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Energy Update, Dec. 4

December 23, 2015

In the States

CT – Governor Dan Malloy announced his intention to have Connecticut sign onto the Under 2 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) global agreement, a compact among cities and states “to limit the increase in global average temperatures to below two degrees Celsius.” Governments signing onto the MOU agree to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 80 to 95 percent below 1990 levels or to limit their greenhouse gases to two metric tons of carbon dioxide per capita by 2050. Connecticut joins 7 other states as signatories to the pact – New Hampshire, California, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. “Connecticut has set an aggressive goal for reducing carbon emissions to combat climate change – and is determined to do so in a manner that improves our environment and air quality while increasing our energy security, building our economy, and creating jobs,” said Governor Malloy. Connecticut signs onto climate agreement, committing to carbon emission reductionThe Stratford Star

NY – In an executive order to the Department of Public Service, Governor Andrew Cuomo has requested an update to the state’s clean energy standard to mandate that 50% of all electricity by 2030 be derived from clean and renewable energy sources. The Governor requested the Department to provide a policy outlining this position by July 2016 to the state’s Public Service Commission (PSC), which in coordination with the Department will ultimately decide if the proposals aligns with the State Energy Plan and Governor Cuomo’s larger Reforming Energy Vision blueprint. The Governor’s mandate, according to his administration, will also draw from the ongoing $5.3 billion state Clean Energy Fund to encourage the deployment of renewable energy technology and sources as solar and wind power farms. “Talking about goals and achieving them are two different things,” Cuomo stated in the executive order to Audrey Zibelman, chair of the state PSC. “By mandating a Clean Energy Standard, we ensure that this goal is converted from aspirational to actionable.” Cuomo sets renewable energy mandateThe Democrat & Chronicle

SD – The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) recently approved the construction of the 1,134-mile Dakota Access pipeline, which will carry crude oil from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa to Illinois. The pipeline, which is projected to transport 450,000 barrels day, was approved on a 2 to 1 vote following more than a year of public deliberation on the project’s “value to the state and its potential to damage the environment and the productivity of the agricultural land it will cross beneath.” The 30-inch pipeline, which is projected to cross almost 300 miles of South Dakota, will need easement approvals, may require eminent domain proceedings, and will also require notification to inform landowners about the land-reclamation for process for replacing topsoil and for repairing drain tile along the pipeline’s route. The project is expected to create temporary construction jobs in addition to bringing $12 million in property taxes per year to South Dakota. "We applaud the decision of the PUC and look forward to the benefits this pipeline project will bring our state for years to come," said David Owen, president of the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry. State approves Dakota Access pipelineThe Argus Leader

Federal and Regional

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its final volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for 2016. The new mandate calls for adding 18.11 billion gallons of biofuels, including corn ethanol, biodiesel, and cellulosic ethanol, in the national fuel market. The recently-set EPA fuel requirement is 4 billion gallons or almost 20% less than what is required under the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. “I am extremely disappointed that the EPA’s final decision failed to follow the renewable volume levels set by Congress,” said Iowa Governor Terry Branstad. “Unfortunately, today’s decision shows the lack of interest in providing consumers choice at the pump, creating jobs and increasing incomes in Rural America, and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.  This rule falls far too short of a robust RFS and short of the standards set by Congress.” Obama curbs ethanol in blow to corn growersPolitico and EPA lowers RFS levels for 2014, 2015, 2016The Iowa Republican

As part of its Advanced Research Projects Energy Office, the federal Department of Energy awarded almost $3 million to two New Mexico-based companies to develop “cost-effective hydrogen production for fuel cells” and “a low-cost transformer that uses no capacitors or semiconductor switches.” This type of technology utilizes an electrolyzer to turn wind or solar power into hydrogen, which can be stored for later use. The recipients are Albuquerque-based Pajarito Powder, which received $2.8 million, and Los Alamos-based Tibbar Technologies, which received $3.5 million. The grants were announced earlier this week by New Mexico Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich. ABQ clean energy company selected for $2.8 million from DOEAlbuquerque Business First

According to the federal Department of the Interior, its Office of Natural Resource Revenue will disburse nearly $10 billion to states, Native American tribes, the U.S. Treasury, and several conversation funds as part of the royalties collected from energy operations on federal lands. The total is approximately $3.5 billion less than las year. The Treasury’s portion dropped nearly $3 billion from $7.3 billion to $4.7 billion. The highest payments to states this year are $886 million to Wyoming and $496 million to New Mexico, where the federal government owns 55 percent and 40 percent of the states’ land areas, respectively. Energy revenue from federal lands dips $3.5 billionFuelFix

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Energy Update, Nov. 20

December 23, 2015

In the States

CT – Governor Dan Malloy joined officials from Fuel Cell Energy, a company providing baseload distributed generation to utilities via stationary fuel cell power plants, to announce the expansion of the company’s operations in Torrington. Fuel Cell Energy’s Torrington plant will more than double its size by adding at least 165 new jobs and “an overall increase in long-term employment of more than 300 people.” The state is helping to finance the expansion by providing $20 million in low-interest loans and $10 million in tax credits. The company, over the next five years, is also planning to increase its workforce to around 860 workers statewide. Chip Bottone, Fuel Cell Energy's president and CEO, commended Governor Malloy and his administration for their support. "We like it here in Connecticut," said Mr. Bottone, noting that Connecticut is committed to providing his company an educated and skilled workforce. Malloy marks Fuel Cell Energy expansion in TorringtonThe Hartford Courant

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo officially rejected a proposal to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in the waters off the coast of New York and New Jersey. Both Governor Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had 45 days to jointly review the project and to decide whether to support or reject it. The LNG terminal project, which was first proposed by energy company Liberty Natural Gas several years ago, needed approval as required by federal regulations by both Governors and the federal Maritime Administration. ‘‘My administration carefully reviewed this project from all angles, and we have determined that the security and economic risks far outweigh any potential benefits,’’ Governor Cuomo said in a statement, citing security, natural disaster events like Superstorm Sandy, and potential negative effects on local economies. Liberty Natural Gas contended that its project would have helped to lower heating bills in the area, which it notes are the most expensive in the United States. Offshore natural gas pipeline project vetoed by NY Governor CuomoNJ News

PA – A bipartisan group of Pennsylvania state senators recently introduced legislation to create safety standards for pipelines crisscrossing rural areas of the state that are not already regulated by the federal government. The legislation, Senate Bill 1044, requires the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) to regulate rural natural gas gathering pipelines similarly to how non-rural pipelines are currently regulated, notably requiring the PUC to fashion rules and requirements for incident reporting, pipeline markings, mapping and leak surveys, and operating controls. According to state officials, Pennsylvania has about 20,000 miles of unregulated natural gas gathering pipelines, almost 30% of which was constructed in response to the Marcellus Shale boom. State Senators Lisa Bakers, the bill’s lead sponsor, said given the absence of federal oversight said the state should act because her constituents “want assurances that [pipelines] are being constructed in the most safe manner.” Calls for greater pipeline safety in rural areasThe Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

WA – Governor Jay Inslee’s administration recently fielded questions from numerous stakeholders regarding the Governor’s plan to create a “cap and reduce program” to limit greenhouse gas pollution and emissions. The state Department of Ecology (DOE), which is helping to craft the cap and reduce program, projects it will release draft rule language and an economic analysis statement in the coming weeks. DOE is planning to finalize the new program’s rules in the summer of 2016 with implementation beginning in early 2017. “We heard loud and clear,” said Stu Clark, air program manager at DOE, “that we need to be sensitive to and understand the unique aspects of energy intense and trade exposed industries.” Industries affected by Governor Inslee’s proposal include oil refineries, large power plants, landfills, and natural gas utilities. Washington State plowing ahead with greenhouse gas limitsKPU News

Federal and Regional

Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, a subsidiary of the Kinder Morgan company, filed its application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for its Northeast Energy Direct pipeline. The $5 billion project, if completed, would transport natural gas from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale region to markets in New England, notably Massachusetts. The pipeline would include two paths, each spanning more than 130 miles, pipeline spur lines, several compressor stations, and other large facilities. "As natural gas has become the baseload fuel for electricity generation in New England, the interstate pipeline system in New England has not significantly expanded to supply this load," said Kimberly Watson, east region natural gas pipelines president for Kinder Morgan. In anticipation of the company’s filing, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey this week released a study finding that the state, through which the proposed project would intersect, “does not need extra natural gas capacity to maintain grid reliability.” A FERC decision on the pipeline is not expected until late 2016. Kinder Morgan files federal application for Northeast Energy Direct natural gas pipelineThe Republican

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Energy Update, Nov. 6

November 11, 2015

In the States

AZ – Governor Doug Ducey officially closed the State Energy Program office, which was created in 1975 to help state agencies, cities, and schools secure federal grants. The recent move follows the Governor’s decisions to close his Office of Energy Policy and to consider restructuring the state’s energy efficiency and savings initiatives and programs. The State Energy Program, since its inception, has brought hundreds of millions of dollars to the state, including funds for wastewater and water treatment facilities, energy efficiency projects, weatherization assistance, and facility upgrades. “We determined the functions could be better absorbed in existing agencies,” Ducey spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said. “It cut down on the overhead of an office with a large staff with money that could have been going to grants going to staffing, and eliminated some of the duplication.” Arizona shutters energy program; remaining workers firedThe Arizona Republic

