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Energy Update, December 11, 2009

December 11, 2009

In the States

MA – The first phase of Governor Deval Patrick’s plan to install 250 megawatts of solar-generating capacity by 2017 was so successful that it ran out of money more than a year ahead of schedule and allowed for the installation of more solar panels than originally anticipated.  The $68 million program called Commonwealth Solar provided homeowners and businesses with nearly half the funds to purchase and install solar systems.  The program exhausted its funds in just less than two years and allowed for the purchase of solar panels that can generate 29 megawatts of electricity.  $68m in solar rebates goes fastBoston Globe

MD – A law passed last year at the urging of Governor Martin O’Malley requires the State of Maryland requires utilities to obtain 20% of their electric power from renewable sources.   The sale of two alternative energy projects to utility companies should help them achieve this goal.  Constellation Energy will take over a $140 million, 28-turbine wind farm project that already has received state approval, while CPV Renewable Energy Company will install a solar energy facility next to a natural gas power plant.  Garrett, Charles to get wind, solar power plants Baltimore Sun

MT – Governor Brian Schweitzer’s goal of increasing the State motor fleet’s gas mileage to 30 miles per gallon has already been achieved, more than a year ahead of schedule.  The fleet’s mileage stands at 31.6 miles per gallon and will be increased to at least 34.2 miles per gallon in the coming year due to increases in hybrid vehicles.  Montana’s large size and rural nature requires state officials to travel long distances, so raising mileage requirements has a substantial budgetary impact.  State on track to surpass fuel goalBillings Gazette

OR – Governor Ted Kulongoski says that the subsidies offered to the wind and solar energy industries should be phased out after vetoing a similar measure earlier this year.  The Governor changed his mind after commissioning and receiving a report by two department directors who determined the most generous subsidies of up to $10 million for wind and $20 million for solar projects are no longer required in order to keep alternative energy companies investing in the State.  The State legislature is expected to explore phasing out the subsidies when it begins a special session in February.  Kulongoski changes course, supports phase-out of wind energy tax creditThe Oregonian

Regional and National News

Climate change legislation – Senators John Kerry, Lindsey Graham, and Joe Lieberman have released an outline of the “tripartisan” legislation that the three of them have been working on for the past month.  The outline says that the plan should reduce pollution to “in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels” in the “near term” and “approximately 80 percent below 2005 levels” would be “a long term target.”  The outline suggests the way to do this is to drill and refine more domestic oil and natural gas, establish a national regulatory system for reducing carbon emissions, encourage nuclear and clean coal development, and create incentives for green jobs for blue-collar workers, and maintaining carbon offsets for farmers.  Senators release ‘basic framework’ of climate billCQ Politics and Letter to President Obama and Framework for Climate Action and Energy Independence in the US SenateSenators John Kerry, Joseph Lieberman, and Lindsey Graham

The Senate Energy Subcommittee held a hearing this week on nine energy- and climate-related bills that could create more funding for the Department of Energy’s efforts to develop more advanced alternative energy.  Five of these bills have already passed the House and would authorize $3 billion in funds for vehicle technologies (HR 3246), $2 billion for solar energy research and development (HR 3585), $200 million for a wind energy research program (HR 3165), $20 million for research parks at which scientists can perform energy-related research (HR 2729), and grants for training designers to incorporate energy efficiency into buildings (HR 957).  The four remaining Senate bills would provide loans for manufacturers to increase energy efficiency or produce clean energy technology (S 1617), authorize $500 million for wind energy research and development (S 2773), expand current ethanol research and development programs (S 737), and provide a monetary prize for researchers that develop a way of taking carbon dioxide out of the air (S 2744).  Research panel to take up carbon capture, biofuels, research billsNew York Times

