. In his announcement, the Governor encouraged a comprehensive approach to energy and a move away from a zero-sum game he currently sees playing out in the states. The Governor also noted New Hampshire should thoughtfully help subsidize solar, wind, hydro, and biomass power development, and maintained his commitment to regional and multi-state initiatives to curb emissions, notably the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Sununu plans to release ‘NH First’ energy policyNHPR 

 

NJ – In response to Governor Phil Murphy’s executive order directing the Board of Public Utilities to cultivate 3,500 megawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030, EDF Renewable Energy announced, as a first step to growing its business in the New Jersey market, that it will revive an agreement with Fisherman’s Energy to purchase a 24 megawatts wind project off the coast of Atlantic City. Another company, Danish offshore wind energy leader Ørsted, is planning to develop a 250 square mile area for its wind farm called Ocean Wind. “We cannot allow for stagnation in this growing sector of our energy economy and we cannot lose sight of the tremendous opportunity for offshore wind,” said Governor Murphy. “With this executive order, we begin the process of making New Jersey a leader in offshore wind, a critical step toward achieving our clean energy goals.” Another east coast Governor signs up for offshore wind and EDF sees stalled NJ project as opening to fast-growing marketOffshore Wind Journal

 

NM – The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission approved, by a unanimous vote, the construction of two wind farms along the border between New Mexico and Texas. The $1.6 billion project by Xcel Energy, a Minneapolis, Minnesota utility holding company, is part of Xcel’s plan to double its wind energy portfolio by the end of 2021 by adding a dozen wind farms in seven states, or about 3,700 megawatts of new wind capacity. David Hudson, president of the company’s operations in New Mexico and Texas, called the vote historic, noting “these wind facilities will power the regional economy with energy from our abundant, fuel-free wind resource and save customers hundreds of millions of dollars in energy costs for decades to come.” Additional wind farms, with the potential to power more than 440,000 homes, are planned for Hale County, Texas, as well as the area immediately northeast of Roswell, New Mexico. New Mexico regulators OK massive wind farms near TexasAssociated Press

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Energy Update: March 16, 2018

In the States

WA – Governor Jay Inslee’s proposal to impose a tax on carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels failed to gain enough traction in the Democratic-controlled state legislature. If the legislature had passed a carbon tax, where the policy was a few votes short according to officials, Washington would have been the first state to impose a straight tax on greenhouse gas emissions. Other states like California and some in the northeast employ a cap-and-trade system to shrink carbon dioxide pollution. The legislation would have imposed a $12 per metric ton of carbon emissions on the sale or use of fossil fuels, and was projected to raise nearly $800 million in two years. Despite the legislature’s inaction, Governor Inslee said “I would consider this a sea change in the climate fight. It’s come a long way from where we’ve been. We’ve basically shown that carbon policy is within reach.” The Governor also vowed to continue pressing for action on climate change issues. Washington’s carbon tax bill dies in legislatureAssociated Press

 

WY – East of the state capital of Cheyenne, EOG Resources announced its intent to withdraw an application to craft an injection well for fracking natural gas and oil. The application was withdrawn by the Houston-based company due to local concerns over the proposed well’s proximity to a drinking water aquifer. EOG announced it will continue to seek approval for injection wells in other parts of the state, notably in Laramie County and the Denver Basin in the southeastern part of the state. Both the federal Environmental Protection Agency as well as the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, said they were waiting to receive updated application information from EOG. In Laramie County alone, there are close to 5,000 permits pending to drill for oil and gas, noted Shannon Anderson, an environmental lawyer. “That’s a huge number, and there is a large waste stream associated with those wells,” Ms. Anderson said. “There are traumatic impacts to aquifers for the drilling of those wells.” Company withdraws application for controversial well near CheyenneThe Casper Star Tribune

 

 

 

Regional and National

Governor Phil Scott of Vermont was elected the new chair of the nonpartisan Coalition of Northeastern Governors (CONEG), which encourages intergovernmental cooperation among states in the northeast and New England. Scott, a first-term Governor, was unanimously selected by his colleagues in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island. Governor Scott announced his chairmanship will focus on high energy costs in the region. Noting that “in Vermont, I’ve committed to making the state more affordable, which includes addressing energy costs that have been growing faster than wages.” Governor Scott added that “high energy costs impact our entire region, and our ability to create more and better paying jobs, so this is a goal that the CONEG governors have coalesced around because we know it will help to improve the economic security of the residents in each of our states.” Scott elected chair of CONEGVermont Business

