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Blog posts : "energy department"

Energy Update, August 24, 2012

August 28, 2012

In the States

IA – Governor Terry Branstad, joined by Alliant Energy’s chief executive officer and several state energy officials, announced the launch of a $345 million project upgrade for the Ottumwa Generating Station. The new emissions-reduction system at the south central Iowa plant is projected to reduce sulfur dioxide and mercury emissions by 90 percent thanks to a series of high-tech filters that curtail pollution. Governor Branstad, who predicts an increase in the use of such technology, called the project “a long-term investment in Iowa’s economy and environment.” Officials Tout $345 Million System at Ottumwa Generating StationThe Ottumwa Courier

KY – Governor Steve Beshear announced the opening of a $20.7 million facility committed to the research and development of renewable energy and energy storage technologies. The Kentucky-Argonne Battery Manufacturing Research and Development Center is an advanced manufacturing facility that will help researchers study and create new energy technologies, including biofuels and electrochemical devices such as batteries and capacitors. “This amazing facility, which includes one of the first federal battery manufacturing laboratories in the United States,” said Governor Beshear, “is more proof that Kentucky is now a leader in developing the energy and automotive technologies of the future." Gov. Beshear Announces Opening of $20.7 Million FacilityToday’s Energy Solutions and University of Kentucky Opens $20.7 Million Research LabThe Lexington Herald Leader

 Federal News

 The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled 2-1 to strike down an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule to control air pollution at power plants. The regulation, known as the Cross State Air Pollution Rule, targeted coal-fired plants and was projected to cost the utility industry $2.4 billion in pollution-control upgrades over several years. The EPA’s rule sought to require cleanup according to the cost of the reductions in pollution rather than “apportion the reductions according to the amount of pollution that each upwind state was contributing.” Ruling that the EPA had overstepped its authority, the Court’s majority stated the EPA had used a section of the Clean Air Act “to impose massive emission’s reduction requirements on upwind States without regard to the limits imposed by the statutory text.” Experts say a new rule may take years to draft. Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Obama Air Pollution RuleThe Washington Post and Court Blocks E.P.A. Rule on Cross State PollutionThe New York Times

 The Department of Energy released a new report noting the strong growth in the U.S. wind energy market in 2011. The wind energy market, according to the report, accounted for 32 percent of all new electric capacity additions last year, roughly $14 billion in new investment. The report also found the nation’s wind power capacity has reached 47,000 megawatts, or enough to provide power to approximately 13 million homes annually. "This report shows that America can lead the world in the global race to manufacture and deploy clean energy technologies," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. U.S. Wind Power Capacity IncreasingUnited Press International

 The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted 2-1 to require American oil and mining companies to disclose taxes and other fees that they pay to foreign governments. The rule, which derives its authority from a section of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, will apply to approximately 1,100 companies and mandates the reporting of payments made in excess of $100,000 beginning in fiscal year 2014. Industry groups maintained the rule will allow foreign, state-owned companies to discover the proprietary business information and strategy of their American competitors, thereby potentially forcing a decrease of American business in countries where foreign companies do not have to make such disclosures or are prohibited from doing so. In support of the new requirements, Luis Aguilar, an SEC commissioner, quoted former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis by stating, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.” U.S. Oil and Mining Companies Must Disclose Payments to Foreign GovernmentsThe New York Times

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Energy Update, April 22, 2011

April 22, 2011

In the States

CA – Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the country’s strongest renewable energy standard that will require electric utilities in the State to generate 33 percent of their electricity from renewable sources in less than nine years.  Although the new law limits the amount of rate hikes due to the new requirements, opponents of the measure cite studies showing that rates may increase by 7-19 percent.  The Governor cited reliance on foreign oil, economic instability, and climate issues in expressing his support for the law while other supporters said it would keep investment strong in the renewable energy industry.  Calif. sets nation’s most aggressive goal for renewable energy as critics say rates will soarWashington Post

