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Energy Update, December 2, 2011

December 2, 2011

In the States

HI – In a ceremony at the State Capitol, Governor Neil Abercrombie signed an agreement with the president of the Japanese government-sponsored New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) to build a smart grid on part of Maui in order to better integrate renewable energy sources.  Since the existing grid is not built to accommodate power supplies that vary such as solar or wind energy, the smart grid, which NEDO President Hideo Hata said would be “the most advanced smart grid in the world,” is needed to take advantage of large scale renewable energy projects planned in Hawaii.  Governor Abercrombie said the smart grid would help move the State away from imported oil use, strengthen Hawaii’s renewable energy technology capacity, and serve as a model for the Asia-Pacific region, as well as the rest of the world.  “After the test is done, we’ll have in place an alternative energy infrastructure that will be highly valuable to us now and on into the foreseeable future.”  The smart grid will cover homes and businesses in Kihei and electric vehicle charging stations on other parts of Maui.  Abercrombie signs deal to build smart grid on MauiBloomberg BusinessWeek

NE – Governor Dave Heineman has signed into law two bills that passed the unicameral legislature with unanimous support after a special session was called to respond to issues related to the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.  One new law gives greater control over future pipeline sitings to the State’s Public Service Commission, while the other is the result of an agreement with TransCanada, the Keystone XL project’s developer, to reroute the pipeline away from environmentally fragile areas in the State.  Under the second piece of legislation, Governor Heineman will need to approve the final route following the completion of a new environmental study.  Members of the Natural Resource Committee, which crafted the legislation, walked the bill to the office of Governor Heineman immediately after passage, where the Governor signed it upon arrival.  Governor signs two oil pipeline bills into lawLincoln Journal Star

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced an incentive program that will provide vouchers of up to $20,000 to buyers of electric trucks weighing over 10,000 pounds.  The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority will provide up to $10 million for the program, which will fund vouchers for at least 450 vehicles.  Electric vehicle manufacturers, such as Smith Electric Vehicles, which recently announced construction of a new factory in New York City that would build solar electric trucks, praised the program, while it drew skepticism from some environmentalists, including NYU environmental studies professor Juliette Warren, who said the program may increase air pollution through greater use of coal-fired plants to charge the vehicles.  Cuomo announces electric vehicle incentive programWashington Square News

Federal News

A Treasury Department program that provides incentives for companies to invest in renewable energy projects is set to expire at the end of this year.  The “1603” program offers tax-equity financing for renewable energy projects, but also allows investors to more quickly realize cash profits from their investments, which would not be the case without special grant payments.  After construction of a project is complete, investors can receive a cash payment instead of waiting for a tax credit against future tax liabilities.  This arrangement makes renewable energy projects very attractive to investors and has greatly increased demand for this type of financing.  Analysts have said that the program will likely not be extended even though the program is widely supported by Congress due to the price tag: around $3 billion per year.  More than 760 trade groups and energy companies sent a letter to Congress urging a one-year extension of the grant program, which reads in part that such an extension “will create jobs, spur economic growth, and promote private sector development of energy technologies.”  Clean energy funding to drop after Obama grant program endsBloomberg BusinessWeek and Letter to Congress from trade associations and energy companies [pdf]1603 Coalition

President Barack Obama has announced, along with former President Bill Clinton, a program that is designed to improve energy efficiency in both public buildings and commercial properties without additional public investment.  The program, which expands an existing effort, the Better Building Initiative, will use $2 billion borrowed by energy services companies to finance energy-efficiency upgrades for federal buildings, and another $2 billion for improvements for property owned by private sector companies, universities, and state and local governments.  The energy services companies will then be paid back through the energy savings costs achieved through energy retrofits.  By 2020, the program is expected to improve efficiency in 1.6 billion square feet of commercial office space by at least 20 percent.   Obama, Clinton, together again, pitching efficiencyBoston Globe and Obama enlists Clinton, 3M, Alcoa, in $4 billion energy planBloomberg BusinessWeek

