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Blog posts : "energy efficiency"

Energy Update, Sept. 7

September 7, 2012

In the States

 MD – Governor Martin O’Malley attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony of Maryland’s largest solar power facility, a $50 million project located on the grounds of Mount St. Mary’s University. The new 16.1 megawatt solar farm contains more than 200,000 photovoltaic panels, covering roughly 100 acres, and is expected to produce 20 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, or enough energy to power 1,700 homes. Baltimore-based Constellation, a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation, built the facility, which is the result of a three-year-old state initiative to boost renewable energy production. "Solar energy means Maryland jobs," Governor O'Malley said. "Over the next 10 years, with efforts like this, we will be putting another 10,000 Marylanders to work on projects like this. There will be a day when solar panels will be as common as shingles on roofs." Solar lights up the Mount The Baltimore Sun and O’Malley talks jobs at solar farm’s completionThe Frederick News Post

 MI – Governor Rick Snyder joined the Michigan Public Service Commission and Consumers Energy in an effort to block the conversion of a natural gas pipeline to one that carries crude oil, citing the plan’s cost for the state’s consumers. Trunkline Gas, which operates two pipelines that carry natural gas to southwest Michigan, has requested that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) allow the transport of crude oil through one of its lines. According to Governor Snyder, who filed a motion with the FERC to block the company’s proposal, the pipeline supplies approximately one-third of Michigan’s natural gas. “This infrastructure is fundamental to energy supply and reliability in Michigan and is vital to heating our state's homes and businesses at affordable prices," Governor Snyder said. Gas pipeline conversion called costlyThe Detroit Free Press

 WV – Governor Earl Ray Tomblin along with leaders from Williams Partners L.P. announced the company will invest an additional $1.34 billion in processing capacity to help separate and to process natural gas liquids in northern West Virginia. Following Williams’ acquisition of two facilities and management of several pipelines in the state, this new investment, which is projected to create approximately 100 new long-term jobs, brings the natural gas company’s total investment in the region close to $4 billion. "Williams' commitment to Marshall County and the entire Northern Panhandle is an example of the growing opportunities Marcellus Shale development is bringing to West Virginia," said Governor Tomblin. "The investment and jobs will have lasting effects on the region as the workers needed will be operating and maintaining Williams' facilities and pipelines for many years to come." $1.34B Project to Add JobsThe Intelligencer / Wheeling News Register

 Federal News

 President Barack Obama issued an executive order calling for an increase in industrial energy efficiency, hoping to spur investment and the expansion of combined heat and power (CHP) processes in manufacturing facilities. CHP technologies generate heat and power simultaneously from one source, thereby burning less fuel, lowering emissions, and reducing energy costs. The order sets a national goal of expanding CHP capacity by 40 gigawatts by 2020, or an increase of 50% in cogeneration plants compared with today, and encourages federal and state partnerships to identify best practices. According to the administration, the new goal will lead to a decrease in carbon emissions by 150 million tons per year, save energy users about $10 billion a year, and result in roughly $40 to 80 billion in new capital investment. “We are taking another step to strengthen American manufacturing by boosting energy efficiency for businesses across the nation,” the President said. Obama sets new energy efficiency goalThe Hill and Obama order targets industrial efficiency, emissionsReuters

 The Obama administration also announced new vehicle fuel-efficiency standards intended to significantly cut American oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. The new rules, which will apply to model years beginning in 2017, require all automobiles to average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The rule additionally mandates an emission standard of 144 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per mile for passenger car and 203 grams CO2 per mile for trucks. The National Automobile Dealers Association estimated that the standards will increase the price of a vehicle by approximately $3,000 and expressed the concern that 7 million Americans may be priced out of the new-car market. Greg Martin, General Motors’ executive director for communications, said “We expect the rules to be tough, but we have a strong history of innovation, and we’ll do our best to meet them.” EPA issues new fuel-efficiency standard; autos must average 54.5 mpg by 2025The Washington Post

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Energy Update, July 13, 2012

July 13, 2012

In the States

MD – Governor Martin O’Malley attended the groundbreaking of a solar power plant that, when completed later this year, will be the largest solar plant in the State, and one of the biggest on the East Coast, producing enough energy to power 2,700 homes.  The plan to build the $70 million, 20-megawatt array on State-owned land was announced in May of last year.  Construction of the plant is estimated by its developers to create 125 jobs with “a handful” required to continue operations.  At the groundbreaking, Governor O’Malley said, “There is no other state that has declared so clearly the goals we share” to produce more energy from renewable sources. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley attends groundbreaking ceremony for largest solar power array in stateHerald-Mail

NC – Governor Bev Perdue’s veto of a bill that could potentially open the way for hydraulic fracturing in North Carolina was narrowly overturned by the State’s legislature when an opponent of the legislation mistakenly cast a vote in favor.  Governor Perdue vetoed the law, saying it did not include enough safety provisions.  The new law will create a new Energy and Mining Commission to draw up regulations based on studies of the controversial practice used to extract natural gas from shale rock.  When the Commission’s work is complete, which it is expected to be in late 2014, the legislature will then vote on whether to approve the process.  Carney's mistaken vote is key in fracking overrideCharlotte Observer