CO – Governor John Hickenlooper is planning to ask the Colorado Supreme Court to decide whether the Governor or the state’s Attorney General has the right to sue the federal government. The separately-elected Attorney General, Cynthia Coffman, has joined a lawsuit of 24 states suing the federal government over the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which seeks to lower carbon emissions from existing coal-fired power plants. Governor Hickenlooper, who support the Plan, is questioning the legality of General Coffman’s move and is worried that such an action “could impede the state’s ability to develop and execute strategies to meet the emission plan’s mandates.” “Except in very rare circumstances, generally the governor is supposed to make that decision in concert with the attorney general," Governor Hickenlooper said of the lawsuit. "But the governor should have that final say." General Coffman, however, contends that the lawsuit will not impede the Governor’s ability to meet the new requirements and said she is “pursuing [the] challenges because it is my responsibility as the independently elected attorney general to serve as a check against the abusive, unlawful exercise of federal power over the lives of Colorado's citizens." Hickenlooper to challenge attorney general’s Clean Power Plant lawsuitThe Denver Post

MO – Governor Jay Nixon and the Missouri Division of Energy released a new Comprehensive State Energy Plan during a recent energy policy conference in St. Louis. The Plan, which Governor Nixon authorized via executive order in 2014, is a product of more than a year of work by the Division of Energy and many meetings with state officials, stakeholders, companies, and other organizations with a stake in state energy policy. In general, the Plan recommends, among its many policy recommendations, that Missouri adopt energy efficiency building codes, require power companies to provide efficiency programs, and increase renewable energy adoption and use across the state. For example, the Plan calls for the state to boost its Renewable Energy Standard for public companies by 2025 to provide 25% of their energy from renewable sources, a slight increase from the currently requirement of 20% by 2021. “With world-class research institutions, innovative businesses and a highly-skilled workforce, Missouri is well-positioned to build a more secure and independent energy future that will benefit families and businesses alike,” said Mike Downing, director for the Missouri Department of Economic Development, which includes the Division of Energy. Nixon’s plan calls for wind incentives, higher renewable requirementThe St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Division of Energy sets recommendations for Comprehensive Energy PlanThe Missouri Times

NE – Governor Pete Rickett’s chief energy advisor, David Bracht, said Nebraska needs a comprehensive state energy policy. Speaking during the Nebraska Wind and Solar Conference in Omaha, Mr. Bracht said the Ricketts administration will consider developing wind and solar energy in addition to considering natural gas and transportation fuels. Mr. Bracht also said the biggest issue facing Nebraska is the Obama administration’s new Clean Power Plan regulations, which asks Nebraska to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 30% by 2030. In 2014, coal-generated power represented 63% of the sources used to produce electricity, followed by nuclear at 26% and wind at 7%. “We haven’t often thought about energy in a comprehensive way," Mr. Bracht said. "And I’m certain we have never thought about energy in an integrated way,” noting that the state has only concerned itself with “discrete segmented programs” like weatherization assistance and energy efficiency loans. Director: state needs comprehensive energy policyThe Lincoln Journal Star

Federal and Regional

The Department of Energy (DOE) released its final environmental impact survey (EIS) of a planned wind power transmission line project known as the Plains and Eastern Clean Line. The 720-mile project, which spans from the Oklahoma Panhandle to Tennessee, would transport at least 4,000 megawatts of electricity from proposed wind farms to utility companies. "While the relative importance of specific environmental resource areas vary, the Plains and Eastern EIS did not identify widespread significant impacts as a result of construction or operations and maintenance of the project," the DOE said in an executive summary. A final decision on the project is expected later this year. Federal report clears route of wind power electric linesThe Oklahoman

President Barack Obama officially rejected the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, which was projected to transport more than 800,000 barrels per day from Canada’s oil sands region in the Province of Alberta to refineries along the Gulf Coast and in the Midwestern United States. TransCanada, the company behind the proposed pipeline, first sought federal approval of the project in 2008. Secretary of State John Kerry, who determined that the pipeline was not in the country's interest before President’s final decision, said approving Keystone "would significantly undermine our ability to continue leading the world in combating climate change." President Obama, during his announcement, said the pipeline would not “make a meaningful long-term contribution to our economy.” Obama rejects Canada-to-U.S. Keystone XL pipelineReuters

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Energy Update, Oct. 23

November 11, 2015

In the States

AK – Governor Bill Walker recently proposed increasing oil drilling in Alaska to help pay for any damages caused by or resulting from climate change. Oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, according to the Governor, would help to “boost state revenue and pay for climate change-related programs.” Governor Walker noted that the state is suffering from rising seas, which has forced the relocation of some small remote villages, potentially costing the state millions of dollars. Alaska, which is the only state that does not have an income or a sales tax, relies heavily on the production of oil and gas to fund its budget and overall daily operations and has been hit by falling global oil prices. "We are in a significant fiscal challenge. We have villages that are washing away because of changes in the climate," said Governor Walker. Alaska mulls extra oil drilling to cope with climate changeBBC and Alaska Gov: More drilling needed to fund climate change programsThe Hill

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo, during a speech at Columbia University, announced that New York will examine whether it is possible to connect several Northeastern states’ carbon cap-and-trade system, known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), with California’s system. The Governor also directed his administration to explore working with Canadian provinces to build a broader North American carbon trading market. RGGI, which is a cooperative effort among nine Northeastern states, began trading carbon emissions from fossil fuel power plants with at least 25 megawatts of generating capacity in participating states in 2008. Governor Cuomo called carbon markets "a powerful tool for reducing the pollution that is contributing to climate change," adding that "small regional coalitions are not enough.” In response to Governor Cuomo’s announcement, Governor Jerry Brown of California praised his colleague’s efforts, but did not endorse linking the states’ cap-and-trade systems. Gov. Cuomo aims to link U.S. Northeast’s carbon market with CaliforniaE&E

Federal and Regional

According to American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s (ACEEE) 2015 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, which measures “the progress of state policies and programs that save energy while benefiting the environment and promoting economic growth,” Massachusetts once again claimed the top spot for a fifth year in a row. California and Vermont, respectively, came in second and third place. The remaining Top 10 states include Rhode Island, Oregon, Connecticut, Maryland, Washington, New York, and tied for 10th, Minnesota and Illinois. According to the report, the states that made the most improvements since 2014 include California, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Texas, and Illinois. ACEEE ranks states based on their utility programs, transportation, building energy codes, combined heat and power, state initiatives, and appliance standards. The poorest ranking states include Colorado and North Dakota. Steve Nadel, ACEEE’s executive director, said “State policies are increasingly encouraging utilities to invest in cost-effective efficiency, prompting them to adopt new business models that align their interests with those of customers and policymakers. We can see this taking hold in the 20 states that improved their Scorecard rank in 2015."

After the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) published its final rules to cut carbon emissions in the Federal Register today, 24 states filed suit in federal court to stop the implementation of the regulations, collectively known as the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. The administration’s plan seeks to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030, and requires each state to meet a modified target and to create an operative plan to meet their individual target. A few states, including New York and several other East and West Coast states, are expected to file a counter-suit in support of the administration’s regulations. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who is leading the suit against the federal government, said "The Clean Power Plan is one of the most far-reaching energy regulations in this nation's history. I have a responsibility to protect the lives of millions of working families, the elderly and the poor, from such illegal and unconscionable federal government actions.” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said “The Clean Power Plan has strong scientific and legal foundations, provides states with broad flexibilities to design and implement plans, and is clearly within EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act.” The state coalition’s lawsuit will be heard in U.S. Court of Appeals for District of Columbia Circuit. States reliant on fossil fuels sue over new clean air rulesThe Associated Press

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Energy Update, Oct. 9

November 11, 2015

In the States

CA – Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation to increase renewable energy generation and to make commercial and residential buildings more energy efficient. The recently enacted law doubles energy efficiency requirements for homes, offices, and factories and requires the state to produce 50% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. The new law also sets the foundation for the development of a regional electricity grid to make renewable energy more affordable in addition to providing incentives for utility companies to install electric vehicle charging stations. The Governor believes the new law will encourage investments in solar and wind energy power plants and also energy storage technology. “This is going to be a long march to transition the entire modern world to a decarbonized future,” Governor Brown said. “It's important, and we're doing it in California.”  Gov. Brown signs climate change bill to spur renewable energy, efficiency standardsThe Los Angeles Times

OH – Governor John Kasich announced his opposition to an indefinite freeze of Ohio’s clean energy standards. The Governor, who was responding to a report issued by the Energy Mandates Study Committee, a joint state House-Senate panel, said he is willing to work with the General Assembly to “craft a bill that supports a diverse mix of reliable, low-cost energy sources while preserving the gains we have made in the state’s economy.” The Committee’s report called for an unlimited freeze on standards for electric utilities to increase their production and use of clean energy. “Moving forward, we welcome input from Gov. Kasich, the (Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio), while we keep Ohio ratepayers and consumers as our top priority in bringing them affordable power with an all-in approach,” said state Senator Troy Balderson, a co-chairman of the Committee. Kasich calls indefinite freeze of Ohio clean-energy standards “unacceptable”The Columbus Dispatch

PA – As part of the ongoing state budget negotiations, the state House of Representatives defeated Governor Tom Wolf’s proposal to levy a 3.5% severance tax on natural gas drilling and extraction. The proposal was rejected on a bipartisan vote of 127 to 73. Governor Wolf’s recommended levy, which was a reduction from the initially proposed 5% severance tax, additionally included an impact fee of 4.7 cents per thousand cubic feet of extracted natural gas. Governor Wolf said the new 3.5% tax would have brought in approximately $389 million in revenue to the state during the 2016-2017 state fiscal year. “We need to make sure oil and gas companies pay their fair share so we can restore the drastic cuts made to education,” Governor Wolf said in a statement. “Seniors and disabled households desperately need relief from skyrocketing property taxes that resulted from underfunding education.” According to the state’s Independent Fiscal Office, Pennsylvania is the only major natural gas producing state without a severance tax and the Commonwealth currently has the lowest effective tax rate on natural gas. Wolf tweaks gas tax plan; GOP, industry unimpressedState Impact and PA Gov. Tom Wolf’s tax plan rejectedThe Morning Call

