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Energy Update: October 11, 2019

In the States

MA  At a State Senate oversight hearing, Judith Judson, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Energy, said Governor Charlie Baker’s administration wants to expand the Commonwealth’s new solar incentive program, SMART, by an additional 800 megawatts (MW). The SMART program, launched last November, was originally intended to incentivize a 1,600 MW expansion in renewable energy. Since its launch, demand for incentives quickly outpaced supply, precipitating a need for a greater expansion. Still, some critics, including solar energy advocates, think the administration’s planned 800 MW expansion is too small and would prefer a much larger 3,200 MW expansion. State Senator Marc Pacheco from Taunton also argued in favor of a larger expansion, saying that the administration needs to stop fixating so heavily on the reliability of the grid and the price of power and take the threat of climate change more seriously. Administration officials, however, are still focused on carefully managing the challenges of expansion, including a power grid not constructed to absorb power from small solar generators, the high cost of connecting those generators to the grid, and the need to move cautiously with rapidly changing technology. Baker’s latest solar goal called too smallCommonWealth Magazine

 

NM  At a climate talk with other Governors in New York, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that New Mexico will set its own fuel economy and pollution standards for cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs, just as the Trump administration is seeking to revoke states’ authority to set these standards. New state restrictions on vehicle emissions will start with model-year 2022 vehicles, and statewide fuel economy standards will increase to an average of 52 miles per gallon by 2025. “To combat climate change, to keep New Mexico’s citizens safe, to protect the air we all breathe, it’s essential we adopt more stringent clean car standards that increase fuel economy and reduce emissions,” Governor Lujan Grisham said. “It is environmentally and economically counterproductive to stall fuel economy standards as contemplated by the proposed federal rollbacks.” New Mexico enters fray over vehicle emission standardsAssociated Press

 

NJ  The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) recently took an initial step toward developing an electric vehicle (EV) incentive program by approving a Request for Quotation (RFQ) to hire a consultant to create and administer the program. The program will help fulfill Governor Phil Murphy’s pledge to achieve 330,000 EVs on the road by 2025 and help meet the goals of New Jersey’s Global Warming Response Act, passed in July. The transportation sector accounts for 46 percent of New Jersey’s greenhouse gas emissions, making it the largest emissions source in the state. “Launching the search for an industry expert consultant marks a major step in enacting a truly informed, impactful statewide incentive program that will put New Jersey at the forefront of EV adoption,” BPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso said. “As we work toward achieving the Governor’s goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2050, electric vehicles will be an integral part of our efforts to combat climate change.” New Jersey Board of Public Utilities takes first step toward establishing electric vehicle incentive programDaily Energy Insider

 

VA  Governor Ralph Northam announced that the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has issued permits for the construction and operation of four new solar projects across the Commonwealth. The new projects are expected to generate 192 megawatts (MW) of electricity, which will offset carbon dioxide emissions by 459 million pounds. “Virginia is adopting solar technology at record rates, and we are building an economy that is cleaner and greener as a result,” said Governor Northam. “These four projects will strengthen our solar energy infrastructure and help to sustainably power thousands of homes and businesses across Virginia.” These new solar projects are part of the Northam administration’s ongoing effort to ensure at least 3,000 MW of solar and onshore wind are under development by 2020, as outlined in the Governor’s Executive Order Forty-Three. Governor Northam Announces Four New Solar ProjectsWebsite for Virginia Governor Ralph S. Northam

 

National

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) announced the selection of 35 projects totaling $73 million for bioenergy research and development. These projects aim to reduce the price of drop-in biofuels, lower the cost of biopower, and enable high-value products from biomass or waste resources. “The main goal of DOE’s bioenergy R&D is to produce affordable biofuels that are compatible with existing fueling infrastructure and vehicles across a range of transportation modes, including renewable-gasoline, -diesel, and -jet fuels,” said Secretary Rick Perry. “These projects will… enable high-value products from biomass or waste resources, while creating American jobs and strengthening our economy and energy security.” Department of Energy Announces $73 million for 35 Projects for Bioenergy Research and DevelopmentEnergy.gov

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Energy Update: September 23, 2019

In the States


SD – The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission approved eight wind energy projects that could bring 700 more turbines and an investment of $2.6 billion to the state by the end of 2020. Two additional wind energy projects currently under review could bring an additional 188 wind turbines and another $640 million in investments to South Dakota, bringing the potential total number of new turbines to 888 and the investment by energy companies to $3.26 billion. “For rural South Dakota, this is an awesome boom,” said Steven Wegman of the South Dakota Renewable Energy Association. “No one ever spent $300 million in Codington County in a construction season.” Although the new investment is expected to bring economic and environmental benefits, the construction projects face some opposition from local residents complaining about unsightly wind turbines in their backyards and conservationists concerned about their effects on local birds and wildlife. $3.3 billion wind investment will add 2,500 MW of clean energy in South DakotaSouth Dakota News Watch

 

PA – Governor Tom Wolf’s administration will promote clean transportation options by offering grants and rebates funded by the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act and the $8.5 million awarded to the state from Volkswagen’s emissions violations lawsuit. The grants and rebates will fund dozens of new electric vehicle charging stations. In addition to this funding, state utility regulators are working to smooth the transition to electric and other zero-emissions vehicles. Governor Wolf aims to reach the target of replacing 25% of the state’s passenger car fleet with battery electric and plug-in hybrid cars by 2025, as set by his January executive order. Pennsylvania taps federal program to help expand, promote alternative fuelsEnergy News Network

 

OH – A new lawsuit brought by FirstEnergy will challenge a voter referendum to strike down House Bill 6, a bill that props up FirstEnergy’s struggling power plants in Ohio. The original piece of legislation, signed by Governor Mike DeWine in July, would bail out the cash-strapped nuclear and coal plants with money raised from slight increases in customers’ utility bills. The controversial bill was met with opposition from some voters who organized a petition drive calling for a referendum on the bill that could potentially strike it down. After the referendum’s ballot language was approved in late August by the Ohio Attorney General, Dave Yost, First Energy filed a lawsuit seeking to block the voter referendum. The lawsuit is based on the legal argument that HB 6 is essentially a new tax, and therefore cannot be blocked by referendum under state law. The lawsuit is expected to hinge on whether the court determines the money raised by HB 6 will be used to benefit the general public, but critics argue that regardless of how the money will be spent, the “tax” argument relies on stretched legal reasoning. Unless the court blocks the referendum, voters opposing HB 6 will still have to collect the approximately 266,000 voter signatures needed by October 21 in order to get the referendum on the ballot. FirstEnergy referendum lawsuit may hinge on who benefits from subsidiesEnergy News Network

 

National

Con Edison and eight other U.S. utilities recently filed a legal challenge against The Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule. ACE, finalized by the Trump Administration in June of this year, is aimed at helping coal companies facing tough competition from renewable energy suppliers. It replaced a much stricter Obama-era rule that pushed utilities to drop coal and instead encourages coal plants to cut emissions by improving efficiency. The group of utilities companies, called the Power Companies Climate Coalition, argue that ACE undermines efforts already underway to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, since the utility companies in the Coalition have already invested heavily in adopting new cutting technologies to meet state governments’ renewable energy requirements. A similar lawsuit was filed by mostly Democratic-led states and cities in August. U.S. utilities file legal challenge to Trump power plant ruleReuters

 

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (OFE) announced approximately $110 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development projects related to carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) through three funding opportunity announcements (FOAs). Out of the total amount, $75 million is for awards selected under two FOAs announced earlier this fiscal year, while approximately $35 million is set aside for a new FOA for FY2020. These announcements are part of an effort by the Trump administration to strengthen the coal industry by attempting to make the industry more environmentally-friendly. The program has so far deployed various large-scale CCUS pilot and demonstration projects. Under the new FOA, projects selected must complete a detailed site characterization of a commercial-scale CO2 storage site (50 million metric tons of captured CO2 within a 30 year period), apply and obtain an underground injection control class VI permit to construct an injection well, complete a CO2 capture assessment, and perform all work required to obtain a National Environmental Policy Act determination for the site. U.S. Department of Energy Announces $110M for Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage — Energy.gov

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Energy Update: August 23, 2019

In the States

TX – Last year coal production in Texas fell sharply as a number of coal-fired power plants closed. Of the state’s coal mines, only 12 are still active and production in these mines is down by nearly 30% from 2017. The state also has 17 inactive mines, one of which was closed just last October. While natural gas and renewable energy appear to be thriving nationwide, coal plants around the country have been shutting down as they become less competitive with other power sources. Chas Blevins, the executive director of the Texas Mining and reclamation Association, believes that despite its decline, coal still has a future in Texas. He said that coal production “primarily for energy production, will continue for a number of years as our population grows and economy stays strong in part because this baseload availability, reliability and cost competitiveness is important to Texas.”  Coal production falls sharply in TexasHouston Chronicle

 

AK – A group in Alaska has proposed an initiative called the “Fair Share Act,” which would raise state taxes on the largest oil companies. The initiative would raise the minimum tax from 4% to between 10% and 15% depending on the price of oil. Initiative supporters are in the process of gathering signatures for their proposal to be put on the 2020 ballot. Robin Brena, a primary sponsor of the initiative, said that the state now receives less in gross oil sales revenues than it has historically, and should be getting a higher amount. On top of the tax rate increase, the initiative would require all the major producers in the state to publicly reveal their revenue and costs. Kara Moriarty, president of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, said that the initiative would hurt the oil industry and that it couldn’t “sustain a billion-dollar-plus increase in taxes.” Lt. Governor Kevin Meyer has 60 days to certify the initiative petition. If certified, its sponsors would then be required to secure more than 28,000 signatures for the initiative to be placed on the ballot. Initiative would increase state oil taxes, eliminate tax creditAlaska Public Media

 