Governors Donald Carcieri (R-RI) and Jack Markell (D-DE) recently told attendees at a wind energy conference that they support offshore wind projects in their states.  Governor Carcieri said land-based and offshore wind power should be expanded and   the federal government should strengthen its renewable energy policy.  He also said  his state is moving as fast as it can to get an offshore wind project off the ground, and that “a failure to invest in renewable resources ... in today’s economic climate would verge on irresponsibility.”  Governor Markell spoke about efforts in Rhode Island to promote alternative energy, praised the Obama administration for its promotion of wind energy, and said a “steady stream of projects year after year” is needed to ensure the viability of the industry.  Seize the breeze: Carcieri urges speed in development of offshore wind projectsProvidence Journal

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Energy Update, July 3, 2008

July 3, 2008
In the States

CA – A draft plan released by the California Air Resources Board calls for many changes to be made in order for the state to comply with a 2006 law that requires greenhouse gas emissions to be below 1990 levels by 2020. Recommendations include increasing renewable energy sources to 33%, reversing the EPA’s waiver denial and raising the fuel economy of cars sold in the state to 43 miles per gallon, and imposing a greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade system with other Western states. The draft plan, which will be made final in November and approved before next year, received mostly positive comments from both pro-business and pro-environmental groups, though both sides have reservations. Board outlines plans to whip greenhouse gasesSan Francisco Chronicle and New plan unveiled to fight climate changeContra Costa Times

CO – The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is holding hearings this and next month on whether and how to change regulation of industry. Proponents of greater regulation claim that new rules are needed to protect the state’s environment and economy; the oil and gas industry say that they would lose money due to mandatory drilling stoppages during breeding seasons. The commission supports the goals of both groups and is working on a compromise. Energy group to fight rulesDenver Post

CO – In addition to promoting drilling for oil in coastal waters and in Alaska, President Bush has proposed developing oil shale in western states, asserting that developing the resource would lessen the country’s need to import fuel. Some state leaders have questioned the validity of the president’s claims. While Sen. Ken Salazar noted the extreme difficulty of extracting usable oil from the oil shale, Rep. Mark Udall expressed concerns about the environmental and economic effects. Governor Bill Ritter noted that no one knows how much oil there is, how much it would cost to extract it, or what the effects would be on the state. Power struggle over oil shaleDenver Post

DE – A deal has been struck which will require Delmarva Power to buy wind generated electricity from Bluewater Wind, which will construct up to 70 wind turbines off the coast of Delaware, powering 50,000 homes for 25 years. Legislation approving this project was passed unanimously in both chambers of the state legislature, signed by the Governor, and backed by gubernatorial candidates from both parties. As the deal requires significantly less power to be bought by Delmarva than originally envisioned, Bluewater is now looking for additional customers to purchase its wind energy. Bluewater must now complete the permitting process; construction is expected to begin within two years and it could be operational by 2013. Offshore wind pact OK'd for DelawareNews Journal and Governor signs offshore wind legislationNews Journal

FL – Governor Charlie Crist has recently taken notable positions on energy as he both hosted the Florida Summit on Global Climate Change and called for an end to the federal moratorium on offshore oil drilling. During the summit, the Governor signed into law an energy bill that puts in place new standards on energy efficiency and renewable energy, and will also produce a plan for an emissions cap-and-trade system. He also called on Florida’s businesses to invest in clean energy technology, and noted the link between the state’s environment and its tourist economy, while also declaring that Florida can lead the country on climate change as it has in space exploration. Crist: Florida can lead the nation in green technologyFlorida Capital NewsClimate summit: There's gold in going greenMiami Herald and Gov. Crist Takes Middle Way in Environment, EnergyWall Street Journal and

HI – Under a new law signed by Governor Lingle, no permits for new single-family homes built in Hawaii will be issued which do not include a solar water heating system. The Governor cited the progress the measure will make toward decreasing Hawaii’s dependence on fossil fuels. Although some environmental groups offered support for the new law, opponents claim it will drive up development costs, restricts people from choosing how to power their homes, and eliminates and existing an tax break for solar water heaters . Solar water heater law enacted by LingleHonolulu Advertiser

MI – The country’s first cellulosic ethanol plant will be built in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and may become operational by 2012. The $250 million plant will produce up to 40 million gallons of ethanol per year from wood chips rather than corn. The plant and the expansion of industry in the region are expected to eventually produce up to 750 jobs. Ethanol plant to be built in U. P.Detroit News