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Energy Update, September 10, 2010

September 10, 2010

In the States

CA – A new website called Clean Energy Jobs has been launched as a part of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Clean Energy Workforce Training Program, which is designed to help promote green collar jobs in the State.  Governor Schwarzenegger praised the website in a written statement, saying that it will highlight “how the state's community colleges and workforce investment boards, labor unions, and employers are working to meet the demand for trained workers."  The Governor also wrote that the training program itself “represents the kind of innovative thinking needed to steer our economy toward a greener future, while doing everything possible to help Californians return to work." Governor introduces green jobs websiteSan Francisco Chronicle

PA – Pennsylvania currently requires that 0.5% of the electricity in the State must come from solar power by 2021.  Governor Ed Rendell has called for an increase in that percentage during his announcement of $20.5 million to finance new solar programs within the State.  “Unless we act now to increase our solar share – even to a modest 1.5%– the types of projects we’re announcing today won’t even consider Pennsylvania,” the Governor said at the announcement, adding that solar companies already in the State may move to other States with larger mandates on solar energy.  Pennsylvania Governor calls for increase in solar targetBrighterEnergy.org

TN – Governor Phil Bredesen has announced a $2.5 million rebate program that will provide a $2,500 rebate for the first 1,000 electric vehicles sold in Tennessee.  A federal rebate program to provide $7,500 per electric car is also available to Tennessee residents, making the total amount available to electric car purchasers up to $10,000.  These rebates will be available as soon as sales begin later this year for the new all-electric Nissan Leaf, for which batteries will be manufactured in Tennessee.  The funds for the rebates will be taken from the petroleum violation escrow account, which consists of money collected from oil companies by the federal government and provided to States for use on federally approved projects.  During a speech at the Tennessee Valley Authority, Governor Bredesen said that the rebates will allow “Tennesseans to be pioneers in trying out electric cars and making them accessible and affordable in the State.”  Rebates available for first electric cars in Tenn.Bloomberg Businessweek

Regional News

At a meeting of the Southern Governors’ Association in Alabama, Governors from both Gulf and Atlantic coastal States told Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor to President Barack Obama, and Wilma Lewis, the Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Land and Minerals Management, that since States that allow offshore oil drilling are more susceptible to the risks of drilling – risks made clear to the Governors as a result of the BP oil spill in the Gulf – they should receive a higher share of royalties from offshore oil leases than they are scheduled to receive, and they should receive them as soon as possible.  In making the case for States that allow offshore drilling to receive a higher share of royalties, Governor Bob Riley of Alabama told the officials that he was “not too sure any coastal States had any idea of the risk we were taking,” and Governor Bev Perdue of North Carolina expressed her concern that States might not be willing to take the risk of an offshore oil spill if they aren’t also rewarded for assuming such risk.  Governor Riley said that the royalties would allow States to stock up on boom and other supplies necessary to handle an emergency oil cleanup, for which they had to rely on BP and the federal government during the recent Gulf spill.  Some of the Governors and other State officials also criticized the Obama Administration for imposing a temporary moratorium on deep water offshore oil drilling.  While Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi said he was glad to hear that the Administration is committed to offshore oil drilling, he also made clear that he hoped offshore drilling would continue as soon as possible.  Assistant Secretary Lewis emphasized the importance of the moratorium providing time to review regulations and ensure safety on offshore oil rigs following an incident that resulted in 11 people losing their lives and devastation to Gulf Coast communities.  Southern Governors want more oil money due to drilling risksMontgomery Advertiser