OK – Governor Mary Fallin has signed a new law that will expand the allowed length of horizontal drilling into shale reservoirs, easing investment costs for companies to drill for oil and natural gas.  Proponents said that the new law allows for increased production while protecting mineral owners’ rights, and modernizes regulations to account for technological advances that have made it possible to extend drilling longer than was previously possible.  Drilling bill modernizes state oil and gas statutesEnid News & Eagle and Oklahoma’s Gov. Mary Fallin signs energy reform billThe Oklahoman

OR –  Speaking at a conference on the future of energy, Governor John Kitzhaber announced he is developing a 10-year plan for Oregon that will emphasize renewable energy as a way to rebuild the State’s post-recession economy.  During his remarks, one example he cited was the possibility of retrofitting homes with energy-saving materials as a way to replace economic activity previously generated by the housing construction industry.  He also said that he and Governor Christine Gregoire of Washington State had recently discussed forming a three-state coalition with California focused on creating green energy jobs and reducing carbon emissions.  Kitzhaber says it's time for a 10-year plan on clean energy in Oregon – The Oregonian

National News

The U.S. Departments of Energy and Agriculture have announced $30 million in spending on projects that will support research and development in advanced biofuels, much of which will be in rural areas in the Midwest.  These funds come from the Biomass Research and Development Initiative and could help rural communities become less reliant on fossil fuels.  They will now be able to produce much of the fuel they use for heating and electricity locally, lessening dependence on foreign oil.  The home-grown fuel can also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, since burning biomass creates no more pollution that the decomposition process that occurs naturally.  U.S. expands seeding of biomassNew York Times

The U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Duke Energy and the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit utility consortium, to test its first electricity-related invention.  The new product is an energy storage device that may allow electric power generated by wind turbines to be stored and then used when needed.  It may also have applicability to solar power.  Electric power would be used to pump air into an underground cavern.  When more energy is needed, this compressed air would flow through a generator, at 70-75% efficiency.  ARPA-E provided $750,000 to General Compression, the company that makes the device, which then attracted $12 million in private investments.  ARPA-E is poised to put products on the gridNew York Times

The U.S. Supreme Court appears likely to dismiss a case in which six States are suing five energy companies to limit their greenhouse gas emissions.  While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has begun regulating emissions from new and modified industrial sources, the States are seeking to apply Federal and State laws to regulate existing plants.  Justices listening to oral arguments in the case expressed skepticism about the States’ claim that the costs and benefits of emissions standards can be evaluated by courts rather than determined through the regulatory process administered by federal agencies.  U.S. Supreme Court signals rejection of State climate-emissions lawsuitsBloomberg

Three U.S. States – New York, Minnesota, and California – have joined with 11 utility companies and two environmental groups as a coalition to ask the U.S. EPA to allow States to choose the best approach for meeting federal greenhouse gas emissions standards.  Specifically, the coalition seeks permission to regulate greenhouse gases through existing regional or statewide cap-and-trade programs or renewable energy standards as an alternative to plant-specific limitations.  Some power companies that use more fossil fuels than those taking part in the coalition did not join and are continuing to raise general objections to new restrictions on plant emissions.  States, utilities ask EPA to boost regional cap-and-trade programs

 

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Energy Update, October 22, 2010

October 22, 2010

In the States

CA – Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is calling on voters to defeat Proposition 23, framing the initiative as a choice between big out-of-State oil companies and the environment.  The Proposition would delay the implementation of a 2006 law that will mandate emissions restrictions beginning in 2012.  The Governor asked that voters soundly defeat the measure in order to send a message that a new national energy policy is necessary.  Schwarzenegger urges voters to protect climate lawABC News