Federal and Regional

Governors Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota and Matt Mead of Wyoming are asking the federal government for more time to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new carbon emissions standards as part of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. The EPA earlier this year announced that North Dakota and Wyoming must meet a rate reduction of 45% and 44%, respectively. The new percentages are more than 30 points higher than the EPA’s initial greenhouse gas reduction targets. Both states, though they are challenging the rule in federal court, are writing compliance plans and would like to work with the Administration on their reduction targets. "Eventually we have to be able to put forward what we think is possible for the state of North Dakota, and we're committed to carbon reduction as much as any other state," governor Dalrymple said. "This is something we want to do, but we have to determine what is possible, what is even reasonably feasible." Governors of ND, WY push for more time to deal with Clean Power PlanClimateWire

The Business Council for Sustainable Energy recently co-wrote a letter with almost 600 companies and organizations urging Congress to pass legislation extending tax incentives for certain clean energy technologies. The letter asks Congress to provide a multi-year extension of expired and expiring tax incentives,” noting that businesses and investors require “stable, predictable federal tax policy to create jobs, invest capital, and deploy pollution-reducing energy technology.” The letter additionally contends that renewable energy tax incentives also spur economic development and lead to a cleaner environment. Clean energy industries join over 580 signers to urge Congress to pass clean energy extendersWindPower News

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September 25, Energy Update

September 29, 2015

In the States

ME – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded Maine $1.2 million for cleanup and redevelopment projects at contaminated industrial sites across the state. EPA Regional Administrator Curt Spaulding awarded an additional $2.35 million in brownfields funding to six communities and groups in Maine to asses and cleanup contaminated sites. Brownfields described land previously used for industrial or commercial purposes that may have been or is contaminated with hazardous waste or pollution. Groups receiving funding include several towns, the Penobscot Indian Nation, and the Portland Harbor Commission. "EPA's Brownfields program is a proven asset helping local communities to get abandoned or derelict properties assessed, cleaned up, and returned to productive use," said Mr. Spalding. EPA announced $1.2M in cleanup funds and Maine gets $2.3M to redevelop industrial sitesMaine Business Journal

NC – North Carolina recently passed one gigawatt (GW) of installed solar capacity, according to a new report by the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA). North Carolina becomes the fourth state to reach the 1GW milestone behind Arizona, California, and New Jersey. Additionally, NCSEA found that the state’s solar energy industry accounts for $1.6 billion in revenue and for about 4,000 full-time jobs in North Carolina. "Solar has been a fantastic economic driver in North Carolina's clean energy industry for the past several years, and reaching 1 gigawatt is the latest impressive milestone for this growing market," Robin Aldina, manager of energy research at NCSEA. In the state’s budget for next year, however, the General Assembly decided to include a sunset of the state’s renewable energy tax credit, hoping to have the industry compete “more evenly with other forms of energy production.” North Carolina reaches solar power milestoneUnited Press International and NC becomes fourth US state to pass 1GW solar milestonePVTech

ND – State regulators are extending the compliance deadline for new natural gas flaring rules by 10 months, giving private sector companies more time to meet the state’s targets. Flaring, or the burning of natural gas, oftentimes take place at oil and gas production sites that lack adequate transportation infrastructure. Industry leaders initially asked for a delay of two years, but Governor Jack Dalrymple and two other members of the state’s Industrial Commission rejected their proposal. The new rules, which will take effect on November 1, 2016, require companies to capture 85% of natural gas produced from their wells and by 2020, companies will be required to reach a flaring reduction target of 91%. "The industry's presentation has some very real reasons why the goal has become more difficult," said Governor Dalrymple. "Many of these items they've mentioned realistically could not have been expected." North Dakota postpones deadline for natural gas flaring rulesReuters

NM – Governor Susana Martinez released her state energy plan during an annual energy summit in Carlsbad, a town in southeastern New Mexico. According to the Governor, her proposal is the state’s “first comprehensive plan for energy since 1991.” The plan calls for improved energy infrastructure, including rail and transmission lines, storage options for renewable energy production, and job training. The plan also notes that the state may explore exporting coal and natural gas to other states and Mexico in addition to considering building small modular nuclear reactors and streamlining state regulatory processes. "New Mexico is one of the most energy-rich and energy-diverse states in the nation, and we have an excellent opportunity to utilize this position to grow our economy and create more jobs," Governor Martinez said. NM Governor unveils new state energy planThe Associated Press and NM governor announced comprehensive energy planThe Santa Fe New Mexican

Federal and Regional

Governors Kate Brown of Oregon, Rick Snyder of Michigan, Jay Inslee of Washington, Jerry Brown of California, and Terry Branstad of Iowa signed an agreement with Chinese President Xi Jingping to “boost businesses that create renewable and clean energy” and to expand energy collaborations among their states and China. The agreement was signed during the 3rd China-U.S. Governors Forum, which was titled “Clean Energy and Economic Development”, in Seattle, Washington. President Xi, who arrived in Seattle earlier this week for his first state visit to the United States, said he looks forward to exchanging ideas regarding clean energy technologies and reducing transportation emissions. Chinese governors from the provinces of Sichuan, Chongqing, Zhejiang, Shandong, and Shaanxi also attended the Forum. "We at the local level have the responsibility and the power and the opportunity to take very bold and creative initiatives. In order to really get at the threat of climate change, everyone has to do whatever they can," said Governor Brown of California, a co-chair of this year’s Forum, following his meeting with President Xi. 5 Governors, Chinese president talk clean energy in SeattleThe Salt Lake Tribune

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September 11, Energy Update

September 14, 2015

In the States

NH – Governor Maggie Hassan joined state and local officials and SolarCity leaders to commemorate the opening of a new solar energy operations facility in Manchester. SolarCity, which provides renewable solar energy  panels to residential properties, business, and governments, is planning to support at least 75 jobs for its Manchester operations center, a 26,000 square foot project and the first SolarCity facility in New Hampshire. “I am proud to welcome SolarCity to the Granite State," Governor Hassan said. "SolarCity's decision to open this facility in New Hampshire reinforces that our tax-friendly environment, small and responsive state government, highly skilled workforce and high quality of life make the Granite State attractive for growing businesses.” SolarCity employs 7,000 people nationwide and operates in 17 other states. SolarCity opens operations center in ManchesterThe New Hampshire Union Leader

NY – During a recent trip to Puerto Rico, Governor Andrew Cuomo pledged to help the U.S. territory by offering advice, technical assistance, and sending state teams specializing in energy issues. He also issued an action plan to assist Puerto Rico as it confronts bankruptcy. Governor Cuomo said he would like the territory to decrease its dependence on off-island energy sources, noting noted that Puerto Rico generates at least 55% of its electricity from oil-burning power plants as opposed to using renewable energy sources like wind and solar power. Anne Reynolds, executive director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, said “Given the success of the solar industry in New York, I could see the policy expertise of state agencies potentially being useful in Puerto Rico.” Cuomo wants to help Puerto Rico with its energy economyThe Albany Times Union

TX – Governor Greg Abbott, during a trip to Mexico, and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto announced the creation of a joint energy task force to strengthen cross-border collaboration and energy development. Governor Abbott noted three goals of the newly created task force: continue to strengthen and modernize electric and natural gas infrastructure; develop resources to find additional energy solutions, and; promote investments in the energy value productive chain.  “Texas and Mexico meet at the center of North America's vast energy resources,” said Governor Abbott, “and this task force will provide a unique opportunity to enrich economic growth and development for both sides.” Abbott to establish energy task force between Texas and MexicoThe Texas Lawyer

VA – Governor Terry McAuliffe recently launched VirginiaSAVES, a statewide program to help businesses reduce energy consumption. The program, which is funded through $20 million in federally-allocated Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds, will provide loans to help lower financing costs for energy efficiency, renewable energy generation, and alternative fuel projects. In addition to private sector companies, local government and institutional organizations can apply and qualify for the program. Governor McAuliffe said, “Providing the public and private sectors with the tools they need to reduce energy consumption and save on energy costs is critical for building a new Virginia economy.” Governor McAuliffe announced $20 million to improve energy efficiency in VirginiaThe August Free Press

WA – State energy regulatory officials announced that Washington’s investor-owned utilities – Avista, Pacific Power, and Puget Sound Energy – are on track to meet the state’s renewable energy requirements. In 2006, Washington voters  approved the Energy Independence Act, which requires these utilities to use more wind, solar, and hydro power and to file compliance reports on their energy utilization by mid-2017. Each utility, this year, must supply at least 3 percent of its electricity via renewable sources. “These filings reinforce the trend that we have been seeing since the Energy Independence Act requirements took effect in 2012,” said David Danner, the chairman of the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission. Electric utilities meeting renewable energy targets, state energy regulators sayThe Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Federal and Regional

According to an investigation by USA Today, the federal Department of Energy (DOE) was hacked 159 times out of a total of 1,131 attempts between 2010 and 2014. Of the successful network intrusions, 53 gave the hackers DOE personnel’s administrative credentials within the department’s systems. In addition, the National Nuclear Security Administration within DOE was successfully hacked 19 times during the same 48-month period. The newspaper was able to obtain the data through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. "DOE does not comment on ongoing investigations or possible attributions of malicious activity," Energy Department spokesman Andrew Gumbiner said in a statement. Records: Energy Department struck by cyber attacksUSA Today