National News

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has resulted in the installation of more than two million smart meters and the weatherization of more than 200,000 homes.  Smart meters cut costs and energy usage by allowing consumers to track and alter energy use in real time and weatherization improvements reduce the amount of energy needed to control the temperature inside homes.  DOE cited a utility industry analysis that asserts that smart grid improvements, such as smart meters, can cut electricity demand by more than 4% annually by 2030, saving businesses and consumers $20.4 billion per year.  Another study by DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory also indicates that weatherization can save homeowners an average of $400 in the first year after a project is complete.  The Department of Energy is currently weatherizing 25,000 homes per month with a goal of weatherizing a total of 600,000 homes under the ARRA.  Energy Dept. says ‘smart meter’ army hits 2 millionThe Hill and DOE announces two million smart meters installed in the USEERE News and 200,000 homes weatherized in Recovery Act milestone: Vice PresidentEERE News

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Energy Update, August 13, 2010

August 13, 2010

In the States

MI –There are currently 17 new vehicle battery plants in production, under construction, or approaching groundbreaking in Michigan, which may be attributed in part to the $2.4 billion provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to encourage development of a domestic industry to make lighter, more energy-dense lithium-ion batteries to power electric vehicles.  The State has also played a large role in encouraging development by studying various industrial sectors around which to build a new economic strategy focusing on clean energy, especially battery production, for the next generation of energy-efficient vehicles.  Governor Granholm helped to persuade the legislature to approve $1 billion in tax credits for companies involved in developing advanced energy storage systems for electric vehicles and told a conference of engineers and battery developers in Detroit on July 27, “Michigan intends to lead the way in clean energy manufacturing.”  A bet on clean energy in the automotive StateNew York Times 

OR – Ocean Power Technologies, Inc. has signed a Settlement Agreement (SA) that will allow development of a wave energy power project that could generate enough electricity to power 1,000 homes.  The SA represents a major step towards the first license issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for this type of project.  The SA includes a plan to identify and implement required environmental studies, and to provide a blueprint for the application of this information as development progresses.  Governor Ted Kulongoski said, "The Settlement Agreement is a groundbreaking document that demonstrates the State's commitment to partnering with the private sector and coastal communities to explore how we can tap into the renewable resource of ocean waves to power our communities.  The manufacture of the first buoy has already created dozens of green-energy jobs in Oregon and when the 10-buoy wave power project is built, a whole new industry will be created to benefit our coastal communities.”  Ocean Power Technologies Signs Historic Stakeholder Agreement for Oregon Wave Energy ProjectBusinessWire and Oregon on track to get utility scale wave farmCNET News

RI – A new law signed by Governor Don Carcieri has brought the possibility of an offshore wind farm one step closer to being built.  The Public Utilities Commission blocked an arrangement between Deepwater Wind, a wind power developer, and National Grid, a utility company, because costs to ratepayers were too high in March. Consequently, the legislature passed, and the Governor signed, legislation requiring the commission to make decisions based on economic and environmental benefits as well as rates, and to do so within 45 days.  Under the new rules, the Commission approved the plan 2-1.  RI energy commission OK’s wind farm agreementAssociated Press

VT – Governor Jim Douglas and Lt. Governor Brian Dubie attended the signing of a contract between two Vermont utilities and Hydro-Quebec, which supplies hydro-electric power from Canada.  The contract will allow Hydro-Quebec to provide the utilities with enough power for 200,000 Vermont homes for 26 years at competitive market rates, and replaces a similar long-term contract that will phase out over the next several years.  After watching the signing, Governor Douglas held a press conference in which he said he was “grateful” that the companies “have negotiated an agreement that will benefit customers” and that the agreement will “provide stable renewable power at a competitive price” and “help Vermont’s power supply remain arguably the nation’s cleanest.”  Vermont and Quebec reach new energy agreementMarketWatch

National News

A new report from the US Department of Energy says that 2009 set a record for the amount of new wind energy capacity and for the amount of investment in wind energy, despite the lingering economic downturn.  Ten gigawatts of wind energy was installed in 2009 and $21 billion was invested, resulting in a 40% increase in the amount of wind energy capacity.  For the fifth year in a row, the report says, the growth of wind energy capacity was second only to that of natural gas, supplying 39% of the new energy in the country last year.  Twenty-nine States installed new wind energy capacity, with a plurality of that capacity in Texas, followed by Indiana and Iowa in a distant second and third.  2009 a year of growth, challenge for US wind power: ReportEERE News