KY – Governor Steve Beshear is the second Governor to direct his State to sue the US Environmental Protection Agency over its regulations that limit mountaintop removal.  Governor Beshear called the regulations “arbitrary and unreasonable,” adding that they “threaten to end the responsible mining of coal and eliminate the jobs of an estimated 18,000 Kentucky miners.”  The suit was originally filed in US District Court by the Kentucky Coal Association, and was soon joined by the Governor’s Energy and Environment Cabinet.  EPA sued by Kentucky Governor Beshear, coal industryMiami Herald

MA – Governor Deval Patrick’s administration has successfully pushed to secure a lease for what could be the first offshore wind farm in the US, to be constructed off the coast of Cape Cod.  US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar recently signed a 28-year lease agreement with Cape Wind Associates for 130 wind turbines that will operate over  25 square miles of water in Nantucket Sound about 5 miles from the Cape Cod shoreline.  The project will generate up to 468 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 200,000 homes.  New Bedford will host a $35 million terminal onshore where the turbines will be built, and which will create about 200 jobs.  The Cape Wind project itself is expected to cost $2.5 billion and create a total of 600 – 1,000 new jobs during the construction and manufacturing phases, with an estimated completion date in late 2012.  The project has been a source of controversy due to concerns about visual and environmental impacts as well as its cost and potential impact on electricity rates.  Salazar signs cape wind lease, first for US watersBloomberg BusinessWeek and Cape Wind backers blew right by costBoston Globe and Mass. city chosen for offshore wind farm siteBloomberg BusinessWeek

RI – Governor Donald Carcieri says that Rhode Island still may be the first State to host an offshore wind farm, despite the recent approval of a lease agreement for Massachusetts’ Cape Wind project.  The Governor said that plans for an offshore wind power site off Block Island at Quonset Point are on schedule for fall 2011 (although no offshore lease with the U.S. Department of Interior has yet been signed).  The Governor also announced that a State ocean management plan has been completed, pushing the project forward.  Carcieri looks beyond Cape WindWJAR

VA – Governor Bob McDonnell convened an energy conference in Virginia with a speech about the future of energy in the State.  The Governor said that uncertainty about offshore drilling is hampering the State’s ability to produce more of its own energy, and called for federal environmental regulations to be loosened.  Governor McDonnell said that he hopes the State “will be an offshore energy leader” despite the regulations, and called for a strategy that relies on fossil fuels, nuclear energy, and renewable energy such as wind power, which he said was in abundance in Virginia, but that "what we've got to do is find a way to harness it in a commercially practicable way."  State’s energy future lies offshore, McDonnell saysVirginian-Pilot

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has released its fourth annual Energy Efficiency Scorecard, which ranks States on their efforts to increase and sustain energy efficiency pursuits.  While the results are not markedly different from previous Scorecard reports, they do show that States have nearly doubled their total energy efficiency budgets from $2.5 billion to $4.3 billion since the initial Scorecard report was released in 2007.  The five States with the highest marks for energy efficiency are relatively the same as last year, including California, Massachusetts, Oregon, New York, and Vermont.  The most improved States include Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Alaska.  ACEEE 2010 State Energy Efficiency ScorecardACEEE and 2010 ACEEE Energy Efficiency Scorecard Cites State LeadersEERE News

National News

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has approved the first solar project on public land in Nevada, a decision which will result in a 50-megawatt photovoltaic array 40 miles south of Las Vegas mad possible in part through federal tax credits in ARRA.  The project is the first of a long list of such proposals to gain approval after passing through the Bureau of Land Management’s extensive environmental review process.  Power from the solar panels will be sold in Nevada and should power up to 15,000 homes.  A 350-megawatt expansion of the plant is already proposed, but will require additional review before permits are issued.  Interior Department approves first solar project on Nevada public landsEERE News

