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Energy Update, September 29

October 4, 2017

In the States

IL – Governor Bruce Rauner is proposing to replace regulations and limits on the rate of pollution from individual coal plants in the state with annual caps on the tons of emissions released by the entire group of facilities. The eight affected coal plants, which are based in central and southern Illinois, are all owned by Dynegy, a Houston-based company. The Rauner administration said “the goal is to keep the financially struggling coal plants open by giving…more flexibility to operate individual generating units, several of which are not equipped with modern pollution controls.” State Attorney General Lisa Madigan has questioned the Governor’s move, noting that the “proposed pollution caps are set so high that the state would end up encouraging Dynegy to pollute more” by operating its older plants more frequently. Alec Messina, director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, disagrees with General Madigan’s assertions and said this was the first time Illinois was placing a global cap on the entire fleet of coal plants in the state. Pollution could increase as Rauner EPA moves to rescue coal plantsThe Chicago Tribune

MS – Governor Phil Bryant was nominated to serve a second term as chairman of the Southern States Energy Board (SSEB), a nonpartisan interstate compact organization founded in 1960 and composed of 16 southern states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The SSEB is charged with guiding regional energy policy while also informing national perspectives. This is Governor Bryant’s second tour as chairman following his 2013 leadership during which he also unveiled Mississippi’s Energy Roadmap program. "Mississippi is an energy state, and it is good to help lead one of the nation's most influential and effective organizations for energy promotion," Governor Bryant said in a written statement. "America cannot only be energy independent but energy dominant." Governor Bryant is succeeding Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas. Bryant gets second stint chairing energy boardThe Clarion-Ledger

ND – Energy Transfer Partners, a Texas-based company that is building the Dakota Access pipeline, sent the State of North Dakota $15 million “to help pay law enforcement bills related to months of sometimes violent protests over the project’s construction” on federal lands earlier this year. The $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline began transporting oil from the state to an Illinois distribution plant on June 1, despite ongoing federal lawsuits by American Indian tribes. North Dakota also recently received a $10 million grant from the Department of Justice to cover some of its policing expenses. In a statement, Governor Doug Burgum said, “We remain committed to pursuing all available avenues to ensure that North Dakota taxpayers alone don’t bear the enormous costs of law enforcement, life safety, and other resources expended on the protests.” Dakota Access developer gives $15M toward security costsAssociated Press

Federal and Regional

Governor Andrew Cuomo, co-founder of the U.S. Climate Alliance, announced the organization’s members “are collectively on track to meet and possibly exceed their portion of the U.S. commitment under the Paris Agreement” while simultaneously releasing the group’s annual report. The U.S. Climate Alliance is a bipartisan coalition of 14 states and Puerto Rico that was founded in response to President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the international accord. Member states – CA, CO, CT, DE, HI, MA, MN, NY, NC, OR, PR, RI, VT, VA, and WA – have committed to advancing the goals of the Paris Agreement, track and reporting on their process, and accelerating new and existing policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while promoting clean energy development. “While the federal government abdicates its responsibility on climate change,” said Governor Cuomo, “Governors do not have the luxury of denying a scientific reality, and it is more important than ever for states to take collective, common sense action.” Cuomo touts growing climate alliance with fellow GovernorsPolitico

Four Governors – Brian Sandoval of Nevada, John Kasich of Ohio, Jerry Brown of California, and Charlie Baker of Massachusetts – are set to take the stage as the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas in mid-October. The Governors will lead a discussion on clean energy economic development and their states’ efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Governor Sandoval, the current chair of the National Governors Association, is hosting the event along with former United States Senator Harry Reid. Governors meeting Las Vegas to discuss clean energy initiativesThe Las Vegas Sun

Governors John Hickenlooper of Colorado, Brian Sandoval of Nevada, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, and Roy Cooper of North Carolina sent a letter to the U.S. International Trade Commission in opposition to imposing tariffs on solar panel products. The Governors noted such tariffs could cost the United States at least 88,000 jobs and “inflict a devastating blow on our states’ solar industries.” Additionally, the Governors cited a study by GTM Research that found a tariff would lead to a 50% drop in utility-scale and consumer-installed solar installations. Hickenlooper, three other Governors against tariffs on solar productsThe Denver Post

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Energy Update, September 15

October 4, 2017

In the States

MD – A group of clergy, solar and wind energy companies, and environmentalists recently launched a campaign calling for half of all the state’s electricity to be derived from renewable sources by 2030. Maryland’s current goal is to derive 25 percent of its electricity by 2020 through renewable sources. The coalition believes a new goal will continue to attract clean energy jobs to Maryland and will promote “environmental and social justice” by attracting those jobs to low-income, economically-depressed areas of the state. The coalition, however, is not seeking to require utilities to directly purchase renewable power but rather certificates that represent a megawatt of renewable power, similar to credits employed currently in Maryland and in other states. Governor Larry Hogan, when asked, did not offer a position on the new proposal, though his spokeswoman said the Governor “strongly supports efforts to combat climate change,” including statewide greenhouse gas reduction goals, Maryland’s participation in a regional cap-and-trade system for Northeast power plants’ carbon emissions, and incentives for use of electric vehicles. New campaign seeks to require half of Maryland energy to come from renewable sourcesThe Baltimore Sun

MO – According to a report released by the Clean Energy Trust and Environmental Entrepreneurs, employment in renewable energy, energy efficiency and related fields grew by nearly six percent between 2015 and 2016 with actual number of employees totaling 55,500. The reports estimates more than 25,000 of those jobs are based in St. Louis, one of the state’s main urban areas. More than 70 percent of the total jobs are focused on energy efficiency and more than half are clean energy construction jobs. “Previous surveys indicate that 80 percent of businesses working in clean energy in Missouri employ fewer than 25 individuals, illustrating the importance of small businesses in the clean-energy sector,” the report said. Missouri sees strong growth in ‘clean energy’ jobsSt. Louis Post-Dispatch

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation to increase the use of biodiesel in heating oil, mandating certain downstate counties to blend at least five percent biodiesel into all home heating oil sold by July 1, 2018. The federal Environmental Protection Agency has designated biodiesel, which is often developed from a mix of recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats, as an advanced biofuel that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent compared to petroleum. “New York has long been a leader in recognizing the environmental, public health and economic benefits of biodiesel, not only in transportation applications but in the heating oil market as well,” said National Biodiesel Board CEO Donnell Rehagen. NY governor signs bill requiring biodiesel in heating oilBiodiesel Magazine

WV – State environmental regulators, in a recent letter, decided to rescind approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. The project, was estimated to cost at least $3.5 billion, would have transported natural gas, beginning in 2018, from the Marcellus and Utica shale formations under the Appalachian Mountains through the central part of the state for 195 miles. "This decision will allow the agency to re-evaluate the complete application to determine whether the state's certification is in compliance with Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act," wrote Scott Mandirola, director of the state’s Division of Water and Waste Management under the Department of Environmental Protection. EQT, the pipeline’s main developer, also has an application pending for approval with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. West Virginia withdraws approval of Mountain Valley PipelineWV Public Broadcasting/AP

Federal and Regional

The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) held a two day summit on energy policy, smart cities, and energy technologies. About 20 mayors from across the country gathered to share best practices and listen to the latest data on renewable energy use. The Mayors also discussed how to create a new energy economy, energy preparedness in the face of natural disasters, and private sector partnerships. USCM Executive Director Tom Cochran said the organization and several mayors will participate in Climate Week in New York City, further arguing that local officials should have a role in federal and state policy discussions. Piscataway, New Jersey Mayor Brian Wahler echoed that sentiment, stating “You know you have governors, and members of the legislature, or members of Congress coming up with policy initiatives that just aren’t workable at the local level and it defeats the whole purpose of what they’re trying to do.” Many other Mayors participating in the summit focused on how to attract innovation and investments to their cities, including Shane Bemis, Mayor of Gresham, Oregon, who said Mayors’ could still achieve the mission of the Paris Climate Accord through investments in green energy technologies. USCM wraps up renewable energy summitNew Bedford News

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Energy Update, September 1

October 4, 2017

In the States

AZ – The Kayenta Solar Facility started producing electricity for the Navajo Nation, one of the largest Native American tribes, near Arizona’s Monument Valley. The new facility, which is the first utility-scale solar project on native lands, has the capacity to produce enough electricity to power 13,000 Navajo homes and is owned by the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority. The Kayenta Solar Facility comes online just as the Navajo community’s coal-fired generation station near Page, Arizona is beginning the process of shutting down by December 2019. Deenise Becenti, a spokeswoman for the tribal utility, said the $60 million cost for the solar plant was largely offset by federal solar investor tax credits and a two-year power purchase and energy credit agreement with the Salt River Project, Arizona’s largest utility. Navajo solar plant breaks new groundThe San Francisco Chronicle

CA – State lawmakers are considering a proposal, Senate Bill 100, which allows only for electricity produced via renewable energy to be transferred across the state’s grid. Additionally, lawmakers are considering updating the state’s renewable energy portfolio standard by requiring utilities to obtain 60 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2030 and 100 percent by 2045, up from the current standard of 50 percent by 2030. If passed, California would become the second states behind Hawaii to set such a target. The measure, which was passed by the Senate, requires the Assembly’s approval before heading to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for his consideration. Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, who authored the legislation, said “[This is] the type of opportunity we have today, right here in California, with clean energy,” noting his belief that the state can meet the legislation’s goals. California’s goal: an electricity grid moving only clean energyThe Los Angeles Times