A plan to build the world’s first clean coal power plant that was approved in 2003 and shelved in 2008 has been revived.  The US Department of Energy has awarded $1 billion to the project, now called “FutureGen 2.0”, which will be used to retrofit an existing coal-fired power plant in Illinois to capture and sequester its carbon emissions.  The new plan abandons the technique in the original plan called coal gasification, and will instead use a mixture of oxygen and carbon dioxide to burn the coal, then send the resulting gas underground to natural geological formations that can accommodate 50 million tons of carbon dioxide per year for 50 years.  Clean-coal project advances with $1 billion in fundingWall Street Journal

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Energy Update, June 18, 2010

June 18, 2010

In the States

AK – Governor Sean Parnell has signed two energy bills designed to spell out how Alaska will obtain energy in the coming years.  One new law mandates that the State obtain 50% of its electricity from renewable sources within 15 years.  The other law promotes energy efficiency through the creation of an Energy Efficiency Revolving Loan Fund and a requirement that the least efficient 25% of State buildings undergo weatherization.  The new law also requires that State Transportation Department vehicles be powered by compressed natural gas and contains some incentives for non-renewable resources as well.  State goal: 50 percent renewable energy sources by 2025KTVA TV  

CO – Governor Bill Ritter signed The Community Solar Gardens Act, which allows groups of individuals, who may not be able to install solar panels on their rooftops, to collectively own a solar array, enabling them to tap into potential benefits from the State's net-metering laws and tariffs.  The amount they will be paid will depend upon the size of their ownership shares of the solar garden, the performance of the solar array, and their own monthly electricity usage.  Washington, Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts already have laws on the books to support community solar energy and Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) is sponsoring a community solar bill in the US Senate.  Colorado Governor signs community solar gardens act into law  – Ecopolitology (blog)

OH – Governor Ted Strickland has signed an energy bill that will provide tax breaks to companies that produce renewable energy and jobs in Ohio.  To qualify, companies must begin construction before 2012 and produce energy by 2013 or 2017, depending on the type of energy produced.  Counties have the option to decide whether to cooperate in relieving energy businesses from the tangible personal property tax, which could affect whether renewable energy companies invest in particular areas.  Ohio Governor to sign advanced energy tax billUSA Today and Gov. Strickland signs wind energy bill into lawTimes Bulletin   

Regional and National News

The primary elections currently taking place around the country could profoundly affect the outcome of deliberation over federal climate change legislation.  To date, many of the Democratic and Republican primary winners have staunchly opposed cap-and-trade measures at the State and federal level.  If a climate bill is not passed in this Congress, a new set of Senators, elected in part through these primaries, will have the opportunity to influence the direction of any such legislation.  Similarly, the primaries will determine gubernatorial candidates who will not only help to shape State policies affecting the future use of fossil fuels and alternative energy, but who also will be making their views known to policymakers in Washington.  Climate bubbles below the surface of primary winsNew York Times

President Barack Obama addressed the nation on June 15 on the subject of the BP oil spill, now in its ninth week, as well as potential energy and climate change legislation.  The President did not specifically lay out his administration’s agenda on cap-and-trade or other controversial energy measures, opting instead to focus on the need to act and to consider all proposals.  The lack of specifics has left the fate of energy legislation without real direction.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said he is unsure of which energy legislation to move forward, while other Senators used the occasion to promote their or others’ energy bills or rally behind or criticize the President.  With regard to how to best regulate greenhouse gas emissions, there is little cohesion among Senators, including within the Democratic caucus, with arguments ranging from legislation with no climate change measures, to only regulating power plants, to regulating many sources of pollution such as transportation.  President Obama speech has energy bill in limboPolitico and President Obama’s Oval Office address on BP oil spill & energyThe White House