MN – Officials from both the Democratic and Republican parties are trying to find ways to further cut emissions that contribute to climate change. Earlier this year, the Republican-controlled Minnesota Senate opposed a plan by Democratic Governor Tim Walz and Democratic leaders to require utilities to generate all their power from carbon-free sources by 2050. However, Senator Dave Senjem, a Republican from Rochester, and some of his other colleagues are promoting legislation called “Clean Energy First” as an alternative to the Democratic plan. He said, “Those who get in early and become the Silicon Valley of renewable energy, renewable energy research… are going to be the winners.” While there are legislators on both sides who appear to be embracing renewable energy, there is also some bipartisan opposition to new legislation due to a seemingly natural progression of companies investing in renewable energy and plans by utilities to retire coal plants. “I’m really losing sight of why it is that we must do this,” said Democratic Senator Erik Simonson during a Legislative Energy Commission meeting in July. The current clean-energy plan in Minnesota is to reach 25% renewable energy by 2025. Legislators aim for common ground on Minnesota energy futureAP

 

CO – Earlier in the year Colorado’s Legislature passed new restrictions on their oil and gas fields that at first blush seemed to pose a threat to the industry in Colorado. However, a few months later, Colorado’s oil and gas industry has hundreds of completed permits that will keep them busy for months to come regardless of what happens to the pace of future approvals to drill. The new law grants local governments more control over energy extraction and places emphasis on health and safety in oil and gas operations. Despite these regulations, BTU Analytics projects that Colorado oil production will continue setting annual records for at least the next six years, potentially jumping 39% from 2018 to 2024. This increase is mainly due to productivity improvements implemented in the last couple of years that allows for more oil and gas to be produced. Jason Oates, a spokesman for Crestone Peak Resources said that a tighter regulatory regime could actually work in the company’s favor because “there may be growth opportunities for those companies willing to operate in this complex environment.” Permit submission that dropped after SB 181 is slowly ramping up again for operators in the state.  No slumping in pumping despite strictures in Colorado’s new oil and gas lawThe Denver Post

 

National

Earlier this month a coalition of states and cities sued to block the Trump administration from rolling back restrictions on coal-burning power plants. The court challenge, which is led by New York Attorney General, Letitia James, argues that the Trump administration’s E.P.A. has no basis for weakening an Obama-era regulation that set the first ever national limits on carbon dioxide pollution from power plants. The case could make it to the Supreme Court and affect future efforts to regulate greenhouse gases. The Obama-era rule required states to implement plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2022. That rule was temporarily blocked by the Supreme Court in 2016. The lawsuit against the Trump administration’s new rule argues that it ignores the E.P.A.’s responsibility under the law to set limits on greenhouse gases. An E.P.A. spokesman said, “The E.P.A. worked diligently to ensure we produced a solid rule that we believe will be upheld in the courts, unlike the previous Administration’s Clean Power Plan.”  States Sue Trump Administration Over Rollback of Obama-Era Climate RuleThe New York Times

 

 

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Energy Update: August 2, 2019

 

In the States

 
TX – For the first time since Texas began collecting data on its energy production, wind energy has surpassed coal as as a source of power. Dr. Andrew Swift, a professor at Texas Tech University, says that the biggest factor contributing to  wind energy growth in Texas is that it only requires  incremental investment rather  than the significant one-time investment needed for a coal plant. The decreasing cost of harvesting energy from wind farms is another favorable factor. Coal power continues to lose market share in Texas with multiple plants in the process of shutting down despite promises by the Trump administration to revitalize the coal industry. While this is a large shift in Texas’s energy supply, both wind and coal are both still a small part of the total generation grid compared to natural gas. Not blowing smoke: Wind has overtaken 'risky' coal for energy use in Texas for the first timeUSA Today
 
NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo awarded contracts for two off-shore wind farms on the coast of Long Island this month. These wind projects are part of Governor Cuomo’s Green new Deal that was signed into law earlier this year, which committed New York to achieving 100% renewable energy. The wind farms are meant to generate 9,000 megawatts by 2035. Construction on these projects will begin in early 2020, with a service goal of 2024. While erecting   off-shore wind farms remains one of the most costly ways to generate electricity, as  costs fallstates are giving this option more consideration as a way to bring clean energy to densely populated areas. New York Signs Biggest Offshore Wind Project Deal in the Nation – Bloomberg
 
OH – Governor Mike DeWine has signed into law legislation to help cover the operating costs of  two nuclear power plants in Ohio by adding new fees to Ohioans’ electric bills. Governor DeWine maintains the bill will “save the nuclear plants, save the jobs, but also keep the cost of energy down for the ratepayer.” The new fees are offset by cuts in some incentives for renewable energy and the elimination of fees used to encourage more efficient energy production.  The bill is controversial, with some Democratic lawmakers claiming the bailout is saving some jobs while eliminating others. Ohio is the first state to pass ratepayer-funded assistance for nuclear plants while simultaneously cutting support for renewable energy and energy efficiency standards... The new law is already being challenged by a group that has begun to collect  signatures to put the issue on the ballot in November. If their petition language is approved and they get enough signatures, the bailout bill would be subject to a voter  referendum and could be struck down. Ohio Gov. DeWine signs bill to bail out nuclear plants, slash renewable energyCincinnati.com and Group Takes First Step Toward Repealing Ohio Nuclear BailoutWOSU Public Media
 
CO – Colorado’s air quality regulators announced they will consider regulations aimed at curbing oil and gas emissions. The Air Pollution Control Division laid out a broad plan to incrementally cut the release of methane and volatile organic compounds from oil and gas wells, storage, and transmission. This plan would require oil and gas companies to check and repair methane leaks more frequently, obtain permits during the first 90 days of drilling, monitor methane emissions, and report emissions directly to the state. This rule change is in compliance with the law that created the Air Quality Control Commission, which also called on the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to update its own rules. Garry Kaufman, Director of the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division, believes there will be a dramatic decrease in emissions from facilities affected by the new rules. Representatives from the Oil and Gas industry have weighed in, claiming that the rule changes are sweeping and extreme, and would in effect result in a permitting moratorium. Oil and gas emissions ‘not acceptable,’ Colorado’s top air quality regulator saysThe Colorado Independent
 

National

 
Earlier this month, Senator John Cornyn introduced a bill aimed at accelerating development and commercial applications of natural gas carbon capture technologies. Senator Cornyn wants to create a balance between conservation, productivity, and economic power in natural gas. The act would require Secretary of Energy Rick Perry to establish a program to research and develop commercially viable technology for carbon dioxide capturing during natural gas power generation. Leaders in the natural gas industry are praising the bill as the future for natural gas production and for advancements in the current infrastructure of that production. The bill would also encourage the Department of Energy to include participation of national laboratories, universities, and research facilities in its research and require the DOE to solicit applications for demonstration projects to submit to Congress with legislative recommendations. The act has passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and is expected to be considered by the full Senate in the near future. Carbon capture act passes Senate committeeMRT
 
The Trump administration has proposed relaxing restrictions on repurposing coal ash produced by burning coal. The ash contains arsenic, which can seep into ground water, and has been linked to cancer and other health problems. Coal ash has often been used as a replacement for soil or as landfill, , leading to concerns about the effect of runoff on drinking supplies. The administration’s new rule allows projects to use unlimited amounts of coal ash so long as their sponsors show its use won’t cause physical harm. While the proposal allows for a more transparent reporting process, environmentalists see the move as dangerous for the environment and a gift to the coal industry. EPA proposal scraps limits on coal plant wasteThe Hill

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Energy Update: July 12, 2019

In the States

 
MN – Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced the completion of the largest solar project in a Minnesota city, Brooklyn Park. The solar project was funded through a public-private partnership and, according to Governor Walz, will not cost taxpayers any money. Brooklyn Park officials say the solar energy project will save taxpayers
$60,000 in electricity costs in 2020 and $5.5 million over a 25-year span. City officials hope the project will serve as a blueprint for other Minnesota cities to expand their own solar energy activities. Brooklyn Park Completes Minnesota's Largest City Solar ProjectConnected Community Experience Media
 
NY – The State of New York is planning to construct new battery storage projects worth $55 million on Long Island. These storage projects hope to advance the state towards its goal of 3,000 megawatts of energy storage deployed by 2030. The announcement goes toward supporting Governor Cuomo’s Green New Deal, which puts New York on a path to carbon neutrality. “These incentives for energy storage will help Long Islanders grow their clean energy economy and create jobs”, according to Governor Cuomo. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has committed an initial $15 million in incentives for the rollout of the project. State officials call Long Island “a mature solar market,” and has contributed to “generating a self-sustaining model for residential solar” in New York. Governor Cuomo Announces $55 Million for Energy Storage Projects on Long IslandTransmission and Distribution World
 
PA – Governor Tom Wolf does not support using public funds to keep the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery complex open, and has instead directed the Commonwealth’s efforts towards helping employees find new jobs. The complex, which suffered from a massive fire earlier this year, was producing 335,000 barrels per day and
currently employs approximately 1,000 individuals. According to J.J. Abbott, a spokesperson for the Wolf administration, the refinery would need significant new investment to re-open. The head of the refinery’s employee union, Ryan O’Callaghan, expressed concern that looking at alternatives is an insufficient response by the administration. Governor Wolf’s administration has, however, has dedicated state resources and manpower to help employees seek new opportunities, and provided them with job-training and employment related services. Pennsylvania governor opposes tax dollars for refinery restartReuters
 
NH – Governor Chris Sununu signed a bill to study whether New Hampshire would benefit from creating a state department of energy. Energy policy is currently administered by several state agencies and departments. The bill creates a state commission, made up of state legislators, private sector stakeholders, and state agency officials, to asses and determine next steps. The commission will also study how other states handle energy programs and how New Hampshire can ensure its residents derive the maximum benefit from utility companies operating in the state. The commission is required by law to submit an interim report by November 1, 2019, and its complete findings and recommendations by November 1, 2020. Should N.H. Establish A State Department of Energy? Governor Signs Study BillNew Hampshire Public Radio
 

National

For the first time since 1953, the United States is poised to become a net exporter of crude oil and petroleum in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), thanks to an increase in the production of natural gas and petroleum from the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico. According to a plan released by the EIA, the U.S. is expected to pump 12.4 million barrels of crude oil per day this year and approximately 13.2 million barrels of crude per day in 2020. The development and use of hydraulic fracturing technology, commonly known as fracking, has allowed the U.S. to become the world’s largest crude producer, mostly thanks to production in West Texas. The EIA also states Texas is the largest crude oil producing state in the nation, noting the state produced an average of 4.97 million barrels per day in April 2019. While crude oil production is declining in other states, the EIA expects additional growth in the Gulf of Mexico and in the states that border the Gulf. Report: U.S. leads world in crude export with Texas as largest producing stateThe Center Square
 
