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Energy Update, Nov. 2

In the States

KS – Governor Sam Brownback, joined by officials from Duke Energy Renewables, Westar Energy, and Sumitomo Corporation, participated in the dedication of a wind facility in southwestern Kansas. The Ironwood Windpower Projec­t is based in historically famous Dodge City and is jointly owned and operated by Duke and Sumitomo. Westar Energy, a Topeka-based utility, will buy the 167.9-megawatt wind farm’s energy for a period of 20 years, a total investment of more than $700 million in the expansion of wind energy in the State. "Kansas ranks first in the nation for new wind construction with more than $3 billion in investments this year,” said Governor Brownback. “Wind energy development provides economic opportunities to rural areas of Kansas, and our state can leverage the availability of clean energy to attract business.” Gov. Sam Brownback dedicated Wind FacilityThe Dodge City Daily Globe

 NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo last week released a $5.7 billion blueprint for the State’s energy system. The blueprint, which will be supported by private and public sector funding, seeks to jumpstart and support several new energy projects, including the development of a wind farm off the shore of Long Island and the overhauling of obsolete power plants. The Governor’s plan is intended to produce 3,200 megawatts of new electricity generation and transmission capacity in the State. According to the blueprint, the State will pursue “more targeted site assessment” for wind in order to best leverage limited state-level funding.” Cuomo unveils goals for energy managementNewsday and Governor’s task force releases energy planThe Albany Times Union

 VT – The Vermont Energy Generation Siting Policy Commission, a blue-ribbon panel created by Governor Peter Shumlin, has begun examining how the State makes decisions about commercial-scale renewable energy projects. The five-member board, which was created by an executive order in early October, is tasked with the duty to determine best practices for the siting of electric generation projects and for public participation and representation in the siting process. Additionally, the panel will study the effects of project siting on local communities and also consider the development of guidelines for the siting process. Commission member Jim Matteau, a retired regional planner, said the panel will proceed with caution as “Vermont’s landscape is intimate compared to some landscapes.” Governor’s panel to tackle renewable energy debateThe Burlington Free Press

Regional News

Massive power outages and flooding continue in parts of New Jersey and New York City thanks to Superstorm Sandy, as some have called the massive category one hurricane which left several east coast states reeling in its aftermath. According to several news sources, at least 90 people were killed, with hundreds more missing, along the eastern seaboard during the deadly storm. Several analysts predict the storm’s cost will approach $50 billion, with $30 billion in property damage and the rest in lost economic activity. Electricity has been restored to at least 4 million people, though millions more remain without power in New York City, especially in Long Island. Consolidated Edison, a New York-regulated utility, said 200,000 customers in Manhattan have no power whereas Jersey Central Power and Light stated close to a million residents’ power will be restored within one or two weeks. Gasoline shortages have also taken a toll on economic activity in the region, though it should ease as ports reopen in the coming days. Wait for power may linger for some and Anger flares are recovery inches ahead  – The New York Times and Hurricane Sandy’s U.S. death tool, economic losses riseThe Los Angeles Times

 National News

According to a recent report published by the University of Texas at Austin, 13% of the United States’ energy is spent on treating, pumping, heating, and cooling water. The total amount, 12.3 quadrillion BTUs, is the combined equivalent of the annual energy usage of about 40 million Americans. In 2012 alone, 40% of water-related energy was used for the production of electricity at water-treatment plans, water heaters, and other devices that utilize water. 13% of U.S.’s energy goes to collect, prepare water: StudyBloomberg

 The Department of Energy spent roughly $360 million on foreign travel, mostly by contractors, over the past six years, according to a report by the department’s inspector general. The federal audit states contractors have taken more than 90,000 international trips during the same period, with costs and the number of trips significantly rising each year since 2007. Following President Barack Obama’s order to federal agencies last year to examine potential savings from cuts to travel expenses, the Energy Department predicted it could save an estimated $15.7 million by imposing stricter rules. When the rules were implemented, however, the report states they were not applied to all 16,000 department employees and 100,000 contractors collectively. Energy Department spent $360 million on foreign travel, vast majority by contractorsThe Washington Post

 According to a new study by the office of Representative Edward Markey (D-Mass.), the ranking member on the House Natural Resources Committee, 20 million acres of federal oil and gas leases are not “undergoing exploration, development, or production.” The report claims that 131 oil and gas companies hold approximately 3,700 leases in the Gulf of Mexico, though the top oil companies – BP, Chevron, Exxon Mobil, and Shell – own 40% of the total idle leases. Though Democratic lawmakers have argued companies must use a lease or lose it, the major oil companies contend a similar system is already in place where they have on average 10 years to explore the acreage before it reverts back to the federal government. Additionally, the companies state they need time to “carry out surveys and contract for a rig.” Study: 20 million acres of federal oil, gas leases in Gulf of Mexico idleThe Washington Post

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