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Energy Update: February 26, 2021

In the States

NY: Under the direction of Governor Andrew Cuomo, the New York State Public Service Commission approved a $530 million electricity transmission project called the New York Energy Solution Project. A 54.5 mille transmission line, built between Rensselaer County and Dutchess County, will carry renewably-generated electricity from northern New York to high-demand areas downstate. The Commission also gave approval for another $180 million transmission project, the Empire State Line, which will run from Niagara County to Erie County. “New York is leading the nation in developing a green economy with key investments to enhance the reliability and resiliency of the State’s energy infrastructure. These projects are essential to helping create our new green energy superhighway that will move electricity to high demand areas efficiently while also reducing costs and helping to create new jobs,” said Governor Cuomo. NYS Public Service Commission Approves Transmission LinesDaily Energy Insider

 

TX: At a press conference about the recent outages across the State of Texas, Governor Greg Abbott called on lawmakers to mandate and fund winterization of the state’s power grid. He argued that grid winterization will be crucial for preventing future outages like the ones that occurred last week, which left millions of Texans without electricity, heat, and clean water. Governor Abbot was critical of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which oversees the grid, saying, “what happened this week to our fellow Texans is absolutely unacceptable and can never be replicated again.” The Governor also said he intends to move quickly to ensure outages like these “never happen again” and committed to make winterization of the Texas grid an emergency item for this year’s legislative session. He has already met with members of the state Republican leadership who will lead hearings to examine what happened next week. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Says Lawmakers Must Require Weatherization of Power Plants—and Pay for ItThe Dallas Morning News

 

WI: In response to ongoing economic hardships associated with the pandemic, Governor Tony Evers announced a new $387 million federally-funded rental and energy assistance program for struggling Wisconsinites. According to the Governor, eligible individuals may receive help with unpaid utility bills and up to 15 months of rent. Assistance is first used to cover unpaid rent and utility bills going back to March 2020, after which assistance can be applied to future bills. Wisconsin residents who recently lost their jobs or with incomes at or below 80% of the median income in their county will qualify for assistance. "While we continue working to get vaccines distributed and shots in arms as soon as we have supply, these funds will be critically important to providing families the stability and support they need to get through this pandemic," Governor Evers said in a statement. Evers Announces $387 Million in Rent, Energy Assistance for Wisconsinites who Lost Income During the PandemicMilwaukee Journal Sentinel

 

National

Republican Governors representing 17 Southern, Midwestern, and Western states signed a letter authored by Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon asking the Biden administration to rescind their recently-issued moratorium on new federal leases for oil and gas development. The letter argues that the Biden administration’s moratorium “[threatens] jobs in energy-producing states and potentially [will increase] consumer costs by an estimated $1.7 million.” The letter also contends that the moratorium will impede gas- and oil-producing states from “[meeting] consumer demand and stabilizing [the national] electric grid,” which will ultimately “jeopardize… national security interests and strip away the opportunity for Americans to be energy independent”. Finally, the letter urges the Biden administration to pursue an “innovation, not regulation” approach to managing the energy industry in the United States and encourages President Biden to “open a constructive dialogue” with the signatories of the letter to brainstorm energy solutions that do not endanger oil- and gas-dependent state economies. At this time, while it is unclear how the Biden administration will respond to the letter, addressing climate change and promoting renewable energy remain top policy priorities for the administration. Gordon Leads Governors Group Calling for Repeal of Biden Executive OrderThe Casper Star Tribune

 

Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm was confirmed by the Senate to lead the U.S. Department of Energy. She was confirmed by a 64-35 vote, enjoying support from 14 Republican senators in addition to all 50 Democrats. Despite enjoying some bipartisan support, other Republicans remained skeptical. During the confirmation, Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming said he would not approve the nomination because “President Biden has declared war on American energy and American energy workers.” President Biden has tasked Secretary Granholm with helping transition the United States from fossil fuels to clean energy sources to help the nation reach carbon neutrality by 2050. During the confirmation hearing, Secretary Granholm stressed that the Biden administration’s clean energy plan would focus on creating new clean energy jobs rather than eliminating jobs in the fossil fuel industry, expressing her support for developing new technologies like carbon capture and storage to help fossil fuels be produced more cleanly. Following her confirmation, Secretary Granholm tweeted her intention to create “good-paying clean energy jobs in all corners of America in service of addressing [the] climate crisis.” Senate Confirms Former Michigan Governor Granholm as Energy SecretaryThe Hill

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