 

During his recent testimony before the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke noted that President Donald Trump’s plan to expand offshore leasing may not work on the west coast as California, Oregon, and Washington have “no known resources of any weight for energy companies to extract.” The Secretary, who also acknowledged the Maine was in a similar situation, did not state whether these states would be granted an exemption from the President’s proposal, as Florida was given. Also, during his testimony, Secretary Zinke acknowledged the resistance to the President’s plan from the states in the northeast, and said these concerns would be “reflected in the next draft of the [President’s] plan.” Zinke: Oil, gas exploration off Pacific coast might not happenThe Washington Post

 

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) recently released its list of nuclear energy facilities requiring increased oversight by the federal agency. The NRC’s 2018 list includes a dozen or so nuclear energy plants that need routine oversight and additional assessments, focused on safety for example, including the Columbia Generating Station in Washington State. Rounding out the bottom of the NRC’s list includes two reactors in Arkansas and one in Massachusetts. NRC nuclear power plan review puts Columbia under extra federal scrutinyThe Tri-City Herald

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Energy Update: February 23, 2018

 

In the States

CO – Following a fatal gas explosion last year, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) is set to update the state’s pipelines regulations. The new rules come after Governor John Hickenlooper called for a review of oil and gas operations and six months after a task force was created to study the issue. Under the new rules, companies must inform  state regulators about where current pipelines exist and the location of older pipelines at risk for leakages Major pipelines at risk must be reported within 24 hours. A new task force will also explore inspection technology the private sector deploys to detect leaks and locate pipelines. "Our work with operators last spring and summer to identify, quantify and test all flowlines near residential areas was a significant start," COGCC Director Matt Lepore, said in a statement. "These rules - and additional actions ordered by the governor that are still unfolding - continue to keep our focus on this work." In a statement, the Governor said “We believe these new rules are another important step in the aftermath of the Firestone tragedy.” Colorado toughens oil, has rule to try to prevent future Firestone disasterThe Denver Post

 

ME – Governor Paul LePage issued a moratorium on new offshore wind energy projects. The Governor’s decision immediately sparked several lawsuits by advocacy and environmental groups to overturn the moratorium, which they generally argue is an unconstitutional violation of separation of powers since the legislature has passed laws for offshore permitting. The state’s permitting process to date has allowed the construction of over 370 wind turbines as well as investments reaching more than $1 billion. Some Maine residents have complained, however, about the noise emanating from the turbines. In sum, the Governor’s moratorium  mirrors prior legislation he backed  to expand “from 8 to 40 miles the area around turbines that could be subject to visual impact studies,” thereby making it more difficult to encourage wind energy projects and developments. Environmental group sues LePage, says wind farm ban is unconstitutionalThe Portland Press Herald

 

NJ – A bill to subsidize nuclear energy plans continues to move through the state legislature. The legislation, which also includes ratepayer-funded incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, has come under scrutiny for potentially seeking to raise rates for utility customers while subsidizing two profitable nuclear plants in Salem County. The Public Service Enterprise Group, which partially own the plants, said they may be unprofitable in 2020 and may eventually close without the subsidies. The legislation is estimated to increase electric bills “by $31 a year while larger and industrial energy users could see costs increase over $1 million a year.” Controversial nuclear energy bill advances, now with subsidiesNorth Jersey News

 

PA – The Commonwealth’s Department of Environmental Protection announced Sunoco, a petroleum and petrochemical manufacturer headquartered in Texas, “agreed to pay $12.6 million over problems with a massive natural gas pipeline project.” Work on the 250-mile pipeline project, which will transport liquid natural gas from the Marcellus Shale to a terminal in Philadelphia, will continue under a consent agreement. The 20-inch pipeline, known as the Mariner East 2, is expected to be completed by the summer, and will cost approximately $2.5 billion. “Sunoco has demonstrated that it has taken steps to ensure the company will conduct the remaining pipeline activities in accordance with the law and permit conditions, and will be allowed to resume,” Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell said in a statement. “DEP will be monitoring activities closely to ensure that Sunoco is meeting the terms of this agreement and its permits.” Massive gas pipeline project to resumeThe Associated Press

