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Energy Update: May 29, 2020

In the States

MT: Governor Steve Bullock announced he is directing $5 million in federal funding from the CARES Act to expand assistance for the approximately 18,000 beneficiaries of Montana’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Funds will also be used for a new COVID-19-specific energy assistance program that will support approximately 6,000 additional households. The new funding will be automatically applied to LIHEAP beneficiaries’ electrical bills. Individuals not already receiving LIHEAP assistance will be able to apply to the new COVID-19 energy assistance program. “Montana families shouldn’t have to choose between putting food on the table and paying their utility bill,” Governor Bullock said in a press statement. “This funding is critical to keeping families afloat and will give peace of mind to thousands of current LIHEAP clients, and to thousands more Montanans who will now be eligible for the program.” Bullock expands energy assistance fundingNBC Montana

 

ND: As North Dakota’s Coal Creek Station plans for closure, Governor Doug Burgum and other leading public officials vowed to rescue the coal plant. Great River Energy, the Minnesota utility company that owns the plant, is closing Coal Creek Station as part of its plan to reduce its carbon footprint. Under the current plan, Coal Creek Station will be shut down in the latter half of 2022 and replaced by 1,100 megawatts (MW) of wind energy generation purchases. Governor Burgum called the decision to close the plant “disappointing” and noted that the Coal Creek plant is the state’s most advanced and efficient coal-fired plant. In a statement, the Governor said he and his administration are “more determined than ever to find a path forward for Coal Creek Station that preserves high-paying jobs,” and are “committed to bringing stakeholders to the table to evaluate all options and find opportunity in this uncertainty”. Governor Burgum’s request for reconsideration of the closure decision was joined by United States Senator Kevin Kramer (R-ND), who said state leaders “must look at all available options moving forward.” Great River Energy to exit coal, close 1.15 GW plant, but North Dakota governor vows rescueUtility Dive

 

NY: Governor Andrew Cuomo is calling for the construction of new power lines to deliver wind- and solar-generated electricity from Canada and upstate to the New York City metro area. He is also considering resuming a plan to deliver hydropower from Canada to New York that has been in suspension for several years. As coronavirus cases in New York begin to slow, Governor Cuomo hopes that these projects will help revitalize the state’s bruised economy. “Let’s run the transmission lines from Canada to New York City and get that power down here,” Governor Cuomo said. “Let’s stop talking and let’s start doing.” In addition to the economic benefits of these new energy infrastructure projects, Governor Cuomo is promoting these projects to help reach his previously-set clean energy goals. “We know we can generate renewable power upstate. We know we need it downstate,” Cuomo said. “Let’s build the cross-state transmission lines to develop that renewable market upstate.” Cuomo Calls for Canada-to-New York City Power Line to Deliver Clean EnergyFinancial Post

 

WY: In response to worsening revenue projections for Wyoming’s oil market, Governor Mark Gordon announced that his administration will continue advancing the Power Wyoming initiative. Launched in 2019, Power Wyoming is an expert-led task force to investigate future options for Wyoming’s energy-dependent economy. While Power Wyoming’s initial objective was to study the changes in the energy sector and identify potential economic dangers for the state as the market changed, Power Wyoming now will focus on adjusting to systemic declines in the value of coal and shifting the economy from reliance on oil in the midst of a pandemic-caused oil bust. Although Power Wyoming must seek solutions to the state’s impending fiscal challenges, Power Wyoming will not have any role in  deciding potential cuts to the state budget.. Power Wyoming to respond to big revenue losses from oil, gas and coal downturnKPVI Wyoming News

 

National

Twenty-two states joined by several large cities filed suit against the Trump administration over the Safer Affordable Fuel Efficient (SAFE) Vehicle rule. The new rule replaces an Obama-era mandate requiring automakers to increase fuel economy across their vehicle lines by five percent annually, instead requiring manufacturers to only achieve a 1.5% increase in fuel economy per year. The suing states and cities contend that the SAFE rule endangers public health, is unlawful, and was justified by poor scientific analysis, while the Trump administration argues that the science is sound and that the new rule could create considerable savings for consumers. This lawsuit comes as the latest escalation in an ongoing conflict between Democratic-led states and the Trump administration; until now, Democratic Governors and Attorneys General have used the courts to fight the Trump administration’s push to loosen some environmental regulations. This major lawsuit is likely to be decided by the Supreme Court, and could have significant consequences for the plaintiff states and cities who have enforced tighter automotive pollution standards than those required by the federal government. Battle between Trump and California over car pollution heads to courtThe Los Angeles Times

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Energy Update: May 8, 2020

In the States

CA: The California Independent Petroleum Association (CIPA), a trade organization representing approximately 500 oil and natural gas producers, is calling on Governor Gavin Newsom to relax his oversight efforts of the fossil fuel industry. In his initial 2020-21 state budget, Governor Newsom proposed increasing staff at the California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) and several new regulations for testing oil wells. CIPA is requesting that Governor Newsom scale back the staff increase and delay or change 11 of the oil well testing requirements. "What is at stake is much greater than the viability of local production, tens of thousands of well-paid employees, hundreds of service and supply companies, lost state and local tax revenues, but also a destabilizing of California's energy supply," CIPA chief executive officer Rock Zierman said in a letter to state regulators. Conversely, environmental groups in California, including the Last Chance Alliance, urged CalGEM to move forward with Governor Newsom’s plan. “The simple truth is that CalGEM is currently dangerously understaffed," read the Last Chance Alliance’s letter to the Governor. While Governor Newsom’s budget plan is expected to change as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is unclear how any changes might impact his proposal to increase oversight of fossil fuels. California Oil Producers Fighting Newsom Proposal for Stronger Industry OversightKQED via News Break

 