MT – Governor Schweitzer traveled to Capitol Hill to push for legislation that would provide incentives for alternative energy use. One bill would provide a tax credit for consumers who purchase plug-in hybrids and the other would allow electric consumers to sell their solar or wind energy to the utility at market price. During a forum hosted by a Montana electric coop, the Governor highlighted the need for innovative energy storage solutions as the way to energy independence. Schweitzer touts state’s energy potentialDaily Inter Lake

NH – Governor Lynch has signed legislation which will incorporate New Hampshire into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a regional cap-and-trade system. Under RGGI, polluters in New Hampshire will be limited to a certain number of carbon credits, which can be traded, bought, and sold by entities that emit greenhouse gases. Businesses can earn credits by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by implementing emission controls or in more novel ways like capturing methane from landfills or planting trees to offset pollution. As of today, nine other states have joined the RGGI. Lynch signs on to effort to cut gasesConcord Monitor and Lynch signs bill to add NH to CO2 initiativeNew Hampshire Union Leader

RI – Governor Donald Carcieri has reluctantly vetoed renewable energy legislation passed overwhelmingly by both legislative chambers. It’s unclear whether legislative leaders will attempt an override. The bill would have required National Grid, one of the country’s largest utilities, to enter into long-term contracts with renewable energy producers in exchange for bonuses paid by ratepayers. The Governor cited three problems with the legislation: National Grid would receive a windfall at the expense of ratepayers, the utility could utilize renewable energy sources outside the state, and the only renewable project mandated in Rhode Island was a solar facility, which he called “perhaps the costliest renewable technology.” Carcieri vetoes renewable-energy billProvidence Journal

UT The State of Utah will become the first state to join a growing number of municipalities and businesses in implementing a mandatory four-day workweek for 80% of its state employees. Officials say the benefits are lower energy costs for commuting state workers and fewer carbon emissions due to less miles driven and closing offices an extra day. Most state workers in Utah shifting to 4-day weekUSA Today

WI – The Governor’s Task Force on Global Warming has recommended eliminating the moratorium on nuclear plants. The current moratorium requires that a federally licensed nuclear waste facility be operational before a plant can be built. Specifically the panel recommended that the plants must have a “reasonable and stringent” waste plan, deliver power only to Wisconsin instead of other states, and meet renewable energy and energy efficiency goals beforehand. Ease restrictions on nuclear power plants, state task force recommendsCapital Times

National News

President Bush has asked Congress to reverse an 18-year-old ban on offshore coastal oil drilling and renewed calls to allow oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Mr. Bush could rescind an executive order which bans offshore drilling, but a Congressional ban would still be in effect. Bills appearing in Congress would repeal the federal ban, but allow states to decide whether to keep and enforce their own bans. Following the president’s announcement, many coastal governors weighed in on the idea. Supporters of repealing the ban on offshore drilling include Governors Charlie Crist (FL) and Haley Barbour. In addition, Governors Mark Sanford (SC) and Sonny Perdue (GA) have shown at least tentative support for the repeal. Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger (CA), Mike Easley (NC), Jon Corzine (NJ), Martin O’Malley (MD), Ted Kulongoski (OR), Christine Gregoire (WA), and John Baldacci (ME) are opposed to the repeal. States along the Gulf Coast, with the exception of Florida, are exempt from the ban. Bush Calls for End to Ban on Offshore Oil DrillingNew York Times and State officials offer mixed views on offshore drillingHattiesburg American and Offshore drilling draws concernThe Daily Times and Coastal Governors Pledge to Protect Oceans from Offshore DrillingFox Business and Gov. Sanford still conditionally opposes offshore drillingGreenville News and Soaring gas prices drive offshore-drilling debateFlorida Capital News and Schwarzenegger remains opposed to offshore oil drillingSan Diego Union-Tribune