 

VA – Governor Ralph Northam is working “to restore state regulation of electric utility rates” while encouraging investments in the Commonwealth’s electricity grid and renewable energy projects. The legislation, sponsored by the Governor, would reverse a General Assembly-approved bill in 2015 to freeze rates, which mostly impacted Virginia’s largest utility, Dominion Energy. Under the new plan , rates proposed by Dominion and the Commonwealth’s other utility, Appalachian Power, would once again be reviewed by the State Corporation Commission. The state’s Attorney General, Mark Herring, however disagrees with the Governor’s work on this issue, and believes the legislation would result in a “bad deal for ratepayers.” General Herring believes the measure, in the current draft, could instead allow “utilities to charge ratepayers twice for the same expense.” The bill continues to advance through the General Assembly’s legislative process. Northam, Herring disagree over bill to regulate utilitiesThe Washington Post

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Energy Update: February 2, 2018

In the States

AZ – A member of the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) proposed a “clean energy overhaul that would put the state at the front of the pack” among other clean energy-focused states. Developed by ACC member Andrew Tobin, the Energy Modernization Plan seeks an 80 percent clean energy target by 2050 in addition to a 3,000 megawatt energy storage target for 2030 – both goals, in essence, would put Arizona ahead of California and New York, which currently lead all states in terms of renewable energy and storage targets. Tobin has asked for the ACC to consider his plan during their next meeting on February 6. "We’re not trying to get on the train; we're trying to be the engine in the train," said Tobin. "This is Western people doing things and setting lofty goals and reaching them." If Tobin’s plan is voted on and accepted by the ACC, staff will begin a formal year-long rulemaking and stakeholder engagement process. AZ regulator proposes biggest storage, clean energy targets yetGTM

 

IA – NextEra Energy, a Florida-based company, announced it may shutter Iowa’s only nuclear power plant by the end of 2025. NextEra officials believes it main customer, Alliant Energy, will not renew its purchasing contract from NextEra’s Duane Arnold Energy Center in Palo, which is located northwest of Cedar Rapids. Alliant’s current contract goes through 2025, though the Energy Center is licensed to operate until 2034. The Energy Center current employs 600 people and started operations in 1975. “The cost of wind energy right now has really dropped as well as the cost of natural gas to be at levels where they are competitive and have never been before. We are continuing to pursue different options for our customers to make sure that they get the best value,” said an Alliant spokesman. Iowa nuclear plant may close in 2025The Gazette

 

NJ – Governor Phil Murphy announced his plans for New Jersey to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a regional cap-and-trade program that includes nine northeast states. The Governor signed an executive order to rejoin the pact after former Governor Chris Christie exited RGGI in 2011. The executive order directs state officials to “immediately begin negotiations with RGGI member states, and the Department of Environmental Protection will start determining the rules and guidelines needed to rejoin RGGI within 30 days.” According to the Governor’s office, the state lost almost $300 million in revenue by not participating in RGGI. “Pulling out of RGGI slowed down progress on lowering emissions and has cost New Jerseyans millions of dollars,” said Governor Murphy, “[funds] that could have been used to increase energy efficiency and improve air quality in our communities.” Murphy direct NJ to rejoin RGGIThe Observer

 

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo released his plan to develop a $6 billion offshore wind industry. The Governor, by 2030, would like New York to have ocean-based wind farms producing 2.4 gigawatts of electricity, roughly the equivalent of about five fossil fuel-burning power plants. The Governor’s offshore wind industry roadmap focuses on a 16,000 square-mile section of the Atlantic Ocean. The state will seek offers from wind farm developers beginning this year, first with an offering for projects totaling 800 megawatts. The funding for the projects will be derived from fees, known as compliance obligations, imposed on nuclear power plant owners. Governor Cuomo also announced his plans to use $15 million for workforce training programs related to the offshore wind energy plan. "We are encouraged by this development opportunity for New York's independent power generators, but the details matter," said Gavin Donohue, president and CEO of the Independent Power Producers of New York. State sees 5K jobs from offshore wind farm pushThe Albany Times-Union