According to a new report from the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, “US offshore winds have a gross potential generating capacity four times greater than the nation’s present electric capacity,” without taking “siting constraints and stakeholder inputs” into account.  The study also showed that the US could obtain as much as 20% of its electricity needs from offshore wind as soon as 2030, creating 43,000 jobs, and that offshore resources would generate more electricity than land-based resources since wind speeds increase with distance from land.  Upon the study’s release, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said that "clean, renewable energy development that capitalizes on the nation's vast offshore wind and water resources holds great promise for our clean energy future and our economy."  Study: Offshore wind could generate all US electricityUSA Today and Large-scale offshore wind power in the United States: Assessments of opportunities and barriers [pdf]National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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Energy Update, July 2, 2010

July 2, 2010

In the States

FL – A $14 million program that provides rebates to homeowners and businesses for installing solar panels and equipment has proven so popular that it has run out of money ahead of schedule.  Those who purchased a solar system are still eligible for a 30% federal tax credit.  Although the State Energy Department made it clear that the program would need more funds to satisfy demand, the legislature, under budgetary constraints during a prolonged economic downturn, did not appropriate the needed funding.  Residents who went solar won’t get their rebatesFort Myers News-Press

MI – Three wind farms that will soon be built in Michigan are expected to boost the State’s wind energy capacity by over 60%, generating enough electricity for 84,000 households.  Governor Jennifer Granholm praised the projects, saying that “we intend to lead the nation in making our nation energy independent” in a speech at the Michigan Energy Fair.  Senator Debbie Stabenow, who also spoke at the event, talked about the importance of manufacturing clean energy products domestically.  The new wind farms, along with a new power plant that will use gases from a landfill to create electricity, will allow a utility company, Consumers Energy, to increase the percentage of power it obtains from renewable sources from 4% to 6.2%.  Three wind farms to open in MichiganDetroit Free Press

RI – A new law signed by Governor Donald Carcieri will require the State’s Public Utilities Commission to revisit a proposed contract between Deepwater Wind, a company that is planning an offshore wind farm, and National Grid, the utility company that would deliver the electricity generated by the proposed wind farm.  A contract between the companies was unanimously rejected by the Commission earlier this year for being “commercially unreasonable” in that the wind power would cost rate-payers an additional $400 million.  Governor Carcieri said the project “holds the key to Rhode Island’s economic future” and that it will lead to the creation of thousands of jobs.  While he and a majority of legislators support moving forward with the project, some State officials say the project is not worth the costs and the process is unfair to rate-payers. Carcieri signs wind farm legislationBlock Island Times

Regional News

Governors from several Western States focused on the need to streamline the process by which new interstate transmission lines will be built during the Western Governors Association Annual Meeting.  While the Governors are in favor of increasing electricity produced from renewable sources that are abundant in their States, the infrastructure to transmit that energy from the source of production to distant population centers needs to be designed and built.  The Governors acknowledged that objections raised by private landowners and environmental groups, as well as requirements for permits, often affect the siting and construction of new transmission lines, but also see new transmission lines as a critical to the development of alternative energy.  Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer stated his belief that, “we don’t develop any of the alternative sources until you get transmission,” echoing Washington Governor Christine Gregoire’s concern that, “if we can’t get it anywhere, what good does it do?”  Governors see need for transmission lines Billings Gazette

National News

President Barack Obama invited 23 Senators to the White House recently in an attempt to bridge divergent opinions on the best way to move forward on comprehensive energy legislation.  Accounts from the meeting suggest that little progress was made in reaching a consensus.  During the meeting, the President and many Democratic Senators insisted on some kind of cap on carbon emissions while Republican Senators pledged opposition to any such plan.  Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman, co-authors and enthusiastic supporters of climate change legislation, left the meeting saying that they were willing to compromise on some parts of the bill, and that some unnamed Republicans expressed interest in a scaled-back version of their bill that would regulate only power plants rather than entire sectors of the economy.  Republican Senators, upon leaving the meeting, reiterated their opposition to a carbon cap and called for more domestic oil production.  One idea not promoted by Senators from either party was increased offshore oil drilling.  White House energy session changes no mindsNew York Times and Democrats, Obama willing to scale back energy and climate change billPolitico