DE – Governor John Carney signed an executive order to establish the state’s Offshore Wind Working Group, which will submit recommendations to the Governor on short- and long-term strategies to develop an offshore wind energy industry. The 17-member Working Group has until December 15th to submit its report, which must also examine “possible environmental, economic and job-creation benefits as well as any barriers that may exist.” The Working Group may also examine state laws and regulations and recommend changes, including amendments to the Delaware Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards Act, to Governor Carney. “We must look for ways to participate in the development of alternative energy sources," Governor Carney said. "It's the right decision for our environment, but the development of new sources of energy is also good for our economy and for the creation of good-paying jobs.” Carney launches effort to explore offshore wind in DelawareThe News Journal

NJ – The state’s Board of Public Utilities (BPU) announced it will examine the widespread adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) and its potential impacts on the state’s electricity distribution system. Members of the BPU believe widespread adoption of electric vehicles in nearing, and so, according to BPU President Richard Mroz, "we realize that regulations may need to change since EVs are quickly emerging while utility distribution systems are becoming more adaptive and flexible.” Regulators directed their staff to create a stakeholder group and to prepare a draft report within 180 days on “potential EV infrastructure policies and recommendations on any tariff revisions or updates that may be needed.” NJ regulators to study impacts of widespread EV adoptionUtilityDIVE

Federal

A coalition of 13 states and seven cities and counties sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Acting General Counsel asking the EPA to rescind its guidance to states about complying with the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP). In their letter, the coalition argues EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is and was seeking “to delay or repeal the CPP without going through the full regulatory or legal process to do so” in a March 30 letter sent to Governors letting them know they did not have to comply with the CPP. Before leading the EPA, Administrator Pruitt served as Oklahoma’s attorney general and sued the Obama administration over its decision to implement the CPP. In a related statement, New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said “Scott Pruitt cannot simply wish away the facts by giving governors bad legal advice. We’ll continue to fight to ensure that the federal government fulfills its legal responsibility to New Yorkers’ health and environment.” States say EPA’s climate rule guidance is ‘legally incorrect’The Hill

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Energy Update, August 4

August 9, 2017

In the States

CA – Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation to extend the state’s cap-and-trade program, which provides the private sector with incentives to pollute less and requires “oil refineries, power plants, food processors and other facilities to buy permits to release greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.” The new law also requires certain industrial facilities to upgrade their old equipment with more modern technology by 2023. The Governor extended the program, which was slated to expire in 2020 and is viewed as the central feature of California’s environmental and climate change advocacy, to 2030. “California is leading the world in dealing with the principal existential threat that humanity faces,” said Governor Brown during the signing ceremony, which his predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who signed the first cap-and-trade bill into law in 2016, also attended. Governor Brown signs law to extend cap and trade, securing the future of California’s key climate programThe Los Angeles Times

CT – Governor Dan Malloy ordered state agencies to review “the economic viability of Dominion Energy’s Millstone nuclear power plant,” one of several nuclear plants at risk of closing thanks to a surplus of cheap natural gas. Virginia-based Dominion Energy noted it had tried for months to find a solution to keep the plant operating while opponents, including other energy generating companies, argue that Millstone’s associated costs exceed its benefits and production. "We must objectively and thoroughly review and evaluate the relevant information and market conditions of the Millstone facility...in the context of reducing costs for consumers and moving our clean energy strategy forward," Governor Malloy said in a statement. "The time for a study without action has passed," Paul Koonce, chief executive of Dominion Energy Power Generation Group, said in a rebuttal. "Without action this year, prospects for continued operation of Millstone diminish.” CT Governor orders review of Millstone nuclear plant viabilityReuters

NY – As part of the statewide “Solarize” campaign, Governor Andrew Cuomo said 850 solar projects have been installed or are in development in New York. The Solarize program, according to the Governor, is “an important component in supporting the state’s Clean Energy Standard,” which was recently updated to require renewable sources to generate 50% of the state’s electricity by 2030. The hyper-local Solarize campaigns are public-private partnerships managed by community and elected officials and the private sector in order to educate and simplify the process by which consumers install clean energy generating systems. “New York continues to see unprecedented growth in the solar energy industry across the state, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing jobs, and driving economic growth," Governor Cuomo said. "By helping residents and businesses install solar energy panels, we are reducing costs for consumers and fueling the clean energy economy in New York for years to come." 850 solar projects announced across New York StateSolar Novus Today

Federal and Regional

Energy Secretary and former Governor of Texas Rick Perry announced $40 million in awards for the “the establishment of four DOE Bioenergy Research Centers, which will provide the scientific breakthroughs for a new generation of sustainable, cost-effective bioproducts and bioenergy.” The Centers, each of which will be led by a Department of Energy laboratory or a university, awarded the grants include the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center; the Center for Bioenergy Innovation; the Joint BioEnergy Institute, and; the Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation. “The revolution of modern biology has opened up vast new opportunities for the energy industry to develop and utilize products derived from biomass as a sustainable resource,” said Secretary Perry.  “These centers will accelerate the development of the basic science and technological foundation needed to ensure that American industry and the American public reap the benefits of the new bio-based economy.” DOE provides $40 million in grants to bioenergy research centers

Governors Kim Reynolds of Iowa and Pete Ricketts of Nebraska testified during the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) hearing on the proposed volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), urging the EPA to increase the amount of advanced biofuels and cellulosic ethanol to be blended into the country’s gasoline supply. The EPA recently set ethanol levels for 2018 at about 40 million gallons below the 2017 levels and cut cellulosic biofuel requirements to 238 million gallons. “When you’re talking about the advanced biofuels, I think it’s a mistake to go backwards with regards to those targets,” said Governor Ricketts. While highlighting the impact of the cuts on jobs and the greater economy in Iowa, Governor Reynolds said “the near term future for cellulosic is much brighter than the proposed obligations.” Ricketts, Reynolds testify at EPA hearing, urge greater federal support for advanced biofuelsThe Omaha World-Herald

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Energy Update, July 21

August 9, 2017

In the States

AK – The state legislature voted to end its cash payment subsidies to oil companies with less than 50,000 barrels of daily oil production. Instead, these oil companies will now be allowed to claim state tax deductions instead of cash and those deductions will be reduced over time by 10 percent annually after seven years if a project is producing oil or after 10 years if the project hasn’t produced oil. The cash-subsidy program was created a decade ago to encourage new companies to develop oil fields in Alaska. According to its projections, the state owes more than $1 billion in cash subsidies to the oil companies by the end of 2018. Alaska Legislature passes last-minute oil tax deal, but capital budget is still pendingThe Alaska Dispatch News

MN – The University of Minnesota’s Energy Transition Lab released a report finding that “adding energy storage is becoming a cost effective way to meet electricity demand in the state.” The report found that Minnesota’s natural gas, solar, and wind energy projects could all benefit from the development of energy storage facilities. For example, on turbine farms, “if energy supply exceeds demand, wind turbine blades are adjusted so that the turbines don't generate as much electricity” whereas batteries could keep the turbines running at normal operation. The report also found that the state has very little energy storage, though some companies, such as Connexus, are building megawatt storage systems and facilities. The report was submitted to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, as well as a group of energy stakeholders, who recommended the state pursue energy storage projects. Report: solar plus storage can beat natural gas in MinnesotaMPR News

NC – Governor Roy Cooper announced he opposes efforts by President Donald Trump’s administration to allow drilling for natural gas and oil off the state’s coast, calling it a “threat to the state’s beaches and tourism economy.” The Governor’s statement comes as the Trump administration requested comments from elected officials on its plan to allow companies to perform seismic testing in the Atlantic Ocean in search of natural gas and oil deposits. “There is a threat looming over this coastline that we love and the prosperity it brings, and that's the threat of offshore drilling," Governor Cooper said. Additionally, he noted: “There is little evidence that offshore drilling would be a financial boon for our state.” The Governor doesn’t believe that drilling will produce a lot of jobs or revenue sharing and that changes to federal regulations could increase  environmental risks. NC Governor on Trump drilling plan: ‘Not off our coast’AP

NH – Governor Chris Sununu allowed Senate Bill 129, which requires utilities to increase the percentage of renewable sources in their energy portfolio to 25 percent by 2025, to become law without his signature. The new law, known as the Clean Energy Jobs Act of 2017, also requires utilities to pay into a Renewable Energy Fund (REF) if they do not meet the new Renewable Portfolio Standard’s threshold. Of the funds collected by the REF, 15 percent are to be disbursed to low-income solar projects. Additionally, the new law raises the amount of money utilities pay for biofuel-generated energy, which supporters note will support the state’s timber industry and lead to more individuals employing wood-burning electric generators. In a statement, Governor Sununu called it “important to balance a smart renewable energy portfolio and economic growth in New Hampshire’s North Country with potential costs to ratepayers,” adding: “As we strive for an energy portfolio that is efficient, effective, and affordable, it is critical that we study the long-term viability of generation resources, particularly those that rely on mandated ratepayer support.” Clean energy bill becomes law without Governor’s signatureNew Hampshire Business Review

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his administration will support the construction of 78 miles of power transmission infrastructure to “[strengthen] the reliability of the New York State electric power grid and [enable] more upstate renewable energy to connect to the power system throughout the state.” Called the Moses-Adirondack Smart Path Reliability project, the new $441 million transmission line will also help the state meet the Governor’s clean energy mandate of deriving 50% of New York’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030 by transporting additional upstate energy to high demand areas downstate. The project, slated to begin construction in 2019, is expected to create approximately 2,000 full-time jobs during its development. "This critical upgrade will help strengthen our clean energy economy in every corner of the state, and help New York reach its nation-leading clean energy standard," Governor Cuomo said. "By investing in the long-term sustainability of our state's energy infrastructure today, we are helping to ensure New Yorkers will have access to a cleaner, greener future for years to come.” Cuomo announces plan to build 78 miles of power transmission infrastructureNorth County Public Radio