 

WA – Governor Jay Inslee officially rejected proposals to build an oil-by-rail terminal for the Port of Vancouver. Concurring with the unanimous decision of the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, Governor Inslee said the project increases “the risk of a catastrophic earthquake, oil spills in the Columbia River, and fires or explosions.” The project, which was to be developed by Vancouver Energy, was slated to serve as a transfer point for up to 360,000 barrels of crude oil daily while creating several hundred temporary and permanent jobs. “When weighing all of the factors considered against the need for and potential benefits of the facility at this location, I believe the record reflects substantial evidence that the project does not meet the broad public interest standard necessary for the Council to recommend site certification,” Governor Inslee said. Vancouver Energy has 30 days to appeal the Governor’s decision. Inslee rejects Port of Vancouver oil terminalPortland Business Journal

 

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Energy Update: January 12, 2018

In the States

MD – Governor Larry Hogan joined the U.S. Climate Alliance, which was formed last June after President Donald Trump decided to withdraw the international Paris climate agreement. Maryland is the 15th state to join the coalition, which includes two other Republican Governors, Phil Scott of Vermont and Charlie Baker of Massachusetts. In a letter to the Alliance written this week, Governor Hogan said “As long as the U.S. Climate Alliance adds value, shows true bipartisanship, and avoids Washington D.C.’s politics-as-usual, corrosive tactics and distractions, we will gladly invest our time and energy with state colleagues for this cause.” Governor Hogan also noted the state’s progress towards lowering greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 and that he is currently working on a more comprehensive goal of lowering emissions by 40 percent by 2030. Maryland’s GOP Governor commits to AllianceThe Washington Post

 

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo plans to invest at least $200 million “to encourage development of better storage technology for renewable energy produced by solar and wind power.” The Governor’s announcement follows an earlier articulated goal of creating 1,500 megawatts of clean energy storage by 2025. In the same announcement, the Governor said New York will seek to generate 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030 while cutting carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Without methods to store the energy and dispatch it when and where it is needed, New York will face challenges integrating and maximizing the benefits of these clean resources," Governor Cuomo said. Governor pushed green agendaThe Albany Times-Union

 

WA – Governor Jay Inslee announced his plan to tax carbon emissions in Washington beginning July 2019, urging state lawmakers to adopt his proposal during this year’s legislative session. Governor Inslee recommended a $20 per ton tax on emissions generated by power plants and transportation fuels, excluding airplane jet fuel, with annual increases of about three percent plus inflation. The Inslee administration estimates “the proposal would generate $3.3 billion over the next four years ... [that could be] channeled into a variety of funds to be invested in clean energy programs.” If approved, Washington would join California in taxing emissions on the west coast. Several state legislatures, including Democratic leadership who recently took control of the state Senate, were skeptical of the Governor’s proposal and questioned whether it could pass during this year’s short 60-day session. Governor rolls out carbon tax, Republicans balkThe Bellevue Reporter

 

Regional and National

President Donald Trump proposed to open large sections of the country’s coastline to offshore oil and natural gas exploration and drilling. Before the announcement, prior administrations had only allowed production in the Gulf of Mexico. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said up to 9 percent of the Outer Continental Shelf “will be under consideration for oil and gas lease sales beginning [in 2019] and extending through 2024.” With the exception of Governor Paul LePage of Maine, who currently chairs the OCS Governors Coalition that supports offshore drilling, nearly every coastal state Governor where drilling is currently not allowed opposes the administration’s plan, including Florida’s Rick Scott who asked for and received a waiver from the Trump administration. Several other Governors are expected to request a waiver from the Trump administration following the Florida decision. Governors oppose Trump’s drilling proposalCNN

 

Led by Representatives Elise Stefanik (R) of New York and Jim Langevin (D) of Rhode Island, a bipartisan group of more than 100 House lawmakers sent a letter to President Donald Trump urging him “to recognize climate change as a threat to the United States” in the administration’s National Security Strategy. The letter was sent in response to a Pentagon document this year omitting the Obama administration’s description of climate chance as a geopolitical and national security threat. The letter to the Trump administration also quotes Defense Secretary James Mattis’ view on climate change, which aligns with the former administration’s perspectives. “Failing to recognize this threat,” said the Representatives, “represents a significant step backwards on this issue and discredits those who deal in scientific fact.” Make security strategy include climate again, lawmakers urge TrumpReuters