Twenty-three Governors, following California Governor Gavin Newsom’s lead, signed a pledge urging the Trump administration not to relax vehicle mileage standards. States have promised to sue the Trump administration over any reductions to standards, should the administration release regulations to that effect. Energy experts believe the Trump administration will release final rules on mileage changes later this year. The current standards were established under the Obama administration as an attempt to mitigate the impacts of climate change. The Trump administration, however, maintains that Americans prefer to drive larger cars and trucks and the old standards unnecessarily drive up costs and reduce vehicle safety. The Governors’ pledge commits their states to retaining the Obama-era standards. Senator Tom Carper of Delaware is urging automakers to work with the states in the interests of cutting carbon emissions and advancing cleaner-burning vehicles. A spokesperson for Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said “it is untenable to face a marketplace with different standards in different states, but it is also untenable to face standards that rise so high that only a handful of electric vehicles

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Energy Update: June 21, 2019

In the States

ME – Governor Janet Mills signed a bill into law that requires the Public Utilities Commission to approve a demonstration project to advance the use of floating offshore wind energy in the United States. The project is supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for $39.9 million and will deploy floating turbines. The bill was sponsored by Senator David Woodsome, a Republican who is enthusiastic about how this bill can help Maine take the lead in research that could have worldwide implications. Governor Mills also announced that Maine has joined a regional task force led by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which will seek to identify potential opportunities for renewable energy leasing and development in the Gulf of Maine. Governor Mills said, “Offshore wind represents a great opportunity for Maine’s energy future and our economy”.  Maine Governor takes action to advance offshore wind developmentWind Power Engineering & Development

 

NY – On June 20th the New York State Assembly passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which is headed to the Governor Andrew Cuomo for his expected signature. The legislation requires at least 70% of electric generation to come from renewable sources by 2030, and provides needed funding to assist low-income residents with this transition. This legislation was agreed to by leaders of both the State Senate and the State Assembly and Governor Cuomo earlier in the week. The bill also sets a requirement for local distributed solar energy production of 6 gigawatts by 2025, which a report released earlier this year estimated would sustain more than 11,000 jobs between now and 2025. New York sets goal for enough solar to power 1 million homes by 2025Solar Power World

 

PA – Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania has asked Republican leaders in the state legislature to work with him to bring Pennsylvania into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). This consortium requires members to set a price and cap on all gas emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants. If they do enter the program, the price paid by power plant owners to emit carbon dioxide would bring in hundreds of millions of dollars for the state government. Owners of power plants would have to buy credits for every ton of carbon dioxide they emit, which incentivizes them to lower their emissions. Governor Wolf is working with Republican leaders on a compromise with the hope of avoiding a court challenge if he were to act unilaterally. Republican leaders in the House and Senate have indicated their willingness to reach an agreement, but it’s unlikely a deal will be completed before the legislative session ends for the summer. Republicans are predicting that the commonwealth will join the RGGI no earlier than 2021. Wolf wants power plant emission plan to fight climate changePocono Record

 

OR – Oregon House Bill 2020, or the Oregon Climate Action Program, passed the House of Representatives earlier this week by a vote of 35-24. Under this legislation, greenhouse gas emissions will be capped each year to keep emissions below the 1990 level by 45% by 2035 and by at least 80% by 2050 through a market-based cap and trade program. Oregon would become the second state after California to adopt this approach if it is enacted into law. Republican members of the House assert the legislation will raise gas prices and damage rural economies.  While Governor Kate Brown has said that she would sign the bill, Republican members of the State Senate have gone into hiding to prevent the necessary quorum needed for a vote in that body. Oregon House approves ‘cap and trade’ legislationKTVZ News 21 / Oregon Republicans go missing to avoid climate change vote; governor sends police to find themCBS News

 

MN – Governor Tim Walz has announced a plan to renew his push for an ambitious clean energy bill. The plan would require electric companies in the state to switch to 100% clean energy in the next 30 years and prevents them from replacing or setting up new power generators with fossil-fuel power sources unless there’s no reliable or affordable carbon-free power available. He and his Democratic-Farmer-Labor party allies in the legislature attempted to pass the legislation this year, but failed to gain traction in the midst of debate over other important spending and policy bills. Opponents to the plan have compared it to Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, portraying it as unrealistic.  Republican leaders have suggested that they would be willing to come to the table to find a compromise on the Governor’s plan, but are unlikely to do so until next year’s legislative session. Walz renews push for 100% clean energy planThe Daily Journal

 

National

A bipartisan group of U.S. House and Senate members, including Reps. Elaine Luria and Denver Riggleman have co-sponsored the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act, which would create a national strategy for nuclear energy, demonstrate advanced nuclear reactor concepts, and make initial supply of high-assay low-enriched uranium fuel available. The bill, which was introduced simultaneously with a Senate bill, shows some degree of bipartisan congressional enthusiasm for nuclear legislation. Congresswoman  Luria said that “when we talk about climate change and cutting CO2 emissions, it’s important that we recognize the impacts of having nuclear as one of those energy sources”. While the bill’s referral to both the House energy and science committees will require an extra step to gain passage, supporters are hopeful that the introduction of a single bill will expedite the process.  Bipartisan House Members Introduce Nuclear Energy Leadership ActMorning Consult

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Energy Update: May 31, 2019

In the States

CO – Governor Jared Polis signed a series of seven bills on Thursday aimed at creating a road map to Colorado’s electrical grid being fossil fuel free by 2040. The seven bills addressed clean air, green jobs, and lower electric rates. The Independence Institute and the Colorado AARP have come out against the bills saying that encouraging utilities to shutdown coal plants earlier than expected will drive up utility bills. Supporters, like Conservation Colorado, see the package of bills as a nationally leading climate policy. One of the new laws sets a goal for Colorado to reduce its statewide greenhouse-gas emissions by at least 26 percent by 2025; 50 percent by 2030; and 90 percent by 2050. Gov. Polis signs 7 bills on renewable energy, but what does that mean for Colorado’s energy future?The Baltimore Sun

 

WV – Governor Jim Justice of West Virginia has welcomed plans for a new wind farm that is about 170 miles wide. The farm would sit in the middle of two counties and be part of the Black Rock Wind Farm. In discussing the wind farm, Governor Justice said, “This investment is truly great news for Mineral and Grant counties and all of West Virginia. Not only will the project harness West Virginia’s inexhaustible wind…it will continue to stimulate our economy.” West Virginia has installed wind capacity of 686 MW and this project will be a 25% increase to their clean energy output. The new Windfarm will be run by the Clearway Energy Group, which originally proposed the project, and operates other wind farms in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The creation of the wind farm is expected to create 290 jobs and will generate at least $4.8 million in state and local taxes.  West Virginia Governor Embraces Proposed Wind FarmNorth American Windpower

 

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo has blocked a controversial pipeline that would have supplied natural gas to New York City and Long Island. The pipeline was originally meant to run natural gas from New Jersey, across Raritan Bay and New York Bay to New York City. According to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, the pipeline would have had significant environmental impacts on the water quality in New York. The DEC maintains that the construction of the pipeline would result in water quality violations and fail to meet the state’s water standards. In response to the administration blocking the project, environmental advocates are hopeful this is a sign of the Cuomo administration’s commitment to the tenets of his Green New Deal. Williams Company, the project’s developer, plans to resubmit their application, but will need approval from both the DEC and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Cuomo administration rejects Williams pipelineWillamette Week

 

UT – Governor Gary Herbert officially unveiled an initiative that would deliver 1,000 megawatts of energy to Utah’s Millard County. Gov. Herbert said “The Utah Advanced Clean Energy Storage Project will generate enough power to meet the needs of 150,000 households. That’s the equivalent of about 21 percent of the total households in Utah”. The energy storage technologies being used include renewable hydrogen, compressed air energy storage, large-scale flow batteries, and solid oxide fuel cells. He also announced the first deployment of innovative software at the Enel plant at Cove Fort, Millard County. The software will monitor the pumps, using technology that detects anomalies and will offer recommendations on potential maintenance. Secretary Rick Perry believes that this will feed into his goal of bolstering geothermal resources 26-fold by 2050. Epic clean energy storage project bound for UtahKSL.com

 

OH – The Ohio House passed an energy bill that would require Ohio’s electric consumers to pay fees in order to subsidize two nuclear power plants and two coal-fired plants, one of which is located in Indiana. The legislation adds $1 per month to residential consumers’ bills to create a new fund capable of subsidizing power generators. The measure’s advocates contend eliminating energy efficiency programs will save consumers money and will reduce overall utility bills. An organization called Generation Now, a group that receive anonymous donations, has put $2.7 million into TV, radio, and online ads in support of the bill while opponents have spent about $300,000 on ads. State Representative David Leland of Columbus, who is opposed to the bill, pointed to the tornados ravaging the Midwest as proof that stopping climate change is imperative. Ohio House passes controversial energy bill changing electric feesDayton Daily News

 

National

Senator Susan Collins of Maine introduced a bipartisan bill this month to bolster renewable energy storage. Known as the Better Energy Storage Technology or BEST Act, the measure requires the Department of Energy (DOE) to “establish a research, development, and demonstration program for grid-scale energy storage” by providing $300 million over five years to DOE. “Next-generation energy storage devices will help enhance the efficiency and reliability of our electric grid, reduce energy costs, and promote the adoption of renewable resources,” said Senator Collins. “Our bipartisan legislation would help catalyze the development of this technology that holds great promise in the fight against climate change by supporting clean energy generation, including wind and solar.” The bill additionally directs DOE to develop a long-term strategic plan for energy storage. Susan Collins unveils $300M energy storage bill to combat climate changeThe Washington Examiner