As electric cars gain in popularity and two major auto manufacturers, General Motors and Nissan, plan to release plug-in models later this year, federal regulators are struggling to determine a definition of auto efficiency for these non-gasoline powered vehicles.  Mike Duoba, a research engineer at Argonne National Laboratory, said, "The language we have been speaking -- mpg -- isn't sophisticated enough."  The onset of electric vehicles "will require new metrics to effectively convey information to consumers," according to an EPA statement, though researchers predict it will be difficult to find one measurement to convey a car’s efficiency in terms of both electricity and gas without making too many  assumptions about consumer driving habits.  The new metrics are expected to change the way fuel-economy estimates are calculated and displayed and will shape consumer choices that, in the aggregate, could profoundly affect smog and carbon emissions.  The EPA is scheduled to propose a rule by August.  More electric cars means finding new standards to measure fuel efficiency – The Washington Post

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Energy Update, May 21, 2010

May 21, 2010

In the States

AK – Governor Sean Parnell has signed a pair of bills into law into law that offer companies tens of millions of dollars in tax incentives to drill for natural gas in Cook Inlet and make it cheaper and easier to build gas storage facilities.  Demand for natural gas grows in the winter, when the need for heat is greatest, and slowing production from existing wells will need to be supplemented by either importing gas from elsewhere or increased domestic drilling.  While some companies have existing leases to drill, the incentives are meant to prompt them into drilling sooner than later and store supplies for later use.  Legislature’s incentives may draw gas rig to InletAnchorage Daily News

HI – Hawaii has been chosen to be one of the first States to help launch the new all-electric car from Nissan, the LEAF, which is powered by lithium-ion batteries and produces zero tailpipe emissions.  Governor Linda Lingle recently spoke at event announcing Nissan’s decision and said that the car “will build on Hawaii's progress to end our state's over-reliance on imported fossil fuels and increase our energy security.”  The State has set a goal of obtaining 70% of its energy from clean sources by 2030.  Residents can now reserve the car, which is eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit, and costs more than 60% less per mile to drive than the average gasoline-powered car.  Hawaii selected as an early launch State for Nissan LEAF vehicleReliable Plant

ME – Governor John Baldacci has signed five energy bills into law that will make generating and transmitting wind energy easier in the future.  Included in the new laws is the creation of “energy corridors” or new transmission lines along major highways, steering funds to energy efficiency and alternative energy projects, as well as a smart grid and other infrastructure to allow energy efficient use of electric vehicles.  Home and business owners will be allowed to tack upfront costs of energy efficiency projects onto their property tax bill for 10 to 20 years, and energy companies will be required to provide at least $4,000 in community benefits per wind turbine.  Another bill institutes the Ocean Energy Task Force recommendations by creating a permit system, clarifying the leasing process, and setting energy goals for offshore wind and tidal energy systems.  Baldacci signs energy bills aimed at cutting oil consumptionMaine Public Broadcasting Network and Energy bills smarten up State policyBangor Daily News

NJ – Governor Chris Christie and the State’s Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner, Bob Martin, have filed a petition with the federal Environmental Protection Agency to require a coal-fired power plant 500 feet across the border in Pennsylvania to reduce its emissions.  According to the Commissioner, the plant in question emits three times as much as all seven coal power plants in New Jersey, but residents on both sides of the river are susceptible to the pollution.  The plant is already the subject of a federal EPA lawsuit, though the plant’s owners say they are fully compliant with all Pennsylvania permit limitations.  NJ Gov. Chris Christie, DEP chief seek reduced pollution from coal-burning plant in PAThe Star-Ledger

WI – Governor Jim Doyle is promoting the collaboration of two large university research consortia with private companies to research and develop clean energy solutions, saying “it is crucial that Wisconsin develop and maintain a leadership role in these emerging energy technologies.”  Under the plan, the Center for Renewable Energy Systems in Madison and the Southeastern Wisconsin Energy Technology Research consortium in Milwaukee will combine into a single statewide group and provide energy research services for industry in the State.  Wisconsin makes a play for clean energyCivSource