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Energy Update, August 28

September 9, 2015

In the States

AK – Governor Bill Walker is expected to recommend to state legislators that the state buy out TransCananda Corporation’s stake in a major liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in which Alaska is also interested. TransCanada, a Canadian pipeline company, currently holds the state’s interest in the pipeline and gas treatment project, which is in a preliminary phase of design and engineering. Alaska may purchase back TransCanada’s interest by reimbursing the company for its development costs plus 7.1%. Governor Walker estimates that potential buy-out costs under the current contractual agreement, which was entered into by a prior administration, could total close to $100 million. The LNG project’s partners, in addition to TransCanada, include Exxon Mobil, BP, ConocoPhillips, and the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation. Governor Walker said "We need a seat at the table…right now, they have our seat.” He added that the project will be the state’s “strongest get-well option fiscally.” Governor plans to call for company buy-out in LNG projectAssociated Press

HI – Governor David Ige said he opposes the importation and use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as an energy source for Hawaii and the state’s utility company, the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO). Governor Ige, while speaking during the Asia Pacific Resilience Innovation Summit and Expo, said LNG would not help the state reach its newly set goal of 100% renewable energy by 2040. The Governor also said he would oppose the construction of future LNG terminals because such projects would be too expensive. As part of its August 2014 power supply improvement plan, HECO included LNG as a “bridge” or “transition” fuel as the state move towards utilizing more renewable energy sources. “Any time and money spent on LNG is time and money not spent on renewable energy,” Governor Ige said. ““It’s time to focus all our efforts on renewables.” Governor David Ige opposes use of liquefied natural gasThe Honolulu Star Advertiser and Ige opposes LNG for HECOThe Honolulu Civil Beat

NV – The state’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted unanimously to keep current solar energy reimbursement rates in place through the end of the year, even though Nevada recently hit its 235 megawatt (MW) net metering cap for residential solar power. The PUC’s 3-0 decision on the rates and the net metering cap, which was reached earlier than expected, allows the PUC more time to work on new rules and rates for the solar energy industry. The PUC earlier this month rejected a move to expand the net metering cap, noting it was an issue for the state legislature. NV Energy, a public utility serving nearly 1.3 million Nevadans, said the net metering cap was hit earlier because “a rash of applications for solar installation.” Nevada keeps solar net metering rates for nowThe Reno Gazette-Journal

OR – Governor Kate Brown created an offshore wind energy group known as the WindFloat Pacific Offshore Wind Advisory Committee to find “smart solutions for Oregon’s economy through the burgeoning offshore wind energy industry.” The Committee will advise the Governor and provide support for WindFloat, a project managed by Principle Power, a wind energy developer focused on intermediate and deep-water projects. Principle Power recently received a grant worth almost $50 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to demonstrate the potential of offshore wind energy and the company has “identified the waters 198 miles off the coast of Coos Bay, Oregon” as a preferred site. "The WindFloat Pacific Project,” said Governor Brown, “has the potential to simultaneously work toward creating new energy solutions for the nation while creating hundreds of new jobs across multiple sectors here at home." The project is estimated to generate at least 8,000 megawatts (MW) of power and create more than 25,000 jobs. Oregon forms offshore wind advisory groupNA Wind Power

Federal and Regional

In advance of the upcoming Annual Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers, which is expected to focus on energy and innovations in the energy sector, including strategies to minimize climate change, the New England Coalition for Affordable Energy released a study highlighting the need for increased natural gas pipeline capacity. The report, which was completed by La Capra Associates and the Economic Development Research Group, finds that the New England region may lose up to 52,000 private sector jobs over the next five year if action is not taken to expand natural gas and electricity infrastructure. The study also contends that a lack of such infrastructure would cost regional consumers more than $5.4 billion in higher energy costs. Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, who has expressed interest in building transmission lines for the transportation of hydropower to New England, has engaged Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy and Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo on the natural gas pipeline capacity topic, and is planning to discuss it with them during the approaching conference. “Gov. Baker views this conference as an opportunity to work collaboratively with other New England governors and Eastern Canadian premiers in pursuit of sustainable solutions to strengthen our energy network while lowering costs for families and businesses,” said Lizzy Guyton, Governor Baker’s press secretary. Governor Baker headed to Newfoundland for energy talksState House News Service

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Energy Update, August 14

September 9, 2015

In the States

CO – Governor John Hickenlooper declared a state of emergency following the leak of more than three million gallons of toxic waste into several of the state’s waterways, including the Animas and San Juan Rivers. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accepted blame for the spill, which began while the EPA was using heavy machinery to check for pollutants at the abandoned Gold King Mine. The EPA recently announced, after testing the affected waterways in Colorado, that the water has returned to “pre-spill levels of toxicity.” The spill also affected Utah, New Mexico, and the Navajo Nation reservation, all of whom also declared states of emergency. In Utah, state officials are concerned the spill’s toxic waste, which includes several chemicals and heavy metals like iron and copper, may have reached Lake Powell, one of the largest reservoirs in the United States. Dr. Larry Wolk, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said “"We have our preliminary results back and at this point, we don't feel that there's any potential risk for human health." Governor John Hickenlooper drinks Animas River waterABC7 and Animas River spill: Hurdles remains at Gold KingThe Denver Post

MA – Governor Charlie Baker recently filed legislation to raise net metering caps, hoping to speed the development of solar power in the commonwealth. Net metering provides solar power owners a credit for any unused energy provided to the electric grid. The legislation seeks to encourage solar panel installation, reduce the costs of deploying solar power technology, and help the commonwealth meet a goal of 1,600 megawatts of solar power use by 2020. Specifically, the bill would raise net metering caps by two percent for both private and public solar panel owners. “In filing this bill, our administration reaffirms our commitment to diversifying the commonwealth’s energy portfolio, reducing our carbon footprint and protecting ratepayers,” Governor Baker said in a statement. Utility companies, including National Grid, said they were opposed to the legislation, noting that costs would increase and that residents without solar panels would be disadvantaged. Governor’s bill takes shine to more solar powerThe Boston Herald

TX – Governor Greg Abbott is encouraging residents to conserve energy use, especially during peak afternoon hours. The Governor’s office said statewide demand for electricity is increasing while temperatures have also quickly climbed, leading to a monthly record for electricity use in August. The Electricity Reliability Council of Texas noted that on August 10, hourly demand surpassed 69,000 megawatts (MW), beating a record set four days earlier of more than 68,000 MW. “I encourage all Texans to implement responsible energy practices,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement. “In order to mitigate stress on our state’s electricity grid, Texans should take simple measures to save as much energy as possible.” The Governor and the Council said residents should turn off all unnecessary lights, appliances, and other equipment, close their blinds and drapes, and avoid opening their refrigerators or freezers more than necessary. Additionally, residents were encouraged to use microwaves for cooking instead of electric ranges or ovens. Abbott to Texans: Try to use less powerThe Texas Tribune

WY – Governor Matt Mead is working to update his state’s energy strategy and recently scheduled six meetings to gather public input on his plans. The Governor last updated the state’s energy strategy in 2013, and since then, according to the Governor’s office, more than three-fourths of the initiatives in the previous strategy have been completed. More details on the Governor’s proposals will be available in the coming weeks. “I said when I announced the energy strategy that it is designed to be regularly revised, updated and integrated into budgeting and planning,” Governor Mead said. “The past two years have seen many successes and we want to build on them.” Governor Mead announced public meeting to discuss updated energy strategyThe Casper Journal

Federal and Regional

Fifteen states, ranging from Alabama and West Virginia to Kentucky and South Dakota, filed a petition requesting the U.S. Court of Appeals, which is based in Washington, DC, to block new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules for carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. The states asked for a ruling by September 8, exactly one year before they need to submit regulatory compliance plans to the EPA, which has not yet issued the proposed rule in the Federal Register. The Attorneys General believe the upcoming rule will invalidate existing state air quality protection plans. “This rule is the most far-reaching energy regulation in the nation’s history, and the EPA simply does not have the legal authority to carry it out,” said West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. The Obama administration recently said it feels confident its Clean Power Plan will withstand legal challenges while noting that several states, including New York and Illinois, issued statements in support of the upcoming EPA rule. Fifteen U.S. states seek to block EPA carbon ruleReuters and Morrisey, other AGs seek stay of EPA Clean Power Plan deadlinesThe West Virginia Record

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Energy Update, March 13

March 16, 2015

In the States

MI – In a recent speech near Detroit, Governor Rick Snyder called for a “reduction in the use of coal for Michigan’s energy” and an increase in the state’s renewable energy portfolio standard for utilities. Governor Snyder hopes Michigan will be able to lessen its dependence on coal-fired power plants in creating electricity and to focus on developing natural gas and wind power energy in the state. Though the Governor plans to eliminate  the state’s current 10% renewable energy mandate, his proposal would authorize the Michigan Public Service Commission to “push utilities more towards green energy and efficiency policies.” At the present time, Michigan generates at least 55% of its power from coal-fired plants, 31% from nuclear reactors, 7% from natural gas, and almost 6% from renewable sources. Governor Snyder is also proposing incentives for homeowners to replace old water heaters and furnaces, and to reduce  electricity rates during off-peak hours, which are largely overnightt, to encourage utilities and large companies to use more power then. “The most-affordable energy you can get is the energy you don’t use,” said Governor Snyder, highlighting his support for increased efficiency. Snyder urges dramatic drop in reliance on coal powerThe Detroit News

NY – In collaboration with the State Senate, Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his proposed budget, requests to transfer approximately $36 million dedicated to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) back to the state’s general fund and the state’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). RGGI is a regional, northeastern states’ program that “generates money by selling air emissions credits to industrial polluters” while EPF seeks to support “farmland conservation and habitat restoration.” Of the $36 million, $23 million would be appropriated to the general fund and the remaining $13 to the EPF. “We put (it in the) budget,” said State Senator John DeFrancisco, “in order for the legislature to have more control over how that funding is used rather than sole control by the administration.” Cuomo proposed to draw from emissions programThe Capital

