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Energy Update, May 27

In the States

IA – Governor Terry Branstad signed legislation to extend the state’s biodiesel incentives through 2024. The measure retains a state tax credit – two cents per gallon on the first 25 million gallons of production per biodiesel plant – that “helps keep Iowa’s 13 biodiesel producers competitive on a national scale.” The bill also extends a retailers’ credit, which encourages fuel retailers to sell higher blends of biodiesel. According to state officials, in 2015 Iowa’s biodiesel plants produced a record 242 million gallons of biodiesel, supporting at least 3,000 jobs and providing nearly $345 million in economic impact in the state. "We’re pleased to be here in Newton, which is the leader in biodiesel,” the governor said. “We’ve come a long way in the past 20 years, and we want to continue to have Iowa be a leader in renewables, be it ethanol, other biodiesels or wind energy.” Branstad signs bill to expand biodiesel incentives in NewtonThe Newton Daily News

MI – Governor Rick Snyder declared a state of energy emergency via executive order due to a potential shortage of gasoline in Michigan thanks to the shutdown of a Wisconsin fuel pipeline and a power outage at a Detroit refinery. The Governor’s order will allow vehicles transporting fuel “to spend more hours on the road to ensure fuels are available,” suspending state fuel transportation and hours-of-service regulations until June 6th.  The executive order, however, does not waive environmental rules. “We want to make sure the fuel Michiganders need for their travels to work, school or a long weekend trip is available,” Governor Snyder said. “This executive order will help ensure there are no artificial shortages of fuel impacting the state’s residents or visitors.” The last time Governor Snyder declared a statewide energy emergency was in July 2012. Snyder declares energy emergency over fuelThe Detroit News

MT – Governor Steve Bullock attended the ribbon-cutting of a new community solar energy project in the state’s southwestern Bitterroot Valley. The project, spearheaded by the nonprofit Ravalli Electric Cooperative, includes two sets of 88 solar panels that have already produced nearly 11,000 kilowatt-hours of energy since beginning operations in early April. “Today we are seeing a great example of forward-thinking leadership,” Governor Steve Bullock said. “As a result, not only are you meeting the expectations of your customers and harnessing home-grown energy from the sun, but you’ve put more Montanans to work in doing so – from the local electricians to the Montana company that fabricated the racks.” The Bitterroot Valley farm is the third community solar project in Montana, all of which are operated by electric cooperatives. Governor attends REC Valley Solar project ribbon cuttingThe Ravalli Republic News

UT – During his recent Energy Development Summit, Governor Gary Herbert announced that the state, in partnership with Alberta, Canada-based Crescent Point Energy, will begin exploring “the vast oil and natural gas deposits of Utah’s Uinta Basin” in the eastern part of the state. The plans include a potential 4,000-well oil and gas exploration project in the region, which already includes 300 horizontally drilled wells. Governor Herbert hopes the exploratory activities will help decrease the Uinta Basin’s high unemployment rate by providing long-term energy sector jobs, but concurrently noted the importance of diversify the region’s economy. The federal Bureau of Land Management is currently reviewing the project, which includes nearly 160,000 acres across two Utah counties. Crescent Point Energy is planning to invest at least $50 million this year in the Uinta Basin, according to their CEO Scott Saxberg. "The basin has not yet been developed through horizontal means, which has been very successful in other states in opening up plays that people didn't realize were as good,” Mr. Saxberg said. Energy summit details massive project planned for Uinta BasinThe Deseret News

Federal and Regional

The Department of Energy (DOE) is considered awarding a $40 million grant to a University of Maine-led coalition that aspires to develop a wind turbine project off Monhegan Island, a less-than-a-mile rocky outpost ten miles from the mainland. Called the New England Aqua Ventus I, the deep-water wind farm is one of three projects up for consideration by the DOE, which hopes to develop more offshore wind capacity since 80% of the nation’s power demand occurs in coastal states. Aqua Ventus was previously passed over for investment by the DOE in 2014, and if it is awarded federal grant money this year, it will still need close to $100 million in private investment to be completed. The project’s turbine hubs are expected to reach 350 feet above the water while the blades will extend to 600 feet. “The Aqua Ventus project represents a tremendous opportunity for the state to capitalize on our advanced and highly skilled workforce paired with our clean energy ambitions,” said Jeremy Payne, executive director of the Maine Renewable Energy Association. “This project brings together the best of all three worlds: economic growth and innovation; emission-free electricity; and Maine-made secure energy.” UMaine wind project back in running for major federal grantThe Portland Press Herald

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