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Energy Update, August 10, 2012

August 10, 2012

In the States

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo recently visited Fort Drum to express his support for an Albany-based company to sell renewable energy to the army post.  Governor Cuomo stated he will send Defense Secretary Leon Panetta a letter asking his department to approve a supply contract between the Army and ReEnergy Holdings.  The company is retrofitting a coal-powered plant no longer in use to become a 60 megawatt biomass facility that will burn leftover products from the logging industry.  The new plant, which has received state and local tax breaks and other support, is scheduled to open in early 2013 and is expected to create 300 jobs in the North Country region.  “This is exactly what we’ve been talking about: Making New York open for business again,” said Governor Cuomo.  At Form Drum, Cuomo Supports Biomass Project for Post’s Energy NeedsThe Watertown Daily Times

VA – Governor Bob McDonnell praised the opening of an advanced nuclear fuel fabrication technology manufacturing center in Lynchburg.  The new 10,000-square-foot Fuel Technology Center will develop technologies for manufacturing  nuclear fuel used in small modular reactors (SMRs) produced by the Babcock & Wilcox Company.  Its mPower reactor currently generates 180 megawatts of electricity.  “This unique facility in Lynchburg,” Governor McDonnell stated, “is working to develop our domestic energy resources.  To local Virginians, it promises a new era of high-tech jobs.”  New Center Aims to Help B&W Make Fuel for its Small Reactor DesignThe Lynchburg News & Advance and Governor McDonnell Applauds Opening of B&W mPowerTM Fuel Technology Center in VirginiaPower Engineering

VT – Governor Peter Shumlin and the New England Governors’ Conference welcomed their Eastern Canadian counterparts to Burlington to discuss regional environmental and energy challenges.  Pledging to increase the use of clean energy throughout the region, the Governors expressed support for renewable energy coupled with emerging transportation technologies.  Additionally, the New England Governors passed a resolution to launch a coordinated regional procurement of renewable energy.  A request for proposals will be issued in 2013.  Governor Shumlin, promising to deploy and develop electric charging infrastructure in the Quebec-Vermont corridor, stated “It’s helpful to Vermont; it’s helpful to the Northeast states to have the Canadians competing for our business.”  NE Governors, Canadian Counterparts Talk EnergyHartford Courant and New England States Embrace Regional Procurement for Renewable EnergySustainable Business

WY – Republican Governor Matt Mead of Wyoming invited oil refinery and Department of Workforce Services officials to discuss increasing workforce safety at Wyoming oil refineries.  Governor Mead would like to see the creation of an industry safety alliance similar to the Wyoming Oil and Gas Industry Safety Alliance – especially following recent fires at one plant that left three workers severely injured.  Several refinery executives praised the Governor and the State for their leadership.  Hopeful for a positive outcome, Mead stated “I think there’s a real opportunity here.  I’m encouraged they’re eager to get on board with this.”  Wyoming Gov. Mead Encourages Refinery Reps to Join Force for SafetyThe Casper Star-Tribune

Federal News

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar have signed a memorandum of understanding to promote renewable energy projects on over 16 million acres of public lands reserved for defense-related purposes.  The Department of Defense hopes its opening of historically-restricted federal lands to new energy projects will harness solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass energy resources located on or near military installations.  Specifically, the military is interested in microgrids, or self-sufficient bases of power generation and storage that can, but do not have to rely on local utilities.  The Defense Department is hoping to have renewable sources account for 25 percent of its energy by 2025.  “Renewable energy,” said Dorothy Robyn, deputy under secretary of defense for installations and environment, “will allow a military base to maintain critical operations for weeks or months if an electric power grid goes down.”  U.S. Military’s Big Plan for Renewable Energy ProjectsForbes and White House to seek $7B in Green Energy Contracts for MilitaryThe Hill

According to a report released by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), fewer power plants were built in the United States during the first half of 2012 than the first half of 2011.  Power generating companies thus far have completed 54 fewer units – a total of 280 units were built in the first half of 2012 as compared to 334 during the same period in 2011.  More units are expected to come online later this year, even though energy experts view demand to be low, including a second 800 megawatt coal-fired unit in Illinois, which will provide power to approximately 800,000 homes.  U.S. Builds Fewer Power Plants in First Half of 2012Reuters

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Energy Update, August 26, 2011

August 26, 2011

In the States

WY – Governor Matt Mead, in a speech to the Petroleum Association of Wyoming, said that he rejects the notion that environmental protection and energy development are mutually exclusive.  The Governor said that “we need a global approach to environmental concerns” and that the U.S. already has many controls in place to protect the environment.  And while Governor Mead also made the point that energy development is a national security issue, he cited a study showing that $160 million in revenue per year was lost by oil and gas companies doing business in the State due to requirements for environmental studies and permits.  Mead says Wyo. can have energy and conservation – Wyoming Business Report

A bipartisan coalition of Governors from 24 States recently sent a letter to President Obama urging him to focus on wind energy development.  The letter, which was signed by the coalition’s chair, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, and Vice Chair, Terry Branstad of Iowa, said that the production tax credit and investment tax credit programs for renewable energy should be extended for seven years.  It also called for the creation of a state-federal task force, greater state collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), accelerated development of offshore wind power, identification of transmission priorities, and a release of U.S. DOE renewable energy information.  24 Governors urge White House to focus on wind power development – SustainableBusiness.com and Letter to President Obama – Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition

Federal News

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has cut its estimate of how much recoverable natural gas is available in the Marcellus Shale by nearly 80 percent.  Earlier this year, the EIA, which is responsible for estimating oil and gas deposits underground, said it believed 410 trillion cubic feet of the fuel was available in the rock formation that stretches from New York to Virginia.  But the agency revised that number to 84 trillion as a result of a new U.S. Geological Survey study that relied on the expertise of geologists whom the EIA considers to be “the experts on this matter.”  The large discrepancies between the estimates have caused some business leaders and members of Congress to question the accuracy of such studies.  A 2002 study by the Geological Survey estimated that two trillion cubic feet could be extracted from the Marcellus Shale, but that was before advancements in extraction technology made much more natural gas available for extraction.  Geologists sharply cut estimate of shale gas – New York Times

The U.S. Interior Department has opened an area off the coasts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island to leasing for wind farm developments.  Energy companies are now submitting proposals to the Interior Department, which will use the proposals to conduct coordinated reviews of the proposals and streamline the leasing process.  Environmental reviews would still need to be conducted on the proposed developments.  Similar areas were designated for offshore wind farms earlier this year off the coasts of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey, and leasing is expected to begin as early as next year.  In contrast, it took 10 years to obtain permits for the Cape Wind project in Massachusetts.  U.S. seeks offshore wind bids in Rhode Island, Massachusetts – San Francisco Chronicle

 

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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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