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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, 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, 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 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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Energy Update, February 5

March 28, 2016

In the States

AZ – The Arizona Corporation Commission voted 3 to 2 in favor of the proposed SunZia transmission line between Arizona and New Mexico. The $2 billion, 515-mile-long project seeks to export electricity generated from wind, solar, and geothermalEmilistaEmilista power in Arizona and New Mexico to markets in the western United States. SunZia, which is a joint project between Salt River Project, Shell WindEnergy, Southwestern Power Group, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association and Tuscon Electric Power, will now go to the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission for its approval. The project received approval from the federal government last year. According to an economic impact assessment by New Mexico State University and the University of Arizona, the project could create about 35,000 jobs and help to transport power from sites that have nearly 22,000 megawatts of untapped solar and wind resources. “Today’s action by the ACC represents a significant milestone in the development of critical electric infrastructure in the Southwest United States,” Ian Calkins, a SunZia spokesman, said. SunZia gets approval for Arizona lineThe Albuquerque Business Journal

CA – A state legislator announced his intentions to bypass Governor Jerry Brown and to seek the public’s disapproval of the state’s Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) through a statewide referendum and ballot initiative. Democratic Assemblyman Mike Gatto of Glendale, who also chairs the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee, believes the CPUC “has been a profound disappointment to residents and hopes voters will approve his plan to dismantle it by 2018. Mr. Gatto contends the PUC is not only too close to the companies it regulates but also is slow to respect to crises, including to an ongoing gas leak in Southern California. His proposal, which needs approval by two-thirds of lawmakers to be placed on the 2016 ballot, would strip the CPUC of its constitutional protections and reallocate its responsibilities to other departments or agencies. A co-author of the measure, Assemblyman Marc Levine, a San Rafael Democrat, said “In recent history the PUC has been riddled with questions about the commission's ability to regulate with the people's best interest in mind.” Lawmaker Seeks To Dissolve California Utilities RegulatorAssociated Press

OR – Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins is investigating the state’s Business Energy Tax Credit for cases of fraud and wrongdoing. The Secretary announced that her department will issue a request for proposal to audit the entire tax credit program, which is run by the state’s Department of energy, after she and her staff discovered “extensive gaps in the [program’s] files” for the $1 billion tax credits the program has granted. Chris Pair, a spokesman for Governor Kate Brown, said “Governor Brown welcomes the effort to learn more about financial incentive program issues at the Oregon Department of Energy through this audit.” In addition to the Secretary’s review, which is slated to be completed by August 2016, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Oregon Department of Justice, and the state legislature are analyzing and investigating the tax credit program. Oregon Secretary of State joins crowd investigating Energy Department tax creditsThe Oregonian

SC – Governor Nikki Haley and officials from the National Renewable Energy Corporation (NARENCO) announced the company is planning to invest at least $85 million in solar power operations and projects in Allendale County.  NARENCO, which is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina and was established in 2009, expects their Allendale facility will be operational by the end of 2017. The project is expected to produce nearly 70 megawatts of alternating current, or enough solar energy to power approximately 14,000 homes. NARENCO has roughly 70 other solar facilities across the southeastern United States. "NARENCO's investment in Allendale is another example of a company seeing the opportunities being created by Team South Carolina's approach to creating a business-friendly environment that companies from any industry can thrive in,” said Governor Haley. “We're excited to welcome NARENCO to the South Carolina family, and to celebrate its $85 million investment in our state and our people.” NARENCO expands solar power center in Allendale, SCSouth Carolina Area Development News

Federal and Regional

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved the construction of a proposed 515-mile-long natural gas pipeline, which would cross Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. The project, which still requires the approval of the Army Corps of Engineers, is expected to deliver nearly 1 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas to Florida Power & Light, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy. Known as the Sabal Trail pipeline, the project is a joint venture between Duke Energy, Spectra Energy, and NextEra Energy. Pipeline gets federal permitThe Suwannee Democrat

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Energy Update, February 26

March 28, 2016

In the States

MD – The state Senate recently approved a measure by a 38 to 8 vote to require the state to cut its greenhouse gas emission by 40% below 2006 levels by 2030. The previous goal, which was set by the state in 2010, was to reduce emissions by 25% by 2020. The bill reauthorizes and expands the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act’s requirements, which will expire at the end of 2016 if the General Assembly does not pass the legislation. The bill now heads to the Maryland House of Delegates for its consideration. “This bill is not only important, it’s urgent,” said state Senator Jamie Raskin after voting in favor of the measure. The new goal stems from the state’s Climate Chance Commission, which includes state legislators, private businesses, and state agency secretaries. Maryland Senate Oks new goal for reducing greenhouse gasesThe Baltimore Sun