Federal News

The U.S. Navy has announced three goals for its onshore installations: cut energy use in half by 2020; obtain half of needed energy from renewable sources by then; and make half of its facilities net-zero energy consumers by that same date.  These goals align with the Obama administration’s efforts to increase the use of cleaner, domestic energy by all of the military branches.  Another part of the plan is to change the training of Navy personnel to encourage energy efficiency.  Vice Admiral Phil Cullom, deputy chief of naval operations, said that he “can't overemphasize how important the culture change piece is."    Navy unveils new shore energy policyChicago Tribune

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced new funding for 22 states that will help them to make public buildings more energy efficient, develop effective policy and program goals that encourage energy efficiency, and create or improve state funding programs used to finance efficiency upgrades to public buildings.  The states selected to receive the $14 million available under this program are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.  State led energy efficiency programs announcedToday’s Facility Manager

 

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Energy Update, June 15, 2012

June 15, 2012

In the States

CT – Governor Dannel Malloy is proposing a 50 percent increase in the State’s investments in energy efficiency programs.  During a speech to the Northeast Energy Efficiency Summit, Governor Malloy outlined a program that would greatly expand efficiency programs by raising a surcharge on ratepayers.  The plan calls for a 2.1 percent reduction in energy use per year, which equates to a savings of $534 million per year and, according to the Governor, would make Connecticut the most energy efficient state.  Governor Malloy, who has been critical of efforts to expand offshore drilling said, "Dollar-for-dollar, energy efficiency is still the best policy and way better than drill-baby-drill."  Malloy sees $534 million in energy savings a yearDanbury News Times and Malloy pushes for energy efficiencyNew Haven Register

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo is considering lifting the State’s four-year-old ban on hydraulic fracturing in five counties near the border with Pennsylvania.  Under the plan, each town in these counties would decide whether to allow the practice, the environmental effects of which are currently being studied, while the ban would remain in place in Catskill Park, aquifers, and historic districts in the area.  Lifting the ban would also only occur if the process is approved by the State’s regulators, who have said they believe that requiring deeper wells would limit contamination of the water supply.  Shortly after the plan’s outline was published, a series of protests around New York were announced by opponents of gas drilling who prefer a statewide ban.  However, many residents living in counties that would be allowed to drill are in favor of hydraulic fracturing and view leasing their property to gas companies as a way to supplement income.  Cuomo proposal would restrict gas drilling to a struggling areaNew York Times and NY shale gas opponents plan anti-fracking ralliesBloomberg BusinessWeek

OR – Governor John Kitzhaber has released a draft of his 10-year energy plan for the State that calls for all growth in electricity demand to be offset by energy efficiency and conservation.  Under this plan, the State would retrofit four million square feet of its office space and expand tax incentives, loans, and other programs that encourage energy efficiency.  Governor Kitzhaber’s plan also includes proposed upgrades to the State’s electricity grid to allow for more renewable energy, a 30-percent cut in fossil fuel use in vehicles, and a streamlined permitting and financing system for renewable energy projects that includes establishing a regional energy bank.  The Governor noted that measures that create stable energy and jobs were given priority.  Gov. John Kitzhaber releases draft of Oregon's 10-year energy planOregonLive.com and Kitzhaber releases draft of 10-year energy planSustainableBusinessOregon.com

 

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Energy Update, May 18, 2012

May 18, 2012

In the States

OK – Governor Mary Fallin has signed a bill into law that directs State agencies and educational institutions to reduce energy use 20 percent by 2020, a measure expected to save the State as much as $500 million over 10 years.  Citing a national study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy that ranked Oklahoma as the fourth worst state in energy efficiency, Governor Fallin said, “We can do better…and today marks that new day that we are going to do better.”  The Governor added, “Not only have we been wasting our precious natural resources of energy, but we've also been wasting hundreds of millions of dollars in the process.  That's money that we could be using for ... essential government services, such as education, health and human services, public safety, and transportation.”  Oklahoma law directs state agencies, colleges to save energyThe Oklahoman

VT – Governor Peter Shumlin has signed a bill into law that bans the practice of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, as well as the importation of hydraulic fracturing wastewater and storage of hydraulic fracturing waste in Vermont.  Governor Shumlin said that although there is currently no drilling taking place in Vermont for the purpose of hydraulic fracturing, the ban would “ensure we do not inject chemicals into groundwater in a desperate pursuit for energy.”  Those opposing the new law, including the American Petroleum Institute, have raised concerns that the law may be unconstitutional under the interstate commerce and supremacy clauses because it bans the importation of hydraulic fracturing materials.  The Vermont Attorney General’s Office, however, issued a letter to legislators after reviewing the bill that concluded the risk of the law being found unconstitutional was low.  Vermont governor signs bill banning hydraulic fracturingBurlington Free Press

WY – Governor Matt Mead has filed formal comments with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in opposition to a proposal that would reduce the amount of land available for oil shale research and development in Wyoming.  The BLM recently proposed reducing available acreage for such development from the 2 million acres approved by the previous Bush administration to 460,000 acres in three states – Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming – with about 175,000 acres located in Wyoming.  The BLM maintains this is action is necessary to protect sage grouse areas, areas of critical environmental concern, and potential wilderness lands.  In his comments, Governor Mead argued that instead of imposing a blanket exclusion in these areas, the BLM should allow local resource management plans to determine where oil shale development occurs.  Some environmental groups, including Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, disagree and argue that it isn’t feasible to transform oil shale into transportation fuel. The BLM is expected to issue a final determination in the fall.  Wyo. Gov opposes BLM's oil shale leasing cutsBloomberg BusinessWeek