LA: Governor John Bel Edwards directed the Louisiana Department of Revenue to delay collecting severance taxes in an effort to offer economic relief to Louisiana’s oil and gas industry. No severance taxes for any industry will be collected before June 25, according to the Governor’s order. U.S. Representative Clay Higgins, who had initially asked for the severance tax suspension, said he believed the move would help preserve key oil and gas jobs. Members of the oil and gas industry cheered the Governor’s announcement. “The decision to delay severance tax payments and provide temporary relief to the industry is a welcome first step,” said Louisiana Oil and Gas Association President Gifford Briggs. Oil and gas stakeholders are hoping for additional help and Congressman Higgins and some other members of the Louisiana congressional delegation have asked the Trump administration to consider  royalty relief and the suspension of government-sponsored coastal drilling lawsuits. Coronavirus: Gov. John Bel Edwards delays collection of severance tax to help oil and gasUSA Today

 

PA: Governor Tom Wolf rejected a request from more than 50 Republican and Democratic lawmakers in the state legislature to withdraw Pennsylvania from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). In their request, the lawmakers asked Governor Wolf to rescind his executive order directing the Commonwealth’s Environmental Quality Board to propose RGGI-compliant carbon dioxide restrictions. These new restrictions, the lawmakers argued, would lead to a drastic reduction of coal-fired power generation in Pennsylvania and a “significant” electricity rate increase for consumers without showing a similarly significant decrease in carbon dioxide emissions. The lawmakers also argued that rescinding the executive order would end debate over the RGGI, a major point of contention among legislators, and thus free up more time for the legislature to focus on recovery from the personal and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, Governor Wolf’s press secretary Lyndsay Kensinger stated “the administration is not considering suspending the implementation of RGGI in Pennsylvania.” Governor rejects withdrawal from RGGIThe Indiana Gazette

 

WA: A group of environmental, labor, consumer, and social activist organizations in Washington State are requesting that Governor Jay Inslee further extend his moratorium preventing utility shutoffs. Governor Inslee’s initial extension prevented utility shutoffs until May 4, but the coalition of organizations argue that the moratorium should be continued “as long as needed”. In a letter to Governor Inslee, the groups noted that hundreds of thousands of low-income Washington households are depending on the moratorium to continue having access to essential services, and encouraged the Governor to introduce a package of policies “that expands low-income energy assistance funds, increases eligibility thresholds, reduces barriers to access, and encourages utilities to adopt more flexible credit and collection practices.” The Governor’s office has not yet responded to the latest request. Activist groups to Washington governor: Extend moratorium on service cutoffs by utilitiesTimes Union

 

National

In response to a letter sent by Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley and five other U.S. Senators, the Trump administration committed to changing the rules governing renewable energy tax credits affecting wind farm owners. Although the administration did not specify exactly how the rules would change, the Trump administration is expected to extend the amount of time wind farmers are able to claim credits for wind projects that started construction in 2016 or 2017. The extra time is critically important for many wind farmers who have seen their ongoing projects stalled by supply chain interruptions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We look forward to further detail on this critical issue, and extend our appreciation to the Treasury Department for this important step, which will help the renewable sector continue as a key economic driver through this downturn,” American Council on Renewable Energy President Greg Wetstone said in a statement. Trump administration agrees to help wind farms with subsidy tweakReuters

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Energy Update: April 17, 2020

In the States

Governors Greg Abbott of Texas, Gary Herbert of Utah, Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma, Mark Gordon of Wyoming, and John Bel Edwards of Louisiana wrote EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler requesting a general waiver of renewable fuel standard compliance. The Governors are seeking this waiver to exempt their states from the Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO), a requirement on states’ refiners to have a set amount of renewable fuel (i.e. ethanol) mixed with their fuel supply or purchase equivalent credits. The Governors argue that the RVO adds to the economic burden their states’ refining sectors face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and should be temporarily waived in the interest of their states’ economic health. “As our country comes to grips with this national emergency, continuing to implement the current RVO imposes an added obligation that would 'severely' harm [the refining sector], and consequently harm the economy of the states and the nation," said the request from the Governors. Opponents of the Governors’ proposal, however, argue that reducing the RVO would pit biofuel-producing states against fossil-fuel-producing states and harm job growth in some areas of rural America. 5 States Ask EPA to Loosen Renewable Fuel ObligationsLaw360

 

OR: A new law in Oregon incentivizes the production of biogas, a renewable form of natural gas produced by scrubbing impurities from the by-products of landfills, wastewater treatment plants, dairies, and farms. Under the law, utilities will be permitted to reinvest five percent of their revenue in the upfront equipment costs of biogas production and will be allowed to recoup the cost of those investments from ratepayers. Oregon’s largest gas utility, NW Natural Gas, announced its plan to invest $30 million per year in biogas production with the goal of replacing five percent of all fossil fuels with biogas by 2024. While the up-front costs of production are high, proponents of the law hope that supporting biogas investments will “tip the market” to biogas production in the long-term. Experts within the state’s Department of Energy estimate that new biogas production could offset 10% to 20% of the state’s current natural gas use. Under new law, Oregon utilities hope to prove potential of renewable natural gasEnergy News Network

 

VA: Governor Ralph Northam signed the Virginia Clean Economy Act, a bill containing several new standards and requirements intended to advance the Commonwealth’s clean energy goals. The law establishes renewable portfolio standards for two large electricity producers, Dominion Energy Virginia and Appalachian power, requiring them to be 100% carbon-free by 2045 and 2050, respectively. The law also mandates the closure of almost every coal-fired plant in the Commonwealth by the end of 2024. If they are not compliant with the new measure, penalties will be imposed, and a portion of those penalties will fund job training and renewable energy projects in poorer communities. The law also aims to improve energy efficiency, creating a new pilot program intended to reduce energy costs for low-income customers. "These new clean energy laws propel Virginia to leadership among the states in fighting climate change,” Governor Northam said. “They advance environmental justice and help create clean energy jobs. In Virginia, we are proving that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand-in-hand.” Governor Enacts Legislation for Clean EnergyWDBJ 7 News