Governor Doyle has also signed a bill that will make burning garbage for energy count as “renewable” and help the State realize its goal of obtaining 10% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2015.  Also listed as “renewable” is the Apollo light pipe, a small glass skylight dome that reflects daylight inside a building and reduces energy use.  The skylight system is manufactured in Wisconsin.  The Governor also vetoed a bill that would have required State buildings to become more energy efficient.  Governor Doyle said that he vetoed the measure because the way it was written would have delayed current maintenance projects and would have created “chaos” for the State’s building construction program.  Disputed renewable power bill signedMilwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel

National News

Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman publicly released their climate change and energy legislation in the company of both utility company executives and environmental advocates, but without the bill’s other original co-author, Senator Lindsey Graham.  Climate provisions include a cap and trade policy that would cap utility, oil, and heavy industry emissions (following a temporary exemption), but not as broadly as the as the economy-wide House plan passed last year.  Greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by 17% by 2020 and 83% by 2050 compared to 2005 levels.  Permits would initially be given away to utilities and coal burning power plants would receive more permits than natural gas power plants.  In the wake of the ongoing Gulf oil leak, the legislation has been amended to scale back some the expansion of offshore oil drilling.  States will now be able to stop certain plans to drill for oil off the coast of neighboring States.  Nuclear plant operators would also receive loan guarantees under the proposed legislation.  The nuclear power industry and utility companies generally embraced the plan, while some oil companies also voiced support.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, however, did not endorse the bill.  Senator Graham issued a separate statement on the bill in which he predicted the bill would not gain bipartisan support given immigration politics and the recent oil spill in the Gulf.  Climate bill’s fate down to businessPolitico and Senate gets a climate and energy bill, modified by a Gulf spill that still growsNew York Times 

The Georgetown Climate Center has produced an overview of the legislation’s State-related provisions.

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Energy Update January 15, 2010

January 15, 2010

In the States

AZ – Governor Jan Brewer discussed her ideas on the future of energy in Arizona at a business conference in Phoenix, calling for more wind, solar, and nuclear energy production.  The Governor said she is a “strong advocate for the development of more nuclear energy in Arizona,” calling the energy source “the cornerstone of our clean energy future.”  She also said she is “committed to making Arizona the solar capital of the world,” proposed adding incentives and easing regulations, and signed two executive orders to help promote solar energy.  Brewer pushes for nuclear as key part of energy goalsArizona Republic

MD – As the session begins in the State general assembly, Governor Martin O’Malley is preparing to push for a low-cost plan to increase solar energy, offshore wind development, and electric cars.  The Governor is proposing smaller changes to comply with the legislature’s existing goal of generating 20% of Maryland’s energy from renewable sources by 2022, and a need to cut $2 billion from the State budget.  Examples include streamlining the process to allow transmission lines from offshore wind farms and a tax break on new electric vehicles.  O’Malley to press for legislation on renewable energyBaltimore Sun

NM – Governor Bill Richardson has signed an executive order instructing several state agencies to coordinate efforts to promote the growth of green jobs and renewable energy.  The agencies are tasked with improving the electrical grid, commercializing new clean energy technologies, attracting renewable energy companies to the state, streamlining the permit process for alternative energy projects, and promoting commercial-scale geothermal energy.  Richardson orders new steps to build green economyNew Mexico Business Weekly

WV – In his State of the State address, Governor Joe Manchin praised the energy sector and defended the coal industry.  The Governor stressed balancing the economy and the environment, heralding both increased wind energy development and new technologies that will allow more drilling for oil and natural gas.  His speech also focused on supporting the coal industry by noting the fuel’s ubiquity and low cost, praising an upcoming project to control greenhouse gas emissions at a power plant, and criticizing efforts to “villainize this resource that helped us win two world wars and built the greatest country in the world.”  West Virginians urged to ‘stand up for our coal miners’Charleston Gazette

