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Energy Update, June 4, 2010

June 4, 2010

In the States

AK – Governor Sean Parnell of Alaska has signed two bills that would make it more affordable to generate renewable energy in the State.  One bill improves the economic viability of geothermal projects by cutting the costs of the royalty payments that developers must pay for geothermal leases on State land.  Governor Parnell commented, “This legislation makes geothermal power projects economically viable and therefore more likely to produce more affordable and reliable electric power for homes and businesses.”  The other bill exempts facilities that use only renewable energy to generate electricity from regulations currently governing energy production in the State.  Alaska cuts red tape to attract renewable energy developersBrighterEnergy.org

CT – The Governor of Connecticut, M. Jodi Rell, vetoed an energy reform bill that proponents asserted would encourage the use of more renewable energy and change the way energy was procured in the State by using long-term power purchase contracts.  Governor Rell said that while there were some measures in the bill that made “good economic sense” and that she supports enhanced State incentives for renewable energy, particularly solar power programs, and energy assistance for low-income families, she thought the legislation would cost too much and had concerns about the lack of detail in parts of the bill.  Citing a $1.4 billion price tag, she said “it is simply not the right time to make an investment of this magnitude.”  Connecticut Governor vetoes clean energy reforms – BrighterEnergy.org and Rell veto of Conn. energy bill riles critics New Haven Register

OK – Governor Brad Henry signed a measure into law that expands the use of clean energy in the State of Oklahoma by establishing a renewable energy goal that 15% of electricity in the State be generated by renewable energy such as solar, wind and geothermal by 2015.  The bill also allows electricity producers to utilize energy efficiency improvements to help meet the goal, establishes a natural gas energy standard, and requires the development of a plan for transmission grid expansion.  Henry signs Oklahoma Energy Security Act Tulsa World

MAGovernor Deval Patrick designated 35 cities and towns as Massachusetts’ first official Green Communities under the Green Communities Act, the name for energy legislation passed in 2008.  To earn this designation, municipalities had to meet five clean energy goals, which included adopting local zoning bylaws to encourage and speed up permitting for renewable energy projects, purchasing only fuel-efficient vehicles for municipal fleets whenever possible, and requiring all new residential construction over 3,000 square feet to save energy by adopting new building codes.  These communities are eligible for $8.1 million in grants intended to enable the communities to “go further, saving energy costs for their residents, reducing the environmental impact of municipal operations, and validating the Commonwealth’s reputation as a national clean energy leader,’’ according to Ian Bowles, the State’s Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs.  35 named Green Communities, qualify for State aidBoston Globe

Regional and National News

Next week, Senator Richard Lugar will propose energy and climate legislation that aims to cut emissions of planet-warming gases that he says will achieve about half of the 17% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 proposed by President Obama.  Lugar’s bill does not include pollution permits like those found in cap-and-trade proposals.  Under the bill, coal-fired power plants would not be required to install expensive scrubbers as they would under other proposals, but would retire those plants in 2020.  The legislation also includes stronger fuel efficiency standards for vehicles, encourages the use of alternative transportation fuels, seeks to improve the energy efficiency of homes and commercial buildings, and expands the use of nuclear power.  President Obama has said that a price must be set on carbon pollution, and that he will work to find enough votes to get a cap-and-trade bill passed in the Senate.  The Senate will vote on June 10 – before any climate change legislation – whether to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas pollution, providing some indication of how the Senate will approach climate change legislation in the future.  Sen. Lugar to propose climate bill alternativeReuters

The chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Nick J. Rahall II, has asked Attorney General Eric Holder to recover royalties associated with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.  The government’s lease with BP stipulates that the company must pay 18.75% in royalties for all oil and natural gas produced, so the estimated loss of at least 500,000 barrels of oil and hundreds of millions of cubic feet of natural gas could cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in uncollected revenue.  "My first priority is that the environmental effects of this spill be contained and mitigated as quickly as possible, but I am also deeply concerned that the American public is compensated for damages to their public lands, waters, wildlife and minerals," Mr. Rahall said.  Rep. Rahall seeks damages for revenue lost to oil spillWall Street Journal

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