 

WY: In response to recent volatility in the fossil fuel markets, Governor Mark Gordon signed HB 243, a bill temporarily reducing state mineral taxes, also known as a severance tax, under certain market conditions. Under the law, Wyoming’s mineral tax will automatically fall by two percent when the 12-month rolling average price of oil falls below $50 per barrel and the 12-month rolling average price of natural gas falls below $2.95 per thousand cubic feet. However, the law is effective July 1, and eligible producers can only benefit from the two percent reduction for six months of production, followed by a one percent reduction for the next six months. “House Bill 243 is the least we can do in the worst of times,” said Randall Luthi, the chief energy advisor to Governor Gordon. Some energy industry advocates hope the federal and state governments will take more steps to ease the ongoing economic pain energy producers are experiencing. Governor Approves Mineral Tax Break for Oil and Gas IndustryCasper Star Tribune

 

National

The clean energy sector is experiencing heavy jobs losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a new analysis by the BW Research Partnership for E2, a national nonpartisan group of business leaders interested in clean energy, more than 106,000 clean energy jobs were lost in March as a result of the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. These job losses amount to a three percent contraction for the sector, all but erasing the clean energy industry’s growth in 2019. “What these numbers tell us is that clean energy workers are a huge and important part of America’s workforce – and they are hurting badly,” the E2 advocacy group’s executive director Bob Keefe said in a statement. In light of these heavy losses, environmental advocates and renewable energy stakeholders wrote to Congress to ask for additional economic support, calling for the extension of critical tax incentives and for a directly paid tax credit to be introduced for standalone energy storage. 106K Clean Energy Jobs Lost in March: AnalysisThe Hill, US Clean Energy Groups Call on Congress for Help during COVID-19 PandemicEnergy Storage News

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Energy Update: March 27, 2020

In the States

CA: Pacific Gas and Energy (PG&E) reached an agreement with Governor Gavin Newsom over the California wildfires caused by its equipment. The agreement finalizes PG&E’s bankruptcy plan, preventing PG&E’s sale and allowing the company to benefit from a fund that will help utilities pay claims for future wildfires. The deal requires half of PG&E’s new board to include California residents selected by an independent executive recruiter with the Governor’s approval. PG&E also agreed to oversight of its finances by the state and a four-year suspension of its dividend. Per a previous agreement, PG&E will pay out $13.5 billion to wildfire victims, half of which will be paid in PG&E stock. “Through California’s unprecedented intervention in [PG&E’s] bankruptcy, we secured a totally transformed board and leadership structure for the company, real accountability tools to ensure safety and reliability and billions more in contributions from shareholders to ensure safety upgrades are achieved,” said Governor Newsom. PG&E Reaches Agreement with Governor, Clearing Bankruptcy HurdleThe New York Times

 

OR: Governor Kate Brown issued an executive order updating the state’s carbon emissions goals and directing state agencies to take action on reducing greenhouse gases. Under the new executive order, Oregon will aim to reduce carbon emissions 45% compared to 1990 levels by 2035, and 80% compared to 1990 levels by 2050. The order also directs agencies to modify building codes to prioritize efficiency and to focus on assisting populations vulnerable to climate change impacts. Other key provisions of the order include tighter standards on fuel, expanded oversight of electric utilities, stricter energy efficiency standards for household appliances, and a greater focus on developing electric transportation. “This executive order is extensive and thorough, taking the boldest actions available to lower greenhouse gas emissions under current state laws,” Governor Brown said in her press statement. The executive order, however, is not universally supported; both energy industry lobbyists and Republican legislators have indicated they intend to legally challenge the order. Governor Brown’s office said they are confident the order is “bulletproof”. Gov. Kate Brown Orders State Action On Climate ChangeOregon Public Broadcasting

 

 IN: Governor Eric Holcomb signed a bill that would help coal-fired electricity plants temporarily remain open and ease the transition of coal workers displaced by the changing energy market. House Bill 1414 requires electric utilities to provide six months of advance notice if they propose a plant closure, sale, or transfer not included in their long-term plan on file with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC). After notice is provided, the IURC must review the closure and hold a hearing on “the reasonableness of the planned retirement, sale, or transfer” of the plant. Hearings will assess the impact of the action. HB 1414 also prioritizes job retraining through the state’s Department of Workforce Development for coal-industry workers affected by lay-offs. Ind. Governor signs bill pausing coal plant retirementsS&P Global Market Intelligence

 

WI: Governor Tony Evers named a new member to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission. Tyler Huebner, an electrical engineer and former employee of the Wisconsin Department of Administration’s Division of Energy Services, will replace Mike Huebsch, an appointee under former Governor Scott Walker. The appointment will give Governor Evers a majority of seats on the three-person commission responsible for approving large utility investments and setting energy rates. Utilities and consumer advocates cheered Governor Evers’s pick. Bill Skewes, executive director of the Wisconsin Utilities Association, praised Huebner’s consensus-making abilities. Tom Content, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board, said he believed Huebner will “push to keep the focus squarely on making sure that customers aren’t overpaying for their utility services”. Clean energy and climate advocates were also pleased; Clean Wisconsin president and CEO Mark Redsten said “[Huebner] undoubtedly brings a unique perspective that will keep economic and environmental impacts of commission decisions in mind”. Tony Evers appoints clean energy advocate Tyler Huebner to Public Service CommissionWisconsin State Journal

 

