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Energy Update: September 23, 2016

In the States

MA – Governor Charlie Baker signed an executive order directing state officials to “develop regulations for specific, annual reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by next summer.” The Governor also ordered states officials to develop a plan for an expected rise in the sea level and potential extreme weather events. The executive orders follows a state court decision that declared the Commonwealth has not met its obligations under a 2008 state law to cut greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent below 1990 levels. Environmental and utility industry advocates applauded the order, and noted the emissions reductions should apply to multiple types of businesses across different industry sectors, such as taxi operators, grocery stores, and trucking companies. “This executive order,” said Governor Baker, “signals our continuing commitment to combatting and preparing for climate change impacts across state government and in our communities.” Baker orders new rules to reduce greenhouse emissionsThe Boston Globe

ND – The state’s Emergency Commission, which is chaired by Governor Jack Dalrymple, voted unanimously to borrow up to $6 million from the Bank of North Dakota, the only state-owned bank in the United States, “to support policing efforts related to the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.” The proposed construction of the $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile pipeline by Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners was stalled recently by protestors and by a federal appeals court decision to review a legal challenge by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. According to Governor Dalrymple and Major General Alan Dohrmann, the state’s adjutant general, the state has already spent close to $1.9 million on protest-related expenses. If completed, the pipeline would initially carry approximately 450,000 barrels of oil per day from the Bakken oilfields to a hub in Illinois, eventually expanding to 570,000 barrels per day. “The problem that we have, of course, is that these public safety needs are imminent every day,” Governor Dalrymple said. “We really have no choice but to protect the public with law enforcement. Recovering funds from the federal government is definitely a top priority, but it undoubtedly will take some time.” Panel votes to borrow $6M from state-owned bank to deal with pipeline protestsNorth Dakota Forum News

OK – Oklahoma is on track to surpass California, which is currently third in the nation behind Texas and Iowa, for installed wind power capacity. The state, which already ranks third in construction activity and overall wind energy generation, produces enough electricity through wind to power approximately 1.3 million homes. In 2015, wind energy accounted for more than 18% of Oklahoma’s energy production while also supporting 7,000 jobs. Several companies are planning to bring numerous projects on line in the state by the end of this year, including Clean Line Energy Partners, which is building the 700-mile Plains & Eastern transmission project that will carry 3,500 megawatts of clean energy generation from Oklahoma to customers in Tennessee, Arkansas, and other markets. “This will be the largest wind energy project in the country, the largest electric renewable project of any kind,” said Mario Hurtado, the executive vice president of development for Clean Line. Wind a growing force in Oklahoma energyThe Tulsa World

Regional and National

An  analysis prepared for the Environmental Defense Fund finds that 21 of the 27 states suing to block the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) are “on track to meet [their] 2024 targets with existing plants and planned investments.” The report also finds that 18 of the states are on track to meet their 2030 targets with no changes to current plans. The suing state Attorneys General, however, noted their objections to the CPP are not political or because they do not agree with the goals, but rather that they view the CPP as a federal overreach and “want to maintain flexibility to make energy decisions at the state level that reflect changing market conditions.” "We don't have anything against clean air," Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said. "That really doesn't factor into my decision to say the federal government has gone beyond its legal authority.” The CPP, which was finalized in 2015, sets carbon emission reduction goals for each state but permits states to decide how to achieve the goals. “We are seeing reductions earlier than we ever expected,” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said. “It’s a great sign that the market has already shifted and people are invested in the newer technologies, even while we are in litigation.” Most states on track to meet emissions targets they call burdenReuters

Xcel Energy, a Minneapolis-based utility company, announced plans to expand its wind generation capacity in Upper Midwest by 60 percent. The company is planning to add eight to ten wind farms or 1,500 megawatts of new wind power, enough to power 750,000 homes, that should be fully operational between 2017 and 2020. The new wind farms, which represent a $2 billion investment, will serve Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Xcel expects that, by 2030, one-third of its power generation in these states will come from mostly wind power, while nuclear will continue to make up one-third, as it does currently. Chris Clark, Xcel’s Upper Midwest president said the company needs to take advantage of the soon-to-decrease federal renewable energy tax credit, noting “We think this is a great value for our customers.” Xcel plans big expansion in wind powerThe Star Tribune

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