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Energy Update: May 3, 2019

In the States

NV – Governor Steve Sisolak has signed into law a bill that requires Nevada to double its Renewable Portfolio Standard to 50% by 2030. This bill was first proposed in 2017, but was vetoed by former Governor Brian Sandoval. In signing the bill, Governor Sisolak said, “This milestone piece of legislation will also help reduce emissions that negatively affect the health and well-being of Nevadans”. The bill sponsored by Senator Chris Brooks easily made its way through both chambers. A ballot initiative has been approved for 2020 that would enshrine the 50% RPS in Nevada’s constitution, however the Governor expressed the view that he didn’t want to wait another year and a half to get the ball rolling on raising renewable standards. Sisolak signs ‘milestone’ bill increasing Renewable Portfolio Standard to 50 percent by 2030The Nevada Independent

 

OH – Governor Mike DeWine has thrown his support behind a nuclear energy bailout bill. The bill would raise $300 million for nuclear energy by tacking on a $2.50 fee to all residential electricity consumers. These fees would, however, be offset by eliminating a separate fee that pays for renewable energy. Governor DeWine believes that the state’s energy policy should be focused on having a reliable grid while limiting carbon emissions into the atmosphere and that, for the immediate future, it is impossible to dramatically reduce carbon without using nuclear power. Public committee hearings on the bill are ongoing. Opponents of the bill say that it would make clean energy more expensive in Ohio and that it would generate half as much clean energy. Amid bailout talk, Gov. Mike DeWine signals support for nuclear energyColumbus Dispatch

 

OR – Governor Kate Brown has expressed her support for a Clean Energy Jobs Bill that is getting mixed reviews from conservationists and environmental activists. The bill would create a system for reducing the pollution generation threshold that requires companies to purchase permits for any new greenhouse gas emissions. The amount of available permits available would decrease over time. Companies are also given an option to generate “offset credits” which are given as an incentive to complete projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These credits can be traded in to cover emissions over what the cap allows. This bill has failed multiple times in Salem previously and may fail again as some environmentalist groups are opposing the bill due to a provision that allows companies to use credits from other states to purchase permits. Despite this opposition, Governor Brown is prioritizing adoption of an emissions reduction program this legislative session. Oregon Clean Energy Jobs Bill has Mixed Support from Environmental Justice GroupsWillamette Week

 

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo is advocating a Green New Deal that would aim to make the state’s electricity sector carbon free by 2040 and create a council to develop a plan to transition the state to net-zero carbon emissions. However, some environmentalists and advocacy groups have thrown their support behind a competing bill that goes beyond the Governor’s proposal  by  requiring all industries in New York to be carbon-free by 2050, not just electricity. These groups oppose Governor Cuomo’s proposal because they believe it doesn’t go far enough to address New York’s contribution to climate change. Supporters counter that this is the first time that a bill like Cuomo’s has been capable of passing in years with the newly elected Democratic Senate. However, some lawmakers maintain that the Governor’s goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions only for the electricity sector is closer to the status quo. They believe that more needs to be done to put infrastructure and policies in place that will actually reduce the state’s carbon contribution.  New York's Governor is pitching a Green New Deal. Climate Activists say it's not Green Enough.Stamford Advocate

 

ME – Governor Janet Mills has introduced bipartisan legislation that would create a Maine Climate Council, which would help the state to meet its clean energy goal of reaching 100% renewable energy in Maine’s electricity sector by 2050. The idea for a council was originally announced when Maine joined the U.S. Climate Alliance, which effectively keeps individual states in the Paris climate agreement. Mills was joined by leaders of various food industries as well as State Sen. David Woodsome. The legislation is heavily backed by conservation groups and other groups advocating for a fix to climate change. Maine Climate Council Would Lead State’s 100% Renewable Energy EffortsNorth American Windpower

 

National

This week, the U.S House passed its first major climate-focused bill, HR 9, in almost ten years. The bill would commit the U.S. to the Paris Climate Accord from which the Trump administration earlier withdrew. It would require the U.S. to meet its commitments to the agreement, including cuts in greenhouse emissions, and prevent the Trump administration from using federal funds to withdraw from the agreement. HR 9 would also require the Trump administration to help ensure that other parties to the accord fulfill their contributions as well. The bill, however, is unlikely to be considered in the Senate. A Bill to Honor Paris Agreement Goals Could be the First Climate Legislation to Pass the House this Year Pacific Standard  Staking Out Battle Lines, House Votes to Keep U.S. in Paris Climate Pact – New York Times

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Energy Update: April 5, 2019

In the States
 
MD – The Maryland State Senate passed legislation that would require 50% of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030. The current goal in Maryland is
25% renewable energy by 2020. Supporters of the bill hope that it will move Maryland in the right direction in addressing the effects of climate change. Senator Brian
Feldman, a lead sponsor of the bill, says that it’s a “No-brainer” due to its positive economic and environmental benefits. The bill, however, has strong opposition on the
Eastern Shore as it mainly expands offshore wind projects, which are being contested by lawmakers in those areas. The bill passed through the Senate but is stalled in the
House of Delegates due to a previous failed vote in committee, but supporters hope that the passage of the bill in the Senate will help move it forward in the House of
 
 
PR – The Puerto Rico legislature adopted a bill that would set a 100% renewable portfolio standard (RPS) by 2050, putting Puerto Rico on the same track as Hawaii, California,
and Washington D.C. The bill includes multiple interim goals of 40% renewable energy by 2025 and 50% by 2040. Another aspect of the bill places a ban on coal plants
starting in 2028. The purpose of the bill is to make energy both more affordable and reliable as Puerto Rico has some of the highest electricity costs in the country due to the
expense of shipping fossil fuels to the island. Its current energy infrastructure is also susceptible to disruption from hurricanes and other extreme weather. As Puerto Rico
continues to rebuild after Hurricane Mariá, the sponsors of the legislation believe the territory has a unique opportunity to create a new infrastructure that utilizes
renewable energy. The legislation includes a large build-out of solar energy storage and a range of renewable energy incentives for both utilities and consumers. The bill now
awaits a decision by Governor Ricardo Rosselló, who has already expressed his support for the bill and is likely to sign it. Puerto Rico Has Just Passed Its Own Green New
Deal - Forbes
 

NM – Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham recently signed into law new energy legislation that will make New Mexico another state ultimately requiring major electric utilities to
obtain 100% of their power from carbon emission-free sources. Current law requires that 20% of New Mexico’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2020, the
Governor is building on that law by creating new goals of 50% by 2030 for investor-owned utilities, then 80% by 2040, and 100% by 2045. Rural electric cooperatives would
have more time to achieve the 100% emission-free goal. The bill also provides a mechanism to finance the Public Service Company of New Mexico’s (PNM) closure of a coal
power plant and creates job training programs for the renewable energy industry while extending assistance to laid-off coal workers. Critics of the bill say that it will still
leave PNM customers paying for the company’s lost investments in the coal industry and do nothing to save related jobs. Critics also say that the bill weakens bedrock
consumer protections by gutting the Public Regulation Commission’s authority. Despite some opposition, Governor Lujan Grisham believes the legislation demonstrates that
“states in fact can respond to the climate change crisis.” The Governor campaigned on pushing energy companies to transition to more renewable energy while also growing
the energy industry. Lujan Grisham signs landmark clean energy bill – Santa Fe New Mexican
 

FL – The Florida House and Senate are moving forward with bills that would ban all but one form of fracking and natural gas exploration. The bills attempt to reach a balance
between the interests of the natural gas industry and concerns of environmentalists who claim that fracking has an adverse effect on drinking water and may contribute to
an uptick in earthquakes. While some legislators voting for the bills didn’t consider them a perfect solution, they say the legislation is a first step in protecting the
environment. Critics of the bills came from two directions, with supporters of natural gas claiming the bills move Florida’s economy in a regressive direction, while others
believe the bills doesn’t do enough to address concerns regarding fracking because it continues to allow a rock-dissolving process called matrix acidizing to continue.
Fracking has dramatically increased the United States’ oil and natural gas production, but has also been linked to contamination of drinking water and earthquakes. Both the
Senate and House bills will have to be reconciled before being sent to Governor Ron DeSantis for his consideration. Bills bans 2 of 3 forms of oil, gas fracking in Florida – AP
News
 

CO – The Colorado Senate voted to send legislation giving municipalities more control over drilling sites for the oil and gas to Governor Jared Polis. He is expected to sign the
bill, but could also let it become law without his signature. Supporters of the legislation are also pleased that the bill makes the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation
Commission put public health and the environment before production in its oversight of the oil and gas industry. Opponents of the bill argue that the measure will reduce
crude oil and natural gas production and adversely affect the state and local economies. While most oil and gas industry groups remained opposed to the legislation, they
were pleased with some amendments added by the Colorado House and agreed to by the Senate. Colorado Senate sends local control oil and gas measure to Gov. Polis'
desk – Denver 7 ABC/The DenverChannel.com

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Energy Update: March 8, 2019

In the States

NM – A Senate bill was recently introduced in New Mexico that would call for a four-year halt on hydraulic fracturing while the state examines the practice’s impact on the environment. A fiscal impact report made by the New Mexico State Land Office, New Mexico Department of Health, the New Mexico Attorney General, and The Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources department concluded that the state would suffer approximately a $3.5 billion loss and local governments a $327.5 million loss in revenue from oil and gas extraction. Direct revenues from the oil and gas industry make up 35% of New Mexico’s general fund revenue, and without a replacement source for that revenue the fracking ban would negatively impact New Mexico’s finances. In recent years, New Mexico had an oil boom and $2 billion budget surplus, which oil and gas industry leaders credit to fracking and horizontal drilling. The spokesman for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, Robert McEntyre, stated, “The bill would be devastating to New Mexico’s economy. Fracking is what New Mexico oil and gas looks like in 2019.” However, the bill’s sponsor, New Mexico State Senator Benny Shendo contended, “People are concerned about the issue. Now. You’re talking about something that has the potential for contamination of our drinking water and our aquifers.” There is currently no date yet set for the hearing of the bill. Report: Fracking ban could cost New Mexico billions, cut oil and gas productions – Carlsbad Current Argus