The novel coronavirus is delaying multiple state legislatures from acting on energy initiatives. At least 22 state legislatures have suspended or postponed their sessions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, stalling pending energy legislation in Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan and Minnesota. In Colorado, Governor Jared Polis’s goal of achieving 100% renewable energy by 2040 relies on timely passage of several related bills covering issues like transportation, building, and renewable natural gas, which are now in danger of being indefinitely postponed. In Illinois, Governor J.B. Pritzker, climate change activists and utility advocates are eager to advance the Clean Energy Jobs Act, a broad energy bill that would facilitate development of nuclear and renewable energy. In Maryland, bills concerning energy savings for low-income customers and climate change are stuck. Michigan faces a delay for two of its bills pertaining to solar energy and climate change. Finally, in Minnesota, a suspension of all committee hearings has halted crucial debates on “carbon-free” energy development. As many Governors have pledged to make responses to COVID-19 their first priority, other developments in energy will likely continue to be postponed. How COVID-19 is impacting 5 state energy legislation effortsUtility Drive

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Energy Update: March 6, 2020

In the States

CO: Governor Jared Polis named his Director of Policy and Research, Wade Buchanan, to head the Office of Just Transition, a new office created to help workers and communities adapt as coal plants and mines close. Buchanan’s appointment comes as the latest step in Governor Polis’s plan to meet 100% of Colorado’s energy needs from renewable sources by 2040. In accordance with legislation passed in 2019, the Office of Just Transition will write a plan that lays out assistance to coal industry employees and grants for coal-dependent communities to diversify their economies. The office is expected to issue a draft plan by July, with the final plan due by the end of the year. “As we work toward achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2040, we need to make sure that Coloradans in coal-dependent communities have the tools they need to thrive in today and tomorrow’s economy,” Governor Polis said. Governor’s policy director to head office helping workers, communities transition away from coalThe Denver Post

 

NM: Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed three bills focused on accelerating the development of renewable energy in New Mexico. One bill brings back an income tax credit of up to $6,000 for the installation of solar panels or thermal solar water heaters. Another bill commissions a grid modernization project and establishes a grant for non-utility projects that help improve grid resiliency and expedite the state’s transition to clean electricity. The third bill eliminates some taxes on utility-scale electrical transition projects, which effectively provides an incentive for new wind and solar developments and makes it easier for New Mexico to export renewable energy. “Thanks to the leadership of these bill sponsors and the support of the Legislature, we have additional tools to meet [climate change] head-on. By making solar power more accessible to New Mexicans, addressing our electric grid, and establishing tools to help expand the transmission infrastructure, we are ensuring that New Mexico is on the right track – and creating more jobs, reducing emissions, and saving New Mexicans money on their electric bills,” Governor Lujan Grisham said in a press release. New Mexico Governor Signs Solar Energy, Grid Update BillsUS News and Gov. Lujan Grisham signs bills expanding renewable energy, updating green infrastructure in New MexicoOffice of the Governor

 

NY: Governor Andrew Cuomo is facing opposition from local government advocates over his administration’s plan to speed up the siting process for renewable energy power plants. Under the Governor’s plan, which was included in his budget proposal, a new Office of Renewable Energy would handle applications for industrial wind and solar projects. This office would streamline the approvals process and expedite consideration of applications and the issuance of approvals. Opponents of his proposal argue that the new office will force projects on communities over local objections. They also contend the Governor’s plan would effectively change the character of many upstate towns that would be disrupted by industrial-scale energy generation projects. In response, Governor Cuomo said the new office will help New York address climate change more effectively and will attract new investments and jobs to the Empire State. “Climate change is the existential challenge of our time,” said Governor Cuomo, “And New York State has risen to the occasion by enacting the strongest laws in the nation to protect and preserve our environment.” Cuomo power site plan sparks controversyAdirondack Daily Enterprise

 

UT: Governor Gary Herbert continued his promotion of Tier 3 fuels and is considering a tax break for a Utah refiner that is in the process of transitioning to the less-polluting gas. Tier 3 fuels are highly-refined vehicle fuels that contain less pollutants and reduce vehicle emissions by up to 20%. Governor Herbert has promoted Tier 3 fuels since in-state refiners began producing them, appearing at gas stations offering the fuels and urging drivers to make the switch. In his latest move to promote Tier 3 fuels, Governor Herbert is considering proposals from the legislature to extend a 2017 sales tax exemption for BigWest, a Utah energy producer needing additional time and resources to transition some of their plants to make Tier 3 fuels. One proposal would extend tax cuts should BigWest demonstrate “satisfactory progress” to developing Tier 3 fuels available by 2025, while another proposal focused on accountability would extend the tax breaks provided BigWest meets a reporting requirement. Proposal would give tax break to Utah refiners slow to make cleaner fuelThe Salt Lake Tribune

 

National

Federal lawmakers are trying to reach a compromise on a proposed amendment that risks stalling the American Energy Innovation Act (AEIA), a bipartisan energy package. If passed, the AEIA will modernize American energy laws with over 50 energy-related measures designed to increase investment in American energy markets, strengthen national security by protecting strategic energy assets, and spur research and investment in clean energy to protect the climate. While the legislation has strong support, an amendment that would require states to phase out the use of hydrofluorocarbons threatens its progress.  A bipartisan group of Senators are seeking to make minor changes to the amendment so the bill can come to a vote. However, some Senators are considering offering other amendments which could further slow AEIA’s progress. Lawmakers weigh walking back amendment stalling energy bill votesThe Hill

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Energy Update: February 14, 2020

In the States

IL: In his State of the State address, Governor J.B. Pritzker called on the state legislature to enact clean energy legislation that prioritizes environmental and consumer protections. One such proposal being considered in Springfield, the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA), would require Illinois to meet 100% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2050, close all in-state coal and natural gas plants by 2030, and offer incentives to electrify public transportation systems. The bill also creates programs to help workers in the fossil fuel industry transition to jobs in renewable energy. Although supporters say the CEJA will generate economic growth while protecting the environment, some critics have expressed concerns that the bill could raise costs for businesses. “Urgent action is needed, but let me be clear: the old ways of negotiating energy legislation are over. It’s time to support consumers and climate first,” said Governor Pritzker. “I am not going to sign an energy bill written by the utility companies.” Could Springfield Pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act this Session? - PBS WTTW Chicago

