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Energy Update: March 6, 2020

In the States

CO: Governor Jared Polis named his Director of Policy and Research, Wade Buchanan, to head the Office of Just Transition, a new office created to help workers and communities adapt as coal plants and mines close. Buchanan’s appointment comes as the latest step in Governor Polis’s plan to meet 100% of Colorado’s energy needs from renewable sources by 2040. In accordance with legislation passed in 2019, the Office of Just Transition will write a plan that lays out assistance to coal industry employees and grants for coal-dependent communities to diversify their economies. The office is expected to issue a draft plan by July, with the final plan due by the end of the year. “As we work toward achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2040, we need to make sure that Coloradans in coal-dependent communities have the tools they need to thrive in today and tomorrow’s economy,” Governor Polis said. Governor’s policy director to head office helping workers, communities transition away from coalThe Denver Post

 

NM: Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed three bills focused on accelerating the development of renewable energy in New Mexico. One bill brings back an income tax credit of up to $6,000 for the installation of solar panels or thermal solar water heaters. Another bill commissions a grid modernization project and establishes a grant for non-utility projects that help improve grid resiliency and expedite the state’s transition to clean electricity. The third bill eliminates some taxes on utility-scale electrical transition projects, which effectively provides an incentive for new wind and solar developments and makes it easier for New Mexico to export renewable energy. “Thanks to the leadership of these bill sponsors and the support of the Legislature, we have additional tools to meet [climate change] head-on. By making solar power more accessible to New Mexicans, addressing our electric grid, and establishing tools to help expand the transmission infrastructure, we are ensuring that New Mexico is on the right track – and creating more jobs, reducing emissions, and saving New Mexicans money on their electric bills,” Governor Lujan Grisham said in a press release. New Mexico Governor Signs Solar Energy, Grid Update BillsUS News and Gov. Lujan Grisham signs bills expanding renewable energy, updating green infrastructure in New MexicoOffice of the Governor

 

NY: Governor Andrew Cuomo is facing opposition from local government advocates over his administration’s plan to speed up the siting process for renewable energy power plants. Under the Governor’s plan, which was included in his budget proposal, a new Office of Renewable Energy would handle applications for industrial wind and solar projects. This office would streamline the approvals process and expedite consideration of applications and the issuance of approvals. Opponents of his proposal argue that the new office will force projects on communities over local objections. They also contend the Governor’s plan would effectively change the character of many upstate towns that would be disrupted by industrial-scale energy generation projects. In response, Governor Cuomo said the new office will help New York address climate change more effectively and will attract new investments and jobs to the Empire State. “Climate change is the existential challenge of our time,” said Governor Cuomo, “And New York State has risen to the occasion by enacting the strongest laws in the nation to protect and preserve our environment.” Cuomo power site plan sparks controversyAdirondack Daily Enterprise

 

UT: Governor Gary Herbert continued his promotion of Tier 3 fuels and is considering a tax break for a Utah refiner that is in the process of transitioning to the less-polluting gas. Tier 3 fuels are highly-refined vehicle fuels that contain less pollutants and reduce vehicle emissions by up to 20%. Governor Herbert has promoted Tier 3 fuels since in-state refiners began producing them, appearing at gas stations offering the fuels and urging drivers to make the switch. In his latest move to promote Tier 3 fuels, Governor Herbert is considering proposals from the legislature to extend a 2017 sales tax exemption for BigWest, a Utah energy producer needing additional time and resources to transition some of their plants to make Tier 3 fuels. One proposal would extend tax cuts should BigWest demonstrate “satisfactory progress” to developing Tier 3 fuels available by 2025, while another proposal focused on accountability would extend the tax breaks provided BigWest meets a reporting requirement. Proposal would give tax break to Utah refiners slow to make cleaner fuelThe Salt Lake Tribune

 

National

Federal lawmakers are trying to reach a compromise on a proposed amendment that risks stalling the American Energy Innovation Act (AEIA), a bipartisan energy package. If passed, the AEIA will modernize American energy laws with over 50 energy-related measures designed to increase investment in American energy markets, strengthen national security by protecting strategic energy assets, and spur research and investment in clean energy to protect the climate. While the legislation has strong support, an amendment that would require states to phase out the use of hydrofluorocarbons threatens its progress.  A bipartisan group of Senators are seeking to make minor changes to the amendment so the bill can come to a vote. However, some Senators are considering offering other amendments which could further slow AEIA’s progress. Lawmakers weigh walking back amendment stalling energy bill votesThe Hill

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