Regional News

The U.S. Interior Department is allowing a project to move forward that could lead to the construction of an underwater electricity transmission line from Virginia to New Jersey, making it easier to transfer power produced by offshore wind farms onto land.  Because the Department determined that no competitors have offered proposals, the project has saved at least a year’s worth of time by bypassing an auction process.  Construction of the 380-mile long line, which could begin as early as 2014, would eventually allow the transmission of 7,000 megawatts of electricity, powering about 2 million homes.  While today there is no commercial wind power produced offshore the U.S., the Cape Wind project in Massachusetts may begin producing electricity by 2014.  Investors, including Google, have pledged up to $5 billion for a network of transmission lines for offshore wind farms over the next decade.  Google-backed offshore wind project moves forward; underwater line would run from NJ to VAWashington Post

National News

The U.S. Interior Department has issued a proposed rule that would require disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing on Federal or Indian lands.  The rule would also add new testing of oil and gas well construction and require management plans for water used in the fracking process.  Environmental groups praised the rule, but would like to see disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing prior to drilling rather than after the fact, as proposed in the rule.  The oil and gas industry is wary of Federal government oversight of the drilling process and generally believes states are in the best position to regulate hydraulic fracturing.  Obama administration tightens fracking rulesCNNMoney

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Energy Update, February 10, 2012

February 10, 2012

State of the State Addresses

Ten more Governors have given their State of the State addresses in the last two weeks, and the majority of them discussed energy issues, mostly in the context of attracting or retaining jobs in their respective states.  Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett noted the jobs available in natural gas production and said that he is working to attract a natural gas processing plant to the Commonwealth, while Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said that he would like to permanently abolish the tax on natural gas in order to boost his State’s ability to compete for jobs.  Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin called energy “the back bone of our economy” and said that an agreement Oklahoma entered into with nine other states would lead result in the State purchasing thousands of vehicles for its vehicle fleet each year, which would help support jobs in Oklahoma’s natural gas industry.  Ohio Governor John Kasich said that lower energy costs would promote business development. 

Some Governors expressed their belief that increasing renewable energy and reducing energy use are also important goals.  Governor Fallin asked the legislature to pass a bill that would reduce energy consumption in State buildings and higher education facilities 20 percent by 2020.  Governor Kasich proposed using waste heat as an energy source and said he supports greater use of renewable energy so long as it does not raise energy costs.  New Hampshire Governor John Lynch said that he supports renewable energy, including hydroelectric power, though he opposes a transmission line bringing hydroelectric power from Canada if it does not have sufficient local support.  Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley said he supports the work that has been done to build an offshore wind farm, and noted a settlement with an energy company that requires an investment in solar and wind energy. 

Governors also highlighted some of the advancements made on energy issues over the past year.  Governor Corbett said that natural gas development has lowered prices by 40 percent in the past year.  Governor Lynch noted that many residents and businesses have benefitted from the State’s energy-efficiency fund, new production of wind turbines and biomass plants, as well as successful business expansions under the State’s Green Launching Pad program.  Governor Quinn said that Illinois has the most wind turbines of any state and that universities and government facilities have been working together on creating energy-efficient batteries.

Links to all of the Governors’ addresses can be found at the State of the State Speeches Calendar on Stateline.org 

In the States

MO – Governor Jay Nixon has added his voice in support of a proposed 600-mile oil pipeline from Illinois to Oklahoma.  "We believe this proposal has tremendous potential to boost Missouri's economy, create construction jobs across our State and brighten America's energy future," Governor Nixon said.  Since the pipeline would not cross an international border, it does not need the same federal approvals as the proposed Keystone XL project.  Enbridge Inc., the Canadian company behind the pipeline, estimates that as many as 3,400 workers would be needed to build the pipeline and as many as 400 would be employed at related facilities like pump stations.  Missouri Governor backs plans for new pipelineCBS

UT – Governor Gary Herbert has announced an initiative that would ask residents and businesses to voluntarily reduce their emissions.  The Governor said that “All of us can do something to improve Utah’s air quality,” but that it should not be done with “the heavy hand of government.”  Currently, the initiative, known as Utah Clean Air Partnership, or U-CAIR, involves a website where visitors can sign a pledge to improve air quality by changing habits such as using a push lawn mower and keeping solvents in air-tight containers.  While environmental activists were hoping the initiative would mandatory requirements rather than recommendations, Governor Herbert said “I think it’s better to do this voluntarily.”  Governor announces clean air initiativeDeseret News

WV – Governor Earl Ray Tomblin criticized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a statement after it was announced that three of the State’s oldest and most polluting coal-fired power plants will be retired this year due in part to new EPA regulations limiting mercury and other toxic emissions.  In his statement, Governor Tomblin said, "I urge the EPA to respectfully and accurately review the entire impact of their decisions -- from environmental to economical -- because individuals, families, and communities are forever changed by their short-sighted decisions."  FirstEnergy, the company that owns the plants, said that 105 employees will be affected by the shutdown, but that some of these workers will be considered for positions at other plant locations.  FirstEnergy to snuff Albright, Rivesville, Willow Island plantsState Journal and EPA causes power company to close plantsLegal Newsline