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Energy Update: December 15, 2017

In the States

NV – Angela Dykema, Governor Brian Sandoval’s Energy Office director, and former U.S. Senator Harry Reid, along with Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak helped to dedicate two new solar projects – Switch Stations 1 and 2 – just north of Las Vegas. The new solar farms can generate a combined 179 megawatts of energy, or enough electricity to power 46,000 homes and displace close to 265,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. The plants, which employ five full-time workers, at one point had more than 1,300 construction workers building the project’s 1.98 million solar panels over close to 2,000 acres of lands. “With each of these projects we move closer to our goal in leading the nation in clean and renewable energy,” said Ms. Dykema. “Projects like these are the perfect example of what we can achieve with the commitment the state of Nevada has shown to growing our renewable energy economy and attracting emerging industries and forward thinking businesses to our state.” 2 new solar plants boost Switch operationsThe Las Vegas Sun

 

UT – Governor Gary Herbert’s Office of Energy Development sent a letter of support to Active Energy focused on the company’s efforts to enhance biomass-based renewable energy and other initiatives to provide affordable energy alternatives for the state’s residents. Active Energy is on schedule to complete a five-ton-per-hour biomass fuel plant, known as CoalSwitch, next month. The project, which “will provide proof-of-concept testing” for future efforts to find alternatives to coal, will directly support the state’s utility company, Rocky Mountain Power. Michael Rowan, Active Energy’s chairman, said he was happy about the Governor’s support and that “[our] environmental credentials are being recognized across the board and we are extremely excited about the future, especially as we expect to deliver our first commercial quantities to partners, including Rocky Mountain Power.” Active Energy welcomes support from Governor Herbert on CoalSwitchProactive Investors

 

VA – Governor Terry McAuliffe announced $300,000 in grant funding to Tazewell County in southwestern Virginia “to provide assistance to coal industry-related businesses.” The grant funding will assist the Heart of Appalachia Collaborative Economic Transition or HEART Project by providing “direct counseling, training, mentoring, business service plan development and other targeted technical assistance to approximately 58 coal industry-related businesses.” The funding is projected to help retain 200 jobs in the southwest while also creating 10 new businesses and 30 new jobs. The funds stem from the federally-funded Community Development Block Grant Program, which the Commonwealth administers via its Department of Housing and Community Development. Grant money awarded to help transition coal businesses in southwest VirginiaThe Associated Press

 

WY – Wyoming signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with North Dakota, Montana, and the Canadian province of Saskatchewan to study, collaborate, and share information on carbon capture technology. Wyoming, which is home to the “largest open-pit coal mines in the country,” has spent several years investing in carbon capture and utilization strategies while Saskatchewan has the first large scale carbon capture facility attached a commercial coal plant, North Dakota and Montana both have research centers devoted to carbon capture. Jason Begger, the executive director of the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority, heralded the MOU, noting that “if you look at any credible energy analysis or projection over the next few decades, they all flat out say that coal will be a smaller, but large part of the energy mix for the foreseeable future. [And so,} if you care about carbon mitigation, coal technology needs to be a part of that.” Wyoming signs partnership for coal researchThe Casper Star Tribune

 

Regional and National

Governors Larry Hogan of Maryland and John Carney of Delaware sent a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) urging it to “expedite [a] review of the $278 million Artificial Island transmission line project” that would benefit both states’ ratepayers, if a proper cost allocation methodology is employed. In their letter, the Governors disagree with PJM Interconnection’s original cost allocation methodology, which they said would burden ratepayers with “more than 90% of the cost, [but] will receive just 10% of the project’s benefits.” Governors Hogan and Carney believe FERC should instead employ two alternative methodologies, which would “produce a result that better represents the regional benefits to be obtained” from the project. Under the alternative methodologies, ratepayers would only fund about seven to 10 percent of the project costs. “We remain optimistic that FERC will consider a financing plan for this project that will not unfairly burden businesses and families on the Delmarva Peninsula,” said Governor Carney. “Thank you to FERC commissioners for considering our request to expedite their review. And thank you to Governor Hogan for his continued partnership, and leadership on this issue.” Governors seek speedier review of power line projectDE Business