The US Department of Energy has announced $24 million in funding for three companies to perform research on how to make algae-based biofuels commercially viable.  These awards are part of the $800 million in biofuels funding made available through economic stimulus legislation passed last year.  The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 set a goal of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels to be produced by 2022, including 21 billion gallons of advanced biofuels, such as algae-based fuels.  A roadmap released by the US Department of Agriculture reveals that achieving that goal will require this type of research as well as large investments in infrastructure and other technology, but could create many jobs, mainly in the Southeast and Central-Eastern regions.  Obama funds research into algae-based biofuelsUSA Today and New USDA report provides roadmap for US biofuels energy goalsEERE News

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Energy Update, April 23, 2010

April 23, 2010

In the States

HI – Governor Linda Lingle’s Clean Energy Initiative is not moving as quickly as planned, as concerns over electricity costs have caused some utilities to refrain from signing contracts with renewable energy producers to preserve lower prices for consumers.  Renewable energy advocates agree that upfront costs will be higher for renewable energy projects, but note that since 90% of the electricity in the State is produced with petroleum and prices for fuel will almost certainly rise substantially in the future, the investment in renewable energy such as wind and solar will result in lower future costs.  Hawaii’s green efforts not cheap, but will pay off, advocates sayHonolulu Advertiser

MI – Governor Jennifer Granholm is promoting Michigan’s potential in producing wind turbines and other equipment, explaining at a conference sponsored by the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association that she is “so bullish on wind power” and that she wants the State to be “the place where climate change solutions are researched, developed, and produced.”  The Governor also said she wanted to make use of the State’s windy coast line and install the first offshore wind turbines in the Great Lakes, adding that she has a wager with Ohio Governor Ted Strickland on the matter.  Granholm’s bullish on Michigan’s wind-power futureDetroit Free Press

NJ – Governor Chris Christie discussed his vision of New Jersey’s energy future at a forum sponsored by Rutgers University, saying that he and the Lieutenant Governor “are setting up a regulatory environment that is friendly to business” and that his environmental policies will not be “incompatible to having a growing economy.”  During his speech, he indicated support for developing off-shore wind farms, more manufacturing of renewable energy equipment and the installation of solar panels on landfills and on farm land.  The Governor also said he will review the 2008 Energy Master Plan, but did not disclose what he would change in it.  Gov. Christie discusses energy plan at Rutgers forumThe Star-Ledger

UT – Governor Gary Herbert has withdrawn Utah from the upcoming cap-and-trade program that will be implemented under the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), a regional climate change agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions.  Utah now joins Arizona in quitting the cap-and-trade program after State legislators passed resolutions asking the Governor to withdraw from the interstate agreement.  The Governor’s office said that the State is “simply not in a position at this time to implement cap-and-trade” but would still like to have a seat at the table at the WCI.  Utah sticking with climate pact but not its cap-and-trade planSalt Lake Tribune

National News

Vice President Joe Biden has announced the recipients of the US Department of Energy’s Retrofit Ramp-Up initiative, the competitive Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program funded by the Recovery Act.  Twenty-five communities will receive $452 million under the new program, and are expected to leverage $2.8 billion in private funds over three years to create 30,000 jobs performing retrofits on large-scale operations and facilities, as well as businesses and homes.  Grant recipients include a regional consortium of southeastern States, as well as cities, counties, state governments, and nonprofits in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin.  DOE’s Retrofit Ramp-Up Initiative awards $452 million to 25 communitiesClean Edge and Retrofit Ramp-Up selected projects [pdf]US Department of Energy