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Energy Update, January 27

February 14, 2017

In the States

NH – Eversource, New Hampshire’s largest utility company, filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court in hopes of overturning a ruling by the Public Utilities Commission to block the extension of a natural gas pipeline expansion project. Eversource estimates the pipeline project, known as the Access Northeast and Algonquin Natural Gas Pipeline, would lead to “significant customer savings” while also decreasing overall operating costs. The project, which was to be financed in part by electricity ratepayers over a long-term contract, was disallowed by the PUC since an earlier court ruling stated “utilities can't pass on to ratepayers the costs of financing new natural gas pipelines.” Bill Quinlan, New Hampshire operations president for Eversource, said ““Expanding the supply of gas into New England is one of the necessary actions that must occur as part of the effort to reduce energy costs and ensure reliability. We believe it’s important that proposals like this one have the opportunity to be fully considered.” Eversource takes pipeline case to New Hampshire Supreme CourtThe New Hampshire Union Leader

VT – While showcasing the construction of a new solar power project in Montpelier called a Solar Canopy, Governor Phil Scott announced his support for the state’s existing renewable energy mandate requiring that  90 percent of its energy be derived from renewable sources by 2050. Governor Scott said the renewable energy goal contributes positively to his focus on economic development and “creates jobs that keep young people from leaving the state.” The Governor also maintained that local communities should play a greater role in determining renewable energy project siting, one of his campaign pledges. Solar Canopy, which was erected by Waterbury-based SunCommon, was founded in 2012 and employs about 70 people. "Companies like SunCommon, and many others who are creating jobs and innovating here in Vermont, are exactly what we need to reach these (economic development) goals," Governor Scott said. Vermont’s new governor sticking with renewable energy goalAssociated Press

WY – Six state lawmakers proposed assessing a penalty on utilities if they make use of wind or solar energy to generate electricity for their customers. According to the legislation, Senate File 71, utilities would have a year to comply with the measure, if enacted, and would be restricted to utilizing six resources to generate electricity. Additionally, the state’s utilities would have to derive 100 percent of their Wyoming-sold energy from these six resources, which include coal and natural gas, by 2019.  Shannon Anderson of the Powder River Basin Resource Council, called the law unsound, noting “It would be very difficult to implement, difficult to regulate, since it goes against longstanding precedent to choose least-cost resources, and [since] it ignores the reality of a multi-state grid.” Bill would penalize utilities for wind-generated electricity for Wyoming customersThe Casper Star-Tribune

Federal and Regional

President Donald Trump selected Cheryl LaFleur to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), an independent agency which regulates the nation’s power markets and pipelines, among other responsibilities under the Department of Energy. Ms. LaFleur, a Democrat and former utility executive, replaces Norman Bay, who has led the agency since April 2015, as acting chairman. “LaFleur’s appointment signals that Trump is hearing congressional Republicans’ complaints about FERC being too heavy handed to the markets,” said Katie Bays, a Washington-based energy analyst for Height Securities. Ken Irvin, a Washington-based partner at Sidley Austin LLP who represents energy marketers and traders, said “She has a very informed knowledge of the energy business and how to be an effective regulator. She’s very in tune with our markets.” Trump names LaFleur acting head of federal energy regulator – Bloomberg

Reversing a decision by his predecessor, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to construct the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. President Trump, in so doing, promised to renegotiate the terms of the cross-border Keystone XL pipeline so the federal government can receive  a portion of the pipeline’s profits. TransCanada said it remains committed to building the pipeline, though noted it would still require approval from the states the pipeline crosses as well as the U.S. Department of State. Meanwhile, the Dakota Access pipeline, which has been the subject of numerous protests by environmental groups as well as the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, faces several legal challenges that allege the proposed pipeline poses a danger to the tribe’s water supply. Trump signs executive actions to advance Keystone, Dakota Access pipelinesPolitico

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Energy Update, October 21

October 25, 2016

In the States

UT – Governor Gary Herbert’s Office of Energy Development hosted the second annual Utah Air and Energy Symposium to discuss the state’s air quality challenges vis-à-vis future energy development, which is set to be a key topic studied by the state legislature during next year’s 45-day legislative session. Much of the discussion at the Symposium focused on alternative fuel vehicles, air quality regulations for the oil and gas industry, and methane leaks, which the state’s Department of Environmental Quality is currently studying. Jon Goldstein of the Environmental Defense Fund spoke in favor of increased regulations, noting that neighboring Colorado was able to achieve a 75 percent reduction in methane leaks by implementing new rules on the state’s energy producers. In another session, state Representative Stephen Handy (R) discussed his work to secure Utah’s part of the settlement under Volkswagen’s violation of diesel emissions and his hope that the state will utilize the funds to replace diesel school buses. Utah air quality, energy event draws diverse crowdKSL Salt Lake City

VA – At an event showcasing the installation of a new solar system for public schools in Albemarle County, Governor Terry McAuliffe released an update to his 2014 Virginia Energy Plan, titled the “Energy in the New Virginia Economy,” which outlines his administration’s work on the Commonwealth’s strategic energy priorities. The update to the energy plan, which is required by statute, focuses on the Governor’s four priorities: strategic growth in the energy sector, best in class infrastructure, alternative fuels and advanced vehicles technology, and workforce development. Some of the achievements highlighted by the Governor include the construction of a 80 megawatt solar farm in Accomack County, the creation of the Commonwealth’s first Green Community Program, and the use of over 200 alternative fuel vehicles by the state government. “Today's installation is the perfect venue to formally unveil an update on the progress we are making toward making Virginia a leader in the global energy economy,” said Governor McAuliffe. “The clean energy sector has been a central part of our efforts to build a new Virginia economy and that effort has paid off as revenue in the sector has grown four-fold to $2 billion.” At Monticello High School, McAuliffe touts solar panels, energy planThe News & Advance

VT – Iberdrola Renewables, a Spanish energy company, is seeking to build the state’s largest wind energy project, which would consist of 24 turbines almost 500 feet tall generating close to 90 megawatts of power, or enough electricity for 42,000 homes annually. The project, which would be built in a private forest near the towns of Windham and Grafton, is on the ballot this fall for voters to approve or disapprove. Under increasing pressure and scrutiny from local officials and residents who are concerned the proposed project will generate noise and lower property values, and sensing the voters would reject the proposed wind farm, Iberdrola offered to pay “a total of $565,000 a year to the 815 registered voters in both towns, or $14.1 million over 25 years,” for their support. The project, which is supported by outgoing Governor Peter Shumlin, has become a key issue in the race to succeed him with Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott (R) opposing the project and Sue Minter (D), a former transportation secretary under Governor Shumlin, supporting it. “There’s nothing I’m more proud of than my legacy of having helped to get Vermont off of oil and coal and moved us more aggressively than any other state in the nation to renewables,” Governor Shumlin said. Vermont wind project needs support, so company offers to pay votersThe New York Times

Federal and Regional

The National Governors Association (NGA) published two papers focused on enhancing energy assurance planning and response and strategies for states to develop advanced energy storage. Both publications were developed by the NGA’s Center for Best Practices Environment, Energy, and Transportation Division, which “provides information, research, policy analysis, technical assistance, and resource development for governors and their staff.” The first paper summarizes the NGA’s findings from a 2015 project in which NGA and New Jersey state officials worked with six other states – Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Rhode Island – “to understand and apply lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy” while the second paper explores how states can use incentives, regulations, and policy to boost energy storage.

The United States Navy announced its purchasing renewable energy from a new 150-megawatt solar farm in Arizona, or what is soon to be the largest procurement of renewable energy by the federal government, according to federal officials. The solar facility, called the Mesquite Solar Complex, is owned by Sempra U.S. Gar & Power and will supply a third of the electricity needs of the Navy’s installations in California, including the San Diego naval base and the Marines’ Twentynine Palms and Camp Pendleton bases The Navy’s purchase will support over 800 temporary construction and permanent jobs. “It’s going to be reliable, it’s going to be cheaper than what we’re paying for brown power, and it just diversifies our energy sources for these bases,” said Dennis McGinn, the assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations and environment. U.S. government makes biggest clean energy purchase everThe Washington Post and Tonopah solar farms to supply energy to military basesThe Arizona Republic

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Energy Update, October 7

October 25, 2016

In the States

AL – The Alabama Power Company, the state’s largest utility, posted a request for proposals (RFP) for renewable energy projects, hoping to bring more solar, wind, and geothermal energy generation to Alabama. The company, which has already announced more than 90 megawatts of solar power projects since last year, received approval from the Alabama Public Service Commission “to develop up to 500 megawatts of renewable energy projects,” including several projects at military installations across the state. In addition to solar, wind, and geothermal energy, the RFP calls for projects focused on tidal or ocean current energy, gas derived from waste or landfills, hydrogen obtained from renewable sources, and biomass energy. "Alabama Power supports renewable energy, where it makes sense for our customers," John Kelley, the utility’s director of forecasting and resource planning, said. "Renewable markets change a lot, and this proposal gives us a chance to see what may be out there in the 2017 and 2018 time frame." Alabama Power eyes future renewable energy projectsThe Huntsville Times

