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Energy Update: September 7, 2021

In the States

IL: The Illinois Senate passed a sweeping energy sector reform bill aimed at shifting the state to 100% clean energy by 2050. The bill, SB0018, would offer funding to help save Exelon’s struggling nuclear power plants in Illinois, phase-out coal-fired plants by 2045, invest state funds in wind and solar energy, set goals for the expansion of electric vehicle usage in the state, and establish new ethics measures for state officials involved in the energy market. “This plan would make Illinois a national leader in fighting climate change,” said Senator Bill Cunningham of Chicago. However, SB0018 still faces an uncertain future as it moves to the House. Governor J.B. Pritzker has joined union representatives and environmental groups in criticizing the bill for not including enough consumer and environmental protections. Union representatives have highlighted concerns about how the bill could affect energy rates, job losses, and grid reliability, while environmental groups say the bill should more closely police the pollution generated by nuclear plants. Despite these criticisms, the Governor’s office has signaled its willingness to work with members of the House to make amendments and get the bill finalized. “The Governor’s office looks forward to working with members of the House to finalize an energy package that puts consumers and climate first,” Governor Pritzker's spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said in a statement. Illinois Senate Passes Energy Deal Governor Says Falls ShortU.S. News

 

NH: Governor Chris Sununu signed a bill expanding net metering for municipalities, clearing the way for cities to generate more of their own renewable power. Community energy projects are becoming increasingly common in New Hampshire towns, with many municipalities constructing solar and hydroelectricity sites to generate their own power and pass energy savings on to residents. However, many of these projects were stifled by the previous one-megawatt net metering cap, requiring cities to break larger generation projects into smaller sites to stay in compliance. With this bill, the one-megawatt cap for municipalities is replaced with a five-megawatt cap, paving the way for larger community generation projects, although the one-megawatt cap still remains in place for businesses and residences. Governor Sununu said he expects this new bill will help promote renewables and save ratepayers money. “We’re an environmentally driven state,” Governor Sununu said during the bill signing ceremony, “we need clean energy, we need renewable projects, and we do them a little bit different here and a heck of a lot better.” Gov. Sununu Signs Net Energy Metering Expansion for Towns, Breaking Three-Year LogjamNHPR

 

NJ: Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation establishing the Garden State Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) Program, a program designed to promote the funding of clean energy projects. Under the new law, property owners in the state will be able to access financing for energy projects via municipal assessments, providing renewable developers a reliable mechanism for funding the up-front costs of clean energy improvements. Projects the C-PACE program could help fund include renewable energy generation sites, microgrids, energy efficiency upgrades, and grid resilience improvements. “C-PACE programs have been proven to be successful in many states,” said Governor Murphy in a press release. “Establishing a C-PACE program in New Jersey is a decision that will lead to more businesses and landlords embracing renewable energy, climate resiliency technology, and other clean energy measures that improve our communities while saving money for New Jerseyans.”  New Jersey turns to property assessed financing to boost commercial clean energy investmentsUtility Drive

 

PA: Pennsylvania’s Independent Regulatory Review Commission decided the commonwealth does has the authority to impose a price on carbon dioxide emissions from fossil-fuel power plants in a 3-2 vote, launching Governor Tom Wolf’s plan to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) over its last regulatory hurdle. With this regulatory change, Governor Wolf can now establish the statewide carbon prices and limits prescribed as the centerpiece of the RGGI, although it may take several months to get such regulations officially published and finalized. Once the regulations are final, Pennsylvania would join California, Washington, and the other 11 states already part of the RGGI. Governor Wolf stated he expects this process to conclude sometime next year.  “Participating in RGGI is one more way for Pennsylvania, which is a major electricity producer, to reduce carbon emissions and achieve our climate goals. In addition to the environmental benefits, participating in this cap-and-trade initiative will allow Pennsylvania to make targeted investments that will support workers and communities affected by energy transition,” Governor Wolf said in a statement. While this latest development was cheered by climate activists, advocates for coal power criticized the decision and expressed their concerns about the effect of the new policy on coal-producing communities. Gov. Tom Wolf’s Carbon-Pricing Plan Clears Last Regulatory HurdleKDKA CBS 2

 

National

After weeks of rising gas prices, President Joe Biden called on the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies (OPEC+) to reverse production cuts made during the pandemic in response to decreased demand. OPEC+ initially cut production by 10 million barrels of crude oil per day, a record output cut amounting to about 10 percent of world demand. While OPEC+ agreed to boost output by another 400,000 barrels per day in the beginning of July, President Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan stated, “This is simply not enough.” President Biden’s request has been met with mixed responses. Critics on President Biden’s left noted that the President’s request conflicts with his commitment to addressing climate change, while critics on the President’s right, including Republican Governors Greg Abbott of Texas, Doug Burgum of North Dakota and Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma, criticized the Biden administration for curtailing domestic oil production while requesting more crude from foreign producers. U.S. calls on OPEC and its allies to pump more oil - Reuters

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