Simultaneous Congressional committee hearings were held on coal and natural gas last   week at which representatives from each industry promoted the positive aspects of their energy products while questioning the applicability or efficiency of the other.  Coal representatives emphasized the relatively low expense and domestic abundance of coal and warned that a significant shift toward natural gas could leave the US without enough supply, consumers with widely varying electricity rates, and a lack of capital to develop clean coal technologies.  Natural gas advocates, including oil magnate T. Boone Pickens, said that gas is also cheap and abundant, but it emits half the amount of greenhouse gases as coal and can be used to power cars and trucks.  The oil industry responded to that last point by saying that cars outfitted to run on natural gas would cost significantly more to consumers and that  the price of other products made from petrochemicals like plastics would increase if oil production capacity was scaled back.  Coal chiefs go on offensive as Pickens pushes case for natural gasNew York Times

State representatives are expressing concern over how varying environmental regulations in the states, including regional greenhouse gas cap-and-trade agreements, will be treated under forthcoming climate change legislation.  The legislation being crafted by Senators Graham, Kerry, and Lieberman is expected to eliminate such interstate programs.  Regulators in some States, including California, are worried that federal legislation could undermine existing or future policies and regulations that are designed to protect the environment in favor of a purely federal approach.  States fear devil in details of climate bill - Reuters

States are experiencing varying degrees of consumer enthusiasm toward appliance rebate programs made possible by the Recovery Act, which allocate stimulus funds to consumers who purchase certain Energy Star-compliant appliances as replacements for outdated or inefficient appliances.  Many States such as Florida, Illinois, and Texas have been overwhelmed by customers seeking rebates on dishwashers, clothes dryers, and other home appliances, emptying the available funds in days or sometimes hours.  Some states, however, such as Missouri, have experienced far less demand for such rebates.  Appliance discounts, for the swiftNew York Times

International News

A report from the European Commission was edited to remove a controversial analysis which concluded that biofuels emit up to four times as much greenhouse gas emissions as regular gasoline or diesel.  The omission caused one participant in the study to disown it, and the edited section was released only through the use of freedom of information laws.  The report’s conclusions are controversial in that there are many variables that could affect the greenhouse gas emissions of a particular biofuel, including what kind of plant was grown to make the fuel and whether the land used to grow the plants was cleared of existing plants.  Once-hidden EU report reveals damage from biodieselReuters

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Energy Update, March 26, 2010

March 26, 2010

In the States

CA – Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a bill into law that will provide a sales tax exemption on equipment used for manufacturing alternative energy products that have a tangible effect on greenhouse gas emissions or energy efficiency.  The new law is expected to be of fiscal benefit to the State since the jobs it creates or keeps will produce more tax revenue.  The Governor also signed a new law that will streamline the permit process for construction of large solar and wind projects, thereby helping alternative energy developers meet deadlines for expending stimulus funding.  California creates green tech manufacturing sales tax exemptionEnvironment News Service and Schwarzenegger signs energy law – Clean Skies

CO – Governor Bill Ritter has signed a new law that will require utilities in the State to obtain 30% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020, the highest renewable energy standard in the region.  The previous standard required 20% of total electricity power to come from renewable sources by 2020.  Provisions in the new law also promote home-based alternative energy production through solar panels or wind turbines and require certifications for solar panel installers.  Ritter signs bill requiring greater use of renewable energy by 2020Denver Post

MA – Governor Deval Patrick’s administration is working to ensure that the benefits of several high-profile projects make their way to taxpayers.  Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles is pushing for contract commitments from companies involved in one of these -- the country’s first offshore wind farm – that would guarantee that tax incentives from federal stimulus legislation and other Department of Energy assistance used for this project lead to lower, more stable rates.  Mass. Gov supporting renewable energy initiativesBoston Herald

SD – Governor Mike Rounds has signed a bill into law that will prohibit easements or leases for wind turbine towers from being finalized until 10 days after of an offer in order to provide homeowners more time to study the contracts.  The new law will also prohibit developers from requiring that the terms of easement contracts  be kept secret and will allow construction of certain larger projects to be completed in up to 12 years, rather than the 5-year timeframe required for smaller projects.  SD Governor signs changes in wind tower easementsBusinessWeek