Both presidential hopefuls are in favor of reducing the use of fossil fuels, but Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain have differing views on the pathway to achieving that goal. Sen. Obama has called for greatly increasing fuel efficiency standards and ethanol use for cars, new requirements for power generation from wind, solar, and other renewable sources, and windfall profits taxes on oil companies. He opposes renewed calls for offshore oil drilling and is skeptical about expanding nuclear power. Sen. McCain, on the other hand, believes offshore drilling and nuclear plants will help ease energy costs and that market incentives and tax breaks can help encourage reductions in carbon emissions and the use of alternative energy sources, including electric-powered vehicles. Sen. McCain also favors a temporary extension of the federal gas tax, which Sen. Obama opposes. Both candidates support more government oversight of energy futures speculators and making the US government itself more energy efficient. McCain and Obama share energy goals, not methodsChristian Science Monitor

Other News

The National Governors Association’s Center for Best Practices announced the award of grants to 12 states as part of NGA Chair Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s Securing a Clean Energy Future initiative. Each state will receive $50,000 for projects in energy efficiency, conservation, or clean energy development. Examples of projects include: 1) developing training curriculum for assuring compliance with updated statewide energy efficiency building codes, 2) analysis of the costs and benefits of electric vehicles prior to large-scale deployment; and 3) a study of the greenhouse gas emissions of ethanol fuel related to the development of a low-carbon fuel standard. The states awarded grants are: Alabama, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina and Utah. NGA Awards Clean Energy Grants to 12 StatesNGA News Release

The Western Governors Association, which counts 22 Governors of US states and territories as members, held its annual meeting in Wyoming and focused discussion on environmental and energy issues. While all of the Governors in attendance consider climate change to be a real issue, some highlighted the challenge of deploying alternative energy sources given a lack of infrastructure. The Governors also recognized that traditional forms of energy generation such as coal and nuclear power will continue to play a large role into the future of Western states, especially since the region’s energy needs are growing faster than in other parts of the country. Western govs, energy heads seek solutionsHelena Independent Record and Govs eye national energy roleCasper Star-Tribune and Western govs to mull ways to cut pollution, slow warming, boost energySalt Lake Tribune

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Energy Update, April 24, 2008

April 24, 2008
In the States

AZ – Although many energy-related bills have been introduced this year in the Arizona state legislature, very few have passed. Efforts to curb emissions in state buildings and vehicles or to promote alternative energy have been met with stalling tactics and other opposition. Proponents of such legislation contend that the federal government will have to force the state to produce any meaningful change. Environmental measures low priority in legislatureAZCentral.com

CA – The implementation of a cap-and-trade policy in California is proving to be controversial. Public-owned facilities use mostly coal, while privately operated utilities use more nuclear and hydroelectric sources. Thus, the public utilities would pay a higher price for the generation of power than the private ones when it comes time to buy carbon credits. The Los Angeles-based public utility might have to use money set aside for building renewable energy facilities to pay for the credits. The details of this plan are being discussed in public workshops and will be decided upon by the California Air Resources Board late this year. Electricity industry wrangles over California’s greenhouse gas lawLos Angeles Times

CO – A bill which would require that utilities in Colorado add solar plants to their development plans passed the state House and is to be taken up in the Senate. Power companies are already expecting a cap-and-trade system in the near future. Supporters of the bill, HB1164, cite the huge potential for renewable energy in the state while opponents claim prices for consumers will rise. Here comes the sun: Solar energy measure goes to SenatePueblo Chieftain

DE – Mark Denn, Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor, says he will push for tougher restrictions on emissions from power plants if elected. Although he would have no direct control over energy policy, he would use his influence to lessen the pollution from smokestacks, particularly those which harm children the most. Denn says he'll push for pollution regulationsDelaware Online

DE – Plans for an offshore wind farm in Delaware may have come to a halt due to a report modified by the state Senate which claims the project is too costly among other criticisms. There is much controversy surrounding the project with some legislators in full favor and others completely opposed. The plans are still in committee. Delaware Senate committee modifies wind farm reportCape Gazette

