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Energy Update: January 24, 2020

In the States

FL: Governor Ron DeSantis announced that the state intends to buy a 20,000-acre plot of land in the Everglades to prevent oil drilling there. If completed, the deal will be the largest land acquisition made by the state in a decade. “[The proposed purchase] will permanently save the land from oil production. With this acquisition, there will be nearly 600,000 acres of wetlands in Water Conservation Area Three that will be protected by public ownership for recreation and restoration,” Governor DeSantis said in a statement. Environmental groups active in Florida praised the Governor for his plans to go through with the land deal and its impact on the Everglades’ restoration and preservation. Florida to buy 20,000 acres in Everglades, largest purchase in 10 years – Tampa Bay Times


NY: Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a $3 billion bond act that would provide funding for a variety of water quality and environmental preservation projects. This proposal is titled The Restore Mother Nature Bond Act, and if approved by voters, would  fund projects such as the creation of artificial reefs in the Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean, renewable energy production, and a new “conservation corridors program” to restore habitats for fish and wildlife. Additionally, the plan would  expand infrastructure for electric-powered public transportation in New York City and surrounding areas. Governor Cuomo hopes that this substantial influx of cash will not only help the environment, but also boost sport fishing tourism and commercial fishing in the state. Governor Cuomo’s budget proposal, to be released later this month, will provide more details on how money from the bond act will be used, and how he plans to address the state’s current $6.1 billion deficit. “It is our responsibility to leave our planet cleaner and greener for future generations,” said Governor Cuomo. “We can and we will start this year.” Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposes $3B environmental bond act – Newsday


RI: Governor Gina Raimondo signed an executive order directing the state’s Office of Energy Resources (OER) to create a plan for the state to fulfill 100% of its electricity demand with renewable energy by 2030. This new target is 10 to 20 years ahead of targets adopted by most other states with the same goal. Governor Raimondo plans to meet the order’s target by taking a multi-sector approach, focusing heavily on more solar power, wind power, and energy storage projects. Even with a dramatic shift towards renewables, the Governor’s goal could prove to be challenging since Rhode Island currently generates more of its electricity from natural gas than any other state (as of 2018, Rhode Island generated 93% of its energy from natural gas). Still, Governor Raimondo has plans to continue announcing new renewable energy projects throughout the year (as she did in 2019) and will be expecting to receive a “specific and implementable” action plan from OER by December 31, 2020. Rhode Island governor wants state to be fastest to 100% renewable energy – Utility DriveRhode Island Governor aims for 100% renewable power by 2030 - Reuters


VT: In his annual budget address, Governor Phil Scott proposed grid optimization and clean transportation investments to the tune of $7 million. Among Governor Scott’s proposed investments are a new refundable research and development tax credit for local grid optimization, property tax structural reforms for storage and optimization projects, and elimination of the corporate income tax for existing and new companies that specialize in grid optimization. The Governor’s proposed budget would also create a $2 million capital fund to support grid optimization start-ups and allocate an additional $250,000 for promising technology pilot programs. Finally, $3 million of the proposed funds will go towards incentivizing electric vehicle use and expanding electric vehicle charging infrastructure, with the goal of cutting pollution and transportation costs. Gov. Scott proposes grid optimization and clean transportation investments to lower energy costs, support local climate economy – VT Digger



In response to ongoing concerns about how climate change will affect investors’ views of companies’ long-term prospects, Lawrence Fink, the CEO of investment giant BlackRock, announced a plan to drop coal company holdings from its portfolios. According to a statement from the company, BlackRock will remove shares of all companies that generate more than 25% of their revenue from selling electricity-producing “thermal” coal. Based on this criterion, some big coal-producing companies could still escape BlackRock’s divestiture. Companies generating revenue from metallurgical coal, used to make steel, will still be included in BlackRock’s investment portfolio. Other large coal players close to or just under the 25% revenue threshold may also find ways to tweak their business plans to continue receiving investor dollars. Some big coal players may escape BlackRock’s planned divestment – MarketWatch

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