National News

President Barack Obama has announced $2.3 billion in tax credits that is expected to leverage an additional $5 billion in private investment, help complete 183 clean energy projects, and create more than 17,000 new jobs.  The credits will be provided for a wide variety of projects, including solar, wind, and geothermal energy production, fuel cells, electric cars, carbon capture and sequestration technology, and energy efficiency products.  White House awards $2.3 billion in tax credits for clean energy developersNew York Times

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Energy Update, August 7, 2009

August 7, 2009

In the States

DE – Governor Jack Markell has signed two bills into law that he says will spur new green collar jobs.  The new laws will require more energy efficient homes and office buildings, encourage zero net energy buildings, and require utilities in the state to reduce energy consumption by 15% in just five years, by 2015.  Governor Markell signed legislation earlier this year promoting home solar and wind energy.  Markell signs landmark energy legislationDelaware Business Ledger

OR – Governor Ted Kulongoski has signed several climate change bills that will lower greenhouse gas emissions in the state.  The new laws require that new power plants be at least as clean as natural gas, new buildings are more energy efficient, and emissions are reported by more polluters.  They also authorize a low carbon fuel standard, and grants for energy efficiency projects.  Governor signs climate change legislationPortland Business Journal

The nation’s Governors agreed to support a goal of requiring new and renovated buildings to be carbon-neutral by 2030 at the National Governors Association Annual Meeting.  The goal is promoted by the American Institute of Architects and endorsed by the US Conference of Mayors and the National Association of Counties. Governors call for carbon-neutral buildings by 2030New York Times

Regional and National News

The Cash for Clunkers program, which provides car-buyers with $3,500 to $4,500 in incentives to trade in gas-guzzlers for cars with much better gas mileage, is running out of its $950 million in stimulus funds.  The House and Senate have passed a $2 billion extension of the program to keep it going.  $2B in clunkers cash on way, senators sayDetroit Free Press and “Cash for Clunkers” gets a $2 billion boostNew York Times

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the chairs of five committees have agreed to get a cap-and-trade bill out of committee by September 28.  Senators have cited several impediments to quick passage of the bill, though, including the complexity of the pending health reform legislation, negative impacts on coal- and manufacturing-heavy states, and spending any additional money after the stimulus and health reform.  Some Senators have stated that it is unlikely that the bill will be passed this year, and will only be harder to push next year as difficult votes are harder to make in election years.  Climate bill may fall by the waysidePolitico

President Obama and other administration officials traveled throughout the country on August 5 to announce the recipients of $2.4 billion in stimulus grants for the development of battery powered vehicles.  The President visited Indiana and Vice President Biden was in Michigan – those two states received the majority of the funds – while other cabinet members traveled to North Carolina, Florida, and Pennsylvania to announce grants in those states.  The grants will fund 50 projects in 25 states.  Obama back in Indiana with message and aidNew York Times and Electric cars get plug from ObamaCharlotte News and Observer

International News

At a two-day meeting between the Obama administration and Chinese officials, the US and China entered into an agreement that states each country’s desire to deal with the climate issue, though no real specifics emerged.  The memorandum of understanding cited climate change as a challenge to be combated by transitioning to a low-carbon economy through “domestic action and international cooperation.”  At the meeting, both countries said their relationship on the subject would be positive and mutually beneficial. US, China end talks with smiles but no progress on climate changeLos Angeles Times and US-China memorandum of understanding to enhance cooperation on climate change, energy and the environment US Department of State

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Energy Update, June 26, 2009

June 26, 2009

In the States

ME – Governor Baldacci has signed a new law that will establish a six-year pilot program that will allow individuals and groups to sell renewable power to the Public Utilities Commission at a fixed rate for up to 20 years, with the goal of encouraging small renewable energy projects.  The law also allows for energy to be bought in blocks by investors and consumers.  Baldacci signs law prompting smaller energyKennebec Journal