National News

U.S. Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar said that his department is “moving full-steam ahead to accelerate the siting, leasing, and construction of new” offshore wind farms.  The agency within Interior that is responsible for offshore leases, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, has cleared the way for companies to bid for and lease parcels for wind farms in designated areas off the coasts of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey after an assessment from that agency concluded that the wind farms would have no significant socioeconomic or environmental effects.  Obama administration renews offshore wind power pushWall Street Journal MarketWatch

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has granted a license to The Southern Company to build two new nuclear reactors in Georgia, the first new start for a nuclear reactor since 1978.  The $14 billion project will be built at an existing nuclear facility near Augusta and will begin operating in 2016 or 2017.  New safety features will be incorporated into the design that should simplify emergency operations in the event of a malfunction, and the reactors will be built to withstand earthquakes and plane crashes.  Some anti-nuclear organizations oppose the new reactors because they believe that safety issues that surfaced in the recent Fukushima meltdown in Japan have note been adequately addressed.  The NRC voted 4-1in favor granting the license; the lone dissenter was the Commission’s chairman, Gregory Jaczko, who opposed the license on the basis that not all requested safety features may be in place before operations begin.  Federal regulators approve two nuclear reactors in GeorgiaNew York Times

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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 9, 2011

September 9, 2011

In the States

GA – Governor Nathan Deal has written a letter to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in support of a $14 billion nuclear power plant planned for his State.  The Commission will meet on September 27th to decide whether to approve the project, which would be the first new U.S. nuclear power plant in a generation.  Governor Deal said that the plant would create jobs and increase and diversify the State’s energy supply to meet the needs of a growing population.  Ga. Gov. Deal supports new nuclear plant – Spartanburg Herald Journal

NH – New Hampshire’s Senate failed to override Governor John Lynch’s veto of a withdrawal from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the Northeast’s regional cap-and-trade program.  The repeal passed the legislature and was vetoed by Governor Lynch, but it fell just one vote short of the two-thirds majority required to override the veto. Earlier in the year, the Senate proposed a reform bill that the House rejected in favor of an outright repeal bill.  RGGI supporters claimed that maintaining membership in the program is a national security issue because of the large sums of money being sent to hostile foreign countries for energy imports and political instability caused by global warming.   They also argued that a withdrawal would only eliminate the State’s income from the sale of tax credits, not the higher electricity rates resulting from the initiative.  Those favoring a veto described the cap and trade program as an “income redistribution ploy” and the House leadership pledged to bring back a new repeal bill next year.  State upholds Lynch veto blocking RGGI repeal – New Hampshire Union Leader

Federal News

The U.S. Energy Department has announced that it will guarantee, in part, a $344 million loan to SolarCity, which will use the funds to double the amount of rooftop solar energy in the United States.  As many as 160,000 rooftops of military housing developments in 33 states will be fitted with solar panels that will be installed, owned, and operated by SolarCity, generating as much as 371 megawatts of electricity.  The guarantee is expected to significantly lower capital costs.  DOE to offer loan guarantee for solar rooftop project – Washington Post

According to an audit by the U.S. Energy Department, nearly one in three dollars authorized by federal stimulus legislation for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants (EECBG) has not been spent.  As of last month, $879 million of those funds remained unspent and another $500 million had been committed by state and local governments, but had not been fully expended.  The Energy Department acknowledged that the money was slow to get to projects, but that they had made significant progress in the past year: just $270 million was spent at this time in 2010 compared to $1.4 billion this year.  The Department also says that the grants have created 5,400 jobs.  But the Inspector General for the Department, who released the report, said that the slow pace of spending is counter to the purpose of the stimulus funding, and that if the money is not spent soon, it should be returned to the Treasury.  Energy Department audit says nearly $900M for efficiency grants to states, cities, goes unspent – Washington Post

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Energy Update, July 1, 2011

July 1, 2011

In the States

CA – The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has postponed full implementation of the State’s cap-and-trade system for one year, until 2013, though ARB Chairwoman Mary Nichols maintains the State will still be on track to meet the underlying law’s emissions goal:  reducing GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.  The law was originally supposed to take effect at the beginning of 2012.  "We will be testing the system, doing simulation models, but no one will be held accountable during that year for compliance," Nichols said. "But at the end of 2014, people will still be where they would have been if the program had started." She also indicated that Governor Jerry Brown did not involve himself in the Board’s decisions.  A judge ruled in March that the State had not adequately analyzed alternatives to the cap-and-trade program before requiring its implementation, as required by California’s Environmental Qualify Act, but an appeals court has since ruled the State can move forward while the appeal is being heard.   California delays its carbon trading program for a yearLos Angeles Times and California delays cap-and-trade auctions, citing potential gamingNew York Times