CT – Governor Dan Malloy discussed the importance of renewable energy generation with 26 local chambers of commerce, the Connecticut Green Bank, and officials from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. After the meeting, nearly a dozen of the local chambers present pledged to work with the Green Bank to “inform their businesses about affordable, long-term financing options” for clean energy projects and programs. Several other chambers also inquired about the state’s new Comprehensive Energy Strategy, which seeks reduce greenhouse gas emissions and will be released at some point this fall. “Local chambers of commerce play an important role in helping Connecticut continue to prosper from the growing economic development opportunities of cleaner, cheaper, more reliable energy,” said Governor Malloy. Governor, 26 local chambers show strong interest in clean energyChamber Innovation

ND – Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem sent a letter to Energy Transfer Partners, a Texas-based company developing the Dakota Access pipeline, to explain why it purchased 7,000 acres of land recently for an undisclosed amount. The company, which must respond within 30 days, must describe how its purchase complies with the state’s Depression-era anti-corporate farming law, which bars certain corporations from owning or leasing farmland and engaging in farming. Energy Transfer Partners continues to face public scrutiny over its proposed $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile pipeline that would carry approximately 450,000 barrels of oil per day from the Bakken oilfields to a hub in Illinois. The project’s construction has been delayed due to several lawsuits by local Native American tribes, which claim the company’s “bulldozers disturbed ancestral burials and other sacred sites.” General Stenehjem said "We'll treat this just like we do every case.” Stenehjem gives Dakota Access 30 days to explain land purchaseThe Jamestown Sun

Federal and Regional

The Governors’ Wind & Solar Energy Coalition, which counts Governors from 20 states as members, sent a letter to President Barack Obama seeking his administration’s support to quickly site wind projects, both on land and offshore. The letter notes that offshore wind energy could “create thousands of jobs in businesses ranging from R&D and engineering to manufacturing and marine construction.” Additionally, the Governors would like the administration to streamline the leasing and permitting process as well as to improve permitting collaboration between the states and the federal government. The Governors also noted their hope that the administration and its agencies continue working with the private sector, conservation groups, and states on final rules impacting wind and solar energy development. American Wind Energy Association CEO Tom Kiernan, who thanked the Governors for their support, said “These Governors are leading. They’re attuned to economic development needs and deployment challenges in their states, and they’re looking to the federal agencies to help rather than hinder.” Tax credits aren’t enough to spur renewables, Governors sayAgriPulse

According the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), which is part of the Department of Energy, Hurricane Matthew may cause problems for East Coast energy infrastructure.  The storm, which led four Governors to declare states of emergency, may affect product terminals, possibly reducing energy imports. EIA also published map highlighting energy disruptions, links for consumers to determine fuel availability during the storm, and made available its real-time information on electricity demand.

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Energy Update, September 23

October 25, 2016

In the States

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

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

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

Federal and Regional

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

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

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Energy Update, September 9

October 25, 2016

In the States

CA – Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that requires the state, which is one of the world’s largest economies, to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. The new law, SB 32, sets reduction targets higher than previous goals set a decade ago by the state, though several policy and governmental institutions, including the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, admit that California may only be able to achieve a 20% reduction below 1990 levels by 2030. The state’s new plan encourages renewable energy use, an increased deployment of electric cars, and energy efficiency while placing additional emissions limitations on certain industries. Governor Brown also signed into law AB1 197, which grants state lawmakers with more regulatory oversight while also providing assistance to low-income and minority communities living near oil refineries and factories. “What we’re doing here is farsighted, as well as far-reaching,” Governor Brown said at the signing ceremony in downtown Los Angeles. “California is doing something that no other state has done.” Governor Brown signs sweeping legislation to combat climate changeThe Los Angeles Times

IA – Governor Terry Branstad, joined by U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, toured the Quad County Corn Processors (QCCP) facility, the world’s first commercial cellulosic ethanol plant, which uses corn kernel fibers as feedstock. During the tour, which Iowa Renewable Fuels Association and the Iowa Corn Growers Association also joined, the Governor discussed opportunities to increase the demand for ethanol and the need for engine manufacturing to include ethanol fuel in its planning and designs. "Renewable fuel is something I'm very passionate about," Governor Branstad said. "Renewable fuels are important for Iowa and they are important for America. A robust Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) will continue to diversify our nation's transportation fuels, add value to commodities grown in rural America, reduce emissions, and provide consumers low-cost choices at the pump." To date, the QCCP facility has produced at least 5 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol, or 90% of the United States’ total cellulosic ethanol production over the least three years. Governor Branstad, QCCP discuss future of renewable fuelsThe Pilot Tribune

VA – While touring three locations benefiting from energy efficiency improvements, Governor Terry McAuliffe challenged the Commonwealth’s leading utility company, Dominion Virginia Power, to better educate its customers about the value of energy efficiency in reducing consumption and lower their costs. “The progress we have made over the past year demonstrates the impact simple, low-cost energy efficiency measures can have on lowering energy bills,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Our electric utilities are in the perfect position to drive this education and outreach.” In response, Dominion’s President Robert Blue accepted the challenge, and announced an expansion of the company’s educational Energy Share program, which will developed training sessions and materials to enable its employees to serve as energy efficiency representatives. Mr. Blue said “We will continue to place strong emphasis on the energy efficiency measures that any consumers can take to reduce energy usage and save on their bills.” The challenge comes one year after the state legislature passed a measure to require utilities to use non-ratepayer funds to implement energy efficiency programs. Governor challenges Dominion to accelerate energy efficiency educationAlexandria News

Federal and Regional

The Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity is suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to address ocean acidification as required under the Clean Water Act. Ocean acidification, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), occurs as a result of decreased oceanic pH levels caused by an increase in carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. The lawsuit calls for the EPA to update its water quality criteria, which according to the Center have not been revised in 40 years, for measuring pollutants “to reflect the latest science showing carbon dioxide emissions are altering the chemistry of oceans.” The EPA, in the past, has acknowledged and published research demonstrating the effects of carbon dioxide levels on oceanic seawater and estimates that 28% of all carbon dioxide emitted over the past two centuries have been absorbed by the Earth’s oceans. "The EPA is ignoring the threat of ocean acidification, and that's very dangerous," Emily Jeffers, a Center attorney, said in a statement. "We need to act now to protect oysters, corals and other marine animals." EPA sued over clean water rules to curb ocean acidificationReuters

As part of their annual meeting, the six New England Governors and the Premiers of the five eastern Canadian provinces met recently in Boston, Massachusetts to discuss energy policy, rising energy costs, and climate change as well as other issues facing their states and provinces. The Governors and the Premiers discussed their efforts to cut carbon dioxide emissions as well as ongoing regional collaborative projects, such as the building of hydropower projects, wind turbines, and transmission stations. During last year’s annual meeting, the Governors and the Premiers pledged to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 35% to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and at least 85% per by 2050. “Our relationships with one another economically and culturally serve to benefit us all," said Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, who co-chaired the conference this year with Premier Wade MacLauchlan of Prince Edward Island. Leaders from New England, Canada talk energy, trade, opioidsThe Republican

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Energy Update, August 26

October 25, 2016

In the States

CO – In response to a court-ordered stay of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), Governor John Hickenlooper, during the annual Rocky Mountain Energy Summit, announced he is considering issuing an executive order to cut carbon pollution, directing state agencies to “incorporate additional climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.” The draft order mandates a 25% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2025 to 2012 levels, and a 35% reduction in emissions by 2030. The Governor’s draft order sets higher reduction target levels than the CPP, which called for the state to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 28% and overall emissions by 32% by 2030. Hickenlooper threatens executive order on clean airThe Durango Herald

MI – Governor Rick Snyder asked the Indiana-based Midcontinental Independent System Operator (MISO), a regional transmission organization (RTO) that provides open-access transmission services and monitoring of high-voltage systems, “to study the near and long-term benefits of electric transmission and generation expansion…to determine if there is an opportunity to lower costs while increasing reliability.” The Governor is specifically asking MISO to study connecting the state’s Upper Peninsula (UP) with systems in Canada as well as improving the connecting between the UP with the Straits of Mackinac. “Since Michigan has some of the highest prices for transmission in the MISO footprint, it makes sense to ask whether, in the long term, we can all spend less while increasing reliability by strengthening our ties to each other and our neighbors,” Governor Snyder said. The Governor previously asked for a similar study in 2012, which MISO completed, but did not look into potential connections to Canadian systems. Michigan Governor asks MISO to study transmission expansion in NorthT&D World

MT – Following the announced closure of two of Montana’s oldest coal-fired power plant units, state lawmakers are drafting measures to raise taxes on all electricity producers in the state. The lawmakers, as part of a package of legislative proposals to be debated in the 2017 legislative session, would also impose millions of dollars in fees on the power plants owners and require the state Department of Environmental Quality to approve any “decommissioning and remediation plans for coal-fired plants.” The two plants, which are part of the larger Colstrip power plant, are scheduled to close by 2022, as required by a legal settlement, and are currently owned by Puget Sound Energy and Talen Energy, which collectively employ approximately 700 people. Montana lawmakers want o make it costly to close Colstrip plantThe Billings Gazette and Montana lawmakers craft measures to deal with coal plant closureThe Olympian

