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Energy Update: July 21, 2017

In the States

AK – The state legislature voted to end its cash payment subsidies to oil companies with less than 50,000 barrels of daily oil production. Instead, these oil companies will now be allowed to claim state tax deductions instead of cash and those deductions will be reduced over time by 10 percent annually after seven years if a project is producing oil or after 10 years if the project hasn’t produced oil. The cash-subsidy program was created a decade ago to encourage new companies to develop oil fields in Alaska. According to its projections, the state owes more than $1 billion in cash subsidies to the oil companies by the end of 2018. Alaska Legislature passes last-minute oil tax deal, but capital budget is still pendingThe Alaska Dispatch News

MN – The University of Minnesota’s Energy Transition Lab released a report finding that “adding energy storage is becoming a cost effective way to meet electricity demand in the state.” The report found that Minnesota’s natural gas, solar, and wind energy projects could all benefit from the development of energy storage facilities. For example, on turbine farms, “if energy supply exceeds demand, wind turbine blades are adjusted so that the turbines don't generate as much electricity” whereas batteries could keep the turbines running at normal operation. The report also found that the state has very little energy storage, though some companies, such as Connexus, are building megawatt storage systems and facilities. The report was submitted to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, as well as a group of energy stakeholders, who recommended the state pursue energy storage projects. Report: solar plus storage can beat natural gas in MinnesotaMPR News

NC – Governor Roy Cooper announced he opposes efforts by President Donald Trump’s administration to allow drilling for natural gas and oil off the state’s coast, calling it a “threat to the state’s beaches and tourism economy.” The Governor’s statement comes as the Trump administration requested comments from elected officials on its plan to allow companies to perform seismic testing in the Atlantic Ocean in search of natural gas and oil deposits. “There is a threat looming over this coastline that we love and the prosperity it brings, and that's the threat of offshore drilling," Governor Cooper said. Additionally, he noted: “There is little evidence that offshore drilling would be a financial boon for our state.” The Governor doesn’t believe that drilling will produce a lot of jobs or revenue sharing and that changes to federal regulations could increase  environmental risks. NC Governor on Trump drilling plan: ‘Not off our coast’AP

NH – Governor Chris Sununu allowed Senate Bill 129, which requires utilities to increase the percentage of renewable sources in their energy portfolio to 25 percent by 2025, to become law without his signature. The new law, known as the Clean Energy Jobs Act of 2017, also requires utilities to pay into a Renewable Energy Fund (REF) if they do not meet the new Renewable Portfolio Standard’s threshold. Of the funds collected by the REF, 15 percent are to be disbursed to low-income solar projects. Additionally, the new law raises the amount of money utilities pay for biofuel-generated energy, which supporters note will support the state’s timber industry and lead to more individuals employing wood-burning electric generators. In a statement, Governor Sununu called it “important to balance a smart renewable energy portfolio and economic growth in New Hampshire’s North Country with potential costs to ratepayers,” adding: “As we strive for an energy portfolio that is efficient, effective, and affordable, it is critical that we study the long-term viability of generation resources, particularly those that rely on mandated ratepayer support.” Clean energy bill becomes law without Governor’s signatureNew Hampshire Business Review

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his administration will support the construction of 78 miles of power transmission infrastructure to “[strengthen] the reliability of the New York State electric power grid and [enable] more upstate renewable energy to connect to the power system throughout the state.” Called the Moses-Adirondack Smart Path Reliability project, the new $441 million transmission line will also help the state meet the Governor’s clean energy mandate of deriving 50% of New York’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030 by transporting additional upstate energy to high demand areas downstate. The project, slated to begin construction in 2019, is expected to create approximately 2,000 full-time jobs during its development. "This critical upgrade will help strengthen our clean energy economy in every corner of the state, and help New York reach its nation-leading clean energy standard," Governor Cuomo said. "By investing in the long-term sustainability of our state's energy infrastructure today, we are helping to ensure New Yorkers will have access to a cleaner, greener future for years to come.” Cuomo announces plan to build 78 miles of power transmission infrastructureNorth County Public Radio

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