Regional, National, and International News

A bipartisan group of 29 Governors has sent a report to the US Congress and the White House calling for a mandatory increase in renewable energy, an interstate system of electricity transmission lines, more federal funding for research, and an easier permitting process for offshore wind development.  The report was compiled by the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition and specifically requests enactment of a renewable energy standard of 10% by 2012.  Group of 29 Governors seeks renewable power standard – ­Los Angeles Times and Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition Letter to President Obama and Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition Letter to Congressional Leadership and Great Expectations, US Wind Energy Development - Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Energy (DoE) are strengthening verification methods for the Energy Star program, which provides special designation to appliances that meet certain energy efficiency standards.  The agencies say they will test each product seeking the label at independent laboratories starting with 200 base-level models in the next several months.  The change comes amid revelations that auditors have found many problems with the current verification process.  For example, auditors obtained verification for several nonexistent products, including a gasoline powered alarm clock.  A recent audit showed that 100% of computer monitors that had the logo were compliant with the standards, but 80% of those tested that did not have the logo were also compliant.  And it also found that some products without Energy Star designation consumed less power than those with it.  DoE, EPA announce new Energy Star testingClean Skies and Audit finds vulnerability of EnergyStar programNew York Times

For the first time, China now leads the United States and all other G20 countries in clean energy technology investments, pouring almost twice as much private capital as the United States into clean energy technology and designating one-third of its recent stimulus package for clean energy projects.  Developing countries such as Brazil and India are also greatly increasing their clean energy efforts through adoption of national renewable energy standards and investment in the development of biofuels and conservation funds.  In contrast, U.S. investment in renewable energy has fallen 40% since 2008.  China leads major countries with $34.6 billion invested in clean technologyNew York Times

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Energy Update, November 25, 2009

November 25, 2009

In the States

AZ – Governor Jan Brewer has announced that up to 400 high-paying jobs will go to Arizona residents as a result of the State’s renewable energy tax incentive program.  The Chinese solar energy company Suntech will begin operations in the State in January when the incentives go into effect with an initial investment of between $13 and $17 million, and continue to build facilities in the next few years.  The Governor also said she is in talks with other large-scale renewable energy companies who have expressed interest in starting operations in the State.  Brewer: addition of Chinese solar firm shows impact of tax creditsAZCapitolTimes.com

CA – The State of California has taken a big step toward implementing a broad-based State cap-and-trade program ahead of any potential action by the US Congress on federal climate change legislation.  Draft rules issued this week by the California Air Resources Board would require major sources of air pollution, including power plants, refineries, and concrete factories to being reducing emissions in 2012.  The State’s goal is to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.  Beginning in 2015, emissions from industrial and transportation fuels would also be subjected to reductions.  The draft rule does not specify how to allocate permits allowing companies to emit carbon dioxide and other GHGs, which is one of the most contentious issues being debated at the federal level.  The chairwoman of the Air Resources Board, Mary D. Nichols, has stated that her preference is for all permits to be auctioned.  Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has said the new rules will help California address a serious environmental problem while allowing companies flexibility in meeting the State’s clean-air goals.  California takes step to limit emissionsNew York Times

ME – Governor Jon Baldacci was present at the dedication of three new offshore wind turbines that are now producing power for communities on the Fox Islands off the coast of Maine.  The project is the largest community-owned wind production facility on the east coast and the largest off-shore wind farm in New England.  The turbines were welcomed by the communities, who currently  pay twice the national average for electricity sent from the mainland, but now have a cleaner, more affordable method of energy production.  New England community wind project goes online, begins powering islands off MaineClean Edge News

OR – Governor Ted Kulongoski is seeking recommendations from two State agencies on the efficacy of the Business Energy Tax Credit after the Oregonian newspaper determined that some lawmakers had downplayed the cost of this incentive before its passage in 2007.  The Governor’s office has expressed concern over the cost, saying that the State should only be as generous with the tax credits as is necessary to encourage growth in the clean energy sector, which is the goal of the credits.  State legislators will take up the issue again in the next legislative session after a previous measure, a much lower cap on the tax credits, was vetoed by the Governor earlier this year.  Governor orders review of Oregon energy tax creditsThe Oregonian