Federal

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management received a little more than $18 million in bids to drill for offshore oil and natural gas in the western Gulf of Mexico. The lease sale was considered modest, in comparison to prior opportunities, with companies only submitting bids on 24 areas out of the close to 4,500 that were available. And according to BOEM, the acres that received bids represent less than one percent of the acres available for natural gas and oil drilling leasing. BHP Billiton Petroleum, BP Exploration and Production, and Exxon Mobil Corporation all submitted bids, with BHP leading the pack with 12 bids for around $10 million. “The relatively modest results of today’s lease sale are indicative of the current market conditions and regulatory environment,” said Randall Luthi, president of the National Ocean Industries Association. “Despite these challenging circumstances, the [participating companies] are investing millions of dollars in the future of America’s energy and economic security with no guarantee of success or financial return.” Lease sale for offshore drilling in Gulf of Mexico receives few bidsMorning Consult

Eleven state Attorneys General and the District of Columbia’s Attorney General sent a letter to House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith of Texas, requesting that he end his investigation into state probes of Exxon Mobil Corporation. The Attorneys General believe the Chairman’s latest attempt to subpoena documents related to state investigations in both New York and Massachusetts “exceed Congress’ constitutional authority.” Attorneys General from California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington signed the letter. The Chairman subpoenaed New York’s Eric Schneiderman and Massachusetts’s Maura Healey in addition to eight environmental groups to ask for records related to their investigations “into whether Exxon lied to the public about its knowledge of climate change.” So far, both Schneiderman and Healey have refused to respond or submit to the subpoena. Democratic AGs push back against GOP chairman’s Exxon probeThe Hill

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Energy Update, August 12

October 25, 2016

In the States and Territories

MA – Hoping to stabilize electricity rates and diversify the state’s energy portfolio, Governor Charlie Baker signed a new energy bill, An Act Relative to Energy Diversity, into law. The measure will require utilities to “competitively solicit and contract for approximately 1,200 megawatts of clean energy generation” from either hydropower, onshore wind and solar supported by hydropower, or standalone onshore wind and solar power sources. According to the National Wildlife Federation, the new law is the largest-ever state commitment to offshore wind power to date. The bill also establishes a commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, program “that will enable property owners to finance comprehensive energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades that are repaid through a property tax assessment.” “Massachusetts is always at the forefront of adopting innovative clean energy solutions, and this legislation will allow us to build on that legacy and embrace increased amounts of renewable energy, including hydropower,” said Governor Baker. “With our partners in the Legislature, the Commonwealth has taken another major step towards providing residents and businesses with a cost-effective and reliable clean energy future.” MA Gov. signs comprehensive energy diversity legislationTransmission and Distribution and Newly-signed energy bill poised to jump-start offshore wind in Mass.NA Wind Power

ME – Governor Paul LePage has proposed an end to the state’s solar net metering program and policies, and favors replacing it with a market-based approach. The Governor believes net metering forces customers who do not use solar power “to pay an unfair share of maintaining the electric grid.” In his plan, the Governor proposes a three-year grandfather period to allow residents who have installed solar panels to recover some of their costs. After the three years, the plan still allows consumers who generate electricity from solar power to be compensated only for excess energy that aligns with the “real-time value of electricity in the region.” Patrick Woodcock, who directs the governor’s energy office, submitted the new proposal to regulators at the Maine Public Utilities Commission, which is expected to decide the state’s path sometime in the fall. LePage proposes end to solar net metering programMaine Public Broadcasting

NV – The state’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) decided to phase out a subsidy for homeowners who install rooftop solar panels over the next 12 years. The decision follows a ruling by the state Supreme Court that a referendum challenging the PUC’s decision would not be allowed on this November’s ballot. According to the PUC, the state has subsidized roughly 17,000 customers each year, costing around $16 million per year, under the state’s net metering program, which is also being phased out. Paul Thomsen, who chairs the PUC, said “As the rooftop solar industry has gotten larger and larger, we've seen this subsidy grow. What started as a legislative policy to kickstart the industry, now 18 years later, it's time for that industry to stand on its own two feet.” A separate proposal to grandfather rates for certain customers producing electricity from solar energy will be reviewed by the state legislature next year. Nevada starts to pull the plug on solar subsidiesFox News

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that Exelon is planning to take over the FitzPatrick Nuclear Plant is Oswego, New York. The Governor said Exelon, which also promised to keep the plant operations for at least another 12 years, will save more than 600 jobs. Exelon already runs two adjacent nuclear power plants, the Nine Mile Point plants in Oswego and the Ginna plant near Rochester. The announcement by the Governor and Exelon come after the state’s Public Service Commission, which still needs to approve the sale of the FitzPatrick plant to Exelon, agreed to supply $8 billion in subsidies to help keep the state’s nuclear plants open. “Saving these plants is part of our clean energy plan,” Governor Cuomo said. “If you lose the nuclear component, then it would make you much more reliant on other sources,” like natural gas and oil, which the Governor said would increase carbon emissions. FitzPatrick sale will keep nuclear as part of NY’s future energy mixNorth Country Public Radio

PR – Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed legislation into law that would “expedite the connection of consumers’ renewable energy systems to the Commonwealth’s Electric Power Authority utility, also known as Prepa. The bill requires Prepa to have power meters that can be read remotely while also mandating that Prepa develop an expedited process for power distributors with a capacity that is lower than one megawatt to connect to the utility’s grid. The territory first enacted net-metering legislation in 2007, allowing certain nonresidential systems and residential customers with a generating capacity of 25 kilowatts to transfer electricity they do not use back to the Commonwealth’s grid. Governor enacts law expediting net-metering connectionsCaribbean Business

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Energy Update, June 27

October 25, 2016

In the States

HI – Governor David Ige, and Dennis McGinn, Assistant Secretary for the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the State of Hawaii and the Department of the Navy focused on the reduction of greenhouse gases, fossil fuel usage, energy efficiency, water consumption, the use of renewable energy and the use of alternative fueled vehicles. According to Governor Ige, the MOU “allows us to capitalize to the greatest extent possible our combined wisdom, resources and experience to achieve greater energy efficiency, security, economic vitality and carbon reduction.” The Department of the Navy and the Department of Defense are the biggest customers of Hawaii’s electric utility and have an enormous impact on Hawaii’s economy. This agreement comes as Governor Ige and the Hawaii legislature are in the midst of creating policy framework to develop offshore wind energy technology, something that Hawaii is not previously known for. However, in conjunction with its solar energy industry, Hawaii is making progress towards its goal of producing all of its electricity from renewable resources. Navy Hawaii Sign Memorandum of Understanding  – Defense Video Imagery Distribution System and  Navy Hawaii Sign Memorandum of Understanding – Hookele News

MA – Charlie Baker is pushing for state lawmakers to act on key bills on energy and jobs before the two-year legislative session ends on July 31st. The energy bill would spur Massachusetts’s larger state power companies to sign long-term contracts to purchase hydropower from Canada if passed. In addition, the energy bill would incentivize offshore wind development in Massachusetts. Baker hopes concerns about the budget deficit will not have a negative impact on policy being passed, "this is one of those bills that absolutely positively has to make it through," said Baker.  Already, about $5 billion dollars in projects in Springfield Massachusetts are set to be announced, or are currently underway according to Rick Sullivan, CEO of the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council. Sullivan announced the news at a developer’s conference in Massachusetts attended by approximately 300. Baker strived to use the summit to convince developers who attended that western Massachusetts is a “good place to be” and can compete with other parts of the country. Gov. Baker Urges Legislative Action on Energy, Jobs BillsWAMC NORTHEAST PUBLIC RADIO

OH – As a result of an initiative started by Governor John Kasich, 59 percent of all rules that have been reviewed by the Common Sense Initiative Office that have had a “visible impact” on business in the past, have been amended or rescinded. In 2010 Governor John Kasich created an agency to streamline rules and regulations that impact Ohio’s business environment. Thus far the Common Sense Initiative has been making significant progress. A meeting attended by Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor, Public Utilities of Ohio Commissioner Beth Trrombold, which was held at the offices of the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, included a discussion about Ohio’s rapidly evolving energy landscape and how regulatory changes have affected it. Fifteen years ago, coal-fired electric generation dominated Ohio’s energy footprint, but now it is made up of nearly 50 percent natural gas and renewables. With natural gas prices so low, “the temptation is to go all in on natural gas,” said Trrombold. Lieutenant governor tells of aid to businessThe Blade

NY – Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo has proposed the Clean Energy Standard, (CES) a clean energy agenda that calls for 50% of the state’s electricity to come from renewable energy resources by 2030, as well as a mandate for a 40% decrease in carbon emissions in the same time frame. The CES is critical for upstate New York where many of the state’s power plants reside. The Battle Group recently reported that nuclear power from upstate New York accounts for "more than $3 billion toward GDP of New York State, provides 25,000 jobs and pays almost $150 million in taxes, locally and statewide." The CES includes subsidies to keep open several upstate nuclear power plants that are at risk of closing because of low electricity prices driven down by Natural Gas. The CES also includes substantial investments in wind and solar power. Good News from Diablo Canyon – The New York Times and Cuomo’s energy goals need support – The Democrat & Chronicle

Regional

California Governor Jerry Brown, plans to expand the state’s electrical grid. The plan seeks to connect California’s electric system to its western neighbors. (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah and California) When wind is blowing in a neighboring state, the electricity generated by windmills there can be sent to places in California where there is less wind production. A regional approach is thought to be more effective and cost efficient according to Robert Weisenmiller, Chairman of the California Energy Commission. “Much of California and the West is operating under an outdated operating model,” said Weisenmiller. “The question is not why we do this, but how we approach regionalization.” Regionalizing the grid could save customers up to $9 billion in the first 20 years according to California officials. It would also put the state in a better position to generate 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. Part of the plan is to combine the California Independent System Operator (CalISO) with Oregon-based electricity producer PacifiCorp. Since April of 2015 the two have been in talks exploring the feasibility of joining together. Not everyone is in favor of the merger however, “in weighing whether to support PacifiCorp’s participation, I will look at the proposal and the evidence to determine if I believe this is in the best interest of Wyoming ratepayers… as of today, I’m not convinced this is in the best interest of Wyoming” said Governor Mead of Wyoming. Plan for regional power grid raises hopes, doubts -The San Diego Union-Tribune and Brown wants to resurrect a plan to expand the state’s power grid, but some say it’s not that simple – The Los Angeles Times