 

ND: Governor Doug Burgum, in his State of the State address, touted North Dakota’s strong energy industry and described his vision for the future of energy production in the state. Governor Burgum described his approach as “innovation over regulation,” and said he intends to develop incentives to attract the petrochemical industry, expand gas-fired electricity generation, and invest in carbon sequestration technology. While no specific pieces of legislation were mentioned, Governor Burgum’s leadership will likely influence Republican-led legislative efforts in the months to come. Gov. Burgum champions North Dakota's progress, potential in 2020 State of the State addressThe Bismarck Tribune

 

NJ: Governor Phil Murphy released his sweeping energy plan for the Garden State that centers on a commitment to fight climate change. The 290-page document describes the Murphy administration’s plan to cut carbon emissions and meet 50% of New Jersey’s energy needs from clean sources by 2030, rising to 100% by 2050. Notably, the plan defines clean energy sources as being “carbon-neutral”, and therefore allows for natural gas and nuclear power plants to continue producing electricity indefinitely, provided those plants offset whatever carbon they emit. However, the plan also prescribes strict standards for new building projects in the state; Governor Murphy said that the state will not approve any building project that “does not align with our broader efforts to combat climate change… [unless] amended”. Governor Murphy’s plan also lists a range of strategies for achieving its  environmental goals, including expanding the usage of electric vehicles, accelerating the growth of the state’s renewable energy industry, tightening energy efficiency standards, and expanding the clean energy economy in the state. Murphy just unveiled N.J.’s master plan for energy and made a big pledge to fight climate changeNJ.com

 

WY: During this year’s State of the State address, Governor Mark Gordon encouraged legislators to support policies designed to protect Wyoming’s coal, oil, and gas industries. The Governor   proposed a temporary reduction in severance taxes on the natural gas industry, changes to the payment schedule for Wyoming’s mineral production taxes, and increased exploration of carbon capture and sequestration technologies. “We [in the State of Wyoming] produce energy better, more safely and with more attention to the environment than anywhere else on the planet, yet our industries are still discriminated against, maligned and decried as dead. Well, not on my watch!” Governor Gordon exclaimed in his speech. Governor Gordon also called upon legislators in ensure that the next carbon capture facility in the United States be built in Wyoming. “I ask for your support of legislation requiring all new electric generation capacity produced in Wyoming to be reliable, consistent, and that a reasonable portion of it be net carbon negative,” Gordon said. Gordon outlines "window of opportunity" for energy, education in State of the State addressWyoming Tribune Eagle

 

National

President Donald Trump announced the nominations of new deputy chiefs for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE). Douglas Benevento will be nominated as the EPA’s deputy administrator, and Mark Menezes will be nominated to be DOE’s Deputy Energy Secretary. Douglas Benevento is a former employee of Xcel Energy, a gas and electric utility, and a former lobbyist for Colorado Interstate Gas. Before his nomination, Mr. Benevento held various roles at the EPA, most recently the role of Associate Deputy Administrator. Mark Menezes is a former executive with Berkshire Hathaway Energy, and also lobbied for energy companies. Before his nomination, Mr. Menezes served as Under Secretary of Energy. Trump announces nominations of deputy chiefs for EPA, Energy DepartmentThe Hill

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Energy Update: January 24, 2020

In the States

FL: Governor Ron DeSantis announced that the state intends to buy a 20,000-acre plot of land in the Everglades to prevent oil drilling there. If completed, the deal will be the largest land acquisition made by the state in a decade. “[The proposed purchase] will permanently save the land from oil production. With this acquisition, there will be nearly 600,000 acres of wetlands in Water Conservation Area Three that will be protected by public ownership for recreation and restoration,” Governor DeSantis said in a statement. Environmental groups active in Florida praised the Governor for his plans to go through with the land deal and its impact on the Everglades’ restoration and preservation. Florida to buy 20,000 acres in Everglades, largest purchase in 10 yearsTampa Bay Times

 

NY: Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a $3 billion bond act that would provide funding for a variety of water quality and environmental preservation projects. This proposal is titled The Restore Mother Nature Bond Act, and if approved by voters, would  fund projects such as the creation of artificial reefs in the Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean, renewable energy production, and a new “conservation corridors program” to restore habitats for fish and wildlife. Additionally, the plan would  expand infrastructure for electric-powered public transportation in New York City and surrounding areas. Governor Cuomo hopes that this substantial influx of cash will not only help the environment, but also boost sport fishing tourism and commercial fishing in the state. Governor Cuomo’s budget proposal, to be released later this month, will provide more details on how money from the bond act will be used, and how he plans to address the state’s current $6.1 billion deficit. “It is our responsibility to leave our planet cleaner and greener for future generations,” said Governor Cuomo. “We can and we will start this year.” Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposes $3B environmental bond actNewsday

 

RI: Governor Gina Raimondo signed an executive order directing the state’s Office of Energy Resources (OER) to create a plan for the state to fulfill 100% of its electricity demand with renewable energy by 2030. This new target is 10 to 20 years ahead of targets adopted by most other states with the same goal. Governor Raimondo plans to meet the order’s target by taking a multi-sector approach, focusing heavily on more solar power, wind power, and energy storage projects. Even with a dramatic shift towards renewables, the Governor’s goal could prove to be challenging since Rhode Island currently generates more of its electricity from natural gas than any other state (as of 2018, Rhode Island generated 93% of its energy from natural gas). Still, Governor Raimondo has plans to continue announcing new renewable energy projects throughout the year (as she did in 2019) and will be expecting to receive a “specific and implementable” action plan from OER by December 31, 2020. Rhode Island governor wants state to be fastest to 100% renewable energyUtility Drive; Rhode Island Governor aims for 100% renewable power by 2030 - Reuters

 