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Energy Update: November 22, 2017

In the States

CO – The state’s largest oil and gas producer, Houston-based Anadarko Petroleum, announced it plans to invest almost $1 billion in the Denver-Julesburg Basin to build and maintain several oil and natural gas wells. The investment, which will support five exploration rigs and three completion crews, is an increase of close to $500 million over this year’s budgeted amount, and will help the company increase sales volume by 30 percent. In comparison to the other investments by the company, the Denver-Julesburg Basin ranks second behind deepwater operations in the Gulf of Mexico,  but in front of the Delaware Basin exploration in Texas close to the New Mexico border. Anadarko Petroleum says it will up investment in 2018The Denver Post

 

MN – Governor Mark Dayton ordered state agencies to adopt new sustainability goals, including lowering carbon emissions, water usage, and overall energy consumption. Specifically, the Governor called for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2027, water usage by 25 percent by 2025, a 90 percent recycling rate within the Capitol complex, and a 30 percent reduction in fossil fuel consumption by state-owned vehicles. “This executive order will build on that work — reducing energy use, eliminating waste, and saving money,” Governor Dayton said. “By meeting these targets, we can improve environmental outcomes and make state government work better for Minnesotans.” Governor Dayton issues new targetsThe Star Tribune

 

NE – The state’s Public Service Commission (PSC) voted 3 to 2 to give final approval to an alternate routing of the Keystone XL pipeline through Nebraska. TransCanada, the pipeline’s owner, however stated it does not favor the state-approved 63-mile detour routing, which it says will increase project delays and expenses, most notably the need for new “right of way contracts” with landowners. TransCanada instead prefers a routing parallel to the existing mainline, which it put into operation in 2010. Opponents of the project view the PSC’s decision favorably, noting it will continue to delay the project’s construction thanks to the new legal issues stemming from the alternate route approval. Governor Pete Ricketts said the pipeline would “on balance” be good for the state, mostly because of its tax and job generation. The PSC approval comes days after the existing Keystone mainline ruptured in South Dakota, though Nebraska law prohibits regulators from considering spills in its decision-making. Controversial Keystone XL pipeline route across Nebraska is approved, hurdles remainThe Omaha World-Herald

 

NV – The Governor’s Office of Energy pledged $1 million this week in an effort “to land a national [federal] geothermal laboratory near Fallon, near the Lahontan Valley. The site near Fallon is competing with one other location in nearby Utah for the Department of Energy’s geothermal research center, which is expected to be chosen early next year. In brief, geothermal energy projects use the heat generated by and trapped beneath the Earth’s surface to generate electricity. The funds distributed by the Governor’s Office come from the state’s Renewable Energy Account, which according to the Governor’s Office Director, Angie Dykema, was financed via property taxes on renewable projects. “It’s an enormous gift to this project,” said Doug Blankenship, a researcher at Sandia National Laboratories, the lead organization for the Fallon project. “[New geothermal technology] is a golden ring that deserves to be looked at and Nevada is the best place to be doing that.” Governor’s office pushes for federal geothermal research labThe Elko Daily Free Press

 

Regional and National

According to a new joint analysis by the non-partisan Climate Policy Initiative and Energy Innovation Policy & Technology groups, the Trump’s administrations plans to subsidize coal and nuclear energy development “would cost taxpayers about $10.6 billion a year” while supporting some of the oldest power plants in the nation. The new rule, which was issued in late September, calls for paying plants for the electricity they produce as well as the “reliability they provide to the grid,” with Energy Secretary Rick Perry noting the subsides would assist the country in times of power outages or increase demand during natural disasters. Brendan Pierpont, energy finance consultant at Climate Policy Initiative, said the new rule “would serve to keep a lot of uneconomic plants in the market that currently can’t compete with the changing dynamics of cheap gas and the falling cost of renewables.” While the administration’s plan must be approved by the independent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), two of the three FERC commissioners were appointed by President Donald Trump. Subsidy plan for coal and nuclear plants to cost $10.6 billion a yearThe Guardian

