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Energy Update, February 5

In the States

AZ – The Arizona Corporation Commission voted 3 to 2 in favor of the proposed SunZia transmission line between Arizona and New Mexico. The $2 billion, 515-mile-long project seeks to export electricity generated from wind, solar, and geothermalEmilistaEmilista power in Arizona and New Mexico to markets in the western United States. SunZia, which is a joint project between Salt River Project, Shell WindEnergy, Southwestern Power Group, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association and Tuscon Electric Power, will now go to the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission for its approval. The project received approval from the federal government last year. According to an economic impact assessment by New Mexico State University and the University of Arizona, the project could create about 35,000 jobs and help to transport power from sites that have nearly 22,000 megawatts of untapped solar and wind resources. “Today’s action by the ACC represents a significant milestone in the development of critical electric infrastructure in the Southwest United States,” Ian Calkins, a SunZia spokesman, said. SunZia gets approval for Arizona lineThe Albuquerque Business Journal

CA – A state legislator announced his intentions to bypass Governor Jerry Brown and to seek the public’s disapproval of the state’s Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) through a statewide referendum and ballot initiative. Democratic Assemblyman Mike Gatto of Glendale, who also chairs the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee, believes the CPUC “has been a profound disappointment to residents and hopes voters will approve his plan to dismantle it by 2018. Mr. Gatto contends the PUC is not only too close to the companies it regulates but also is slow to respect to crises, including to an ongoing gas leak in Southern California. His proposal, which needs approval by two-thirds of lawmakers to be placed on the 2016 ballot, would strip the CPUC of its constitutional protections and reallocate its responsibilities to other departments or agencies. A co-author of the measure, Assemblyman Marc Levine, a San Rafael Democrat, said “In recent history the PUC has been riddled with questions about the commission's ability to regulate with the people's best interest in mind.” Lawmaker Seeks To Dissolve California Utilities RegulatorAssociated Press

OR – Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins is investigating the state’s Business Energy Tax Credit for cases of fraud and wrongdoing. The Secretary announced that her department will issue a request for proposal to audit the entire tax credit program, which is run by the state’s Department of energy, after she and her staff discovered “extensive gaps in the [program’s] files” for the $1 billion tax credits the program has granted. Chris Pair, a spokesman for Governor Kate Brown, said “Governor Brown welcomes the effort to learn more about financial incentive program issues at the Oregon Department of Energy through this audit.” In addition to the Secretary’s review, which is slated to be completed by August 2016, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Oregon Department of Justice, and the state legislature are analyzing and investigating the tax credit program. Oregon Secretary of State joins crowd investigating Energy Department tax creditsThe Oregonian

SC – Governor Nikki Haley and officials from the National Renewable Energy Corporation (NARENCO) announced the company is planning to invest at least $85 million in solar power operations and projects in Allendale County.  NARENCO, which is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina and was established in 2009, expects their Allendale facility will be operational by the end of 2017. The project is expected to produce nearly 70 megawatts of alternating current, or enough solar energy to power approximately 14,000 homes. NARENCO has roughly 70 other solar facilities across the southeastern United States. "NARENCO's investment in Allendale is another example of a company seeing the opportunities being created by Team South Carolina's approach to creating a business-friendly environment that companies from any industry can thrive in,” said Governor Haley. “We're excited to welcome NARENCO to the South Carolina family, and to celebrate its $85 million investment in our state and our people.” NARENCO expands solar power center in Allendale, SCSouth Carolina Area Development News

Federal and Regional

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved the construction of a proposed 515-mile-long natural gas pipeline, which would cross Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. The project, which still requires the approval of the Army Corps of Engineers, is expected to deliver nearly 1 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas to Florida Power & Light, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy. Known as the Sabal Trail pipeline, the project is a joint venture between Duke Energy, Spectra Energy, and NextEra Energy. Pipeline gets federal permitThe Suwannee Democrat

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