VT: In his annual budget address, Governor Phil Scott proposed grid optimization and clean transportation investments to the tune of $7 million. Among Governor Scott’s proposed investments are a new refundable research and development tax credit for local grid optimization, property tax structural reforms for storage and optimization projects, and elimination of the corporate income tax for existing and new companies that specialize in grid optimization. The Governor’s proposed budget would also create a $2 million capital fund to support grid optimization start-ups and allocate an additional $250,000 for promising technology pilot programs. Finally, $3 million of the proposed funds will go towards incentivizing electric vehicle use and expanding electric vehicle charging infrastructure, with the goal of cutting pollution and transportation costs. Gov. Scott proposes grid optimization and clean transportation investments to lower energy costs, support local climate economyVT Digger

 

National

In response to ongoing concerns about how climate change will affect investors’ views of companies’ long-term prospects, Lawrence Fink, the CEO of investment giant BlackRock, announced a plan to drop coal company holdings from its portfolios. According to a statement from the company, BlackRock will remove shares of all companies that generate more than 25% of their revenue from selling electricity-producing “thermal” coal. Based on this criterion, some big coal-producing companies could still escape BlackRock’s divestiture. Companies generating revenue from metallurgical coal, used to make steel, will still be included in BlackRock’s investment portfolio. Other large coal players close to or just under the 25% revenue threshold may also find ways to tweak their business plans to continue receiving investor dollars. Some big coal players may escape BlackRock’s planned divestmentMarketWatch

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Energy Update: January 3, 2020

In the States

MD: Governor Larry Hogan announced more details of his proposed clean energy legislation, the Clean and Renewable Energy Standard (CARES). The CARES was first announced in May 2019 and aims to improve upon the Clean Energy Jobs Act. The bill would reaffirm some requirements from the Clean Energy Jobs Act, most notably, the requirement of generating 50% of all energy for the state from renewable sources by 2030 increasing to 100% by 2040, while also offering Clean Energy Resource Credits to Maryland facilities that generate electricity from renewable sources as an incentive to meet those requirements. Despite aiming to spark growth in green power, CARES has come under fire from some environmentalists because of its controversial proposal to make nuclear power plants and some natural gas facilities eligible for Clean Energy Resource Credits. These environmentalists argue that concerns about nuclear plant safety, responsible nuclear waste disposal, and the hydraulic fracturing process used to produce natural gas should make the facilities ineligible for the credits. Maryland Gov. Hogan promotes energy plan, including nuclear power to reach goals for renewable sourcesThe Baltimore Sun

 

NH: Governor Chris Sununu announced he will withdraw New Hampshire from the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI), a Northeastern multi-state agreement to implement a gas tax to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. This announcement came only hours after the TCI released a draft tax policy. Governor Sununu cited concerns about higher costs for New Hampshire drivers as the reason for his decision. “I will not force Granite Staters to pay more for their gas just to subsidize other states’ crumbling infrastructure,” said Governor Sununu. “New Hampshire is already taking substantial steps to curb our carbon emissions, and this initiative, if enacted, would institute a new gas tax by up to 17 cents per gallon while only achieving minimal results.” Supporters of the TCI said that this decision, while disappointing, will not slow TCI’s efforts moving forward. TCI still plans to release a final memorandum of understanding by spring of 2020 and launch by 2022.  New Hampshire opts not to go with regional climate initiativeThe Boston Herald

 

VA: Members of Governor Ralph Northam’s recently created Clean Energy Advisory Board are exploring financing options to make solar energy generation more viable for low-to-moderate income households. The board is considering a renewable energy loans or rebates for eligible households that will significantly reduce these households’ “energy burden”, or the ratio of a household’s expenditure on electricity to total household income. In so doing, the board aims to increase the propagation of renewable energy technology in Virginia while putting more money back into the pockets of low-to-moderate income Virginians. “Some families here have to make the decision between heating their homes in winter [and] buying food or medicine,” said Chelsea Barnes, an advocate active with the Clean Energy Advisory Board. “If we can reduce the burden of high bills through energy efficiency and solar, we can help lift people out of poverty.” Virginia board looks to bolster solar opportunity for low-income residentsEnergy News Network

 

WY: Governor Mark Gordon announced that he will allocate additional funds to the Wyoming Public Service Commission for an investigative study of Rocky Mountain Power’s Integrated Resource Plan. The plan initially came under investigation for its controversial proposal to retire two-thirds of the utility company’s coal power facilities, including three major plants in the state. Lawmakers opposed to the plan argue that it amounts to an attack on Wyoming’s crucial coal industry, but proponents of the plan argue that it will drive down costs in the long-run and help spur statewide growth in renewable energy. “Because the IRP filed by Rocky Mountain Power will significantly impact the state of Wyoming and her workers, it is critical that we have a full understanding of how the company reached its conclusions, and whether the analysis that was conducted was correct, thorough and unbiased,” Governor Gordon said in a statement. Gov. Mark Gordon backs investigation into Wyoming’s leading utility companyCasper Star Tribune

 

National

In light of recent major coal company bankruptcies, the United States Senate passed the Bipartisan American Miners Act of 2019. The bill, introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senator Shelley More Capito (R-WV) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), secures funding for the 1974 Miner Pension Plan to prevent its insolvency. The bill will also expand health care benefits provided under McConnell’s HELP for Coal Miners Health Care Act of 2017 to miners whose benefits were jeopardized by the recent bankruptcies. “Our coal miners made a commitment to our country, and now it is our turn to uphold the commitment we made to them in 1946 by securing their hard-earned pensions and healthcare,” said Senator Joe Manchin in a press release. “I personally told President Trump and my Congressional colleagues that this was a top priority for me and for thousands of Kentuckians in need. I’m proud the Senate approved legislation today including our Bipartisan American Miners Act to help Kentucky coal miners, retirees, and their families,” said Majority Leader McConnell. U.S. Senate passes McConnell bill protecting coal miner pensionsCBS WKYT

