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Energy Update, September 23, 2011

September 23, 2011

In the States

AK – In a speech to oil and gas industry representatives, the Alaska Oil and Gas Congress, Governor Sean Parnell strongly argued for less federal oversight of drilling activities and the continuation of federal subsidies to oil and gas companies.  Governor Parnell also called for an end to “political games” and said the Obama administration needs to do more to help streamline oil and gas drilling permits and other regulations, saying “we need the agency staff to timely make decisions and to work cooperatively to make these decisions.”  The article notes that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar came to Alaska in August and during his visit said that President Obama is an advocate for increased drilling in Alaska, but that he believes it must be done safely, and also highlighted the working group established by the President to better coordinate regulatory oversight through collaboration among different agencies in the environmental review and permitting processes.  During his remarks, Governor Parnell also said he is working with the legislature to pass a bill that would lower taxes on oil and gas companies.  Parnell tells oil and gas companies he wants cuts in State taxes – Anchorage Daily News

CT – A newly reconstituted and strengthened State Authority that will invest in clean energy innovation and use within Connecticut is nearly ready to get to work, according to Governor Dannel Malloy.  The Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority (CEFIA) will leverage state and private sector funds to finance projects that help increase clean energy use by making it more affordable and also help improve energy efficiency.  The Authority is made up of Executive and Legislative appointees as well as related State agency and department heads.  The Governor said that “this group will work to more aggressively expand the state’s opportunities to improve energy efficiency and renewable energy usage through more flexible methods, helping Connecticut maintain its position as a leader in clean energy.”  Malloy appoints members to CEFIA – StamfordPlus

IN – Global Blade Technology, a maker of wind turbine parts, is moving into a 45,000 square foot facility in Evansville formerly used for assembling refrigerators.  The $17.6 million project will benefit from up to $2.8 million in performance-based tax credits awarded through the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, and up to $200,000 in training grants if the company creates 400 jobs by 2014.  The City of Evansville offered the company additional tax credits and access to its revolving loan fund.  Governor Mitch Daniels has said that Indiana is one of the fastest growing states in terms of wind power added, with estimates from the wind power industry saying that the State’s wind power production grew tenfold in 2009 and 2010.  Turbine blades manufacturer to build factory in Indiana – EcoSeed

RI – Governor Lincoln Chafee signed four new renewable energy bills into law at a press conference held at an eco-friendly housing complex in Tiverton where he toured a construction site where a wind turbine will soon be built to provide power for the local community as a direct result of the legislation.  One law generally limits net metering to renewable energy that is connected to a meter and is located in the same place that the energy is used; this restriction is designed to protect the local utility company from having to pay a higher net metering rate to developers who deliberately oversized their renewable energy projects.  Another new law allows smaller renewable energy generators to connect to the grid and enter into contracts with the utility at set prices based on the volume and type of production method.  The remaining two laws speed up the process for connecting renewable energy projects to the grid and set up the Renewable Energy Coordinating Board to develop a statewide strategy on related plans.  Gov. Chafee signs renewable energy laws – North Kingstown Patch and Chafee signs bills on clean power – Providence Journal

Federal News

Solyndra, a solar energy company that received a $535 million federal loan guarantee in 2009 as part of the stimulus package as well as a smaller loan guarantee in 2005, has laid off nearly all of its employees and filed for bankruptcy.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Inspector General at the Department of Energy have each launched investigations into the company, the Treasury Department is investigating the Federal Financing Bank, through which the money was lent to Solyndra, and House Oversight Committee Chairman Daniel Issa has vowed to start an investigation as well.  Some Congressional Republicans have alleged that the administration did not exercise due diligence over the loan guarantee, with some asserting that the company received the loan due to the company’s largest investor’s ties to a donor to President Obama’s campaign.  Darrell Issa to probe government loan programs after Solyndra collapse – Los Angeles Times

A dispute over the amount of funds that should be available for disaster relief and whether those funds should be offset by a loan subsidy program offered to auto and auto parts manufacturers to build more fuel efficient cars could delay the passage of a continuing resolution that would keep the government running until mid-November.  Both the Republican House leadership and the Democratic Senate leadership say they want to provide more funding to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is scheduled to run out of disaster relief funds in a few days.  Last week, the Senate passed a bipartisan bill that would provide $6.9 billion to FEMA.  A bill offered by House Republicans that would provide the agency only $3.65 billion and offsets $1.5 billion of this amount with a cut to the loan subsidy program, and $100 million from the loan guarantee program that funded Solyndra, passed the House but was tabled in the Senate.  FEMA’s funding is due to run out on Monday and the government would shut down on October 1 unless Congress passes and the President signs an appropriations extension.  Shutdown a step closer as senate blocks House bill – New York Times and Senate likely to reject House-passed spending bill – Washington Post and Senate delays spending bill, leaving FEMA at risk – Wall Street Journal

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Energy Update, May 20, 2011

May 20, 2011

In the States

IN – Governor Mitch Daniels has signed into law a statewide renewable energy portfolio that sets a voluntary goal of 10% of the electricity used in the State to come from renewable sources by 2025 with half of that energy to come from utilities located in Indiana.  The new law also provides incentives for utilities to participate in the program and for investment in wind, solar, nuclear, clean coal, and hydroelectric power.  Wind energy industry leaders applauded the law and the Governor and legislators who created the bipartisan measure.  Wind industry praises Indiana’s clean energy lawBrighter Energy