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Energy Update, June 10

October 25, 2016

In the States

IL – Exelon, a national utility company, plans to shut down two nuclear power plants in Illinois after the company’s efforts to receive a bailout from the state legislature failed. The power plants include the Clinton Power Station in Clinton, Illinois and the Quad Cities Generating Station in Cordova, a small town located on the banks of the Mississippi River. According to Exelon’s CEO, Chris Crane, the power plants lost $800 million over the last seven years thanks to a “slowing demand for electricity and a flood of cheap natural gas.” The power plant closings puts a little more than 4,300 jobs at risk, including 1,500 plant workers who may be able to transfer to other company locations. “The premature closures of Clinton and Quad Cities continue an alarming trend – our nation is losing top-performing nuclear power plants due to flawed electricity market conditions,” said Marvin Fertel, chief executive of the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry trade group. “In the process, we are moving farther away from achieving our nation’s ambitious clean air commitments.” Exelon to close two nuclear plants in IllinoisThe New York Times

MA – The state legislature passed a measure requiring the Commonwealth’s utilities to enter into long-term contracts to buy 1,200 megawatts of Canadian hydro-electricity and offshore wind energy. If signed into law, the bill, which also requires utilities to determine the cost-effectiveness of these renewable energy sources, is projected to help the state derive 20% of its electricity from renewable sources. Governor Charlie Baker said he supports the bill’s mission, noting that several nuclear and fossil fuel power plants are shutting down, and that the Commonwealth needs to a develop a “proactive strategy to solving [these issues] collaboratively.” Governor Baker said all New England states need to continue working together to address their energy needs, pointing to an earlier multi-state clean energy request for proposal issued by Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. State lawmakers considering bill that would boost renewable energyWWLP and Baker: Power drain points to need for energy plan soonThe Lowell Sun

MD – Governor Larry Hogan vetoed the Clean Energy Jobs Act, which would have expanded the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS). The RPS currently calls for 20% of Maryland’s electricity to be produced via renewable sources by 2022. The measure raised the RPS to 25% by 2020, which according to the legislation’s proponents would have resulted in 1.3 gigawatts more of clean energy. In his veto message, Governor Hogan said “This legislation is a tax increase that will be levied upon every ratepayer in the state, and for that reason alone, I cannot allow it to become law.” The Governor noted that the increased RPS would tax state ratepayers an additional $49 million to $196 million by 2020. Advocacy groups and others supporting the bill have suggested the General Assembly, which finished its 2016 session in April, may seek to override the Governor’s veto. Governor vetoes clean energy bill, views it as taxThe Dispatch and Maryland governor vetoes renewable energy billSI News

NE – Testifying on behalf of the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Kansas City, Governor Pete Ricketts expressed his support of efforts to maintain the nation’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The Governor also asked the EPA to scuttle a proposed decrease in the renewable volume obligation (RVO) for the second consecutive year. “The Renewable Fuel Standard is one of the most successful energy policies adopted by Congress,” said Governor Ricketts in his testimony. “The RFS laid a foundation for biofuels to provide consumers with renewable fuel choices in a market controlled by the petroleum industry.” Governor Ricketts said the biofuel industry supports close to one million jobs and stimulates investments in states, including his native Nebraska. “A strong RFS,” noted Governor Ricketts, “means more jobs here at home, greater energy security, and a cleaner environment.” Ricketts calls on EPA to fulfill RFS promiseKTIC and Nebraska’s governor wants EPA to maintain the RFSBrownfield News

Federal and Regional

The Interior Department is expanding its offshore wind energy program to New York, adding more than 81,000 acres of the Atlantic Ocean available for wind energy leases. The section off the New York coast, which is called the New York Wind Energy Area, is on the outer continental shelf, approximately 11 miles south of Long Island. The area is expected to generate at least 700 megawatts of energy, or enough to power a conservative estimate of 245,000 homes. "These are significant steps for our federal offshore renewable energy program," said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. Once the leasing sale is completed, New York will become the 11th state that is either interested or participating in an offshore wind energy leasing project in collaboration with the federal government. Interior expands offshore wind program to New YorkThe Washington Examiner

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Energy Update, May 27

May 31, 2016

In the States

IA – Governor Terry Branstad signed legislation to extend the state’s biodiesel incentives through 2024. The measure retains a state tax credit – two cents per gallon on the first 25 million gallons of production per biodiesel plant – that “helps keep Iowa’s 13 biodiesel producers competitive on a national scale.” The bill also extends a retailers’ credit, which encourages fuel retailers to sell higher blends of biodiesel. According to state officials, in 2015 Iowa’s biodiesel plants produced a record 242 million gallons of biodiesel, supporting at least 3,000 jobs and providing nearly $345 million in economic impact in the state. "We’re pleased to be here in Newton, which is the leader in biodiesel,” the governor said. “We’ve come a long way in the past 20 years, and we want to continue to have Iowa be a leader in renewables, be it ethanol, other biodiesels or wind energy.” Branstad signs bill to expand biodiesel incentives in NewtonThe Newton Daily News

MI – Governor Rick Snyder declared a state of energy emergency via executive order due to a potential shortage of gasoline in Michigan thanks to the shutdown of a Wisconsin fuel pipeline and a power outage at a Detroit refinery. The Governor’s order will allow vehicles transporting fuel “to spend more hours on the road to ensure fuels are available,” suspending state fuel transportation and hours-of-service regulations until June 6th.  The executive order, however, does not waive environmental rules. “We want to make sure the fuel Michiganders need for their travels to work, school or a long weekend trip is available,” Governor Snyder said. “This executive order will help ensure there are no artificial shortages of fuel impacting the state’s residents or visitors.” The last time Governor Snyder declared a statewide energy emergency was in July 2012. Snyder declares energy emergency over fuelThe Detroit News

MT – Governor Steve Bullock attended the ribbon-cutting of a new community solar energy project in the state’s southwestern Bitterroot Valley. The project, spearheaded by the nonprofit Ravalli Electric Cooperative, includes two sets of 88 solar panels that have already produced nearly 11,000 kilowatt-hours of energy since beginning operations in early April. “Today we are seeing a great example of forward-thinking leadership,” Governor Steve Bullock said. “As a result, not only are you meeting the expectations of your customers and harnessing home-grown energy from the sun, but you’ve put more Montanans to work in doing so – from the local electricians to the Montana company that fabricated the racks.” The Bitterroot Valley farm is the third community solar project in Montana, all of which are operated by electric cooperatives. Governor attends REC Valley Solar project ribbon cuttingThe Ravalli Republic News

UT – During his recent Energy Development Summit, Governor Gary Herbert announced that the state, in partnership with Alberta, Canada-based Crescent Point Energy, will begin exploring “the vast oil and natural gas deposits of Utah’s Uinta Basin” in the eastern part of the state. The plans include a potential 4,000-well oil and gas exploration project in the region, which already includes 300 horizontally drilled wells. Governor Herbert hopes the exploratory activities will help decrease the Uinta Basin’s high unemployment rate by providing long-term energy sector jobs, but concurrently noted the importance of diversify the region’s economy. The federal Bureau of Land Management is currently reviewing the project, which includes nearly 160,000 acres across two Utah counties. Crescent Point Energy is planning to invest at least $50 million this year in the Uinta Basin, according to their CEO Scott Saxberg. "The basin has not yet been developed through horizontal means, which has been very successful in other states in opening up plays that people didn't realize were as good,” Mr. Saxberg said. Energy summit details massive project planned for Uinta BasinThe Deseret News

Federal and Regional

The Department of Energy (DOE) is considered awarding a $40 million grant to a University of Maine-led coalition that aspires to develop a wind turbine project off Monhegan Island, a less-than-a-mile rocky outpost ten miles from the mainland. Called the New England Aqua Ventus I, the deep-water wind farm is one of three projects up for consideration by the DOE, which hopes to develop more offshore wind capacity since 80% of the nation’s power demand occurs in coastal states. Aqua Ventus was previously passed over for investment by the DOE in 2014, and if it is awarded federal grant money this year, it will still need close to $100 million in private investment to be completed. The project’s turbine hubs are expected to reach 350 feet above the water while the blades will extend to 600 feet. “The Aqua Ventus project represents a tremendous opportunity for the state to capitalize on our advanced and highly skilled workforce paired with our clean energy ambitions,” said Jeremy Payne, executive director of the Maine Renewable Energy Association. “This project brings together the best of all three worlds: economic growth and innovation; emission-free electricity; and Maine-made secure energy.” UMaine wind project back in running for major federal grantThe Portland Press Herald

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Energy Update, May 13

May 31, 2016

In the States

CO – The state’s Supreme Court recently ruled that local government bans and moratoriums on hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, conflict with state law. Proponents of local government action are now collecting signatures to place on the November ballot a constitutional amendment to restrict oil and gas drilling or to give local governments the authority to do so. One of the proposed constitutional amendments, which would supplant the state Supreme Court ruling if passed, would require minimum distances between wells and homes. “We're taking them as a serious threat to responsible oil and gas development in the state of Colorado," said Karen Crummy, a spokeswoman for an industry-backed group called Protecting Colorado's Environment, Economy and Energy Independence, which will campaign against the amendments. Colorado’s battle over regulating fracking shifts to ballotAP