OH – The Office of the State Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that the State of Ohio has filed suit against BP, formerly known as British Petroleum, one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies. In its lawsuit, the state claims BP wrongfully collected more than $33 million in state reimbursement to clean up storage tank leaks. BP, the state asserts, said they had no insurance for the storage tank leaks, which led to Ohio state officials paying BP through a state fund – the Petroleum Financial Assurance Fund – to clean up the leaks. According to state officials, Ohio’s underground storage tank fundonly helps to pay for storage tank leaks if a company doesn’t have insurance coverage or  accepts money from other sources. BP Spokesman Jason Ryan said “the company acted at all times in good faith and believes its dealings with the Ohio state underground storage tank fund have been proper." Ohio sues BP for $33 million, says company made false claims to get cleanup moneyThe Cleveland Plain Dealer

PA – In his proposed budget, Governor Tom Wolf plans to fund several renewable energy initiatives by issuing more than $600 million in state bonds. Approximately $225 million would be directed towards general energy investments, $150 million for renewable energy grants, $50 million for a rebate program for solar energy projects, and another $100 million program for solar panel installations. The budget proposal also seeks another two $20 million requests in bond money for a wind energy generation project and for a program to utilize agricultural waste to produce electricity. As a part of the general energy investments, the state would help to fund the completion of natural gas distribution lines. “We must expand and develop new markets for Pennsylvania's energy technologies, services and fuels, and this budget makes historic investments to bolster and transform our energy economy,” said John Quigley, acting secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection. Governor Wolf’s budge to boost green energy on back of fossil fuelsThe Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Federal

A bipartisan group of Senators introduced legislation to allow federal agencies to sign long-term contracts with utilities for energy-saving services. Titled the Utility Energy Service Contracts Improvement Act of 2015, the bill also seeks to reduce energy use and is sponsored by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Dan Coats (R-IN), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Brian Schatz (D-HI). “As the largest consumer of energy in the country, the federal government needs to do everything it can to save energy and taxpayer dollars,” said Senator Schatz. “Our bipartisan legislation would expand opportunities to invest in energy efficiency and clean energy projects while saving money.” Senate legislation would expand federal clean energy projectsThe Honolulu Civil Beat

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Energy Update, Feb. 27

March 2, 2015

In the States

VA – The Virginia House of Delegates and Senate voted to preserve a tax credit for electric utilities that burn coal mined in the Commonwealth. Governor Terry McAuliffe previously proposed a reduction in the tax credit to help offset a budget shortfall, but neither chamber agreed to the Governor’s proposal. The policy reversal creates a $5.2 million shortfall in each chamber’s proposed budget, and allows utility companies to claim no more than $7.5 million combined in any year. House, Senate preserve coal tax credit for utilitiesThe Richmond Times-Dispatch

WV – Governor Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed a bill, H.B. 2201, that would have required the state’s Public Service Commission to set new guidelines for net metering, a proposal which advocates decried as jeopardizing the future of solar power in the state. Net metering, which differs by state, is a billing mechanism that credits solar energy system owners for the electricity they generate and add to the electric power grid. In his veto message, Governor Tomblin said he disapproved of the bill for technical reasons, but did not further clarify his position on the legislation’s intent. “Due to a number of technical issues in the bill, I am unable to sign House Bill 2201 into law,” Governor Tomblin said. “I encourage the Legislature to re-examine this piece of legislation and correct the technical issues outlined in my veto message.” W.Va. governor vetoes net metering billFierceEnergy and Tomblin vetoes two technically flawed billsMetroNews West Virginia

Regional

The Governors of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island are forming a regional partnership to expand the use of renewable energy sources and natural gas. Under the Governors’ plan, electric utility companies in each state will work together with state agencies “to begin a competitive bidding process to seek proposals from supplies of clean energy resources.” The Governors, which discussed the regional partnership during the recent National Governors Association’s winter meeting, also released a draft request for proposals with a 30-day comment period. Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts said "this regional partnership will allow Massachusetts to acquire cost effective renewable resources for the commonwealth's energy supply.” Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy stated the joint venture may lead to larger collaborative energy projects. "By working together with neighboring states,” Governor Malloy said, “we can make the most efficient use of our resources to attract new clean energy projects at the lowest possible cost for ratepayers while advancing our interests in reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.” Governors looking to expand renewable energy, natural gasThe Boston Herald

The Outer Continental Shelf Governors Coalition (OCSGC) met during the recent National Governors Association’s winter meeting, agreed to lobby Congress for legislation “to set a multi-state strategy for revenue sharing from federal offshore energy development.” The OCSGC, which first organized in 2011, has seven members, including Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Maine Governor Paul LePage, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, North Carolina Governor and OCSGC Chair Pat McCrory, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, and Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. The Governors, however, have not yet reached a decision on a model for revenue sharing. “Right now we've got all these different bills on revenue sharing, and we would like to consolidate those into one bill,” Governor McCrory said, referring to separate bills in Congress for Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. State governments usually control offshore waters as far as three miles, while the federal government controls the outer continental shelf. Seven Governors set legislative strategy for revenue sharing from offshore energy -- Bloomberg

National and Federal

The American Energy Innovation Council, which is made up of six corporate executives, is urging Congress and the federal government “to make expanded energy research a strategic national priority.” Members of the Council include Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt. The Council contends the United States has fallen behind other governments in energy research, which may hamper efforts to reduce carbon emissions and develop new energy sources. The group recently released a report highlighting their advocacy work and research and recommendations for policymakers. “Growing and consistent appropriations for energy innovation should be a top U.S. priority over the next decade,” the business leaders recommended in their report. “The budget numbers over the last five years are a major failure in U.S. energy policy.” Bill Gates and other business leaders urge U.S. to increase energy researchThe New York Times

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Energy Update, Feb. 13

March 2, 2015

In the States

ME – Governor Paul LePage unveiled his 2015 State Energy Plan to the state legislature. The Governor’s plan, which seeks to diversify the state’s energy sources, focuses on decreasing monthly electric and other utility bills for state residents. Patrick Woodcock, who leads the Governor’s Energy Office, also said the Plan will seek to “do a better job of weatherizing homes of low-income Mainers to reduce their energy consumption.” The new Plan also calls for increased use of natural gas for heating and power, though, as the state acknowledged, that goal cannot be achieved without the support of neighboring states. The Governor’s office will submit legislative incorporating planks from his State Energy Plan in the coming weeks. LePage administration focuses energy plan on lowering costs and weatherizing homesMPBN News

VA – Dominion Virginia Power recently announced its intention to construct at least 400 megawatts (MW) of new solar energy generating capacity in the state. The project is expected to be completed by 2020 and is predicted to meet the energy needs of 100,000 homes at peak capacity. Governor Terry McAuliffe said “Dominion has shown a strong commitment to solar energy development, and I am proud to work with them to expand renewable generation in Virginia and diversify the Commonwealth’s fuel mix.” Dominion, which has around 744 MW of solar energy generating capacity under development or in operation in seven states, will invest at least $700 million in its Virginia project. Dominion Virginia Power developing 400MW of new solar projects in VirginiaClean Technica

WI – In his proposed budget, Governor Scott Walker has included $250,000 to study the possible health effects of living near wind turbines. The Governor’s proposal stems from complaints filed by residents of Brown County, Wisconsin, which, in 2104, became the first area where concerns were raised about health problems associated with wind turbines. Brown County residents complained of nausea, headaches, and ear pressure. Laurel Patrick, Governor Walker’s press secretary said “the request for a Wind Energy Health Issues Study was included with the intent to provide the Public Service Commission with comprehensive information to consider as they receive requests for future wind energy projects.” Renewable energy groups, including RENEW Wisconsin, said they were comfortable with the proposed study, so long as it is thorough and peer-reviewed. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s budget includes $250,000 to study health impacts of wind turbinesUPI

National and Federal

The Department of Energy (DOE) announced its plans to collaborate with Shell on a carbon capture project in Canada. Shell and DOE, in their joint project, will seek “to improve the capture and storage of carbon dioxide in the oil sands.” Greg Rickford, the Canadian Minister of Natural Resources, said “Canada is a world leader in carbon capture and storage, and our government welcomes this collaboration as the latest important step in the development of this technology.” DOE will invest approximately $500,000 in the project with Shell. Additional information on the partnership will be announced soon. DOE lends Shell a hand on carbon capture in CanadaThe Hill

Twenty-four Republican Governors sent a letter to President Barack Obama, asking that he reconsider his position on the Keystone XL pipeline legislation, which recently received congressional approval. The President has threatened to veto the bill, which received some bipartisan support in both chambers. In their letter, the Governors state the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline would help to create jobs in several states while also strengthening the United States’ relationship with Canada. Neither the House nor the Senate have enough votes at this time to override a presidential veto. “As governors, our foremost priority is to grow and strengthen our state economies,” said Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts. “We can achieve that in the states and throughout the country by building the Keystone XL pipeline.” A copy of the letter can be found here.

