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Energy Update, March 11

March 28, 2016

In the States

ME – Governor Paul LePage announced his opposition to a proposal to expand solar power capacity in Maine. The proposal, which was supported by solar power companies, the state’s Office of the Public Advocate, and utilities Central Maine Power and Emera Maine, seeks to “grow solar capacity in Maine from about 28 megawatts to 250 megawatts in five years, or two percent of the state’s power needs.” According to supporters, the plan would have created an estimated 800 jobs and allowed net metering through 2029 by encouraging the growth of community, industrial, and commercial solar farms. “We’re not opposed to solar,” said Lisa Smith, a senior planner in the Governor’s energy office. “But we’re looking out for the cost to all ratepayers. We were in favor of a mechanism that went in a market-based direction, but this isn’t it.” LePage opposes compromise to rapidly expand solar powerThe Portland Press Herald

NH – The House of Representatives supported a bill to raise the cap on the state’s net metering program, which permits solar power-generating residents and businesses to sell their excess energy into the greater electric grid. The current cap on reimbursement for residents is set at 50 megawatts (MW) while the recently-passed measure would double the cap to 100MW. The state Senate, earlier in the current session, backed a measure to increase the cap to 75MW. Governor Maggie Hassan supports lifting the cap to 100MW, a step she called a “critical part of New Hampshire’s move toward a clean energy economy.” NH House votes to raise cap on net meteringNHPR

OR – The Legislative Assembly approved a measure to exclude coal from the state’s energy supply by 2030 and to double mandates for renewable energy by 2040. Specifically, the bill requires the state’s utilities – Portland General Electric (PGE) and Pacific Power – to follow timelines to remove coal-fired electricity generation while also mandating a 50% renewable energy standard, up from a 25% standard by 2025 that was set in 2007. PGE, which serves more than 900,000 customers across the state, projects the change will increase costs for the average consumer by about 1.5% annually between 2017 and 2040. Known as the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan, the legislation received bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate and now heads to Governor Kate Brown’s desk for her signature. Governor Brown indicated earlier that she would support the legislation, noting she believes it "equips Oregon with a bold and progressive path towards the energy resource mix of the future." Oregon Senate passes bill to scrap coal power by 2030Associated Press/KTVZ

TX – Net Power, a collaboration between Exelon Corporation, CB&I, and 8 Rivers Capital, broke ground on a “first-of-its-kind” natural gas power plant near Houston. The 50-megawatt pilot project, which is projected to be operational in 2017, is unique because it will send carbon dioxide emitted from the power plant into a sequestration pipeline that will allow the gas to be stored, used for oil recovery, or employed in industrial practices. The $140 billion pilot plant will utilize the Allam Cycle, a thermodynamic cycle technology that generates power from fossil fuels by burning natural gas with oxygen and high-pressure carbon dioxide. “Net Power is the first technology that allows policy and economics to work together, instead of against each other, to ensure the world meets our climate targets,” said Net Power CEO Bill Brown. Net Power beaks ground on demonstration plantsYahoo News

UT – The State Legislature passed legislation to invest at least $50 million for a deep-water, coal shipping facility at the Port of Oakland, California. Supporters believe the bill, which now heads to Governor Gary Herbert’s desk for his consideration, will assist Utah in selling coal and other products overseas. The bill transfers sales-tax revenue funds along with federal mineral royalties to a new infrastructure fund to be controlled by the state’s Permanent Community Impact Board. The Board traditionally has loaned or granted funds to Utah’s rural coal counties to pay for local developments and projects. Before any money can be spent, the new facility requires the approval of Governor Jerry Brown of California and the Oakland City Council. Utah Legislature Oks $53 million case swap to fund Oakland coal portThe Salt Lake Tribune

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