GA – In collaboration with the Department of the Navy and state officials, Georgia Power announced it will build a new 31 megawatt (MW) alternating current solar generation facility at the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany, Georgia. The new project is the fifth of its kind by Georgia Power – the state’s largest utility and a subsidiary of Southern Company – to be built, maintained, and operated on a military base in the state. The $75 million facility will include nearly 140,000 ground-mounted photovoltaic (PV) panels across 150 acres and is expected to start generating electricity within the next year. "This project will generate solar energy as part of a diverse generation mix, while providing security for the base and a positive economic impact in the local community," said Kenny Coleman, senior vice president of marketing for Georgia Power. "The projects we are developing on our state's military bases are great examples of renewable energy growth being driven by collaboration and innovative partnerships." Georgia Power begins construction on new on-base solar facilityMidtown Patch

KS – Governor Sam Brownback recently signed legislation to suspend the state’s work on a plan to comply with federal regulations on carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants. The new law is scheduled to take effect on May 19th, making Kansas, which is among 27 states challenging the Obama administration’s new rules, the third state to shelve its compliance plans. Specifically, the new measure prohibits the state from “conducting studies or doing other work towards drafting a compliance plan until the U.S. Supreme Court’s stay [on the regulations] are lifted.”  Eileen Hawley, a spokeswoman for Governor Brownback, called the EPA's rules "an unprecedented expansion of its regulatory power" and "an affront to our constitutional order and the rights of our citizens." Kansas suspending work on limiting plans’ carbon emissionsPennEnergy/AP

NJ – At a hearing of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, some lawmakers raised concerns about the cumulative $1.3 billion that was diverted from a state-created, taxpayer-supported clean energy fund to balance state budgets by Governor Chris Christie, a practice first initiated by former Governor Jon Corzine. The clean energy funds, which were originally intended to “reduce energy use and cut emissions contributing to global warming,” have been diverted by the executive branch in every budget since the 2008 state fiscal year. In next year’s budget, Governor Christie proposes to use $114.5 million from the fund to pay for energy costs at state buildings and for NJ Transit while another $3.7 million will pay for operational costs of the clean energy offices at both the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Board of Public Utilities. However, Board of Public Utilities President Richard Mroz, who appeared before a legislative committee, assured the legislators that “New Jersey has and continues to have a robust energy-efficiency program that is meeting our needs and reducing emissions.”  He also noted that the state has invested more than $2.4 billion in energy efficiency over the last 15 years. Over $1 billion meant for NJ clean energy fund diverted for other usesNJ Spotlight

Federal and Regional

A group of 68 United States Representatives, led by California Rep. Jared Huffman, sent a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell asking the Department to exclude certain portions of Alaskan Arctic Ocean from all future oil and gas lease sales. The two areas noted by the Members of Congress include the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, which have already been approved for drilling by the Obama administration. The letter, which was signed by one Republican – Rep. Robert Dold of Illinois – and 67 Democratic lawmakers, noted that barring lease sales in the Alaskan Arctic Ocean will help the United States meet the Paris Agreement’s target of keeping global temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius. According to the Interior Department, the area slated for exploration in the Chukchi Sea includes approximately 15 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 78 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas while the Beaufort Sea could hold 8 billion barrels of oil and close to 28 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. "Ending oil and gas development in the Arctic would send a powerful international signal that the United States is committed to investing its resources in a climate safe, clean-energy future," the letter stated. Lawmakers want to end Arctic oil and gas leasingThe Washington Examiner

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Energy Update, April 29

May 31, 2016

In the States

AZ – The Arizona Public Service (APS) Company, the state’s largest utility, and SolarCity, one of the nation’s leading solar energy companies, agreed to withdraw competing ballot initiatives regarding residential solar projects, rates and leasing, and net metering. The agreement was brokered by Governor Doug Ducey and several Republican state legislators led by Senator Debbie Lesko of Peoria. The initiative backed by SolarCity would have mandated paying homeowners with rooftop solar panels the full retail price for any excess power they send to the grid while the APS-backed measure would have mandated separate rates for rooftop solar users, and would have also regulated SolarCity and other solar leasing companies as utilities. Instead, APS and Solar City agreed to a mediation process that involves the Governor’s office. "The people of Arizona resoundingly support solar," former Arizona Corporation Commissioner Kris Mayes said. "And I think that's why the Governor's office decided to show some leadership in this process and help these parties along." Deal ends fight between SolarCity, APS for nowAssociated Press

ME – The state’s House of Representatives failed to override Governor Paul LePage’s veto of a bill seeking to reform state policies and regulations for solar power. The legislation, LD 1649, would have replaced Maine’s net energy metering (NEM) policy with a market-based program requiring utilities to sign long-term contracts for solar energy across the residential, commercial, and grid market segments. The bill, which was negotiated over several months between legislators, industry, and consumer groups, also called for adding 196 megawatts of solar power over four year after enactment of the market-based program. The measure’s proponents claimed the bill would have also  created at least 650 jobs and saved ratepayers $58 to $110 million. “The cost of ever-increasing solar mandates in this bill would be borne by ratepayers with no price cap, allowing above-market contracts to be added to stranded costs,” said Governor LePage in his veto message. Maine Governor vetoes solar compromise bill – Solar Industry Mag and Maine solar bill defeatedMaine NPR

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced nearly $60 million in weatherization assistance program (WAP) funds and $150 million in funding to support large-scale renewable energy projects. The weatherization assistance funds, according to the Governor, will help cut utility costs for close to 9,000 low-income families and seniors. Additionally, the funds may be used for insulation, improving heating systems, and diagnostic tests to monitor air quality. The WAP is administered by the New York State Homes and Community Renewal Office with funds from the U.S. Department of Energy and Health and Human Services. Governor Cuomo said the renewable energy funding will help facilitate public-private partnerships and advance his Reforming the Energy Vision strategy. The Governor also said the funds will help the state achieve its goal of generating 50% of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030. “This funding, said Governor Cuomo, “will build on [our] success by helping more New Yorkers save money on energy costs while creating cleaner and more sustainable communities in every corner of the state.” Governor Cuomo announced $57 million in fundingThe Long Island and Cuomo announced $150 million available for renewable projectsReal Estate NY

Federal and Regional

The United States Senate recently passed bipartisan energy policy legislation, called the Energy Policy Modernization Act, by a vote of 85 to 12. The measure, which was spearheaded by Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Maria Cantwell of Washington, seeks to promote renewable energy, improve buildings’ energy efficiency, and speed the export of domestically-produced liquefied natural gas. Specifically, the bill requires energy infrastructure upgrades to electricity lines and transformers while also encouraging the creation of large-scale electricity storage systems and accelerating “the approval of permits to build coastal terminals for shipping American natural gas abroad.” The legislation, the first significant energy bill since 2007, now moves to a conference with the House of Representatives as negotiators from both chambers will meet to negotiate a compromise bill. “The Senate’s overwhelming approval of our broad, bipartisan bill is a significant victory that brings us much closer to our goal of modernizing our nation’s energy policies. From minerals to hydropower to innovation, this bill features a wide range of provisions that will strengthen our economy, our security, and our standing in the world,” Senator Murkowski said. Senate passes legislation tailored to a modern energy landscapeThe New York Times

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Energy Update, April 15

May 31, 2016

In the States

The NC Clean Energy Technology Center released its 2015 annual review of state regulatory and legislative deliberations on solar energy policy, including net metering, business and residential community solar projects, charges and fees, third-party ownership, and rooftop programs. According to the report, 27 states considered or enacted changes to their net metering policies while 24 states debated the value of distributed generation. The report also found that 61 utility companies in 30 states proposed increased monthly fixed charges on residential customers at a median rate of $5 per month and that another 21 utilities in 13 states proposed adding new or increasing charges for rooftop solar customers. The report only found three states – North Dakota, Wyoming, and Mississippi – that did not discuss or focus on solar energy policy in 2015. Ben Inskeep, an energy policy analyst with the NC Clean Energy Technology Center, said ““If we want to continue to increase the amount of electricity we generate from clean energy and keep these good jobs in our communities, then it is paramount that solar policies fairly treat – not penalize – folks who go solar.” 46 US states took action on solar though policies and rates in 2015CleanTechnica

CO – Governor John Hickenlooper asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to reconsider its decision to halt the construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipeline. The Governor believes the pipeline, known as the Jordan Cove and Pacific Connector Pipeline Project, would give Colorado access to West Coast and international markets interested in LNG through the Coos Bay, Oregon LNG export terminal. FERC, in its decision issued last month, said the project had not “demonstrated interest from purchasers” even though Veresen, the company interested in the project, said it has “preliminary agreements for at least half of its planned initial capacity.” Governor Hickenlooper said “it is important for shippers and domestic natural gas producers to continue to access markets for natural gas, including the Asian Pacific countries which comprise the fastest growing LNG market in the world.” Guv exhorts feds to revisit Jordan CoveThe Daily Sentinel

HI –Hawaii recently decided to terminate its solar energy net metering incentive program, after receiving a request from the state’s utility, the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO). In response to the state’s decision, ten of the 16 solar energy companies with business in Hawaii, have laid off workers or reduced employee hours. According to the Hawaii Solar Energy Association, who finds that its members employ close to 3,000 people in Hawaii, ending net metering “has caused a decrease in the number of homeowners getting rooftop solar systems.” After closing down its program, the state created two incentive programs, one of which does not allow customers to send their excess energy to the state’s grid while the other increases fees and decreases credits for customers that do send their excess energy to the grid. End of Hawaii’s solar credit program spells trouble for industryGoverning