OR – The state’s legislature has passed some – but not all – of the energy-related legislation that was on the agenda for this session.  A bill that would create a low-carbon standard for fuel sold in Oregon has passed, but a bill that would guarantee that emissions will be 10% below 1990 levels by 2020 has not.  Some pending bills would reverse existing clean energy legislation, such as a bill that would decrease tax credits for alternative energy producers that easily passed the House, though Governor Kulongoski’s office has said that the Governor will not “allow any rollback.”  Many green-friendly bills don’t make the cut in OregonOregonian and Update: Bill to cut carbon emissions from gasoline, diesel fuel, gains approval - Oregonian

SD – South Dakota currently produces 237 megawatts of electricity with wind power and has some of the greatest potential for more, but only if transmission lines are upgraded to carry more alternative energy.  The state’s electricity grid has not been updated since the 1970s.  The Obama administration has designated $11 billion in stimulus funds to upgrade the nation’s electric grid and private companies have invested billions more to build the needed transmission lines.  While these improvements will allow more wind power to be created in South Dakota’s rural areas and used in populated centers, as well as lessen the chances for interruptions in the power supply, much more investment is needed to sufficiently expand transmission capacity.  Wind power blocked by ‘glass ceiling’Argus Leader

Regional and Federal News

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative completed its fourth auction, selling 30.8 million pollution allowances for $3.23 each for a total of $104 million.  The 10 states in the Initiative have so far sold over 110 million allowances for a total of $366.5 million that will be used to weatherize homes, perform energy efficiency audits, help small businesses lower energy usage, and other uses.  Auction raises $104 M for renewable energyRutland Herald

Automakers Ford, Nissan, and Tesla will receive a total of $8 billion in order to retool their factories to build electric vehicles and battery packs and increase fuel efficiency.  Business leaders say tens of thousands of jobs will be created by the loans, which are part of the $25 billion in loans approved for automakers by Congress in 2007.  The cap-and-trade legislation currently being discussed in Congress contains a provision to double the loans to $50 billion.  The Energy Department is working with GM and Chrysler, who must get out of bankruptcy before being eligible for the loan.  3 automakers get loans to build more efficient carsWashington Post

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has voted 15-8 to pass what has been called a compromise between Republicans and Democrats on energy and climate change policy.  The legislation would require that utilities obtain 15% of their energy from renewable energy by 2021, but would not put a cap on the amount of greenhouse gases polluters could emit.  The bill would also allow drilling for oil within 45 miles of coastlines, provide incentives for carbon capture and storage, expand the national petroleum reserves, and increase funding for clean energy technology and training.  Senate panel approves energy billNew York Times

American Clean Energy and Security Act

On Friday, June 26, the House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act, written by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman and promoted by President Obama by a vote of 219-212.  The legislation would limit emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 80% below 2005 levels by 2050.  Additional language was added the night before the vote, including additional emission allowances for rural electric cooperatives, authority for the US Department of Agriculture to determine agricultural offsets for farmers, and a number of other provisions benefiting specific industries.

During the debate, one point of contention between parties was the cost of the bill to rate-payers.  The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average household will pay an additional $80-$111 per year by 2020, while the Congressional Budget Office estimates the average household will pay an additional $175 per year by 2020, with those in lowest-income homes saving $40 per year due to rebates.  Republicans estimated that the average household would pay an additional $3,100 per year.

Another issue revolved around the efficacy of the provisions.  Supporters of the bill claimed that up to 1.7 million jobs would be created through the creation of clean energy infrastructure while opponents claimed millions of jobs would be lost in closing small businesses and manufacturers that cannot afford the additional costs.  Supporters also asserted that the reductions in emissions would stem or reverse global climate change, while opponents generally questioned the effectiveness of the legislation in the absence of international cooperation and the degree to which climate change poses a near-term threat.

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