VA – New legislation in Virginia would require Dominion Energy to excavate its ash ponds and recycle a quarter of the 27 million cubic yards of existing coal ash, and put the rest in new, modern landfills. This coal ash is the toxic result of decades of coal burning. The ash is currently stored in four locations along the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, three of which are leaking toxins into nearby groundwater. For years environmentalists have argued that these leaks are a risk to public health and the environment.  Over half of Dominion’s coal ash is currently buried inside two storage ponds in Chesterfield County, so House Speaker Kirk Cox included a condition that shields Chesterfield from the traffic that would result from recycling. Cox said, “This language ensures that end of the agreement is codified and that our roads will not be bogged down with 300 trucks every day for 15 years.” This bipartisan legislation was sponsored by Senators Scott Surovell, Frank Wagner, and Amanda Chase. Governor Northam’s administration played a key role in this legislation and is likely to sign it. Coal ash bill heads to governor’s desk. – Richmond Times-Dispatch

WI – Governor Tony Evers announced his plans to join the US Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of governors whose goal is to implement the Paris climate accord on a state level, in response to President Trump’s plan to withdrawal from the accords. By joining the agreement, Governor Evers is committing to implement policies that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions to at least 26% below 2005 levels by 2025, track and report progress to the global community, and accelerate new and existing policies that will reduce carbon pollution and promote clean energy deployment at both the state and federal level. Governor Evers and Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes are exploring ways to increase the use of solar power in Wisconsin and help businesses and citizens make smart energy choices.  Governor Evers said, “It’s a new day in Wisconsin and it’s time to lead our state in a new direction where we embrace science, where we discuss the very real implications of climate change, where we work to find solutions, and where we invest in renewable energy.” Governor Evers and Lieutenant Governor Barnes are also working towards developing energy saving goals for state agencies. Governor Evers Announces Plan to Join U.S. Climate Alliance – evers.wi.gov

WY – Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon is seeking to save the coal industry in his state and is deciding whether to sign a bill requiring utilities to seek buyers for their coal plants rather than closing them. Legislation sponsored by Senator Dan Dockstader passed the Wyoming House and Senate on February 26th and 27th, respectively. The bill is designed to limit the loss of jobs from coal plant closings and reduced coal mining production. It allows utilities to replace the coal-fired generation with renewable energy or gas-fired facilities once they first make an effort to sell the coal plants to new operators who would continue to run them. The legislation would additionally require these utilities to purchase power from the coal plants they sell. If signed, the bill would not apply to cooperatives and municipal utilities and would exempt buyers of coal fired plants from regulation as a utility. Wyoming governor weighs bill to save coal plants in the state – S&P Global

 

National and Regional

In 2016, solar energy was responsible for more employment in the electric power sector (43%) than the entirety of the fossil fuel industry (22%) according to the U.S. Department of Energy. In 2017, President Trump imposed a 30% tariff on foreign-produced solar panels which negatively affected the industry. There was a loss of 10,000 solar energy jobs in 2017, and a loss of 8,000 more solar energy jobs in 2018. However, The Solar Foundation is confident that the industry will make a comeback in 2019, as the solar industry predicts 7% growth based on the National Solar Jobs Census survey. On the other hand, the foundation recognizes that in 2018 they predicted a 5.2% growth. Under Trump’s Tariff’s, The US Lost 20,000 Solar Energy Jobs – Forbes

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Energy Update: February 8, 2019

 

In the States

CO – Xcel Energy officials indicated in a meeting with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission that they may file a case on rates for public, fast charging stations, stations handling vehicle fleets, and another case that would address providing part of the infrastructure for charging stations. However Colorado Senators Kevin Priola and Angela Williams, and Representative Chris Hansen have created a piece of legislation that would, “allow investor owned utilities to own and operate charging stations as part of their regulated services,” thus allowing a return on their investment. It would essentially remove a block on all utilities, including Xcel, from owning and operating charging stations. The legislation, Senate Bill 19-088, would allow companies like Xcel and the Public Utilities Commission to work together and build infrastructure that would boost electric vehicle usage.  Xcel  Energy,  Colorado  regulators  weigh  utility’s  role  in  electric -vehicle market – The Denver Post

 

KY – In 2015, $2 million was taken from the funds of twenty-seven coal counties in Eastern Kentucky in favor of the Kentucky Communications Network Authority (KCNA) for initiatives benefitting community broadband readiness and public computer access. KCNA completed these initiatives with only $800,000. Governor Bevin has now announced that the surplus funds given to KCNA will be returned to the Single County Coal Severance accounts in the twenty- seven counties they were taken from.  Gov. Bevin Announces Recovery of $1.3 Million in Coal Severance Funds –Kentucky.gov

 

MI – Governor Whitmer issued an executive order to get rid of industry-backed environmental review panels that the previous governor put in place. The move received mixed reviews; gaining praise from environmentalists but criticism from business groups. The panels, known to environmentalists as “polluter panels,” are made of government-appointed members and business representatives. While these panels intended to provide state-level review of

 

proposed environmental regulations and permits, Governor Whitmer believes they may be in violation of the federal Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. In response, members of the House Republican leadership went on record saying that while they had no problem with the parts of Governor Whitmer’s order that would restructure Michigan’s top environmental agency, they would not accept abolishing the panels. The House voted 58-51 against Governor Whitmer’s order, sending the resolution to the Senate. If the Senate also rejects the order, it would be killed.  Michigan ’s GOP House moves  to  void Dem  governor’s  decision  on Environmental Panels – The Hill

National and Regional

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Edward Markey officially introduced the Green New Deal on February 6th. The legislation, which calls for the elimination of the United States’ carbon footprint by 2030,has received mixed reviews. The scope of the plan is immense, and not only calls for an increased use of renewable energy, but also a broader

effort to expand economic opportunity. Specifically, it calls for, “a fair and just transition for all communities and workers.” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defended the legislation, saying, “All great American programs, everything from The Great Society to The New Deal, started with a vision for our future.” However, this future seems unattainable to some. Former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said, “I’m afraid I just cannot see how we could possibly go to zero carbon in a ten year time frame,” and goes on to call the plan, “impractical.” To some, the Green New Deal doesn’t go far enough. Nicole Ghio, Senior Fossil Fuel Program Manager at Friends of the Earth, said the, “resolution doesn’t quite get us there,” when discussing the challenge of the climate crisis. In contrast, the federal policy director for the Climate & Clean Every Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, Aliyah Haq, thinks, “It is a breath of fresh air to see leaders in Congress discussing climate solutions that rise to the scale of the challenge.” The Green New Deal is still in preliminary stages.  Despite Few Details and Much Doubt, the Green New Deal Generates Enthusiasm – NPR

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Energy Update: January 18, 2019

In The States

NJ – Governor Murphy entered office in 2018 with the goal of having 100 percent clean energy by the year 2050, and now New Jersey state’s environmental advocacy community, in addition to the state’s top business executives, are buying into it. DSM North America is releasing plans to double their solar field in Belvidere, Warren County. (DSM is a global-based science company that focuses on nutrition, health, and materials). The project is 20.2 megawatts (MW), doubling the capacity of the original DSM solar farm; making it the largest net-metered solar facility in New Jersey and the second largest on the East Coast. To increase the energy output of the system, the 62,215 solar panels at the site will use DSM’s anti-reflective coating which reduces the reflection of sunlight. The new field will provide surplus energy which will then be sold back into the grid. It is projected that the facility will provide 23,437 MW hours of electricity annually, or enough energy to power 2,614 homes a year. Belvidere is also a candidate for DSM’s new food enzyme plant. Is Business Buying into Murphy’s clean-energy goals? Looks like it. – NJ Spotlight

 

MD – The Maryland Board of Public Works, composed of Governor Larry Hogan, Treasurer Nancy Kopp, and Comptroller Peter Franchot, voted 3-0 against TransCanada’s pipeline that would run across the western part of Maryland and carry natural gas produced in Pennsylvania to West Virginia. Environmentalists and Maryland residents alike were outspoken in their opposition of the pipeline. Before the vote took place, over 60 lawmakers sent a letter that urged board members to reject the proposal, saying it goes against the state’s goal of increasing renewable energy production, as well as their ban of fracking. Governor Hogan said the unanimous vote would have happened regardless of the letter. Comptroller Peter Franchot stated that the pipeline would not bring Maryland economic benefits and would only come with a slew of environmental problems. However Scott Castleman, a spokesman for TransCanada, said the company will consider their options in order to keep the project on track and insists that, “through proper design and construction our project can be completed in an environmentally responsible and safe manner.” Despite the unanimous vote against the pipeline, it is still possible that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or the courts could get involved. But Anne Havemann, attorney for Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said the vote was at least a welcome delay of the project. Maryland board votes against natural gas pipeline project – The Washington Pos

CO – On Monday, January 14th, the Colorado Supreme Court reversed a lower court ruling that required Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to give consideration to the public health, safety and the environment in any new drilling. The Supreme Court stated, “Specifically, as the commission recognized, the pertinent provisions do not allow it to condition all new oil and gas development on a finding of no cumulative adverse impacts to public health and the environment.” Oil and gas industry representatives said the ruling upholds the law’s recognition of multiple interests. However, newly inaugurated Governor Polis said, “While I’m disappointed by today’s ruling, it only highlights the need to work with the legislature and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to more safely develop our state’s natural resources and protect our citizens from harm.” Big win for oil and gas industry: Colorado Supreme Court reverses Appeals Court ruling in Martinez case – The Denver Post

 

Regional and National

On Monday, January 7, the Supreme Court refused to take the case Exxon Mobil Corp v. Healey, in which Exxon Mobil Corp is attempting to stop Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey from obtaining documents from them in an investigation on climate change. Now that the Supreme Court rejected the case, Exxon Mobil will likely now have to comply with the civil investigative demand. Attorney General Healey is probing whether or not Exxon lied about how much they knew about the threat of climate change and what role their use of fossil fuel played in order to protect their business. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court already ruled on the issue in favor of Attorney General Healey. Exxon Mobil said in their September 2019 petition, which was backed by the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, “The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial court compelled compliance with sweeping investigatory requests by the state’s attorney general for decades’ worth of documents concerning petitioner’s knowledge of, and the relationship of petitioner’s products to, climate change.” Exxon Mobil called the ruling by the Massachusetts court “misguided” and is challenging whether or not a court  can have personal jurisdiction over a nonresident corporation to compel it’s compliance with an investigatory request for documents. Attorney General Healey has stated Massachusetts’ law allows her to investigate Exxon Mobil because of their prominence in the state via advertising and the selling of products. Supreme Court rejects Exxon Mobil appeal in climate case – The Hill