FL – Governor Rick Scott has proposed developing a new State energy policy that would encourage renewable energy, but also would also address other issues such as offshore drilling and clean coal.  He also wants the Public Service Commission to lower requirements for utilities to conserve more electricity through consumer rewards and incentives.  The Governor has said that he wants to attract manufacturing jobs to the State and that doing so would require lower energy costs.  While one of the State’s utilities estimated that a plan in place to lower energy usage would cost the average residential consumers an additional $13.20 per month over nine years, the Governor is looking for alternative approaches for meeting Florida’s energy needs. In a meeting with energy stakeholders, Mary Anne Carter, Governor Scott’s chief advisor said, “The Governor is a big proponent of renewable energy.”  The Governor, however, also prefers allowing free-market forces to determine the type and amount of renewable energy use rather that favoring a single type of producer or driving the market through a renewable standard set by the State.  Scott calls for reducing energy-saving rebatesSunSentinel and Scott wants to reduce energy efficiency rules and push cost-effective renewablesMiami Herald

GA – Governor Nathan Deal has ordered that a scheduled increase in the State’s gasoline tax from 20.4 cents per gallon to 22 cents per gallon that was to take effect on July 1 be suspended until the end of the year.  The legislature will need to finalize the decision, but the Governor’s plan has the support of the State House Speaker.  Governor Deal cited gasoline’s “escalating costs in 2011” in his announcement of the freeze, and said that the move should save consumers $40 million in the coming months.  Governor freezes gas tax Atlanta Journal Constitution

NV – Governor Brian Sandoval has vetoed a renewable energy bill because of a provision added on the legislature’s last day that would have increased electricity rates to pay for a transmission line that would be used to export power from the State.  The bill would have allowed a single utility, NV Energy, to bypass the normal approval process for this project, which critics contended would have cost as much as $1 billion.  The utility would have been able to send renewable energy power to other States with renewable energy standards, including California and Arizona.  Governor Sandoval said that any potential rate hike “would result in the imposition of an unnecessary and unfair burden on our recovery.”  The project may still move forward without the bill, as other companies have also expressed interest in building the transmission lines.  Governor vetoes controversial last-minute energy billLas Vegas Sun

National News

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court threw out a lawsuit from brought by a group of States and environmental groups that, if successful, would have forced power plants to lower greenhouse gas emissions.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) already regulates greenhouse gas emissions from some large industrial plants and is planning to issue regulations to control power plant emissions next year.  While some members of Congress are seeking legislation to block the EPA from using the Clean Air Act to issue regulations further limiting greenhouse gas emissions, the plaintiffs in this case were seeking the right to require lower emissions more quickly through a lawsuit, which could have given federal judges a role in overseeing emissions standards, currently the authority of the EPA.  The court ruled that giving such power to judges is not consistent with the Clean Air Act and rejected the lawsuit, but said that the group could sue the EPA in federal court should they disagree with the agency’s rulemaking decision.  States cannot bypass EPA on power plant emissions, Justices ruleNew York Times and Supreme Court tosses lawsuit against utilitiesPolitico

 

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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 30, 2010

July 30, 2010

In the States

CA – Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has written to the chair of the California Air Resources Board asking her to postpone a vote on creating a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) of 33% by 2020 that was expected to happen before July 31.  The Governor vetoed legislation last year that would have created the same RPS on the grounds that it did not the State’s regulatory process to speed up the introduction of renewable forms of energy and did not sufficiently allow for electricity produced from  renewable energy sources located outside California.  Soon after that, the Governor signed an executive order requiring the Board to vote on an RPS with regulatory reforms and out-of-state electricity measures in place.  He has asked for the Board to postpone consideration of the RPS because the legislature is close to passing legislation that he would sign, and he wants to give them more time to do so.  Schwarzenegger asks Calif. regulators to delay 33% RPSNew York Times

MD – Governor Martin O’Malley has signed an executive order requiring the Department of Natural Resources to develop a long-term electricity report to be completed by December 2011.  The report is expected to provide data that will be used to determine where and how energy should be produced over the next 20 years.  No major new electric power plants or transmission lines have been built since 1990, when the last such report was produced.  Maryland’s population has grown by about 1 million since then, while energy consumption has increased by 25 percent.  The report will look at an array of potential energy sources, including fossil fuels, nuclear power, and renewable electric generation sources.  It will also consider ways to increase the reliability of electricity as well as potential conservation and efficiency measures.  State’s future energy needs targeted by GovernorGazette.net

MI – As much as a million gallons of crude oil leaked from a 30-inch-wide pipeline under the Kalamazoo River in Marshall Township on July 27, sending a 20-mile slick along the river, killing birds, fish, turtles, and other animals in its path, and releasing benzene into the air.  Although the pipeline has since been shut down, health officials have recommended evacuating 50 homes nearby and for others to not use well water for fear of contamination.  Cleanup crews are trying to keep the oil from reaching Lake Morrow, something State officials contend has already occurred, but which representatives for Enbridge Energy Partners, the owner of the pipeline, insist has not yet happened.  Governor Jennifer Granholm has expressed concern over the strength of the cleanup response, which officials say could take months.  Regulators warned company on pipeline corrosion – New York Times and Michigan oil spill prompts evacuations, finger-pointingWall Street Journal and Oil spill near Kalamazoo River causes stench, messDetroit Free Press

