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Energy Update: February 22, 2022

In the States

AK: Governor Mike Dunleavy called for the Alaska Railbelt to source 80% of its energy from renewable fuels by the year 2040. The Alaska Railbelt is a state regulated electric grid system that provides power to large swaths of Alaska and is supplied by multiple electric utilities. In his state of the state address, the Governor said that he envisioned an Alaska that is “energy independent and a leader in renewable energy, whether it be hydro, tidal, geothermal, wind, solar, or other.” Utilities supplying the Railbelt grid would be required to generate 20% of their power from renewable sources by December 31, 2025, 55% by the end of 2035, and 80% by the end of 2040. Electricity prices in the Railbelt are significantly higher than those in the lower 48 states, and the Governor hopes this requirement would lessen the grid’s exposure to fluctuations in natural gas prices. Environmental advocates praised the move, and experts suggested potential renewable energy projects including hydropower, wind and solar for investment. Alaska Gov. Mike

Dunleavy calls for 80% of Railbelt power to be renewable by 2040 – Anchorage Daily News

CA: Governor Gavin Newsom applauded the Biden administration’s move to restore California’s ability to set tailpipe car emission standards. The authority, which had been taken away during the Trump administration, allows the state to regulate emissions from vehicles at stricter levels than the EPA. “We welcome the Biden Administration's expected move to recognize our authority to continue setting the pace with bold policies, investments and partnerships to clean the air and accelerate the global zero-emission vehicle transition," Governor Newsom said in a statement. "The restoration of our state's decades-long Clean Air Act waiver will be a major victory for the environment, our economy and the health of Americans across the country in states that have chosen to adopt our pioneering standards." California Air Resources Board member Daniel Sperling told CNN that the state would likely stick with the Biden administration’s strict standards for cars and light trucks but may go beyond the federal government in setting standards for heavy trucks. Earlier In 2020, Governor Newsom ordered all vehicles sold in the state be emission-free by 2035. Biden administration is finalizing a waiver for California to set its own vehicle emissions standards – CNN

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NC: Governor Roy Cooper urged a state panel tasked with expanding offshore wind energy in the state to work quickly, during an address at the board’s first meeting. An executive order issued last June by the Governor created the “N.C. Taskforce for Offshore Wind Economic Resource Strategies.” The order also set electricity production goals for the year 2040 of powering 2.3 million homes through offshore wind energy. The 30 member panel, housed in the state’s Department of Commerce, includes representatives of the tourism, education, marine and environmental sectors. The panel reviewed an outside consultant report on wind energy that concluded North Carolina is well positioned to attract business from the growing industry. The federal government has begun the process of leasing out a nearly 200 square mile area for offshore wind energy, and companies have expressed interest in expanding offshore power generation. North Carolina’s governor urges speed as the state’s new wind energy panel meets -- WFAE

WV: Governor Jim Justice signed a bill that lifts state restrictions on nuclear power development. The bill, SB4, repeals portions of state code that held that nuclear power poses an “undue hazard to the health, safety and welfare of West Virginians,” and also set a high burden for potential nuclear operators to meet should they wish to gain approval. The bill was supported by representatives from the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce and the West Virginia Climate Alliance. “The bill I signed today is a positive step in modernizing our state’s regulatory environment, but we must work to ensure only positive outcomes from this legislation by continually evaluating any concerns and implementing best practices in any regulation that may be required,” Governor Justice said in a statement. Justice signs bill lifting state restrictions on nuclear power plant construction into law – Charleston Gazette-Mail


Governors races this year have a high potential to shift state energy policies for years to come. Governors shape energy policy in key ways, including through appointments, rulemaking, infrastructure spending and legislation. In two examples of the stakes, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott used his January 10th re-election rally in the Rio Grande Valley to tout his support for oil and gas, while in Pennsylvania Democratic candidate and Attorney General Josh Shapiro promised net- zero carbon emissions by 2030. At least half a dozen races are considered “tossups,” many in states won by President Biden. How governors races may change energy – Energy News Network

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