 

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Energy Update, January 30

February 5, 2015

In the States

PA – Governor Tom Wolf reinstated a ban on fracking in the state’s parkland, approximately a year after his predecessor, former Governor Tom Corbett, had lifted the ban. The Governor’s executive order protects about a million acres of the state’s parks and forests, many of which are located directly above the Marcellus Shale formation. During his announcement, Governor Wolf reiterated his overall support for the natural gas industry and the levying of a severance tax on their operations. He also said companies that have already secured leases to drill on public lands can continue their work. "I absolutely want to do natural gas," Governor Wolf said. "I think, if we do it right, we can create really good jobs and create industry, and sustain our strong economy in Pennsylvania.” Wolf restores fracking ban in state parklandThe Philadelphia Inquirer

NM – The state’s Land Commissioner, Aubrey Dunn, recently announced her plans to issue a 60-day suspension of a $2 billion transmission project, which was scheduled to transport electricity generated by renewable sources in the state and in neighboring Arizona to other markets. Commissioner Dunn said the delay will allow the state to “review the project before any further development affects state trust lands.” The transmission line, of which 30 percent was projected to cross state land, received federal approval after months of negotiations while the previous land commissioner was in office. Land Commissioner halts huge renewable energy projectThe Associates Press

VA – Governor Terry McAuliffe issues a request for information (RFI) to explore the possibility of adding solar power generation capacity to existing state-owned facilities. The goal of the RFI, which is part of the state’s Energy Plan, is to understand the economic benefits of adding solar power generation projects to public buildings, in addition to discussing best practices around solar permitting, development, and public-private energy-generating partnerships. “If we are going to build a new Virginia economy, we must find innovative ways to diversify the fuel we use to power that economy,” said Governor McAuliffe. “This RFI is one step forward in achieving this and sending the signal that Virginia is serious about enhancing its solar energy industry.”

WV – The West Virginia State Senate passed a repeal of the state’s requirements that utilities increase the amount of electricity generated by alternative energy sources by 15 percent in 2020 and 25 percent in 2025. The legislation, which was the first bill the upper chamber considered this year, was approved on a 33-0 vote. The energy requirements, which were “designed to lower the state’s power plant emissions,” were enacted in 2009 under then-Governor Joe Manchin, who argued after the Senate’s vote that the law “showed the country that coal could continue to lead our nation toward energy independence, while also reducing emissions.” Other opponents of the legislation included the Alliance for Solar Choice, which contended that the legislation was an attempt by the state’s utilities to “tighten their grip on the energy market.” W.Va. Senate passes bill to repeal energy portfolioThe Charleston Daily Mail

 National and Federal

Twenty-five Republican Governors sent a letter House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seeking block grants in education, healthcare, infrastructure, energy, and in the environment. Regarding energy, the Governors argued they would like the ability to control their state’s resources. “When we want to harvest energy sources in our states,” the Governors wrote, “we must comply with extensive, restrictive, expensive, often time unworkable Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) policies that are often at odds with our own states’ initiatives to protect the environment.” A copy of the letter can be found here.

According to Bloomberg, the United States added 4.7 gigawatts of new onshore wind capacity in 2014. The added capacity is six-times greater than the amount of megawatts added in 2013. Total onshore wind installations are approximately now 64.2 megawatts. Most experts believe the availability of the production tax credit helped spur the increase in offshore wind projects. U.S. wind power installations rose six fold in 2014Bloomberg

President Barack Obama recently called on Congress to expand protection of Alaska’s arctic refuge. Oil and gas drilling is prohibited to 12 million acres, which includes a substantial oil-rich section along the state’s coast. The President’s proposal, which seeks to shield a total of 19.8 million acres from drilling, is unlikely to be approved by Congress. Obama to propose protecting US arctic wildlife refuge from drillingReuters

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Energy Update, January 16

January 20, 2015

In the States

CA – Governor Jerry Brown, in his recent inaugural address for his fourth term, announced his plan to generate 50% of the state’s electricity from renewable energy sources over the next 15 years while simultaneously decreasing petroleum consumption by motorists. Governor Brown also plans to make future and existing buildings in the state more energy efficient. The state’s utility companies are already on track to reach the state’s previous Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS), which was 33% by 2020. Governor Brown has the authority to unilaterally increase the RPS to 50% by executive order, ask the state legislature to pass legislation, or could allow the California Public Utilities Commission to compel the state’s private utilities to reach the new target. "This is exciting, it is bold, and it is absolutely necessary if we are to have any chance of stopping potentially catastrophic changes to our climate system," Governor Brown said. Gov. Brown’s renewable energy plan could boost solar, wind industriesThe Los Angeles Times

IN – Governor Mike Pence proposed a new policy to allow electric utilities to set their own energy efficiency goals instead of  meeting  a statewide mandate. Earlier last year Indiana became one of the first states to roll back its energy savings program, known as Energizing Indiana, which was created by former Governor Mitch Daniels. Governor Pence’s plan, according to draft legislation, would require the state’s investor-owned utilities to submit their own three-year efficiency proposals starting in 2017 to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. The Governor’s energy policy advisor, Dan Schmidt, believes utility companies have  built-in incentives to encourage energy savings, such as the cost of generating more power. The state’s investor-owned utilities include Duke Energy and Indianapolis Power & Light Company. Pence proposes utilities set own energy-efficiency goalsIBJ

MI – Governor Rick Snyder announced his office working on a deal to lower energy prices for consumers and businesses in the Upper Peninsula (UP), the state’s northern land mass. If completed, the deal would result in a single UP-based company being responsible for the region’s energy needs. Under the deal, We Energies, the current UP utility, would sell its coal-fired power plant and utility business to Upper Peninsula Power Company (UPPCO), which would gain about 30,000 new customers in the transaction. "With the leadership of the governor's office and the good-faith efforts of all the parties in the work group, we've developed a framework that I believe will benefit customers in the UP for decades to come," said Gale Klappa, chairman and chief executive of Wisconsin Energy, which owns We Energies. We Energies agrees to sell Upper Peninsula power plantThe Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Agreements reached to move towards UP energy solutionTV6 Upper Michigan

WI – In his State of the State address, Governor Scott Walker announced his intention to sue the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its new regulations on carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. The Governor contends the new EPA rules will increase energy prices and cause job losses in Wisconsin, which will join a growing list of states in challenging the EPA’s regulations. According to federal energy data, the state generates more than 60% of its electricity from coal power. "Instead of fighting with states like Wisconsin,” Governor Walker said, “the federal government should work with us to find reasonable alternatives. We can be both environmentally and economically sustainable.” Walker calls for smaller government, unity against terrorism in State of the State addressWKOW

Federal

Representative Bill Johnson (R-TX) introduced a new bill to expedite the approval of liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects. The bill, H.R. 351, is titled the LNG Permitting Certainty and Transparency Act. The bill’s supporters contend the act, if enacted, will help to “eliminate unnecessary bureaucratic delays” by placing a 30-day deadline on the Department of Energy to issue a final decision on LNG project applications following the completion of an environmental review. “For too long the approval process for LNG export permits has been bogged down by bureaucratic red tape,” said Rep. Johnson. “I’m honored to have introduced this bipartisan legislation to expedite the approval process for LNG export permits.”

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Energy Update, January 2

January 7, 2015

In the States

MA – Ambri Inc., a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company, is planning this year to connect its liquid-metal batteries to the state’s electric grid for the first time. Grid-scale batteries are similar to batteries currently used in laptops and cellphones, but eventually erode and break down over time. Ambri’s batteries, however, take a different approach by utilizing liquid metals, thereby leading to almost no degradation and the potential ability to last a decade or more. Ambri’s goal is to “allow electric utilities or big industrial plants to store power so it can be released at times of high usage.” For example, one of Ambri’s commercial grade batteries, when operational, will be rated at approximately 200 kilowatts hours, or enough power for 10 to 15 homes per day. The company, which currently operates five pilot projects at its 10,000-square foot manufacturing plant, is being courted by several New England governors as it seeks to build a full-size plant in a new location. Cambridge company’s batteries may give grid a boostThe Boston Globe

ME – Governor Paul LePage sent a letter to the state’s chief energy regulatory body, the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC), requesting a review of the potential sale of a paper mill, which helps to provide renewable electricity to Central Maine Power, a utility company that serves more than 500,000 residents. The Governor hopes the PUC will determine whether the sale could possibly violate the mill’s agreement to provide renewable power and create papermaking jobs. The Bucksport-located paper mill is owned by Verso Paper Corporation, a Memphis-based company which also owns and operates a gas and biomass power plant at the same site. Patrick Woodcock, director of the Governor’s Energy Office, said the contract to supply renewable electricity is worth at last $4 million in both 2015 and 2016. Governor seeks to intervene in Verso mill saleThe Ellsworth American and LePage lobs criticism at Verso’s plan to transfer renewable energy deal to new buyerThe Bangor Daily News

MS – Mississippi utilities and state regulators, in comments filed in December to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule on carbon dioxide emissions for power plants, overwhelmingly claimed that “EPA was overstepping its legal authority.” In Mississippi, the Obama administration’s proposal in essence asks the state’s power plants to emit 38 percent less carbon dioxide in 2030 than in 2005. Appointed by Governor Phil Bryant, Gary Rikard, the executive director of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, said the “EPA is attempting to federalize this nation’s energy policy, resulting in forcing the states to abandon their constitutionally derived sovereign rights.” Governor Bryant, who recently sent a letter along with 14 other Republican governors to EPA protesting their proposed rule, believes states should set their own energy policies. Mississippi groups attack carbon dioxide limits, say unreasonableThe Mississippi Business Journal

NM – The state’s Public Regulation Commission (PRC) is preparing to consider a proposal that calls for closing part of the San Juan Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant that serves more than two million customers in the southwest. The proposal, which requires the PRC’s approval, was already agreed to by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office, and the New Mexico Renewable Industries Association in 2013. PNM Resources, an electric utility subsidiary of the Public Service Company of New Mexico, estimates the closing, which the company says will align with new federal environmental and emissions mandates, will cost ratepayers? at least $6 billion over twenty years . New Mexico regulators consider coal-fired plantAssociated Press