NV – Governor Brian Sandoval issued an executive order to reconvene the state’s New Energy Industry Task Force, which will help the Governor’s Office of Energy to support the development of “renewable energy and distributed energy resources in Nevada.” The Task Force is required to make recommendations to the state regarding compliance with federal regulations and laws but also to analyze clean energy sources, including rooftop solar power, and the creation of a modern, cost-effective energy grid. Angela Dykema, director of the Office of Energy, will chair the Task Force and will be joined by Kathryn Arbeit of First Solar and Jeremy Susac of Sunstreet. “There are few more critical issues to Nevada’s future than clean and renewable energy. Not only does this sector drive many economic-development opportunities,” said Governor Sandoval, “but it also helps us improve the quality of life for many Nevadans by helping keep our air clean, water fresh, and allows us to explore our unlimited potential in the wealth of renewables Nevada has to offer.” Nevada Governor reconvenes Energy Industry Task ForceSolar Industry News and Nevada Governor brings back Energy Industry Task ForcePV Tech

WV – The state legislature is considering easing oil and gas industry restrictions and dropping surtaxes on coal mining and natural gas drilling in West Virginia. The House of Delegates recently voted 96 to 3 to eliminate  the severance taxes of 56 cents per ton of coal and 4.7 cents per thousand cubic feet of natural gas. According to Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, who proposed dropping the severance taxes, the two levies had raised  nearly $110 million in state  revenue annually. Meanwhile, the state Senate recently passed two bills – SB 508 and SB 565 –which limit property owner’s ability to sue when their property has been devalued thanks to nearby drilling operations and to allow drillers to begin building well pads and access roads prior to getting a state-approved permit, respectively. Bills in each chamber now go to the other chamber for their consideration. WV lawmakers OK bill to drop coal, natural gas surtaxThe State Journal and Senate advanced two bills to aid gas drillersThe Charleston Gazette-Mail

Federal and Regional

The Governors of 17 states signed a pact to develop cleaner energy and transportation. Known as the Governors’ Accord for a New Energy Future, the pact calls for “embracing new energy solutions to expand the economy and protect the health of communities and natural resources.” Governor Jerry Brown of California noted the pact will explore energy-efficient regional electric grids, pooling buying power to purchase cheaper clean-energy vehicles, and research and development for  energy storage. "We believe that this is a robust driver of economic growth, not a brake on economic growth," said Washington State Governor Jay Inslee. Other states involved in the pact include Delaware, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia. 17 Governors announce clean energy, transportation agreementABC News

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Energy Update, January 22

March 28, 2016

In the States

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the state plans to spend at least $5 billion over the next ten years  through a Clean Energy Fund established to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, to increase energy efficiency, and to promote renewable energy projects and infrastructure. The Governor’s plan, which was proposed several years ago, finally received approval from the state’s Public Service Commission. The Clean Energy Fund, according to the Governor, will help the state achieve its latest goal of generating 50% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and will be managed by the state’s Energy Research and Development Authority. Approximately $1 billion of the Fund will be appropriated to solar energy projects while nearly $800 million will go to the New York Green Bank, a state-run lending program for clean energy projects. “We are raising the bar when it comes to increasing the use of renewable energy and reducing harmful carbon emissions,” said Governor Cuomo, “And I am proud that the Empire State is continuing to set the example for the future." New York Governor unveils $5B Clean Energy FundFortune

SC – Governor Nikki Haley announced that Cypress Creek Renewables, which specializes in long-term solar energy projects, will expand its operations and invest at least $12 million in South Carolina. Cypress Creek Renewables, which is based in California, is planning to build two solar power facilities in Saluda County – one nine-megawatt and one four-megawatt solar power station, or enough power to supply electricity to approximately 2,800 homes. The latest investment follows an earlier announcement by Cypress last year to invest nearly $70 million in six solar energy projects in Hampton County. All of these projects, which are expected to create hundreds of jobs, are slated to be operational by the end of 2016. “Team South Carolina’s approach to providing a business-friendly environment for all types of companies continues to pay off, and Cypress Creek’s investment in Saluda County is a testament to that,” said Governor Haley. “We look forward to seeing the impact that the renewable energy industry will have in Saluda, and across the state.” Cypress Creek Renewables establishes solar power operations in Saluda CountyThe Times and Democrat and Cypress Creek Renewables establishes solar power operations -- SGA

