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Energy Update: July 23, 2021

In the States

OR: Governor Kate Brown signed HB 2021, a bill establishing a clean energy mandate for Oregon’s electrical utility companies. Under the new law, Oregon’s private electricity suppliers, including Portland General Electric and PacifiCorp, are required to phase-out all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2040. The bill also establishes a timeline for GHG reduction benchmarks that electrical utilities must meet; companies must reach at least an 80% reduction in emissions by 2030 and a 90% reduction by 2035 as measured against 2010-2012 average levels of emissions from electricity sold to retail customers. Rural electric cooperatives and the state’s investor-owned utility, Idaho Power, are exempt from the new rules. Additionally, HB 2021 bans the siting of new natural-gas fired power plants. "Governor Brown has made climate action a top priority in Oregon, which is why today she signed HB 2021 into law, setting the fastest 100 percent clean electricity requirement in the country," read a statement from Governor Brown’s office. Oregon enacts 2040 clean energy mandateArgus Media

 

RI: Governor Dan McKee vetoed 2021-H6066, a recently-passed energy bill heavily promoted by Green Development, a major renewable energy developer in the state. The bill would have settled an ongoing regulatory battle between Green Development (and other renewable energy developers) and National Grid over the issue of interconnection by amending the process that an electrical utility must follow when complying with a request from a renewable energy company to connect to the state’s electrical grid. In his veto message, Governor McKee explained that he rejected the bill because he believed it would effectively shift millions in electrical system upgrade costs from renewable energy developers to ratepayers. “By prohibiting the Public Utilities Commission from allocating [transmission upgrade] costs to the generators regardless of the circumstances, all ratepayers would absorb those costs, in addition to the costs already being born by ratepayers through payments and credits already committed to finance the projects,” wrote Governor McKee. "Ratepayers already pay for the renewable energy purchased by National Grid from these projects and, as written, this bill would increase those costs with no oversight by any regulatory agency." The Governor also cited his concerns with another provision of the bill that he argued could worsen state and local power plant siting concerns. Governor McKee’s veto is his first since becoming Governor of Rhode Island earlier this year. Governor vetoes bill that could have shifted costs of renewable energy development to ratepayersThe Providence Journal

 

TN: Governor Bill Lee announced that Kairos Power, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy, will invest $100 million to deploy an advanced low-power demonstration reactor at the East Tennessee technology park in Oak Ridge. The new reactor, called Hermes, will demonstrate Kairos Power’s ability to deliver low-cost nuclear heat and test new reactor technology that aims to be cost competitive with natural gas. The reactor is expected to be operational by 2026, and the project will create 55 jobs. “Oak Ridge continues to lead the nation in groundbreaking technology, and we recognize Kairos Power for joining this effort. I’m proud of the energy development happening in Tennessee that will positively impact the U.S. and the world,” said Governor Lee in a press release. Kairos Power will invest $100 million for low-power demonstration reactor in Oak RidgeThe Oak Ridger

 

TX: In a recent letter to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) of Texas, Governor Greg Abbott ordered the PUC to enact a number of regulatory reforms aimed at improving the reliability of the Texas power grid by increasing the supply of coal, natural gas, and nuclear energy. The letter orders four reforms: streamline incentives within the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) market to foster the development and maintenance of natural gas, coal, and nuclear power; allocate reliability costs to solar and wind power; instruct ERCOT to establish a maintenance schedule for natural gas, coal, nuclear, and other non-renewable electricity generators, and; order ERCOT to accelerate the development of transmission projects that increase connectivity between existing or new dispatchable generation (electricity sources that can be activated at the request of power grid operators to provide power in specific situations) plants and areas of need. A spokesperson from the PUC responded to the letter, calling the guidance a “welcome addition” to the process of improving the reliability of Texas’ power grid. However, critics of Governor Abbott’s energy policy argued that the governor’s letter lacked specifics and was ultimately aimed at penalizing renewable energy sources and promoting nonrenewables. Gov. Greg Abbott tells electricity regulators to encourage building more power plants, penalize renewable energyThe Texas Tribune

 

National

The Department of Energy (DOE) released its first Energy and Employment Jobs Report since the Biden administration took power. The report found that the energy sector lost about 1.4 million jobs at the peak of the pandemic, but that about 520,000 jobs had returned by the end of 2020, signaling a potential rebound.  The report also noted that employers responding to DOE’s survey expressed confidence that this positive trend would continue throughout 2021. While all five sectors surveyed – electric power generation, transmission, distribution, and storage, energy efficiency, fuels, and motor vehicles – suffered losses, some specific areas, including electric vehicles and wind generation, saw modest growth. DOE Secretary Jennifer Granholm commented on the report, expressing her hopes that passage of President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure framework would continue to grow clean energy and help make up for the job losses in the fossil fuel sectors. DOE jobs report: EVs up, but unions back fossil fuelsE&E News Energy Wire

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