Federal

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently approved a proposal to build a natural gas export plant and related pipeline in Corpus Christi, Texas. The new liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal will be built, owned, and operated by Cheniere Energy. FERC ruled that Cheniere's Corpus Christi plans are "environmentally acceptable" in granting the authorization. The company “is now on track to be the only company with two LNG export projects underway,” thanks to its previous Sabine Pass LNG terminal approval. “The terminal would have the capability to liquefy and ship as much as 15 million metric tons of LNG a year, according to Cheniere’s filing,” though the company still requires the final approval of the U.S. Department of Energy.. Texas natural gas export plant gets federal permitThe Hill and Feds approve Cheniere’s Corpus Christie projectHouston Business Journal

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Energy Update, Dec. 19

December 31, 2014

In the States

NY – Following the release of a multi-year study of the public health implications of hydraulic fracturing, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his administration will move to ban the practice in New York State. Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, is the process by which fluids are injected into wellbores to help release natural gas and oil. Dr. Howard Zucker, the state’s acting health commissioner, said the study found “significant public health risks” associated with fracking, and during a Governor’s cabinet meeting, Dr. Zucker “listed concerns about water contamination and air pollution.” Governor Cuomo, who received much praise from environmental groups for his decision, said “I’ve never had anyone say to me, ‘I believe fracking is great.’ Not a single person in those (Southern Tier) communities. What I get is, ‘I have no alternative but fracking.’” Citing health risks, Cuomo bans fracking in New York stateThe New York Times and Cuomo administration rules against frackingThe Washington Post

WA – Governor Jay Inslee recently released his plan to cut the state’s carbon emissions by creating a cap-and-trade system, which would set a price on the right to emit carbon and other greenhouse gases. The proposal, which is called the Carbon Pollution Accountability Act, would apply to companies that “emit more than 25,000 metric tons of carbon emissions per year,” which according to the Governor’s office, “would cover about 85% of the state’s total greenhouse gases.” Early projections estimate the state would raise nearly one billion dollars, if the program was implemented, to support transportation projects. The Governor’s plan also includes tax breaks for electric and zero-emission automobiles and investments in renewable energy sources. Opponents of the Governor’s plan called his proposal a “massive energy tax on the people of Washington State.” Washington governor proposes billion-dollar carbon emissions cap-and-trade planThe Washington Post and Inslee targets polluters with billion-dollar cap-and-trade planThe Seattle Times

Federal and Regional

Interior Secretary Sally Jewel recently announced the appointment of Abigail Ross Hopper, the director of the Maryland Energy Administration, to lead the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. Ms. Hopper is expected to assume the position on January 5th. The Bureau oversees energy development, namely natural gas, oil, renewables, and other mineral resources, on the Outer Continental Shelf. Republican Senator David Vitter and Senator-elect Bill Cassidy, both of Louisiana, voiced their concerns about Ms. Hopper’s appointment, noting that she’s “too focused on renewable energy and lacks experience with oil and gas.” Senator Vitter said “There is so much untapped potential off our shores, and I fear that Ms. Hopper's far-left environmental background will slow down offshore production and further limit access to fossil resources - hurting jobs and businesses.” Interior Secretary Jewell names new chief for Outer Continental Shelf energyThe Times-Picayune

Sixty-seven organizations signed a letter, which was spearheaded by the Sierra Club, to the Governors and Governors-elect of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states urging them to support the development and adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). The letter, which was signed by a range of environmental advocacy and renewable energy groups, as well as some energy companies including Con Edison, said electric vehicles could “save a consumer thousands of dollars in fuel costs over the life of the vehicle,” while also noting that EVs have significant climate benefits, such as “little to no tailpipe emissions.” The letter also encourages the Governors and Governors-elect to establish a high-level EV task force, provide financial and other incentives for EVs, and educate consumers, businesses, and other stakeholders about EVs’ benefits.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it will hold off on a decision to pursue new methane emissions rules for the oil and gas industry until 2015. The Obama administration had previously set a deadline of December 21st to choose a strategy to reduce methane pollution. Several Democratic lawmakers have asked the EPA to speed up their decision process on future rules for methane, which is considered much more damaging than carbon dioxide over a 20-year timeframe. Methane, according to the EPA, is most often released from leaky or inefficient oil and gas industry equipment. EPA punts decision on methane regsThe Hill and Oil and gas industry faces its methane problemNational Geographic

The Department of Energy (DOE) recently issued solicitations for the Advanced Nuclear Energy Projects loan guarantee, which will offer up to $12.5 billion for nuclear energy projects. The solicitation will support four technological areas: advanced nuclear reactors, small modular reactors, upgrades for existing facilities, and front-end projects like uranium enrichment and conversion. The full solicitation is can be found here.

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Energy Update, Dec. 5

December 10, 2014

In the States

AR – Following a review that it had not met “specified employment goals,” LM Wind Power has repaid the State of Arkansas more than $3 million that it had received as part of a larger incentives package to build a wind turbine production plant near Little Rock. The company received almost $9 million from the Governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund. Those funds were contingent on meeting an employment goal of more than 1,000 employees in Little Rock by fall 2014. The State’s Economic Development Commission (AEDC), according to the Danish manufacturer, has recouped the funds, which took into account employment and payroll estimates. "Although LM is not operating at the employment level the company originally announced in 2007, AEDC is encouraged the company still employs more than 500 people in a volatile wind energy market," said a company representative. AEDC: LM Wind Power paid back $3.4M in incentivesArkansas Business

MD – Outgoing Governor Martin O’Malley’s administration said it will release proposed rules next month on hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, in western Maryland. Fracking is the process by which fluids are injected into wellbores to help release natural gas and oil. Governor O’Malley, who previously ordered a study be completed on the risks and impacts of fracking, believes it can be done safely and will benefit Maryland economically. Governor-elect Larry Hogan will take office in January and said he will review the O’Malley administration’s rules and decide on whether to proceed with fracking immediately. "We're committed to ensuring that Marylanders have access to the economic opportunities associated with fracking," Governor O'Malley said, "while also putting the most complete practices into place to ensure the highest level of protection for Maryland residents." O’Malley administration sets out path to fracking in MDThe Baltimore Sun and Maryland to begin drafting fracking regulationsSouthern Maryland Newspapers Online

UT – Working to decrease air pollution and to improve public health, Governor Gary Herbert is proposing a ban on the use of wood-burning devices. Recently, the Utah Air Quality Board voted to explore the Governor’s idea, which was met with skepticism from some private sector companies and strong support from clean air activists. State regulators believe a total ban on wood-burning would be easier to enforce as opposed to a partial or temporary ban. The Governor’s office believes a total ban would “yield big air quality benefits” and “emphasize public health over ambiance.” Utah wholesaler John Mortensen, who owns Energy Distribution Systems and disagrees with the Governor’s proposal, said “it would be good to encourage upgrading to cleaner technology, allowing some carrot instead of all stick to reduce emissions related to wood burning.” Gov. Gary Herbert proposes wood-burning ban in UtahThe Salt Lake Tribune

Federal and Regional

 The current and former chairmen and vice chairmen of the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, a bipartisan group of governors from 23 states, recently sent a letter to House and Senate leadership urging Congress to approve a multi-year extension of the wind energy production tax credit (PTC) and investment tax credit (ITC). The letter cites several state examples as important “achievements directly attributable to the PTC,” including in one state where, for example, an estimated $2 billion was added to the state’s economy thanks to the construction of a tax credit-supported wind farm. The Governors’ letter also asks Congress to consider the role of the PTC and ITC in furthering the nation’s off-shore wind energy goals and contends that energy prices have decreased over the last few years in states that produced at least seven percent of their energy from wind power. “While we recognize there is support in Congress for phasing down these various tax incentives for all sectors in a comprehensive tax reform package, until we do, we must allow the nation’s wind industry to compete with other energy sources that also receive federal support.”

The Department of the Interior announced it had distributed more than $13 billion in 2014 to several government entities resulting from royalties and other fees collected thanks to energy production on federal and Native American lands. The Department, which distributes revenues each month, said “revenue generated from developing public energy resources that belong to all Americans helps fund critical investments in communities across the United States and creates American jobs, fosters land and water conservation efforts, improves critical infrastructure, and supports education.” Royalties paid to Native American tribes totaled more than $1 billion, primarily due to the increased production on a North Dakota reservation. Tribes, unlike state and local governments, receive all revenues resulting from energy production on their land while other local or state agencies receive a certain percentage. Feds distribute revenues from energy production on federal, Indian landThe Hill

 

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Energy Update, Nov. 21

November 25, 2014

In the States

MA – Critics of a proposed 400-mile natural gas pipeline in northeast Massachusetts believe they have found an ally in Governor-elect Charlie Baker, who recently said the State should first expand existing natural gas pipelines rather than build new lines. If approved, the pipeline would be built by the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company and would cross the New York border into Massachusetts and run along the State’s border with New Hampshire before entering the latter. Outgoing Governor Duval Patrick charged a commission to study the pipeline and natural gas development in general to “estimate demand in coming years and whether additional pipelines are needed.” The commission’s findings are expected early next month. The company, which is a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan, said it is exploring alternative routes, even though it held several public meetings and hearings with state and local officials about the proposed pipeline. Gas pipeline opponents look to new governor for supportThe Eagle Tribune

NJ – Governor Chris Christie plans to visit Canada on a trade mission in early December to discuss energy policy, including his support for the Keystone XL natural gas pipeline, and his plans for a “North American energy renaissance.” In addition to stops in Calgary, Ottawa, and Toronto, the Governor will meet with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other government ministry leaders. The upcoming trip will be Governor Christie’s third foreign trip, following an earlier trade mission to Mexico and Israel. The Governor said his trip will focus on increasing trade and enhancing existing partnerships between New Jersey and Canada, which, according to his office, amounts to approximately $16 billion annually and more than 240,000 jobs. “Too often, our neighbors in Mexico and Canada have felt that they were an afterthought in U.S. foreign policy,” Governor Christie said. “Let me be clear about my view: My view is they should be our first thought, not an afterthought.” Christie to talk trade, energy in CanadaThe Courier-Post and Christie plans Canada trip to discuss energy policyThe Daily Record