National News

Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) announced he will not support cap-and-trade legislation in its current form and unveiled a climate bill he authored with Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN).  Senator Webb expressed disapproval of the cap-and-trade concept and the burdens such an approach might impose on US business vis-à-vis China.  Instead of imposing restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions and establishing a market for pollution credits as the current bill would, the Webb-Alexander bill would provide up to $100 billion in loan guarantees for clean energy production, mainly to nuclear power plants, as well as $750 million per year for alternative fuel research and development.  US Senators unveil bill to double nuclear powerReuters and Jim Webb bails on cap-and-tradePolitico

The US Department of Energy has announced $683 million in new stimulus money for clean energy programs.  The newly announced funds will provide $620 million to support 16 regional smart grid demonstration projects in 21 states and 16 utility-scale projects to help store renewable energy, $45 million for a new facility that will be able to test the next generation of wind turbines (expected to be too big for current domestic facilities), and $18 million in grants to support small business innovation in clean energy technology.  The DOE and USDA have also announced $28.4 million in continued investment to increase the yield and efficiency of biomass and other biofuels.  DOE Awards $620 Million for Smart Grid and Energy Storage ProjectsEERE News and Secretary Chu Announces $45 Million to Support Next Generation of Wind Turbine DesignsEERE News and Recovery Act Announcement: DOE to Invest $18 Million in Small Business Clean Energy Innovation ProjectsEERE News and USDA-DOE Make Available $4 Million for Biomass Genomics ResearchUS Department of Agriculture and DOE and USDA Select Projects for more than $24 Million in Biomass Research and Development GrantsUS Department of Energy

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Energy Update, October 16, 2009

October 16, 2009

In the States

GA – The State is deploying two economic development teams to compete nationally and globally to attract alternative energy companies.  Competition for such businesses among States is strong in the current economy because the industry is currently growing and the jobs they produce typically pay higher wages.  One of the teams will seek companies that will develop Georgia’s own energy resources such as biofuels, and the other will seek companies that make materials such as wind or solar products that Georgia could manufacture for use in other States.  State chasing alternative energy projectsAtlanta Business Chronicle

KS – Governor Mark Parkinson called on Congress in general – and the Kansas delegation in particular – to pass a federal renewable energy standard that would require a percentage of the nation’s energy to be produced from renewable sources such as wind or solar.  He also advocated the indefinite extension of the renewable energy production credit, saying that short-term extensions cause uncertainty among investors.  Parkinson calls for federal RESTopeka Capital-Journal

ME – Governor John Baldacci proposed ideas on how to increase production of energy from wind power in a speech to wind power proponents.  The Governor said he is interested in replicating ideas he saw in Europe on a trade mission, such as transforming manufacturing sites into factories for wind turbines and an offshore wind farm.  Governor Baldacci also called for a “participatory debate and discussion” at which all parties could voice their opinion, but stressed that “we need to take action.”  Baldacci touts wind potentialBangor Daily News

Regional and National News

Twenty-six out of 35 States have met or are on track to meet their renewable energy goals, according to research done by USA Today.  Some States have found the goals elusive due to regulatory issues, an outdated electric grid, or the economic downturn.  States’ experiences with renewable energy requirements could prove enlightening to the federal government as Congress is debating whether to impose a renewable energy standard nationwide.  States not meeting renewable energy goalsUSA Today

The US Department of Energy is hosting a webinar for State and local officials on how to best implement feed-in tariffs to advance renewable energy and energy efficiency projects on Wednesday, October 28 from 3:00pm to 4:15pm.  Participants must register in advance online at this site, after which they will be provided with a link and a password to attend the webinar.  More information can be found hereDOE webcast October 28 for State and local officials: Feed-in tariffsEERE News

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