VA – Two state legislators, Senator Donald McEachin (D) of Henrico and Delegate Ronald Villanueva (R) of Virginia Beach, introduced legislation requiring the commonwealth’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a regional cap-and-trade program and cooperative effort between nine northeastern states. The bill, according to its sponsors, would “generate $250 million in new state revenue if Virginia [became] the 10th state to join RGGI, which counts Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont as members. The legislation also allows the state to create its own cap-and-trade program for carbon dioxide emissions. Additionally, the bill aims to direct any new state revenue received as part of Virginia joining RGGI to helping coastal communities and to energy efficiency projects. “Trying to do the right thing by the environment is not a Democratic issue; it’s not a Republican issue. It’s something we should all be concerned about,” Senator McEachin said. Lawmakers push for a cap and trade energy law with a focus on conservationThe Richmond Times-Dispatch

Federal and Regional

Following a unanimous vote from its bipartisan 22-member governors, the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition has changed its name to the Governors’ Wind and Solar Energy Coalition (GWSC). The group plans to broaden its agenda to include solar energy issues and advocacy, which has included support for long-term extensions of federal renewable energy production and investment tax credits. The new group’s leadership, which was recently selected for 2016, will remain in place with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad as chair and Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo as vice chair. “The addition of solar to the Coalition’s portfolio,” said Governor Branstad, “represents a commitments to future economic and renewable energy growth, and further diversification of our nation’s energy portfolio.” Governor Raimondo added, “I support the foresight of my colleagues to broaden the Coalition’s focus and include solar energy development as a policy priority. Wind and solar provide complementary benefits to the U.S. electric grid and will help diversify the country’s energy mix.” According to SNL Energy, wind and solar energy accounted for 61% of all new generation capacity in 2015. Governors’ coalition teams up with wind energy and solar power to advance renewable energy across U.S.REVE

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Energy Update, January 8

January 11, 2016

In the States

NJ – The state legislature approved a proposal to support the construction of a windmill farm off the coast of Atlantic City. The bill would permit but not require the state’s Board of Public Utilities to “approve the wind farm off the coast.” The project, which is expected to be built by Fishermen’s Energy, an offshore wind development company, includes six wind turbines that could produce up to 25 megawatts of electricity, or enough to power 10,000 homes. Following the state legislature’s passage of the bill, Environment New Jersey Research and Policy Center announced New Jersey has the “highest potential to develop offshore wind energy of any mid-Atlantic or New England state.” The environmental group estimates that as much as 1,700 megawatts of wind power – enough to power at least 500,000 homes – could be built in New Jersey over the next five years. The legislation now heads to Governor Chris Christie’s desk for his consideration, though many expect the Governor will let it die as the legislative session closes. NJ lawmakers approve bill for windmill farm off Atlantic City coastCBS New York and Environmental group: NJ’s offshore wind power potential is tops -- PennEnergy

NV – The Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved a plan to cut and eventually sunset the state’s net metering payments for rooftop solar systems. About 40 states have net-metering programs, which allow homeowners with rooftop solar panel installations to be compensated with credits for any excess electricity they generate. Following the PUC’s decision, SunRun and SolarCity, two of the largest solar energy companies in the United States, announced they would cease all operations in Nevada. SunRun projects the move will result in hundreds of job losses and SolarCity already announced it eliminated 550 positions in Nevada and stopped all sales and installations. The PUC’s decision, according to solar advocates, benefits the state’s only utility company, NV Energy, which is owned by billionaire Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy company. “Nevada passed incentives to attract residents to go solar,” said Bryan Miller, senior vice president of public policy and power markets at SunRun, “But after baiting homeowners with incentives, the state switched the rules, penalizing solar homeowners to deliver additional profit to NV Energy." Governor Brian Sandoval said that while he supports solar energy and will assist employees who are losing or have lost their jobs, the solar companies should “respect the process.” “I’m not taking sides,” said Governor Sandoval, “You have 17,000 rooftop solar customers. You have [approximately] 700,000 NV Energy customers who are essentially subsidizing that." Governor Sandoval weighs-in on solar flare-upKTNV and Rooftop solar company SunRun says it is also exiting NevadaThe Las Vegas Review-Journal

OR – State Treasurer Ted Wheeler sent a letter to Governor Kate Brown asking the Governor to suspend the Oregon Department of Energy’s small-scale energy loan program (SELP), which Treasurer Wheeler called “no longer self-sustaining” and in need of a taxpayer bailout. The Treasurer noted that the program, which was launched in 1981 and provides low-interest loans to governments and small businesses, has a $20 million deficit. Additionally, Treasurer Wheeler believes a SELP bailout would cost Oregon taxpayers at least $15.3 million or more if more loans go into default. In 2012, Treasurer Wheeler sent a similar notice to then Governor John Kitzhaber though no action was taken. "The program needs to be reined in right now," said Treasurer Wheeler. State Treasurer asks governor to suspend Energy Department’s troubled loan programThe Oregonian and Wheeler: State must end faltering energy loan programThe Portland Tribune