WA – A climate change task force convened by Governor Jay Inslee sent the Governor their suggestions to decrease carbon pollution, including a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade program. The panel did not favor one of the specific policy solutions in their report, but rather focused on the merits of both approaches. Governor Inslee has previously said he was “exploring a market-based system to limit heat-trapping greenhouse gases that are blamed for warming the planet” and a mandate for cleaner fuels to advance electric vehicle use. Governor Inslee is expected to release his proposals in the coming weeks, though given a divided state legislature, he may pursue issuing an executive order if he is unable to advance his plans legislatively. Republican state legislators said they will reserve judgment “to see what the governor is going to come out with.” Carbon cap report to Inslee, may spur actionThe Houston Chronicle and Inslee climate agenda to go beyond carbon pricingThe Seattle Times

Federal and Regional

 According to the Department of Energy (DOE), the federal government expects to earn $5-$6 billion from its renewable energy loan program. Created by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the loan office was at times considered controversial during President Barack Obama’s administration, especially after its decision to invest in Solyndra, a solar panel company which eventually failed, and a few other companies that filed for bankruptcy including Fisker Automotives. The federal renewable energy loan program, which was designed to accelerate the adoption of clean energy technologies, has to date disbursed over $34 billion in loans to numerous types of businesses. According to DOE, the program has seen less than 3% in losses on borrower company defaults. "It (the program) literally kick-started the whole utility-scale photovoltaic industry," said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “We have to be careful that we don't walk away from risk, because otherwise we're not really going to advance the marketplace.” After Solyndra loss, U.S. energy loan program turning a profitNPR and U.S. expects $5 billion from program that funded SolyndraBloomberg BusinessWeek

A measure to authorize the construction of the contentious Keystone XL pipeline failed by one vote in the United States Senate. The bill, which was supported by embattled Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, fell short of the number needed to overcome a filibuster by opponents, collecting 59 votes in favor and 41 votes against. A similar proposal in the House of Representatives passed on a 252-161 vote. When the new Congress convenes in January, supporters will gain additional votes, but it remains to be seen whether there will be enough support to override a potential presidential veto. The State Department has been studying the proposal to determine whether it poses a hazard to the environment and a final decision is still pending.  Senate defeats bill on Keystone XL pipeline in narrow voteThe New York Times

 

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Energy Update, Nov. 7

November 10, 2014

In the States

NY – New Yorkers can begin applying for household heating assistance on November 17 via the State’s Home Energy Assistance Program, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced. Households that are eligible for assistance, which is determined by income and the number of people living in a household, may receive up to $625 through the State’s program, which is run by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. The Home Energy Assistance Program assisted more than 1.5 million households last winter. “As another cold winter season approaches, we are reminding New Yorkers that help is available to keep their homes warm as temperatures drop,” Governor Cuomo said. Governor Cuomo announced home energy assistance available beginning Nov. 17The Riverhead Local

WV – Governor Earl Ray Tomblin recently hosted the Governor’s Energy Summit during which the Governor and U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, a former governor of West Virginia, said the State could “become a leader in energy production if the different branches within the industry work together.” The two-day event, which was held near the center of the State in Lewis County, showcased 24 different speakers and touched upon several energy topics, including coal production and industrial energy efficiency. Governor Tomblin also discussed West Virginia’s energy workforce initiative to educate and prepare students to join the energy industry. “We’re one of the major energy producers in the country, if not the top energy producer,” Governor Tomblin said. “I just think it’s important that they come here to share ideas and so forth, to be able to look at what the prospects are (for) the future of energy.” Tomblin and Manchin close out the Governor’s Energy SummitThe West Virginia Metro News

WY – In Cheyenne, the State capital, Governor Matt Mead recently helped to dedicate a new zero-emission Microsoft data and fuel cell center, which will be powered by methane biogas and other waste-to-energy power sources. The Governor was joined by officials from Microsoft and FuelCell Energy, which developed the waste-to-energy fuel cell technology that will help to power Microsoft’s data center. The new plant will use biogas from a local wastewater treatment facility to power the data center’s fuel cell,. “Growing Wyoming’s technology sector has been a priority and Wyoming is seeing results,” Governor Mead said. “This alternative energy project is not only a zero-carbon data center, (it’s) a laboratory for biogas and fuel cell research. Wyoming is on the cutting edge.” Microsoft’s new biogas-powered plantThe Associated Press  and Microsoft ‘data plant’ to open by turning off electricityWyoming Business Report

Federal and Regional

Members of the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, which includes 23 States, called on the Department of Energy to support Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Order 100, which calls for the reforming of “electric transmission planning and cost-allocation requirements for public utility transmission providers.” The Coalition believes FERC Order 100 will help to enable the inclusion of additional renewable energy sources in the United States’s power grid. “It’s time to begin in earnest a discussion of our nation’s transmission needs and to focus on the benefits of getting renewable energy resources like wind to the people and businesses who want them,” said Governor Jay Inslee of Washington, who helps to chair the bipartisan Coalition with Governor Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota. US Governors call for grid action Renewable News and Governors call on US DOE to support FERC Order 100North American Wind Power News

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released its final environmental review for a proposed 124-mile, 30-inch-diameter pipeline that would increase natural gas supply to the New York and New England markets. If approved, the pipeline, which is scheduled to be completed early next year by Constitution Pipeline Company, will transport enough natural gas each day to serve about 3 million homes. A final decision on the project is expected in late November. FERC’s final environmental review favors Constitution PipelineReuters

 

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Energy Update, Oct. 24

November 10, 2014

In the States

ND – State energy regulators announced the State’s oil production increased less than expected in August, even though production has hit an all-time high. The state's oil wells produced 35.1 million barrels in August, up from 34.5 million barrels in July. The regulators faulted “stringent flaring-reduction standards and sliding oil prices” for the fall in production. Regulations on flaring, or the wasteful burning of natural gas that is extracted along with oil, were issued earlier this year as an attempt to curb the technique. The States will impose production cuts beginning with October flaring data if more than 26 percent of produced natural gas is flared. "I know oil producers are incredibly focused on gas capture and spending a lot of money to get there, but not all producers will get there right away," said Lynn Helms, director of North Dakota's Department of Mineral Resources. Flaring rule changes limit North Dakota oil production growth -- Reuters

TX – The Texas State Comptroller, Susan Combs, recently released a report criticizing renewable energy industry tax credits. The report, which portrays wind power as a “massive strain on taxpayer dollars,” cited Texas’s state property tax reductions and federal production tax credits as reasons to phase out other energy tax credits. Proponents of renewable energy and other industry experts disagreed with the report for several reasons including its failure to address oil and gas industry incentives and benefits derived from the renewable energy sector. Following the report’s release, the comptroller’s office announced they would publish another report on the State’s natural gas drilling tax exemption – an incentive that has saved drilling operators more than $7 billion over a five year period. Tax credits for energy industry are under scrutinyThe New York Times

VA – Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that his administration intends to establish a state solar energy development authority. The new authority, which will mirror the Commonwealth’s Offshore Wind Development Authority, will “facilitate public-private partnerships in solar energy use.” The new solar authority will also examine barriers to solar energy development in the Commonwealth, which currently has only about 16 megawatts of solar generating capacity. The new solar energy development authority has not yet been created since it is not immediately clear if the state legislature will need to approve the agency. In 2010, according to the Commonwealth’s recently released energy plan, “renewable energy resources provided about 6.2 percent of the electricity capacity in Virginia and about 5.1 percent of the electricity generated.” “By working together,” Governor McAuliffe said, “I am confident that four years from now we will live in a stronger commonwealth that is less dependent on external forces and is fueled by cleaner, cheaper, and more abundant Virginia energy.” McAuliffe to establish solar energy authorityThe Richmond Times-Dispatch

Federal and Regional

According to a new report by the Oil and Natural Gas Industry Labor-Management Committee, natural gas exploration in the Marcellus shale formation has created at least 45,000 construction jobs. The report’s findings are based upon actual hours worked in four states – Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, and Ohio – and assume 1,600 hours worked each year per laborer. The report credits the use and expansion of certain drilling techniques, including hydraulic fracturing or fracking, for the increased production from the Marcellus shale. Study: Marcellus shale created 45,000 construction jobsThe Hill

The American Wind Energy Association (AWAE) announced that at least 419 megawatts of wind power capacity was added in the United States during the third quarter. Thus far, wind energy capacity generated in the first nine months of 2014 surpasses all installations last year. According to the report, “nineteen projects have added 1,254 megawatts this year, up from 1,088 megawatts in 2013.” U.S. wind installations in first 9 months beat last yearBloomberg

The Pentagon released a report that called climate change “an immediate security threat.” According to The New York Times, this is the first instance of the military considering the risks, both in terms of national security and potential political strife, posed by climate change. The report, which Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel discussed in a recent meeting of defense ministers, discusses how the armed forces will adjust to rising sea levels, droughts, and storms. The report did not offer any financial or budgetary recommendations for Congress. The Pentagon is currently operating a survey of its more than 7,000 bases, installations, and other facilities “to asses (their) vulnerability.” “The loss of glaciers will strain water supplies in several areas of our hemisphere,” Secretary Hagel said. “Destruction and devastation from hurricanes can sow the seeds for instability. Droughts and crop failures can leave millions of people without any lifeline, and trigger waves of mass migration.” Pentagon signals security risks of climate changeThe New York Times

 

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