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Energy Update: January 3, 2020

In the States

MD: Governor Larry Hogan announced more details of his proposed clean energy legislation, the Clean and Renewable Energy Standard (CARES). The CARES was first announced in May 2019 and aims to improve upon the Clean Energy Jobs Act. The bill would reaffirm some requirements from the Clean Energy Jobs Act, most notably, the requirement of generating 50% of all energy for the state from renewable sources by 2030 increasing to 100% by 2040, while also offering Clean Energy Resource Credits to Maryland facilities that generate electricity from renewable sources as an incentive to meet those requirements. Despite aiming to spark growth in green power, CARES has come under fire from some environmentalists because of its controversial proposal to make nuclear power plants and some natural gas facilities eligible for Clean Energy Resource Credits. These environmentalists argue that concerns about nuclear plant safety, responsible nuclear waste disposal, and the hydraulic fracturing process used to produce natural gas should make the facilities ineligible for the credits. Maryland Gov. Hogan promotes energy plan, including nuclear power to reach goals for renewable sources — The Baltimore Sun


NH: Governor Chris Sununu announced he will withdraw New Hampshire from the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI), a Northeastern multi-state agreement to implement a gas tax to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. This announcement came only hours after the TCI released a draft tax policy. Governor Sununu cited concerns about higher costs for New Hampshire drivers as the reason for his decision. “I will not force Granite Staters to pay more for their gas just to subsidize other states’ crumbling infrastructure,” said Governor Sununu. “New Hampshire is already taking substantial steps to curb our carbon emissions, and this initiative, if enacted, would institute a new gas tax by up to 17 cents per gallon while only achieving minimal results.” Supporters of the TCI said that this decision, while disappointing, will not slow TCI’s efforts moving forward. TCI still plans to release a final memorandum of understanding by spring of 2020 and launch by 2022.  New Hampshire opts not to go with regional climate initiative — The Boston Herald


VA: Members of Governor Ralph Northam’s recently created Clean Energy Advisory Board are exploring financing options to make solar energy generation more viable for low-to-moderate income households. The board is considering a renewable energy loans or rebates for eligible households that will significantly reduce these households’ “energy burden”, or the ratio of a household’s expenditure on electricity to total household income. In so doing, the board aims to increase the propagation of renewable energy technology in Virginia while putting more money back into the pockets of low-to-moderate income Virginians. “Some families here have to make the decision between heating their homes in winter [and] buying food or medicine,” said Chelsea Barnes, an advocate active with the Clean Energy Advisory Board. “If we can reduce the burden of high bills through energy efficiency and solar, we can help lift people out of poverty.” Virginia board looks to bolster solar opportunity for low-income residents — Energy News Network


WY: Governor Mark Gordon announced that he will allocate additional funds to the Wyoming Public Service Commission for an investigative study of Rocky Mountain Power’s Integrated Resource Plan. The plan initially came under investigation for its controversial proposal to retire two-thirds of the utility company’s coal power facilities, including three major plants in the state. Lawmakers opposed to the plan argue that it amounts to an attack on Wyoming’s crucial coal industry, but proponents of the plan argue that it will drive down costs in the long-run and help spur statewide growth in renewable energy. “Because the IRP filed by Rocky Mountain Power will significantly impact the state of Wyoming and her workers, it is critical that we have a full understanding of how the company reached its conclusions, and whether the analysis that was conducted was correct, thorough and unbiased,” Governor Gordon said in a statement. Gov. Mark Gordon backs investigation into Wyoming’s leading utility company — Casper Star Tribune



In light of recent major coal company bankruptcies, the United States Senate passed the Bipartisan American Miners Act of 2019. The bill, introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senator Shelley More Capito (R-WV) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), secures funding for the 1974 Miner Pension Plan to prevent its insolvency. The bill will also expand health care benefits provided under McConnell’s HELP for Coal Miners Health Care Act of 2017 to miners whose benefits were jeopardized by the recent bankruptcies. “Our coal miners made a commitment to our country, and now it is our turn to uphold the commitment we made to them in 1946 by securing their hard-earned pensions and healthcare,” said Senator Joe Manchin in a press release. “I personally told President Trump and my Congressional colleagues that this was a top priority for me and for thousands of Kentuckians in need. I’m proud the Senate approved legislation today including our Bipartisan American Miners Act to help Kentucky coal miners, retirees, and their families,” said Majority Leader McConnell. U.S. Senate passes McConnell bill protecting coal miner pensions — CBS WKYT

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