MA – Governor Charlie Baker signed into law a bill to support the continued development of commercial and residential solar energy projects across the commonwealth. The legislation raises the public and private net metering caps by 3 percentage points and decreases the value of the power credits sold by many solar-producing residents by around 40%. The bill also instructs the Department of Public Utilities to “gradually transition the solar industry to a more self-sustaining model” while convening stakeholders to discuss updating the commonwealth’s solar incentive program. “This legislation builds upon the continued success of the Commonwealth’s solar industry and ensures a viable, sustainable and affordable solar market at a lower cost to ratepayers,” Governor Baker said. “As our administration continues its balanced approach to diversifying Massachusetts’ energy portfolio, solar development will be an integral component of our state’s clean energy future.” Governor Baker signs comprehensive solar legislation into lawThe Bay State Banner

RI – Governor Gina Raimondo recently released the state’s 2016 Clean Energy Jobs Report, which found that that clean energy jobs in Rhode Island have increased by 40% over the last 12 months. The clean energy industry, according to the report, now accounts for more than 14,000 jobs across the state. The report also found that wind energy supports nearly 500 jobs while energy efficiency employment represents approximately 3,000 jobs in Rhode Island. Additionally, 75% of the state’s clean energy companies now serve in-state customers, an increase of nearly 10% over 2014 estimates, while renewable and energy efficient cooling and hearting companies increased their workforce by 900 jobs. “We've made extraordinary strides in promoting renewable energy, from expanding our solar industry to construction of the nation's first offshore wind farm,” said Governor Raimondo. “Rhode Island is leading the way, and I look forward to continuing to work with our partners to keep the momentum going.” RI’s green energy jobs touted at East Providence solar plantEast Providence Patch

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Energy Update, March 25

March 28, 2016

In the States

AK – Governor Bill Walker will seek the state legislature’s approval to sell a significant part of the state’s royalty crude oil. The current plan would sell oil of up to 25,000 barrels per day to Tesoro Alaska, one of the country’s largest refining companies, under a five year contract. The state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently concluded that the sale, which is projected to generate about $45 to $56 million in revenue, is in the state’s best interest. The DNR’s decision follows a favorable recommendation to the state legislature from the Alaska Royalty Oil and Gas Development Board, which oversees proposed royalty sales. Alaska is currently facing a $3.8 billion budget deficit,  largely attributable to low oil and gas prices. Walker administration plans to sell much of state’s royalty oil to TesoroThe Alaska Dispatch News

MA – Governor Charlie Baker said he would support efforts by the General Court, the state’s legislature, to pass an omnibus energy package that helps “to spur the development of offshore wind.” The Governor, in his message to legislators, also reiterated his primary focus of allowing the state’s utilities to solicit up to 2,400 megawatts of Canadian hydroelectricity, which the Governor notes will help the state meet its carbon emissions targets. Concurrent with the Governor’s announcement, three former secretaries of energy and environmental affairs, all under former Governor Deval Patrick, announced their support of Governor Baker’s plans. The state House of Representatives is expected to begin debate on a comprehensive energy bill in April. Baker amenable to offshore windThe Commonwealth and Former Patrick secretaries have Baker’s back on hydropower pushWWLP 22

WY – Governor Matt Mead published his administration’s updated statewide energy strategy. The Governor’s new plan, which builds upon previously-issued goals in 2013, seeks to “make coal a more viable resource and [includes] efforts to grow the state’s wind-energy sector.” Comparing the original and updated energy strategies, Governor Mead noted that 29 of the 47 energy-, conservation-, and economic development-focused initiatives listed in the initial plan were completed, including promoting liquefied natural gas and updating requirements around oil and gas operations. The 2016 strategy features 11 new initiatives, including completing an inventory of state and federal cooperative agreements, reviewing state oil and gas environmental regulations, and executing timely energy audits to improve efficiency. “Wyoming has a track record of excellence in energy development and stewardship,” said Governor Mead. “The energy strategy provides a systematic approach. The strategy is dynamic and this update continues this important work.” Mead unveils a new energy strategy to reflect the timesThe Casper Star Tribune

Federal and Regional

The Obama administration released a revised proposed offshore leasing plan that “eliminates the administration’s initial plan to auction off drilling rights in as many as 104 million acres of the mid- and south-Atlantic in 2021.” The modified program, however, allows for the selling of oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Arctic waters, namely in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. The policy change followed months of lobbying by both environmentalists and coastal communities in favor of the alteration and those opposed, including the oil industry and some Governors, principally Nathan Deal of Georgia, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, and Terry McAuliffe of Virginia. The revised proposal, which does not affect the oil industry’s existing drilling rights, is subject to public comment, which may further impact the final leasing plan that is expected to be completed by the end of this year. “This is a balanced proposal that protects sensitive resources and supports safe and responsible development of the nation’s domestic energy resources to create jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. Obama bars Atlantic offshore oil drilling in policy reversalBloomberg

A bipartisan group of 19 Senators wrote to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy, urging her to set higher blending targets under the national Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in 2017. The EPA retroactively set blending targets for the RFS for 2014, 2015, and 2016 last November and is expected to issue the 2017 targets in the coming weeks. According to the Senators, the EPA’s setting of low blending targets in previous years, primarily due to concerns that higher percentages could cause vehicle issues and the lack of distribution infrastructure, does not follow congressional intent. “We need a strong RFS, and we need more biofuels. “We expect that you get the program ‘back on track’,” wrote the Senators, “and we look forward to seeing a proposed rule released on time that removes the distribution waiver and re-establishes the United States as a leader in the biofuel sector.” Senators want higher blending targets for RFS in 2017Morning Consult

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Energy Update, March 11

March 28, 2016

In the States

ME – Governor Paul LePage announced his opposition to a proposal to expand solar power capacity in Maine. The proposal, which was supported by solar power companies, the state’s Office of the Public Advocate, and utilities Central Maine Power and Emera Maine, seeks to “grow solar capacity in Maine from about 28 megawatts to 250 megawatts in five years, or two percent of the state’s power needs.” According to supporters, the plan would have created an estimated 800 jobs and allowed net metering through 2029 by encouraging the growth of community, industrial, and commercial solar farms. “We’re not opposed to solar,” said Lisa Smith, a senior planner in the Governor’s energy office. “But we’re looking out for the cost to all ratepayers. We were in favor of a mechanism that went in a market-based direction, but this isn’t it.” LePage opposes compromise to rapidly expand solar powerThe Portland Press Herald

NH – The House of Representatives supported a bill to raise the cap on the state’s net metering program, which permits solar power-generating residents and businesses to sell their excess energy into the greater electric grid. The current cap on reimbursement for residents is set at 50 megawatts (MW) while the recently-passed measure would double the cap to 100MW. The state Senate, earlier in the current session, backed a measure to increase the cap to 75MW. Governor Maggie Hassan supports lifting the cap to 100MW, a step she called a “critical part of New Hampshire’s move toward a clean energy economy.” NH House votes to raise cap on net meteringNHPR

OR – The Legislative Assembly approved a measure to exclude coal from the state’s energy supply by 2030 and to double mandates for renewable energy by 2040. Specifically, the bill requires the state’s utilities – Portland General Electric (PGE) and Pacific Power – to follow timelines to remove coal-fired electricity generation while also mandating a 50% renewable energy standard, up from a 25% standard by 2025 that was set in 2007. PGE, which serves more than 900,000 customers across the state, projects the change will increase costs for the average consumer by about 1.5% annually between 2017 and 2040. Known as the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan, the legislation received bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate and now heads to Governor Kate Brown’s desk for her signature. Governor Brown indicated earlier that she would support the legislation, noting she believes it "equips Oregon with a bold and progressive path towards the energy resource mix of the future." Oregon Senate passes bill to scrap coal power by 2030Associated Press/KTVZ

TX – Net Power, a collaboration between Exelon Corporation, CB&I, and 8 Rivers Capital, broke ground on a “first-of-its-kind” natural gas power plant near Houston. The 50-megawatt pilot project, which is projected to be operational in 2017, is unique because it will send carbon dioxide emitted from the power plant into a sequestration pipeline that will allow the gas to be stored, used for oil recovery, or employed in industrial practices. The $140 billion pilot plant will utilize the Allam Cycle, a thermodynamic cycle technology that generates power from fossil fuels by burning natural gas with oxygen and high-pressure carbon dioxide. “Net Power is the first technology that allows policy and economics to work together, instead of against each other, to ensure the world meets our climate targets,” said Net Power CEO Bill Brown. Net Power beaks ground on demonstration plantsYahoo News

UT – The State Legislature passed legislation to invest at least $50 million for a deep-water, coal shipping facility at the Port of Oakland, California. Supporters believe the bill, which now heads to Governor Gary Herbert’s desk for his consideration, will assist Utah in selling coal and other products overseas. The bill transfers sales-tax revenue funds along with federal mineral royalties to a new infrastructure fund to be controlled by the state’s Permanent Community Impact Board. The Board traditionally has loaned or granted funds to Utah’s rural coal counties to pay for local developments and projects. Before any money can be spent, the new facility requires the approval of Governor Jerry Brown of California and the Oakland City Council. Utah Legislature Oks $53 million case swap to fund Oakland coal portThe Salt Lake Tribune

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