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Energy Update: October 27, 2017

In the States

ME – A state legislative committee is planning to review legislation to create local microgrids, or local energy grids that are able to operate autonomously. The measure, sponsored by Representative Michael Devin, would allow municipalities to create electricity distribution systems independent of the central power network. Representative Devin argues that his bill would assist localities to become energy self-sufficient, noting that Vermont recently passed legislation to create microgrids that saved one town approximately $200,000. Governor Paul LePage’s Energy Office is still reviewing the legislation, and has questioned whether the measure would increase overall electrical costs while the state’s largest utility, Emera, has yet to take a position on the bill. Jim Cohen of Emera said ““The question is at what point in time, and in what situations, will they be cost-effective — and who should pay for those benefits that are location specific or even customer specific.” Maine legislative committee to consider community microgridsMicrogrid Knowledge

 

PA – In a letter to President Donald Trump and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, Governor Tom Wolf requested a waiver of the Renewable Fuel Standard’s renewable volume obligations, expressing concern over the extraordinarily high renewable identification number prices that “are undermining the viability of the oil refining sector in the Northeast.” The Governor asked for the waiver to be effective until market prices deflate, noting that Philadelphia Energy Solutions and Monroe Energy have been negatively impacted in recent weeks. In response to the Governor’s letter, Renewable Fuels Association President Bob Dineen said “the RFS has actually helped, not harmed, the economy,” noting that the utilities mentioned by the Governor couldn’t compete with the “newer, more efficient refineries that have better access to lower-priced, lighter crude oil sources.” Wolf asks Trump for RFS waiver, RFA respondsEthanol Producer Magazine

 

VA – Governor Terry McAuliffe joined officials from Dominion Energy to celebrate the company’s first solar farm in Fauquier County. The solar panels, about 236,000 in total, are spread out across 125 acres, cost approximately $46 million to construct, and are projected to generate enough electricity to power 5,000 homes. The solar farm will begin operating October 1, adding about 20 megawatts (MWs) to Dominion’s more than 700 MW solar generating capacity in the Commonwealth. Governor McAuliffe, in his comments at the dedication ceremony, focused on the importance of renewable energy to the importance of business development to Virginia, saying ““This means high paying jobs in the Commonwealth of Virginia. You cannot recruit Microsoft [or] Amazon if you can’t provide them with renewable energy.” 20-megawatt Remington solar farm goes on the gridFauquier Now

 

WA – A company owned by Utah-based Lighthouse Resources is suing the state’s Department of Ecology following a denial of the company’s permit to export coal to Asia. Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview, in its suit, claims the Department “violated federal and state laws when it denied the project a water quality certification last month,” and additionally noted the denial was based on “biased and prejudiced decision-making.” The company’s facility, if approved, would have managed up to 44 million tons of coal per year, including coal from Montana and Wyoming. Millennium CEO and President Bill Chapman said it has invested about $15 million in the permitting process, noting that the permit that was denied is one of 23 the project needs. Ecology Department Director Maia Bellon said in a statement that “there are simply too many unavoidable and negative environmental effects for the project to move forward.” Coal-export terminal backer sues state over permit denialThe Washington Post

 

Regional and National

The Donald Trump administration announced plans to make nearly 77 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico, approximately equivalent to the size of the State of New Mexico, available for oil and gas exploration leases. All available un-leased areas on the Gulf’s Outer Continental Shelf adjacent to the states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida will be part of this offering. The Obama administration had proposed a similar but smaller lease sale covering 66 million acres. While this part of the Gulf was the site of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill of 215 million gallons of crude in 2010, Interior Department officials believe the new leases can be administered without harming the environment. “American energy production can be competitive while remaining safe and environmentally sound,” said Vincent DeVito, Interior’s counselor for energy policy. Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant was one of 12 public officials whose support was cited in the U.S. Department of Interior’s announcement of the sale. “Mississippi welcomes Secretary Zinke’s action to carry out the residents’ vision for American energy dominance,” Governor Bryant said. Trump to auction off a vast swath of the Gulf of Mexico to oil companies – The Washington Post

 

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Energy Update: October 13, 2017