NY – Governor David Paterson has signed three new energy-related bills into law.  One bill allows the Secretary of State to establish energy efficiency standards for some appliances that were not previously regulated.  Another allows consumers to pay back loans for energy efficiency home upgrades on their gas bill.  Still a third bill adds kinetic energy storage devices, such as compressed air storage, that generate less than 80 megawatts, to the definition of an alternative production facility.  This will help facilitate the use of such production facilities and improve the efficiency of the State’s electric power system.  Governor Paterson signs three bills to advance clean energy agenda and forty-five other bills into lawHamptons.com

Regional News

Governors Deval Patrick of Massachusetts and Donald Carcieri of Rhode Island have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will allow the two States to collaborate on offshore wind energy projects off the coast of their border, near Martha’s Vineyard.  The MOU covers a specific area of common interest; however, the States will not have to collaborate on any projects outside that area.  The goal of the MOU is to determine a strategy through which disputes over offshore wind energy development in the area will be resolved before a project is proposed, providing guidance to developers and fostering cooperation between the two States.  Massachusetts and Rhode Island team up on offshore windBrighterEnergy.org

The Western Governor’s Association has written a letter to the US Congress recommending that they authorize the additional $36 billion in loan guarantees for nuclear energy development requested by President Obama.  In the letter, the Governors wrote that the loan guarantees could help to fund 6-9 additional nuclear reactors and would also spur private sector investment, which would create jobs as well as cleaner energy.  New nuclear power plant development urged by GovernorsPowerGen Worldwide

National News

In a not-unexpected change of course, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has announced that the Senate will not take up legislation that includes any cap on greenhouse gas emissions this year.  Some supporters of climate charge legislation, including Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT), vowed to continue pushing for a bill, while others expressed doubt that passing such legislation would be possible between the August recess and November elections.  Majority Leader Reid has unveiled a $15 billion energy bill that would remove the $75 million cap on oil companies’ liabilities to communities after an oil spill, allow for federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing (a partially unregulated process used to obtain natural gas), provide more infrastructure and R&D support for electric vehicles, and use rebates and loan guarantees to increase the number of vehicles that run on natural gas and improve the energy efficiency of homes.  The legislation, as proposed by Majority Leader Reid, also does not include a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) that would require a certain percentage of energy produced in the US to come from renewable sources, a measure that has support from many Democratic Senators.  Some Senators are also contending Majority Leader Reid’s assertion that there are not enough votes to pass cloture with an RPS.  An initial test vote on the bill is set for the first week in August.  Democrats pull plus on climate billPolitico and Energy bill, focusing on conservation, can’t shake calls for RESNew York Times and Reid’s energy bill revives fight over hydraulic fracturingCQ Politics and Energy bill would end oil claims capWall Street Journal and The Clean Energy Jobs and Oil Company Accountability Act Bill Text [pdf]Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

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Energy Update, July 16, 2010

July 16, 2010

In the States

FL – Governor Charlie Crist has called a special session of the State legislature to begin next week.  The sole purpose of the session is to pass a constitutional amendment banning offshore oil before August 4, which would put the amendment on the ballot this November.  Offshore drilling is already banned in Florida, but the Governor has expressed concern that future legislators might overturn the existing ban, which they could not do to a constitutional amendment.  Crist calls for special session to ban offshore oil drilling near FloridaThe Ledger

MO – Governor Jay Nixon has signed a bill into law that will make it easier for residents to pay for energy efficiency upgrades on their homes.  Under the new law, cities and counties will be able to issue low-interest bonds to homeowners for home improvements such as new windows or insulation.  The loans would be paid back to the State through a special 20-year assessment on property taxes.  Mo. Gov. signs bills on energy efficiency, KC zooBloomberg Business Week

OH – Governor Ted Strickland has announced the new Northwest Ohio Solar Energy Hub, a conglomeration of colleges, universities, and career centers aimed at promoting solar energy and related jobs and businesses.  A $250,000 grant has been awarded to the hub, which will allow collaboration between these entities, the solar industry, and the manufacturing sector on a plan for urban economic development and revitalization.  Governor announces Ohio solar energy hubSolar Novus Today

UT – Governor Gary Herbert testified at a Republican House and Senate Western Caucus hearing in Washington, DC about the challenge of developing energy resources in Western States.  He said that his goal is to streamline the process for energy companies interested in developing resources in the State and that uncertainty about the Obama administration’s policies on energy development on public lands is “spooking” companies considering investments in Utah.  The Governor also said that Congressional Republicans and Democrats need to work together on these issues, that he thinks “it is foolish for us to fight and rant and rave,” and that he is working to build a relationship with the Obama administration.  Gov. Gary Herbert urges cooperation with Obama administration on issues of the WestDeseret News  

Regional News

Governors from both parties in eleven States on the East Coast have signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) against a proposed electric transmission line from the Midwest to the East Coast.  The proposed line would allow Midwestern States to send renewable energy produced there to the Eastern States.  The Governors disapprove of the line because they would like to create their own alternative energy rather than import it from other States, and because they believe ratepayers in the Eastern States would shoulder the costs, estimated at $16 billion.  Signatories include Governors M. Jodi Rell (R-CT), Jack Markell (D-DE), John Baldacci (D-ME), Martin O’Malley (D-MD), Deval Patrick (D-MA), John Lynch (D-NH), Chris Christie (R-NJ), David Paterson (D-NY), Donald Carcieri (R-RI), Jim Douglas (R-VT), and Bob McDonnell (R-VA).  Eastern Governors protest Midwest wind transmission lineDes Moines Register