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Energy Update: December 21, 2018

In the States

CT – The Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) has approved five contracts with two utilities for long-term power purchases that will provide the state with 252 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy annually. PURA’s 20-year contracts with Eversource Energy and United Illuminating include the state’s first offshore wind power program and four fuel-cell projects. Combined, estimates predict the power produced will supply 4.6 percent of Connecticut’s annual power consumption. One project, dubbed Revolution Wind, is slated to generate 200 MW of electricity from a wind farm built in federal waters about halfway between Montauk, NY and Martha’s Vineyard, or enough energy to power 100,000 homes in the state. Offshore construction of the Revolution Wind project will begin in 2022 with operations online by 2023. According to the companies, approximately 1,400 jobs will be created. Connecticut regulators approve contracts for renewable energy projectsThe Hour

 

National and Regional

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, and Governor Claudia Pavlovich of Sonora, Mexico signed an agreement to develop a plan that may result in natural gas shipments to Asia. The four-year collaboration agreement, which does not require the commitment of any state finances, may include the connecting of several existing pipelines to transport natural gas in New Mexico west and south through Arizona and into Sonora and finally to the port of Guaymas in the Gulf of California. At the Port, the gas would be liquefied and shipped to Asian markets. New Mexico is currently producing 3.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day and is projected to produce 4 billion cubic feet per day by 2022. When asked how Arizona would benefit from the collaboration Governor Ducey said, “This is just a way for us to work with our neighbors and promote binational trade…this is just another way for us to bring that to life and be cooperative in economic development.” Neither Governor Ducey nor Governor Martinez are concerned about a shortage of gas in the United States as a result of the collaboration.

 

“Asia’s burgeoning demand, New Mexico’s abundant supply, and Arizona and Sonora’s strategic location and transport networks all combine to present an opportunity for continued regional growth,” according to the collaboration. Ducey signs pipeline pact with New Mexico, SonoraArizona Capitol Times

 

Newly elected and re-elected governors across the nation are making aggressive moves toward addressing climate change and renewable energy. Governor Kate Brown of Oregon is prioritizing a measure to create a cap-and-trade system similar to the one California is pursuing. The proposal, laid out in a budget blueprint in November and would seek to set a limit on greenhouse gas emissions. To manage the new strategy and supervise the state’s efforts, Governor Brown will create the proposed Oregon Climate Authority. However, several critics of the plan believe the Governor’s approach will negatively impact the state’s economy because the technology available does not yet allow businesses to reduce emissions as much as the Governor’s proposed mandate. Washington Governor Jay Inslee has gone on record with The Hill that he will make an attempt to advance new climate change measures through the legislature. In Colorado, Governor-Elect Jared Polis stated, “The sooner we can achieve true energy independence, the better economic growth we’ll have and the cleaner air we’ll have. Retiring coal is our priority. There’s good green jobs that can’t be outsourced.” Another Governor-Elect, Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, has made it a goal for her state to produce enough solar and wind energy to sell excess energy to neighboring states.  Governor-Elect J.B. Pritzker has said Illinois will increase its reliance on renewable energy to 25% of total consumption by 2025. Governor-Elect Steve Sisolak of Nevada backed a successful 2018 ballot measure requiring the state to run on 50 percent renewable energy by 2030. In Maine, Governor-Elect Janet Mills wants her state to run on 80 percent renewable energy by 2030. New Governors Plan Aggressive Climate StepsThe Hill

 

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Energy Update: November 16, 2018

In the States

LA – During a trade mission to Israel, Governor John Bel Edwards met with several energy companies, including officials from Houston-based Noble Energy and Delek Drilling, to explore partnership opportunities with Louisiana companies. The Governor, who also met with government leaders during his trip, hopes there are ways to involve Louisiana businesses in Noble’s supply chain and operations in Israel, as well as in the lucrative natural gas exploration taking place in eastern Mediterranean Sea. “From the outset, my goal for this economic development mission has been to explore trade, investment and partnership prospects between the State of Louisiana and Israel,” Governor Edwards said. “One of the key areas for us is our energy sector. Louisiana is an energy state and a global leader in oil and gas exploration and production. We have a long-established track record of exporting our technology and expertise to international oil and gas markets.” Louisiana trade mission to Israel explore energy industry collaborationThe Weekly Citizen

 

WA – Voters in Washington State rejected Initiative 1631, which would have imposed a carbon tax on fossil fuel emissions, with almost 60% against the proposed measure out of more than 1.9 million votes cast. If it had passed, it would have created the first-in-the-nation tax on carbon and the projected $1B in revenue generated would have been slated for water quality, forest health, and energy programs and investments related to communities. A comparable initiative was defeated two years ago by a similar margin as was a legislative effort by Governor Jay Inslee to pass a carbon tax in the state’s Democratic-controlled legislature earlier this year. Governor Inslee, after the initiative failed, said “Obviously we would liked [it to] pass, but we were up against about $31 million of big oil company money that obfuscated some of the complexities of the initiative.” Washington state voters rejected carbon-free initiativeThe Seattle Times

 

 

National and Regional

The Governors’ Wind & Solar Energy Coalition, a bipartisan group of 18 Governors, sent a letter to the members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), urging them to consider unifying and connecting the nation’s power grids. In its letter, the Coalition, which includes states from Massachusetts to Iowa and South Dakota to Maryland, noted it’s “nearly impossible to transmit electricity among the nation’s three major grids,” thereby “weakening the reliability of the nation’s overall transmission system.” The Governors hope the FERC will convene several discussions, in coordination with the Department of Energy and states, “to identify the nation’s transmissions needs … as well as multi-state and inter-regional transmission challenges.” Montana Governor Steve Bullock, who also serves as the chair of the National Governors Association, is the Coalition’s chair along with Delaware Governor John Carney, who is the vice chair. Governors cite benefits of single national power gridThe Daily News

 

Seven Governors-elect, including Janet Mills of Maine and Steve Sisolak of Nevada, have pledged to set strong renewable energy goals for their states, including deriving 100% of their electricity from renewable sources. The other Governors-elect who made the pledge to follow Hawaii and California’s lead include Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, Tony Evers of Wisconsin, Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, and Jared Polis of Colorado. Governor-elect Polis, for example, set a goal of 100% of renewable energy by 2040, or five years earlier than Hawaii and California. "It was a great night for clean energy, it was a great night for candidates that had chosen to embrace clean energy," said J.R. Tolbert, vice president of state policy at Advanced Energy Economy. “And that's easy to see when you see that every candidate who ran on 100% clean, or 100% renewable energy was elected as chief executives in their state." Seven new Governors may be the biggest election boon for climate and clean energyForbes

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Energy Update: October 24, 2018

In the States

AZ – A member of the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) proposed a “clean energy overhaul that would put the state at the front of the pack” among other clean energy-focused states. Developed by ACC member Andrew Tobin, the Energy Modernization Plan seeks an 80 percent clean energy target by 2050 in addition to a 3,000 megawatt energy storage target for 2030 – both goals, in essence, would put Arizona ahead of California and New York, which currently lead all states in terms of renewable energy and storage targets. Tobin has asked for the ACC to consider his plan during their next meeting on February 6. "We’re not trying to get on the train; we're trying to be the engine in the train," said Tobin. "This is Western people doing things and setting lofty goals and reaching them." If Tobin’s plan is voted on and accepted by the ACC, staff will begin a formal year-long rulemaking and stakeholder engagement process. AZ regulator proposes biggest storage, clean energy targets yetGTM

 

IA – NextEra Energy, a Florida-based company, announced it may shutter Iowa’s only nuclear power plant by the end of 2025. NextEra officials believes it main customer, Alliant Energy, will not renew its purchasing contract from NextEra’s Duane Arnold Energy Center in Palo, which is located northwest of Cedar Rapids. Alliant’s current contract goes through 2025, though the Energy Center is licensed to operate until 2034. The Energy Center current employs 600 people and started operations in 1975. “The cost of wind energy right now has really dropped as well as the cost of natural gas to be at levels where they are competitive and have never been before. We are continuing to pursue different options for our customers to make sure that they get the best value,” said an Alliant spokesman. Iowa nuclear plant may close in 2025The Gazette

 

NJ – Governor Phil Murphy announced his plans for New Jersey to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a regional cap-and-trade program that includes nine northeast states. The Governor signed an executive order to rejoin the pact after former Governor Chris Christie exited RGGI in 2011. The executive order directs state officials to “immediately begin negotiations with RGGI member states, and the Department of Environmental Protection will start determining the rules and guidelines needed to rejoin RGGI within 30 days.” According to the Governor’s office, the state lost almost $300 million in revenue by not participating in RGGI. “Pulling out of RGGI slowed down progress on lowering emissions and has cost New Jerseyans millions of dollars,” said Governor Murphy, “[funds] that could have been used to increase energy efficiency and improve air quality in our communities.” Murphy direct NJ to rejoin RGGIThe Observer

 

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo released his plan to develop a $6 billion offshore wind industry. The Governor, by 2030, would like New York to have ocean-based wind farms producing 2.4 gigawatts of electricity, roughly the equivalent of about five fossil fuel-burning power plants. The Governor’s offshore wind industry roadmap focuses on a 16,000 square-mile section of the Atlantic Ocean. The state will seek offers from wind farm developers beginning this year, first with an offering for projects totaling 800 megawatts. The funding for the projects will be derived from fees, known as compliance obligations, imposed on nuclear power plant owners. Governor Cuomo also announced his plans to use $15 million for workforce training programs related to the offshore wind energy plan. "We are encouraged by this development opportunity for New York's independent power generators, but the details matter," said Gavin Donohue, president and CEO of the Independent Power Producers of New York. State sees 5K jobs from offshore wind farm pushThe Albany Times-Union

 

WA – Governor Jay Inslee officially rejected proposals to build an oil-by-rail terminal for the Port of Vancouver. Concurring with the unanimous decision of the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, Governor Inslee said the project increases “the risk of a catastrophic earthquake, oil spills in the Columbia River, and fires or explosions.” The project, which was to be developed by Vancouver Energy, was slated to serve as a transfer point for up to 360,000 barrels of crude oil daily while creating several hundred temporary and permanent jobs. “When weighing all of the factors considered against the need for and potential benefits of the facility at this location, I believe the record reflects substantial evidence that the project does not meet the broad public interest standard necessary for the Council to recommend site certification,” Governor Inslee said. Vancouver Energy has 30 days to appeal the Governor’s decision. Inslee rejects Port of Vancouver oil terminalPortland Business Journal