MA – Governor Deval Patrick spoke at the dedication of the State’s first wind farm, a ten-turbine system that will produce 15 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 6,000 homes.  The Governor’s Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan said that the project involved 20 companies and employed 50 people.  The wind farm almost doubles the amount of wind energy produced in the State, which Secretary Sullivan said was a step toward achieving the State’s goal of 25 percent fewer carbon emissions by 2025.  After hailing the benefits of the wind farm to Massachusetts residents, Governor Patrick said “There is an opportunity here for us to grow a whole new industry, and make the world our customer, and the jobs that come from it."  Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick dedicates Berkshires wind farmWAMC

National News

President Barack Obama has announced several changes in his administration that are aimed at increasing oil and gas drilling in the U.S., a policy shift his administration says demonstrates the President’s commitment to increasing domestic oil production in order to reduce imports and to signal flexibility to political opponents who seek increased oil and gas drilling.  Included in the reforms are an annual lease auction for parcels in the Alaska National Petroleum Reserve, an environmental review on the possibility of drilling off the southern and central Atlantic coast, and an extension in the offshore leases that have been off-limits to drilling under the moratorium in place since the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will still not be allowed under the new policies.  The changes were received favorably by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and did not receive much opposition from environmental groups or praise from Republicans.  Obama shifts to speed oil and gas drilling in the U.S.New York Times

 

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Energy Update, January 29, 2010

January 29, 2010

In the States

State of the States – More than half of all Governors have given their State of the State addresses, and a many of them have included energy issues in their speeches.  Some of these are highlighted below.  The full text and summaries of all of the State of the State addresses can be found on the Stateline.org website.

AK – Governor Sean Parnell gave his first State of the State speech, in which he advocated drilling for more oil and natural gas, saying that drilling would contribute to a “more secure, domestic energy future.”  The Governor specifically promoted drilling in the outer continental shelf and in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. 

HI – Governor Linda Lingle focused on energy in her State of the State speech, calling the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative “one of our most successful collaborations.”  The Governor cited clean energy as important for the environment, the economy, and security, while introducing new tax incentives, bonds, and a ban on power plants that burn fossil fuels as ideas to achieve the State’s clean energy goals.

IN – In his State of the State address, Governor Mitch Daniels cited the fact that Indiana has been “the fastest growing State in wind power” over the past two years as proof of the State’s strength, and said that “within weeks, you’ll see us explode onto the solar power landscape.”  He also said that the State’s goal is to become the capital of the electric vehicle industry, a “potentially massive industry of tomorrow.”

ME – A large portion of Governor John Baldacci’s State of the State Address focused on the future of energy in Maine.  In terms of energy production, the Governor focused on the potential for offshore wind power generation, biofuels, and tidal energy.  Governor Baldacci also focused on energy efficiency and conservation efforts such as rebates to homeowners for weatherization and grants to businesses for energy reductions.

MS – Governor Haley Barbour touted forthcoming projects in his State of the State address, including coal-to-liquids and coal-to-gas power plants, carbon capture technologies, and creating fuel from waste products such as pet coke and wood waste.  Governor Barbour also promoted the expansion of nuclear, biofuel, and natural gas industries, saying that “as long as I am Governor, Mississippi will have an energy policy; and it’s more affordable, American energy.” 

OH – Governor Ted Strickland opened his State of the State address with an overview of recent energy programs and investments in Ohio before announcing his new energy proposals.  Specifically, the Governor advocated a new “Energy Gateway Fund” that would invest $40 million in State and federal money into solar, wind, fuel cells, energy storage, and other alternative energy projects, and restructuring tax incentives to promote more wind and solar energy production.

UT – In his State of the State address, Governor Gary Herbert unveiled the Utah Energy Initiative, which will develop a ten-year plan to ensure the use of modern technology combined with local inexpensive fuels to create jobs and economic opportunity.  The Governor also touted the State’s abundance of energy resources, including wind, solar, geothermal, and hydroelectric, as well as a number of specific alternative energy projects. 

WI – Governor Jim Doyle used his State of the State speech to propose new alternative energy initiatives that would increase energy production within the State.  Currently, Wisconsin spends $16 billion per year on energy coming from outside its borders.  The Governor supported the Clean Energy Jobs Act that would expand the State’s requirement for alternative energy use to 25% by 2025 and reduce total energy consumption by 2% by 2015.  Governor Doyle also announced a new “Wisconsin Gold to Green Fund,” a $100 million revolving loan to allow manufacturers to reduce energy costs.

National News

In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama expressed his continued support for climate change legislation and prodded the Senate to pass its version of the bill after passing jobs and financial regulation legislation.  The President called upon opponents of climate change legislation to engage in negotiation by offering concessions on oil and gas drilling and some other issues, and received a standing ovation from both parties when he endorsed building more nuclear power plants.  The call to action generated mixed reactions from Representatives and Senators.  Climate change bill advocates Senators John Kerry and Barbara Boxer expressed optimism that a bill would be passed, while some other Democrats were skeptical of the bill’s chances or the President’s commitment to the issue, and some Republicans dismissed the bill’s chances altogether.  Obama holds firm on climate bill, but most Senators shrugNew York Times

In giving the Republican response to the State of the Union, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell criticized the Obama administration for delaying offshore production, hindering nuclear energy, and for proposing what he described as “job-killing cap-and-trade energy taxes.”  The Governor also said that Virginia may be the first State to explore for and produce oil and gas off the shore of the East Coast.  McDonnell’s response for GOP focuses on jobsRichmond Times-Dispatch

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