Federal and Regional

The Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, a bipartisan coalition of 20 Governors dedicated to the development of wind energy resources, chose Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo as its new chair and vice chair, respectively, for 2016. “I look forward to working with Governor Raimondo and our Coalition colleagues to help the wind energy industry diversify our nation’s energy portfolio and drive economic development in our states,” said Governor Branstad. “We will continue to share best practices across the states and work with Federal leaders to deliver stability and predictability in supportive Federal policies.” According to Governor Branstad, 28.5% of the energy produced in Iowa came from wind power. Governor Raimondo said “Wind power expansion will create jobs, diversify our energy sources, and ensure long-term energy affordability.” Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition names new leadership teamNA Wind

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Energy Update, Dec. 18

December 23, 2015

In the States

NC – According to a new report by the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA), North Carolina is expected to remain second only to California in terms of utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) electric installations in 2015. The state, which now accounts for 8% of the national total of megawatts of utility-scale PV capacity, currently has more than 1.5 gigawatts of utility-scale solar power and is expected to have close to 2.5 gigawatts by the end of 2016. The EIA and some state officials noted the state’s renewable energy portfolio standard as a contributing factor for the increase in solar power. Federal energy report says NC could add gigawatt’s worth of solar farms in 2016Triad Business Journal

OR – The state’s Department of Energy recently announced it awarded almost $300,000 in state and federal funds to pilot projects focused on energy storage and microgrid technologies. The money will help fund a two-year demonstration project by the Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB), the state’s largest consumer-owned utility, which will seek to combine 500 kilowatts of electric energy storage and solar photovoltaic panels. The project, which is known as the Grid Edge Demonstration, seeks to prove how “a consumer-owned utility can help increase community resiliency by providing electricity resources when transmission lines and power facilities are down.” Will Price, an EWEB official, said the project “will [also] test and measure support for three types of community infrastructure, with energy storage for a water and electricity emergency operations hub, a water pump station, and a multi-agency communications site.” Oregon to fund solar, energy storage microgrid demonstration projectRenewable Energy News

SC – Almost 500 small businesses signed a letter to Governor Nikki Haley opposing oil and natural gas drilling off South Carolina’s coast. The letter, which was spearheaded by Don’t Drill SC Lowcountry, a citizen-led nonpartisan advocacy group, states “offshore oil and gas development jeopardizes the advantages that our businesses have” and discusses how drilling may negatively impact the local economy. The letter also notes the state’s increasing influx of tourists and the “distinctive sense of place, [the] fragile ecology, and numerous outdoor recreational opportunities” available in South Carolina, which is one of four states whose coasts are under consideration for energy development. Governor Haley, who is a member of the Outer Continental Shelf Governors Coalition, said through her spokeswoman, Chaney Adams, that she still supports offshore drilling, which she views as “critical to the state’s economic development, energy independence from other countries, and [to] security for our state.” Hundreds of small businesses urge Nikki Haley to oppose offshore energy developmentThe Post and Courier

UT – The Utah Red Hills Renewable Park, the state’s first fully-functional, utility-sized solar power plant, was recently completed. The 632-acre Renewable Park, which is based in Parowan, Utah, includes more than 340,000 solar panels that are projected to reduce carbon emissions by at least 145 tons annually and create more than 200 temporary jobs. Blake Thomas, Renewable Energy Development Coordinator for the Governor’s Office of Energy Development, said the Red Hills project is part of Governor Gary Herbert’s all-of-the-above energy policy, further noting that the project will benefit Utahns. Luigi Resta, CEO of Scatec Solar North America, called Red Hills a “pioneering project, [which] should have positive benefits for many of the counties and the communities with both job creation, new tax benefits and ultimately [low energy prices].” Utah’s first utility-scale solar energy plant amps up to deliverSt. George News

Federal and Regional

Congress recently passed a bipartisan $1.1 trillion omnibus spending package for Fiscal Year 2016, sending the bill to President Barack Obama for his signature. The legislation includes a number of energy-focused proposals, including an extension of tax credits for wind and solar power projects and the lifting of the 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports. The solar energy tax credit, for example, which was slated to expire at the end of 2016, was extended for five years. The credit will remain at 30% until 2019 and then will gradually decline to 10% by 2022. Additionally, solar energy projects will now only “be required to begin construction, rather than operation, as is the case now, to qualify for the credit.” According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the credits will attract at least $40 billion in solar investments over the next four years while doubling the jobs in the solar industry. The President is expected to sign the legislation soon. Proposed extension of tax credits for renewable energy would have uneven effectThe New York Times and Solar tax credit to spur $40 billion in U.S. investment by 2020Bloomberg

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