 

 

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Energy Update: October 12, 2018

In the States

KS – Outgoing Governor Jeff Colyer hosted the annual Governor’s Energy Conference in Manhattan, Kansas. Topics included biofuel, energy storage, transportation innovations and alternatives, community initiatives, and how to improve solar and wind energy generation. “Energy is a top issue for the state of Kansas,” said Governor Colyer. “The diversity of our economy is dependent on a great energy system. We are one of the leading oil and gas states but we’re also a leading wind state and a leading ethanol state.” Kansas energy leaders gather for Governor’s Energy ConferenceWIBW

 

MA – Governor Charlie Baker’s administration awarded more than a half million dollars in grants to cities and towns across Massachusetts to help develop clean energy projects. The 41 Municipal Energy Technical Assistance (META) grants awarded were distributed to several localities participating in the Commonwealth’s “Green Communities” program or currently in the designation process, which is administered by the Department of Energy Resources. META grants help fund expert consultants and contractors to help localities with their clean energy projects and goals. “Our administration is proud to provide our municipal and regional partners with the tools they need to achieve our shared clean energy goals of reducing energy, emissions and costs,” said Governor Baker. “These grants deliver technical expertise on the local level that is essential to paving the way for innovative clean energy projects.” Governor awards grants for municipal clean energy projectsCape Cod Today

 

VA – Governor Ralph Northam released the Commonwealth’s updated 2018 Virginia Energy Plan, which helps to set Virginia’s strategic energy goals for the next decade. The Governor’s plan mostly focuses on modernizing the electric grid and promoting new technologies, in addition to reemphasizing the Commonwealth’s targets for renewable energy, electric vehicle deployment, and energy efficiency. The updated plan also includes benchmarks for expanding solar energy purchase options for corporations and small businesses and evaluating energy storage options. Virginia state agencies are also recommended to meet a 16% renewable energy procurement target as well as a 20% energy efficiency target. “The clean energy sector has the power to create new business opportunities, expand customer access to renewable energy, and spark the high-demand jobs of the 21st century,” said Governor Northam. “Virginia can shift to a more modern electric grid that is reliable, affordable, resilient, and environmentally responsible — and the Commonwealth can lead this critical industry as a result. This plan sets an ambitious path forward for Virginia, and I am confident we will charge ahead towards progress over the course of my administration.” Governor unveils modified 2018 Virginia energy planAlexandria News

 

WV – Governor Jim Justice and energy industry leaders gathered at the Greenbrier Resort during the state’s Chamber of Commerce Annual Business Summit to discuss economic changes and renewable energy in West Virginia. Dominion Energy’s Bob Orndorff believes the state “needs to make a quantum leap,” and consider wind and solar power’s appeal to the private sector in terms of potential future investment. “If we are to recruit companies to work in West Virginia,” he said, “to invest in West Virginia, we need to meet their needs,” which often include renewable energy. Appalachian Power President Chris Beam agreed, noting his company is open to renewable energy power sources as long as they are “economical for customers.” In his remarks, Governor Justice focused on the state’s improvements recently, including a declining unemployment rate and an easing of regulations at the state and federal levels of government. “It’s a miracle from God to look at how the numbers have changed,” Governor Justice said during his speech at his family-owned resort. Energy officials point to renewables at business summit highlighting coal ‘comeback’The Charleston Gazette-Mail

 

National and Regional

President Donald Trump nominated Bernard McNamee, director of the Department of Energy’s Office of Policy, to fill a vacancy on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which regulates, monitors, and investigates the transmission of electricity and its sources in interstate commerce. The seat was vacated by former Commissioner Robert Powelson, a critic of the Trump administration’s plans to financially support cash-strapped coal and nuclear power plants. McNamee has previously voiced support for fossil fuels, including subsidizing the coal industry. The Senate will need to approve McNamee’s nomination, and until then, the FERC has four members – two Democrats and two Republicans – which may result in several deadlock votes on key matters before the commission, including the approval of major pipelines and natural gas projects. Trump’s FERC pick could tip balance in favor of coal bailoutBloomberg News

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Energy Update: September 21, 2018

In the States

CA – Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that requires California to generate 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2045. The law, SB 100, requires the amount to be met in increments, with 50 percent of the state’s electricity deriving from solar, wind, hydropower, and other sources by 2026 and 60 percent by 2030. California became the second state to set a carbon-free electricity target, following Hawaii, which set their target in 2015. The law also stipulates that the last 40 percent of the 100 percent total can be derived from carbon-free sources, including large dams, nuclear power, and carbon-capturing natural gas-fired power plants. Environmentalist groups and allied Silicon Valley businesses applauded the measure while utilities, including the state’s largest, Pacific Gas and Electric and Southern California Edison, said the law would increase prices for consumers. While signing the legislation, Governor Brown said ““It will not be easy. It will not be immediate. But it must be done.” California mandates 100 percent clean energy by 2045The Mercury News

 

NJ – The state’s Board of Public Utilities (BPU) voted to allow 1,100 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind capacity to be developed, a first step towards a goal set by Governor Phil Murphy to install 3,500 MW worth of offshore wind power by 2030. The unanimous vote by the PBU follows Governor Murphy joining the Governors’ Wind and Solar Energy Coalition as its newest member. The Coalition now counts 20 states as members. “We campaigned on rebuilding New Jersey’s reputation as a clean energy leader and that involves setting an aggressive timetable on offshore wind,” said the Governor. “Thanks to the Board, today we took another enormous step toward realizing that goal with the largest single-state solicitation of offshore wind in the country.” The Governor also clarified future offshore wind solicitations, which are now scheduled for 2020 and 2022. New Jersey makes way for 1.1. gigawatt offshore windCleanTechnica

 

RI – Several requests for proposals (RFPs) were recently published by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) that call for 400 megawatts of power from new energy projects developed inside and outside the state. Eligible projects include geothermal, ocean-tidal and current-powered, onshore and offshore wind, small hydro, biomass, fuel cells, and solar power. The RFPs, which will be reviewed and selected by the PUC, will be managed by National Grid, a regional utility. “Our commitment to combating climate change is as strong as ever,” Governor Gina Raimondo said. RI orders up renewable energyECORI

 

TX – In partnership with Midland-based EagleClaw Midstream, Houston-based Kinder Morgan have authorized the construction of a $2 billion pipeline to transfer natural gas from West Texas to Houston. The 430-mile project, known as the Permian Highway Pipeline, is also backed by Exxon Mobil and Apache Corporation, is scheduled to be completed by 2020, transporting 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. The pipeline will mostly be used to transport gas for electricity generation in Texas and Mexico, but will also be sent new liquefied natural gas terminals in Freeport and Corpus Christi. "With the continued growth in drilling activity in the Permian Basin, this project will help to provide key infrastructure for producers to move natural gas to the best premium markets along the Gulf Coast and South Texas," said EagleClaw President Jamie Welch. Kinder Morgan authorizes $2B Permian Highway PipelineThe Houston Chronicle

 

VA – According to several reports, Governor Ralph Northam plans to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a multistate agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that establishes a mandatory regional cap-and-trade program. If the Governor joins RGGI, he will be the second new Governor to join following New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy earlier his year. RGGI, which was established in 2009, currently counts 10 northeastern and mid-Atlantic states as members.

 

National and Regional

The federal Department of Energy (DOE) is planning to deploy new technology at the Hanford Reservation “to capture and destroy dangerous vapors that have caused health programs for workers” at the nuclear waste site. The DOE’s decision follows a successful lawsuit by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who challenged the DOE’s inaction during the Obama administration. In the settlement, DOE is going to install a vapor monitoring, detection, and alarm system where the vapor exposure is most likely to happen, as well as maintain current safety measures since the General sued. DOE is also paying the state’s legal fees, which almost total $1 million. "It has not been an easy road to get here," General Ferguson said. "They (DOE) did not take this seriously. We should never have had to file a lawsuit. The federal government did not do right by these workers.” DOE will destroy worker-harming vapors at Hanford nuclear siteThe Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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Energy Update: August 3, 2018

In the States

MD – Governor Larry Hogan called the debris and sediment pouring into the Chesapeake Bay, following several strong storms in the northeastern United States, an “economic and ecological crisis.” Governor Hogan, who chairs the interstate Chesapeake Executive Council, also urged his fellow bay watershed Governors, particularly those upstream from the Chesapeake Bay, to help clean up and “take responsibility for the nation’s largest estuary.” The debris poses a significant threat to commerce, energy development, as well as ships bound for Baltimore. Maryland officials argues the debris originated mostly from Pennsylvania rivers, to which the Commonwealth’s Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell said was a “careless and insensitive remarks” by Maryland’s leaders. Governor Hogan, who is running for reelection, has made pollution from upstream states a serious campaign issue since he 2014, noting the high levels of pollutants and sediments from natural gas exploration that end up in the Chesapeake Bay. Maryland officials criticize upstream states for Bay debrisThe Associated Press

 

MT – The Montana Renewables Development Action Plan calls for substituting wind energy for coal as a source of power to utilities in Oregon and Washington. Two of four coal-powered units at the Colstrip power plant used to supply these utilities will be shut down during the next five years. An action plan developed by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) is taking advantage of extra transmission capacity freed up by the closure of the two units and renewable energy tax credits provided in Washington State to make wind energy an attractive source of power. Governor Steve Bullock’s administration helped to facilitate discussions between stakeholders, including the federal government, to make renewable energy competitive, principally through an agreement to low BPA transmission costs. The lower transmission costs, combined with the eligibility for tax credits, should make it possible for wind energy companies in Montana to compete for out-of-state sales. Up until now, Montana has relied on coal power to make it an energy exporter. According to Governor Bullock, “With this effort, we’re boosting the opportunities for more energy development in Montana and making Montana wind more attractive for West Coast buyers, all to create good-paying jobs and economic opportunity for Montanans.” Plans progressing to sell more Montana renewable energy out of stateBillings Gazette

 

National and Regional

The Coalition of Northeastern Governors (CONEG) and Canada’s Eastern Premiers are set to hold their annual gathering in Stowe, Vermont on August 12-14. Energy issues are perennially on the meeting’s agenda, as is regional trade and transportation issues. CONEG expects officials from the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont to attend as well as officials from the Canadian provinces of Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland. The northeastern U.S. Governors and Canadian Premiers have met regularly since 1973 to address cross-border interests.