Six New England Governors and five Eastern Canadian Premiers participated in a conference to discuss energy goals.  In the end, the leaders agreed to reduce energy use in buildings 20% by 2020 through higher standards in building codes, examine implementing a low carbon fuel standard, and promote solar power by establishing a regional usage standard.  The Governors separately agreed to petition the US government to establish a high efficiency standard on furnaces in New England.  Massachusetts promotes energy efficiency and renewable energy goalsGovMonitor

National News

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said that he will bring energy and climate legislation to the Senate floor by the end of July.  The legislation is still a rough draft and will be the subject of intense negotiations in the coming weeks, but Senator Reid has said it will contain a section on reducing greenhouse gas emissions that would apply only to electric utilities rather than the entire economy.  A number of Senators from both parties have expressed skepticism that the bill will pass the procedural phase, with liberal Democrats saying it is too weak, moderate Democrats weary of costly new federal requirements, and Republicans opposed to the process being used to move he bill forward and certain elements of the legislation, including proposed limits on carbon emissions.  Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) has already said that he will not vote for a motion to proceed, forcing Senator Reid to secure at least two Republican votes for cloture, though potential supporters of a more comprehensive approach such as Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Judd Gregg (R-NH) have signaled that they will not support the legislation if it caps greenhouse gas emissions in any way.  In a move to build support for the measure, Senator John Kerry (D-MA), a key supporter, is set to meet with the main electric utility trade group on possible concessions on existing Clean Air Act regulations, causing some environmental groups who say they may withdraw support if the concessions are too great.  Reid warms to July climate votePolitico and Clock winding down on Senate’s carbon cap effortsNew York Times and Nelson says no to climate votePolitico and Utilities, signaling support for carbon caps, want ‘relief’ from other air pollutantsNew York Times

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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, December 31, 2009

December 31, 2009

In the States

MS – Governor Haley Barbour discussed the future of energy in Mississippi at a meeting of energy policy experts, calling energy “the lifeblood of the world’s economy.”  He cited a potential new lignite coal power plant with carbon capture and sequestration technology and the possibility of two solar power companies beginning manufacturing in the state as positive steps.  Barbour: Energy is lifeblood of the world’s economyMississippi Business Journal

NY – Governor David Paterson has said that a new plan released by the State Energy Planning Board will help shape legislation to make New York a leader in clean energy.  The plan calls for greater efficiency in new building codes, requiring energy audits in home sales to encourage efficiency upgrades, and increasing the proportion of energy created by solar, wind, and natural gas.  The Governor has stated a goal for the State to meet 45% of its energy needs through reducing energy demand and increasing renewable energy.  State energy plan promotes clean, efficient alternativesNew York Times

VA – Governor-elect Bob McDonnell has sent a letter to US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar asking that the federal government move quickly to lease ocean-floor parcels off of Virginia’s coastline for oil and natural drilling, currently scheduled for 2011.  Governor Tim Kaine asked Secretary Salazar for a delay of the same leases earlier this year.  The Governor-elect believes a lack of movement in the past year and interference from federal politicians could further impede the process, which a 2005 study suggests could create up to 2,500 new jobs.  McDonnell wants offshore drilling in 2011Virginian-Pilot

Regional, National, and International News

Copenhagen Climate Talks – President Barack Obama and four other world leaders shaped a final accord at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting.  To the disappointment of representatives from many smaller countries, the document is not a binding pledge with firm targets for reducing greenhouse gases, but a non-binding statement of intention.  The accord aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, limit a rise in global temperature by two degrees Celsius, and for richer countries to provide aid of $30 billion over the next three years – and up to $100 billion per year by 2020 – to poorer countries.  There were many issues of contention between the countries during the meeting, to the point where some called for another, smaller conference, but the accord represents a small step forward in halting and mitigating climate change.  A grudging accord in climate talksNew York Times

US Cap-and-Trade Policy – At least six moderate Senate Democrats have asked President Barack Obama to hold off on cap-and-trade legislation next year.  The Senators cited the economy, a contentious health care debate, and election-year politics as reasons to hold off on another sweeping legislative change.  The While House has signaled that it is committed to cap-and-trade legislation, but there are other proposals currently being discussed by Senators, including setting a price on carbon emissions and capping emissions only for power plants.  Senate Democrats to W.H.: Drop cap-and-trade - Politico

Northeast and Mid-Atlantic US – The Governors of 11 Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic States have signed a memorandum of understanding to require reductions in the carbon content of fuel through a multistate low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS).  The mandatory requirement will not rely on a single technological resource, not will it fundamentally change the fuel used in automobiles, but will make the fuel used emit less carbon.  According to proponents, higher-carbon sources of fuel such as tar sands will be discouraged by the agreement, while alternative energy and low- or no-emissions vehicles will be favored.  Signatories to the agreement include Governors M. Jodi Rell (CT), Jack Markell (DE), John Baldacci (ME), Martin O’Malley (MD), Deval Patrick (MA), John Lynch (NH), Jon Corzine (NJ), David Paterson (NY), Ed Rendell (PA), Donald Carcieri (RI), and Jim Douglas (VT).  Governors take aim at carbon in fuelNew Haven Register

