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Energy Update: October 15, 2021

In the States

NC: Governor Roy Cooper signed House Bill 951, a compromise energy bill crafted in cooperation with Republicans in the state legislature that aims to address climate change by cutting emissions. According to the bill summary, the legislation authorizes the North Carolina Utilities Commission to “take all reasonable steps” to achieve a 70 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from electric utilities from 2005 levels by the year 2030, authorizes performance-based regulation of electric public utilities, directs regulators to make rules on “securitization of certain costs and other matters”, and allows for the modification of some existing power purchase agreements with eligible small power producers. “This is a new beginning,” said Governor Cooper at the bill signing ceremony. “Putting real and enforceable carbon reduction targets into the law, North Carolina is working to reduce the effect of climate change on marginalized populations, while putting our state at the forefront of the clean energy economy and the jobs that it brings.” Republicans in the North Carolina legislature who negotiated for concessions in the bill also expressed their approval, arguing that the measures in the bill that they had helped to secure— like performance-based earnings incentives financed by the state’s Utilities Commission for electricity producers— would help improve the reliability of the state’s power grid and drive economic growth. North Carolina Republicans join Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper at ceremony marking passage of milestone energy bill - MarketWatch

 

NM: At the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association’s annual meeting, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham urged oil and gas executives to support legislation establishing a legal framework for developing a hydrogen energy market in the state. She also invited the executives to become active participants in partnerships for hydrogen energy production in the coming decades should the legislation be enacted. “We believe that being the first state to have a statutory framework… puts us in the driver’s seat when it comes to hydrogen,” said Governor Lujan Grisham. While the Governor expressed optimism about the potential of hydrogen energy to generate billions in revenue for the state and help decarbonize New Mexico’s energy industry, calling it the “transitional fuel of the future,” environmental groups, including the Natural Resource Defense Council, the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club, and the New Mexico Environmental Law Center expressed their concerns that focusing on hydrogen energy could slow the state’s development of wind, solar, and other renewables in an already water-scarce state. Gov. pitches hydrogen energy to oil, natural gas executivesAlbuquerque Journal; Groups Worry about New Mexico Governor’s Hydrogen Hub PlanAssociated Press

 

IN: Governor Eric Holcomb announced that construction will soon begin on the nation’s largest solar farm in Michiana, Indiana. The new solar farm will cover 13,000 acres and is expected to generate enough energy to offset 40,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. The solar farm, called the Mammoth North Project, will provide 1.6 gigawatts of clean electricity, enough to power about 250,000 homes, and will create 500 new jobs over the next three years plus an additional 50 permanent jobs at the plant. “We are able to provide reliable, affordable, sustainable sources of energy for our private sector, which is so important for our communities to grow," said Governor Holcomb. "If we have strong communities, that helps us build strong families, and that’s what it’s about at the end of the day.” Construction is expected to begin in 2022. Governor Eric Holcomb Breaks Ground United States’ Largest Solar Farm – ABC 57  

 

VA: Governor Ralph Northam signed legislation changing the names of several of the Commonwealth’s agencies pertaining to energy, mining, and land development. Most notably, the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy is now the Virginia Department of Energy (Virginia Energy). The legislation also changed the Division of Energy to Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency and the former Division of Mined Land Reclamation to Mined Land Repurposing. The name changes are meant to reflect the Commonwealth’s commitment to reducing emissions and transitioning to clean energy sources. “Virginia is all-in on clean energy,” said Governor Northam. “We’ve passed one of the most sweeping clean energy laws in the country, and we are transitioning our electric grid to 100 percent renewable energy. These are exciting changes, and they mean new jobs, new investment, cleaner air, and a stronger economy.” These name changes follow the enactment of the 2020 Virginia Clean Economy Act, which established a mandatory renewable portfolio standard to achieve 30 percent renewable energy by 2030, mandatory energy efficiency resource standards, and a plan to decarbonize the electric grid by 2045.  Virginia Department of Energy takes new name as Commonwealth looks to transition to renewable energyWAVY-TV 10

 

National

The U.S. Energy Information Administration released a report forecasting a sharp increase in heating bills for the upcoming winter due to expected colder temperatures, inflation, and a surge in the price of natural gas, heating oil, and other heating fuels. Households that are heated by natural gas, which account for about half of all homes in the United States, are expected to see on average a 30 percent increase on their heating bills. Gas-heated homes in the Midwest may be hit especially hard with bills expected to rise as much as 49 percent. Households heated by electricity, accounting for about 41 percent of all homes in the United States, are expected to see a much smaller increase, forecasted at about 6 percent on average. Inflation and high prices for heating fuels are driving the increases; according to an earlier report released by the government, on average the price of consumer goods and services increased by 5.4 percent when compared to last year. Further, the price of natural gas in the United States has climbed to its highest price since 2014, up about 90 percent compared to last year as energy prices rebounded from a slump in 2020. Higher heating bills are expected to hit low-income households especially hard, since many of these households already have outstanding utility debts due to economic hardship caused by the pandemic. Winter heating bills set to jump as inflation hits homeAssociated Press

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