Menu

Viohl & Associates

A Government Relations Firm

header photo

Blog posts

Energy Update, June 27

In the States

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

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

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

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

Regional and National

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

Go Back

Energy Update, June 10

In the States

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

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

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

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

Federal and Regional

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

Go Back

Energy Update, May 27

In the States

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

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

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

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

Federal and Regional

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

Go Back

Energy Update, May 13

In the States

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

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

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

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

Federal and Regional

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

Go Back

Energy Update, April 29

In the States

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

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

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

Federal and Regional

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

Go Back

Energy Update, April 15

In the States

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

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

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

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

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

Go Back

Energy Update, March 25

In the States

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

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

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

Federal and Regional

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

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

Go Back

Energy Update, March 11

In the States

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

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

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

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

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

Go Back

Energy Update, February 26

In the States

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

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

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

Federal and Regional

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

Go Back

Energy Update, February 5

In the States

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

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

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

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

Federal and Regional

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

Go Back

Energy Update, January 22

In the States

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

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

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

Federal and Regional

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

Go Back

Energy Update, January 8

In the States

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

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

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

Federal and Regional

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

Go Back

Energy Update, Dec. 18

In the States

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

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

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

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

Federal and Regional

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

Go Back

Energy Update, Dec. 4

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

Go Back

Energy Update, Nov. 20

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

Go Back

Energy Update, Nov. 6

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

Go Back

Energy Update, Oct. 23

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

Go Back

Energy Update, Oct. 9

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

Go Back

September 25, Energy Update

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

Go Back

September 11, Energy Update

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

Go Back

20 blog posts

Contact Us

Hall of the States

444 N. Capitol Street NW

Washington, DC 20009

Phone: 202-624-1478