2009 Energy Review – Much advancement has been made in energy technology over the past year.  New technologies are allowing the recovery of natural gas, which is cleaner burning than coal, from places previously thought economically impossible, increasing its availability by 39%.  Clean coal technology has begun to be implemented on a larger scale, including power plants, and researchers are finding potential in less expensive carbon capture strategies.  Similar movement has occurred for biomass and cellulosic ethanol, which are now more viable as a replacement for gasoline and oil due to discoveries this year.  New technologies are creating potential for lighter batteries that will hold a greater charge, bringing plug-in hybrid and electric autos closer to reality.  The year in energyTechnology Review

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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, July 23, 2009

July 23, 2009

In the States

CA – California leads the nation in home solar power installations, with panels on over 50,000 rooftops and creating more than 500 megawatts at peak production, or as much as a power plant.  The panels have spread outside of environmentally-conscious cities with the help of consistent state programs that help homeowners obtain solar panels.  Large-scale installations are increasing in the state as well, helping the state obtain about 1% of its energy from the sun.  With push toward renewable energy, California sets pace for solar powerNew York Times

OH – A provision in the state’s recently passed budget will allow home-owners to purchase solar panels in part through annual property taxes.  The state will pay for a percentage of the panels and charge the homeowner an additional fee each year for 25 years until the purchase is paid off.  A similar provision already existed in Athens, Ohio, where city leaders believe many more homeowners will take advantage of the program.  State budget opens door to solar heat in homesColumbus Dispatch

OR – Governor Ted Kulongoski has signed seven bills into law that will track and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the use of alternative energy.  Among the new laws are new building codes and weatherization programs, emission restrictions on new power plants, plans and requirements for lowering carbon emissions from automotive fuels, and incentives for homeowners to install solar panels.  Gov. Kulongoski signs greenhouse gas billsKGW.com

Regional and National News

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee has posted the full text of their energy and climate bill, The American Clean Energy Leadership Act of 2009, on their website.  The bill was reported out of committee on June 17.  ACELA Full Text Page - US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

Three Democratic Governors testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works committee that the measures they have taken to lower greenhouse gas emissions in their states have helped to create jobs and expand industry while cleaning the air.  Governor Chris Gregoire testified that her state’s role in the Western Climate Initiative, a regional cap-and-trade program, has already created 47,000 jobs when they were only expecting 25,000 by 2020, a rate she called “much faster than predicted.”  Republican North Dakota Governor John Hoeven predicted many in his state would lose jobs due to reduced oil and gas production.  Governors say climate policy could create jobsAssociated Press and Gregoire: State has 47,000 ‘green’ jobsKitsap Sun

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Energy Update, July 10, 2009

July 10, 2009

In the States

CO – Governor Bill Ritter says that 150 green collar jobs will be created when construction begins on a new 6,000 acre wind farm.  The farm will produce three percent of the power utility Tri-State’s electric output, which is ahead of the company’s state government-mandated schedule to produce 10% of its power from renewable sources by 2020.  Tri-State announces sprawling wind farm near BurlingtonState Bill Colorado

KY – Governor Steve Beshear has announced a plan that would use federal stimulus funds to help grow the state’s burgeoning renewable energy and energy efficiency industry as well as deploy those technologies within the state.  The Governor has proposed using $52.5 million to create 600 jobs from energy efficiency activities and the development of clean technologies, including advanced transportation batteries.  His plan also includes establishing a loan fund for energy efficiency projects, exploring implementation of a smart grid, a program to help assess and improve home energy efficiency, new tools for increasing the energy efficiency of industrial and commercial facilities, and a program that will make schools more energy efficient while helping educate students about energy efficiency and conservation.  Governor Beshear also announced that Glendale, Kentucky has been chosen by NAATBatt, a consortium of 50 organizations and corporations, as the site for a $600 million facility to manufacture advanced lithium-ion batteries.  This advances Kentucky’s position as a hub for advanced energy technologies such as batteries and other alternative energy products.  A bevy of new business in the Bluegrass StateBusiness Facilities

NH – Fully 25% of the New Hampshire state government’s energy needs are now being met by wind power.  Governor John Lynch said the state, which has a goal of receiving 25% of all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025, is “leading by example” with a $4 million deal to deliver wind energy from around the country to its buildings.  New Hampshire has also established a green jobs initiative that will train workers and provide loans to businesses with RGGI pollution credit auctions and federal stimulus funds.  State signs wind power deal to boost alternative energy - New Hampshire Union Leader

Regional and National News

Up to 1,000 square miles in six Western states have been opened up for lease by the Interior Department for development of utility-scale solar energy.  The availability of the solar energy zones in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah should help spur new alternative energy investment and clears a bottleneck of applications that had previously overwhelmed the Department.  Six western states named solar-energy hotbedsChristian Science Monitor

The US Environmental Protection Agency has released a guide designed to help individual states save money on energy by implementing energy efficiency solutions.  The “Clean Energy Lead By Example Guide” was created by the EPA’s State Climate and Clean Energy Program and can help individual states identify potential strategies, resources, and tools for that state.  More information and the guide can be found here:  EPA’s clean energy guidebook targets statesEnvironmental Protection Online

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