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Energy Update: December 13, 2019

In the States

NH: Governor Chris Sununu signed an executive order creating four advisory boards that will pave the way for future offshore wind energy development in New Hampshire. The advisory boards will focus on issue areas that include fisheries and endangered species, workforce and economic development, offshore industries and infrastructure, and power transmission. The advisory boards will report to a task force within the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. The order also directs several government agencies to study and report on the effect of future offshore wind developments on reducing greenhouse gasses and opportunities to attract offshore wind supply chain operations. “New Hampshire recognizes the tremendous potential that offshore wind power has to offer. With today’s executive order, New Hampshire will ensure that this is an open and transparent process involving diverse stakeholders to balance existing offshore uses with a new source of clean energy,” Governor Sununu said in a statement. New Hampshire governor signs order to prepare for offshore wind developmentPortland Press Herald

 

NM: Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is calling upon the New Mexico Supreme Court to intervene in a legal battle between her administration and the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) over the implementation of Governor Grisham’s newly passed keystone environmental legislation, the Energy Transition Act (ETA). The Grisham administration argues that the ETA—which phases out nonrenewable energy by offering millions in financial assistance to shut down nonrenewable power generation sites-- must be applied to finance the immediate closure of a coal-fired power plant in San Juan. The PRC, however, wishes to delay implementation of the ETA by closely analyzing every aspect of the plan and delaying the shutdown of the San Juan plant until the complex financing mechanisms in the ETA can be further reviewed. “The ETA is the law of the land. The Legislature passed it, I signed it, and it should be applied to all PRC filings made since the effective date. Unwarranted delays are hurting New Mexico workers and communities,” Governor Grisham argued in a press release. More than 30 witnesses and experts will be called to testify at hearings in the case, and a recommendation by hearing examiners to the full commission is expected in the spring. Dysfunction at the PRC puts New Mexico’s clean energy plan at riskThe New Mexico Political Report

 

NV: Governor Steve Sisolak signed an executive order requiring state agencies to create plans for reducing greenhouse gases across multiple sectors of the economy. State agencies will be required to submit a climate strategy report to the Governor’s office by December 1, 2020. The Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is also directed to study and annually report on greenhouse gas emissions reduction strategies to reach the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement. These efforts will contribute to the state’s commitment to have 50% of its total energy needs met by renewable sources by the year 2030. “The goals we’ve set are high and it will take aggressive steps to address the issue,” Governor Sisolak said at a press conference. “Under my administration, we’re taking the urgent action that climate change truly demands.” Nevada governor orders plans for economy-wide carbon reductionsUtility Drive

 

WY: The administration of Governor Mark Gordon, the University Of Wyoming School Of Energy Resources, the U.S. Department of Energy, and Rocky Mountain Power will partner to conduct a joint study exploring the implementation of carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCSU) technologies in Wyoming’s coal-fired power plants. For the study, data will be collected at two coal power plants in Wyoming – the Naughton plant in Kemmerer and the Dave Johnston power plant near Glenrock. “Wyoming is serious about using carbon capture technologies to keep our vital coal plants contributing to the economy into the future,” Governor Gordon said in a press release. “This is an all hands-on-deck effort. The coal industry, utility companies, the Legislature, the University Of Wyoming, county commissioners and my office will continue to find ways to keep Wyoming a major supplier of energy.” Wyoming Ramps Up Carbon Capture Research EffortsCounty 17 News

 

National

The United States Senate confirmed Dan Brouillette as the next U.S. Secretary of Energy in a 70-15 vote. Brouillette served as the Department of Energy’s deputy secretary since 2017, and has worked under the administration of former President George W. Bush. Between the Bush and Trump administrations, Brouillette worked as an executive at the United Services Automobile Association (USAA) and the Ford Motor Company. Some controversy already surrounds Brouillette as he enters his new role; he has faced criticism from Democrats who argued that Brouillette did not give sufficiently complete answers about his knowledge of former Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s dealings with Ukraine. Dan Brouillette confirmed as next secretary of the U.S. Department of EnergyCBS News

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Energy Update: November 22, 2019

In the States and Territories

NC: Governor Roy Cooper announced the state will move forward with studies of the potential for offshore wind power generation that have been stalled since June due to unresolved state budget issues. The studies will analyze the state’s potential to manufacture, ship, and service offshore wind turbine components and will pave the way for future development of offshore wind power in North Carolina. “We know we need to move to a clean energy future in order to fight climate change, but we also know that clean energy creates so many good-paying jobs for the people of North Carolina,” Governor Cooper said. As many states, mostly in the Northeast, are rapidly expanding their offshore wind energy industry, Governor Cooper hopes that developments in his own state will “drag offshore wind development to the South.” North Carolina will move forward with offshore wind study, governor saysEnergyNews.us

 

NJ: Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order raising New Jersey’s offshore wind energy goal from 3,500 megawatts of offshore wind-generated electricity by 2030 to 7,500 megawatts by 2035. Governor Murphy hopes this will help meet the State’s objective of generating 50% of its total energy from renewable sources by 2030 and a 100% clean economy by 2050. Murphy intends to involve key stakeholders, including the commercial and recreational fishing industries and clean energy experts. “Our offshore wind industry will generate billions of dollars in investments in New Jersey’s future that will, in turn, create thousands of jobs. We have an immense opportunity to maximize our potential and make this region – and, specifically New Jersey – the nexus of the global offshore wind industry,” Governor Murphy said. Governor Murphy Signs Executive Order to Increase Offshore Wind Goal to 7,500 Megawatts by 2035InsiderNJ

 