 

The Trump administration is proposing to freeze U.S. automobile mileage standards at 2020 levels, which requires new vehicles to average 30 miles per gallon (mpg). The administration also wants to eliminate a special provision of the Clean Air Act that allows the State of California to set more stringent mileage standards. At least a dozen other states, representing about 40 percent of the nation’s total vehicle market, follow California’s standards. The national standard adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under President Obama increases to 36 mpg in 2025, 10 mpg higher than the requirement in effect. The administration believes that freezing that standard will reduce the cost of new cars, allowing more consumers to purchase vehicles with updated safety features. According to Heidi King, deputy administrator of the National Highway Safety Administration, highway deaths would drop by 1,000 each year “by reducing these barriers that prevent consumers from getting into the newer, safer, cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars.” Opponents argue that the savings in fuel costs derived from higher mileage standards also contribute to affordability of new vehicles. Commenting on the proposed changes, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said, “It’s going to cost drivers here and across the country hundreds of millions of dollars more at the pump.” While the Trump administration plans to seek public comment on the its proposal, as well as other options, including leaving the current standards in place, California and 16 other states have already filed a lawsuit to block any changes. One of the primary trade groups for the automobile industry, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, is urging California and the federal government to work out a compromise that would allow for continued increases. Trump proposes car-mileage rollback; states sue in protestThe Washington Post

 

The U.S. Climate Alliance, which counts as members the Governors from 16 states and one territory, released their policy options to “accelerate and scale up climate action.” The policy options include reducing super pollutants, modernizing the electricity grid, increasing energy efficiency standards set for appliances, requiring more carbon storage, and maximizing clean transportation options and financing for green energy projects. The member Governors (CA, CO, CT, DE, HI, MD, MA, MN, NJ, NY, NC, OR, PR, RI, VT, VA, and WA) plan to meet during the Global Climate Action Summit in September to discuss the Paris Agreement as well as other policy options to combat climate change.

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Energy Update: June 29, 2018

In the States

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo released the state’s Energy Storage Roadmap for speeding up the deployment of advanced energy storage projects, making New York State a national leader in promoting renewable energy and fighting climate change. The roadmap is intended to reduce the impacts of weather-related outages and maximize the benefits of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind by ensuring their availability during periods of peak demand. The plan sets a target of 1,500 megawatts of energy storage by 2025, an amount equivalent to the electricity demand of one-fifth of New York’s homes. According to Governor Cuomo, “This roadmap is the next step to not only grow our clean energy economy and create jobs, but to improve the resiliency of the grid to keep our power running in the face of extreme weather and other emergency situations.“ The New York Power Authority already has several projects underway, including a partnership with the State University of New York, to make it easier for the university system to utilize solar power during emergencies and times of peak demand through solar energy and battery storage systems at multiple campuses. State officials estimate that New York’s growing clean tech industry may potentially yield 30,000 new, well-paying jobs.  Governor Cuomo Announces New York Energy Storage Roadmap To Achieve Nation-Leading Target of 1,500 Megawatts By 2025 – LongIsland.com

 

PA – Governor Tom Wolf signed into law new legislation that provides low-cost, long-term funding for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation improvements at commercial and industrial locations. Senate Bill 234, which had bipartisan support, created the Pennsylvania Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, similar to programs in over 30 other states and the District of Columbia. Under this law, local governments choosing to participate in the program allow private lenders to providing financing for energy efficiency and clean energy improvements, which will be paid back through local assessments collected by these localities over a period of years and remitted back to the lenders. In a statement, Governor Wolf said, “This innovative financing mechanism will support the creation of new clean energy and energy efficiency projects throughout the commonwealth, while also enhancing property values and employments opportunities, while also lowering the cost of business.”  Governor Wolf Signs New Legislation to Support Low-Cost, Clean Energy Technology in Pennsylvania  – MyChesCo

 

National and Regional

Under a proposal being considered by the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources, states that don’t allow offshore oil and gas drilling in at least 50 percent of lease blocks designated for such activity along the Outer Continental Shelf would be required to pay the federal government for the lost production. Such payments would be calculated based on proven mineral potential, oil prices and lease-sale demand over the past five years. Conversely, states that agree to allow drilling in at least 50 percent or more of available lease blocks would receive some portion of bonus bids, rentals and royalties. This legislation follows an earlier decision by the Trump administration to open up most of the U.S. coastline to potential offshore oil and gas development. Five governors – Roy Cooper of North Carolina, Dan Malloy of Connecticut, Ralph Northam of Virginia, Phil Murphy of New Jersey, and Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island – sent a letter to House leadership opposing the measure. In stating their case, the Governors said, “We ask that Congress recognize and respect the rights of states to protect our waters without being held hostage by the combined effects of the Interior Department’s dangerous proposal and this misguided legislation.” Steep penalty for passing on drilling? House Panel considers idea Daily Press, Northam joins coastal governors in urging Congress to reject offshore drilling legislation  – Augusta Free Press

 

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by two California cities against a number of fossil fuel companies over the costs of climate change. In rejecting the suit, the judge, William Alsup of the Federal District Court of San Francisco, acknowledged the seriousness of the health risks that were raised, but deferred to the executive and legislative branches of government in finding solutions. In his decision, Judge Alsup wrote, “The problem deserves a solution on a more vast scale than can be supplied by a district judge or jury in a public nuisance case.” In bringing this action, the cities of Oakland and San Francisco had alleged that the energy companies’ activities had posed a public nuisance under state common law and must be required to pay for mitigation and abatements. A group of 15 state attorneys general, led by Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, had filed a friend of the court brief urging the dismissal of the lawsuit on the basis that Congress alone had authority to regulate interstate commerce. Judge Dismisses Suit Against Oil Companies Over Climate Change Costs  – The New York Times, State AGs Urge Court To Dismiss California Climate Lawsuit  – The Heartland Institute

 

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Energy Update: June 8, 2018

 

In the States

HI – Governor David Ige signed three energy- and climate-focused bills into law. The first bill, HB 2182, seeks to make Hawaii carbon neutral by 2045 and establishes a state task force on Greenhouse Gas Sequestration. The second bill, HB 1986, which was passed by the state legislature unanimously, crafts a framework for a carbon capturing, offsetting, and crediting program while the third bill, HB 2106, requires a sea level rise analysis in environmental impact statements before projects can be approved. “Climate change is real,” said Governor Ige, “and we’re seeing its impacts right now in our island state. Taken together, this suite of bills establishes policies and programs that acknowledge and address this reality.” Governor Ige signs three bills combating climate changeThe Honolulu Star-Advertiser

 

IL – Several bills focused on solar energy development, notably the standardization of requirements for solar installations on farmland, await Governor Bruce Rauner’s signature. One bill, SB 486, determines how property taxes are calculated for land with ground-mounted commercial solar systems while another measure, SB 2591, requires the same agricultural impact requirements for wind farms to apply to solar projects with 500 kilowatts or more of generation. Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, which worked on the bills, said “the trio of solar energy bills passed in Illinois by a strong bipartisan majority reflects the growing progress of solar energy development. There’s now sufficient development growing and moving forward that it makes sense to flesh out the policy framework.” Illinois bills for solar on farmland await Rauner actionEnergy News

 

NM – Testifying before a House subcommittee in support of four energy bills, Governor Susana Martinez urged  Congress to to reduce bureaucratic red tape in federal review of energy projects. Noting that oil and gas revenue are critical for funding education, healthcare, and other public services, the Governor pressed for streamlining the federal permitting process. According to Governor Martinez and Secretary of Energy, Minerals, and Naturals Resources Ken McQueen, who also testified, “the average time it takes federal land managers to approve a drilling permit application is 250 days, [which] can amount to a potential loss of $2 million a day for the state.” Two of the bills are sponsored by Representative Steve Pearce of New Mexico who is running succeed the Governor in this year’s gubernatorial election. “Each backlogged permit represents New Mexicans losing out on good paying jobs and rural communities losing out on economic growth. We need a solution that will streamline layers of bureaucratic requirements and expedite the approval process,” Martinez said. Red tape slows oil and gas projects, New Mexico Governor saysThe Salt Lake Tribune

 

NJ – Governor Phil Murphy signed a measure to subsidize three nuclear power plants in the Garden State. The legislation requires ratepayers to “spend more than $300 million a year to rescue [the plants] run by Exelon and Public Service Enterprise Group. The Governor also signed bills that mandate that half of the state’s electricity is generated from renewable energy sources by 2030. “To reach our clean energy goals, we will need to keep these plants open and safely operating,” Governor Murphy said at the bill signing. He also noted that New Jersey’s nuclear plants support almost 6,000 jobs. Nuclear plants play pivotal roles in New Jersey’s economy and environment, and Governor Murphy is to be commended for signing into law today a Zero Emissions Credit program to help preserve these critical energy assets,” said Maria Korsnick, president and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute. NJ Governor signs law to save nuclear plantsThe Washington Examiner

 

PA – Governor Tom Wolf announced his administration would more strictly enforce air pollution standards for the state’s natural gas industry, which has boomed in recent years thanks to the development of the Marcellus Shale’s natural gas deposits. The Wolf administration is planning, through the deployment of new permits, to require the exploration industry “to use more advanced equipment to reduce methane emissions and other air pollutants, control emissions from a broader array of sites, and check for leaks more frequently along pipelines and connections.” Applying to new well sits and compression, processing, and transmission stations along pipelines, the permits will take effect in August. “We are uniquely positioned to be a national leader in addressing climate change while supporting and ensuring responsible energy development, while protecting public health and our environment,” Governor Tom Wolf said. Pennsylvania sets methane requirements on natural gas wellsStateImpact Pennsylvania NPR

 

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