In the States

CA – Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 546, which encourages the siting of energy storage projects. The bill, which was passed unanimously by both state legislative chambers, requires cities with more than 200,000 residents to publish online application documents related to the siting for certain energy storage projects by 2019. It also standardizes process and permit fees across multiple local jurisdictions. In addition, the legislation allows the Governor’s office to “provide guidance on energy storage permitting and best practices,” as well as provide localities potential factors to consider when establishing such projects. California energy storage siting bill signed into law -- UtilityDIVE

 

ID – Governor Butch Otter presented the State of Idaho Awards for Excellence in Industrial and Commercial Energy Efficiency to nine organizations, including the Idaho branch of Brigham Young University. The winning organizations, nine in total, were recognized for their “actions in implementing energy efficiency measures and reducing their environmental impact.” According to the Governor’s Office of Energy and Mineral Resources, “Projects implemented by these nine recipients in 2016 would save enough energy to power more than 1,200 Idaho homes for a year.” Other awardees include the City of Idaho Falls and Ketchum as well as Boise Towne Square Mall, among several other private companies and local agencies. BYU-Idaho receive Governor’s energy efficiency awardThe Rexburg Standard Journal

 

NV – The state’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) as well as the Governor’s Committee on Energy Choice is reviewing Ballot Question 3, which will allow Nevada residents, businesses, and other entities to choose the provider of its electric utility service, potentially restructuring the entire energy industry in the state. The PUC, specifically, is examining possible impacts related to the potential implementation timeline, changes required to state law, policies, or programs, and options to construct the new energy system, should Question 3 be approved by voters. Question 3, which is supported by an organization called Nevadans for Affordable, Clean Energy Sources and is opposed by the state’s AFL-CIO union, while the state’s dominant utility, NV Energy, has not taken a position. Nevada utility regulators investigating energy choice ballot measureThe Las Vegas Review-Journal

OR – A major priority for the next legislative session, according to state officials, will be to pass Governor Kate Brown’s “cap and invest” proposal, which seeks to limit greenhouse gas emissions and charge fees for certain corporations depending on their carbon dioxide emissions. Some officials believe the Governor’s proposal could raise close to $1.4 billion per biennium, but lawmakers have yet to specify, if the proposal is taken up, how the funds would be expended or whether requirements to reduce carbon would be tied to the use of these proceeds. According to the state legislature’s nonpartisan legal office, any proposal to “cap and invest” would not require a legislative three-fifths supermajority since it was determined to be an energy policy issue. Under the state’s constitution, any proposal to raise taxes requires a supermajority. "This isn't about me, this is about my grandkids and their kids," said Senator Lee Beyer, who supports the proposal. "There does become a point where the scientists tell us there'd be a point of no return. I don't think we're there, but we're going up the hill pretty fast." Oregon Democrats’ $1.4B carbon pricing plan looms over 2018 sessionThe Oregonian

 

Regional and National

Governors Steve Bullock of Montana, John Hickenlooper of Colorado, and Matt Mead of Wyoming will headline the 21st Century Energy Transition Symposium on October 30-31 at Colorado State University. The moderator of their discussion and the events keynote speaker will be Bill Ritter, a former Colorado Governor and director of the Center for the New Energy Economy. According to the invitation, the Governors will “discuss how they can inspire nonpartisan collaborations and regional cooperation in a complex world of energy innovations, demands and challenges.”

 

At a recent multi-state meeting hosted by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, chair of the National Governors Association (NGA), seven states are planning to collaborate to create an electric vehicle (EV) corridor. The meeting was the first of several conferences centered on Governor Sandoval’s NGA chair initiative, called “Ahead of the Curve: Innovation Governors.” The states, including Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to construct a regional electric vehicle plan (REV) that traverses more than 5,000 miles of highway. The MOU additionally calls for the states to create best practices and procedures for EVs, create minimum standards for EV charging stations, and incorporate EV charging stations within local planning and development processes. “As chair of the NGA, I am pleased to announce the REV plan in the West with governors from both sides of the political spectrum,” Governor Sandoval said. “The plan shines a spotlight on how governors across the country are implementing innovative policies for the people of their states.” Governors to invest in EV charging network across seven statesThe Denver Post

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