PR: Governor Wanda Vazquez announced GridMod, a $20 billion plan to modernize and decentralize Puerto Rico’s power grid over a 10-year period. GridMod was jointly developed by federal, local and private sector energy experts and focuses on repair and reconstruction measures that will strengthen the grid and ensure its resilience against natural disasters like the hurricanes that struck Puerto Rico in 2017. The plan recommends a decentralized electricity network that incorporates renewable energy and micro-networks to improve resiliency, reliability and performance during natural disasters. “The GridMod Plan will provide the safe, modern and resilient electricity network that our communities need and deserve,” said Governor Vazquez. Puerto Rico unveils $20 billion plan to revamp island’s power gridReuters

 

WY: Governor Mark Gordon introduced a new initiative called Power Wyoming to state lawmakers. The initiative will study the economic relationship between the state’s reliance on coal, oil and natural gas for much of its revenue and its overall fiscal health. Preliminary data presented to the legislature’s Revenue Committee forecasted a decrease in revenue, job and populations numbers, mostly due to declining demand for coal, low natural gas prices and an unstable oil market.  Governor Gordon hopes to utilize information gathered by this new initiative to plan for Wyoming’s fiscal future. “The hard truth is, Wyoming faces many external pressures impacting our future and those have often seemed to drive our own economic fate,” Governor Gordon said in a statement. “There are many economic forces out of our control... However, there are many ways we can control our destiny to position Wyoming for economic stability — but they require planning and action.” Governor announces energy plan to take future revenue shortfalls head onCasper Star Tribune

 

National

U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and the Department of Energy (DOE) announced $15 million in new funding for the development of artificial intelligence and machine learning for application in energy technology. The funding will go towards 23 projects in the DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) covering technologies including optimization of natural gas to electric power system design, unconventional energy generation, and hydrogen power generation. According to the DOE, the projects are intended to address the next generation of energy challenges. “The incorporation of AI and Machine Learning into our energy technology design and engineering processes has great potential to increase the productivity of our nation’s engineers and scientists,” said Secretary Perry. Department of Energy Announces $15 million for Development of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning ToolsEnergy.gov

 

Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) introduced a bill that aims to improve the way the United States handles spent nuclear fuel. The bill proposes to advance a safety review of the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository, ensure the Department of Energy has adequate funding to construct and maintain infrastructure related to the facility, and directs the DOE to pursue a temporary storage program to consolidate spent nuclear fuel from other plants as progress on the Yucca Mountain facility continues. “If we’re serious about reducing carbon emissions in a meaningful way, we need to get serious about dealing with nuclear waste,” Senator Barrasso said. Sen. Barrasso Introduces Bill to Reform Nuclear Waste Management Daily Energy Insider   

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Energy Update: November 1, 2019

In the States

KS – Governor Laura Kelly announced a new statewide energy plan was in the works at the Kansas Renewable Energy Conference. The new plan will reverse regulations that made it more difficult and expensive for companies in Kansas to install solar panels and other sources of renewable energy. 
Governor Kelly hopes the plan will bring new jobs to the state and help make Kansas a leader in renewable energy in the region. This announcement follows the recent installation of six wind farms  in Kansas’s Ford County.  Kansas governor announces new statewide energy planknst.com

 

MI – Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Public Service Commission announced the launch of a new initiative designed to encourage Michigan residents and businesses to transition to clean energy. The initiative, called MI Power Grid, will serve as a central source for clean energy information and outreach and engage utility customers and other stakeholders. The new initiative builds on Michigan’s 2016 energy laws that initially sparked a transition to clean energy in the state. The MI Power Grid program aims to catalyze advancements in energy infrastructure planning, updated regulations to improve customer service and reliability, and new clean energy programs. “Prioritizing clean energy in Michigan will help us grow our economy, create jobs, and protect our overall public health,” Governor Whitmer said.  Michigan launches MI Power Grid initiative to aid cleaner energy transitionDaily Energy Insider

 

NY  Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the start of the third round of the Energy to Lead competition. A total of $5 million in awards is now available to colleges and universities across the state that propose to decrease their carbon footprint, improve the resiliency of their grid, and reduce energy 
use. Prizes are given to the institutions or communities that propose the best energy-saving project with awards ranging from $500,000 to $1.5 million. "New York is a leader in the fight against climate change, and through initiatives like Energy to Lead, we are empowering our colleges and universities to establish best-in-class energy efficient clean energy policies for others to follow," Governor Cuomo said. This announcement supports Governor Cuomo’s Green New Deal initiative and the State’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 85% by 2050. Governor Cuomo Announces $5 Million for Clean Energy Competition
Transmission & Distribution World

 

VA – Governor Ralph Northam announced a new state contract to purchase 420 megawatts of solar and wind energy from the Commonwealth’s largest utility, Dominion Energy. This agreement constitutes the largest contract that any state has negotiated to buy renewable energy to power state government. As a result of this agreement, 30% of all electricity consumed by state agencies and institutions in Virginia will come from renewable sources by 2022, meeting a key goal the Governor set forth in his Executive Order Forty-Three, issued in September. “Virginia is leading by example and demonstrating how states can step up to combat climate change and advance a clean energy economy,” said Governor Northam. Virginia strikes deal to purchase renewable energy for use in state facilitiesThe Washington Post
 

 

National

The National Governors Association (NGA) announced it competitively picked four states (Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho and Maryland) to participate in the GridEx V energy security exercise. GridEx is conducted by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) biennially to test states’ response to simulated physical and cyber-attacks on the electric grid in North America. The goal of the exercise is to encourage and rate the preparedness of states in the event of a real-world attack on the grid. “As a national leader in cybersecurity and a pioneer in micro-grid development, Maryland is proud to partner with the National Governors Association and other states on the GridEx emergency preparedness exercise,” Maryland Governor and NGA Chair Larry Hogan said. “Our technology-driven infrastructure is increasingly vulnerable to cyberattack with the electric grid as a prime target, but we are committed to protecting our state against threats to our  infrastructure with the best ideas and latest technologies.” National Governors Association selects four states for assistance in GridEx V energy security exerciseDaily Energy Insider

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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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