FL – Two nearly identical bills, one in each chamber of the state legislature, are expected to pass and overhaul the state’s energy policy. Changes include the following: a certain percent of the state’s energy must come from renewable resources; installation of smart meters; tax exemptions for renewable energy production at home; energy efficiency requirements for home builders; allowing utilities to raise rates for efficiency programs; requiring gasoline to be a 10% ethanol blend by 2011; the creation of a clean energy and climate change department within the state. Lawmakers set to pass comprehensive energy billMiami Herald

HI – Hawaii will receive $15 million over the next three years in order to update its electrical grid to support the adoption of alternative energy sources. This is the latest piece of Hawaii’s plan to become more energy efficient and less dependent on fossil fuels for its energy. $7 million will come from the U. S. Department of Energy as one of nine projects to modernize the electrical grid and $8 million will be from the private sector. State gets up to $7 million for energy researchHonolulu Advertiser

KS – In the fight between the governor and state house over the construction of new coal-fired power plants in Kansas, Governor Sebelius has fought back again, issuing another veto. The governor already vetoed nearly identical legislation, which would have allowed the plants to be built, last month. Coal issue vetoed againTopeka Capital-Journal

ME – Governor Baldacci and experts in the state are planning for the use of 1.8 million tons of waste wood to be turned into dry pellets for heating homes and small businesses. The product would only use branches and other wood left behind by the timber and paper industries in the woods and could heat up to 150,000 homes. Baldacci touts wood energy useBangor Daily News

MD – Governor Martin O’Malley has endorsed a plan which would allow a third nuclear reactor to be built in Maryland. The plan would allow Constellation Energy to take advantage of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal tax credits for building one of the first new reactors in the U. S. in the past 30 years. Proponents say that nuclear power would reduce greenhouse gas emissions while opponents, including some environmental groups, cite the dangers of potentially catastrophic safety hazards and the promise of alternatives such as solar and wind. Maryland on track for nuke reactorWashington Times

MI – A legislative package is making its way to the state Senate which would alter the way electricity is produced and priced. The bills require more energy to come from renewable sources and that the cost for producing that energy be shifted more to residential consumers. Previously, businesses paid higher prices for electricity; this legislation requires that $350 million be transferred from commercial to residential bills over the next five years. House starts passing comprehensive energy legislationCrain’s Detroit Business

MIMichigan is hosting its own controversy over five proposed power plants which would all use coal for fuel. Environmental groups claim that not only are the plants harmful to the environment and foster climate change, but would result in the importation coal from other states, netting a loss of income in the state. Proponents say that the new plants would create more jobs than wind turbine production. Plant plans have environmentalists on firemlive.com

MN – The Minnesota House and Senate have approved bills which will define how the state will integrate itself into a Midwestern cap-and-trade agreement. The legislature essentially gave itself more power in the decision-making process and set how revenues would be spent. Greenhouse gas bills approvedPioneer Press

MO – The state legislature is considering the repeal of a law which requires gas stations throughout the state to sell E-10 (a blend of 90% gasoline and 10% ethanol) rather than pure gasoline. Some legislators have expressed regret over their support for the original law, citing rising corn prices as a result of the mandate. Missouri ethanol mandate is questionedColumbia Daily Tribune

MT
– It’s been three years since Southern Montana Electric Generation and Transmission applied for permits to build a coal-fired power plant in Montana and, though the permits have been granted, they are currently held up on appeals made by environmental groups. The Montana Board of Environmental Review is requiring that a study of tiny particulate matter from the smokestacks of such plants be performed before the plant becomes operational. It is believed that the tiny particles are the most dangerous and the Board decided that the federal EPA is acting too slowly in performing studies on them. State orders more study of emissionsGreat Falls Tribune

MT
– A compromise has been reached by regulators in the decision of who should pay for “regulating reserve power” or the power the utility would have to produce to make up for lost power when wind turbines are not turning. The utility company said the wind company should pay for the energy, while wind companies maintained they were being overcharged. The Public Service Commission decided that the wind companies should pay a discounted rate to the utility companies. Montana regulators decide wind integration chargesHouston Chronicle

NJ
– New Jersey is contemplating building a new nuclear plant in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The project is in its earliest stages of studying sites and reviewing permits. Environmental groups have already expressed opposition to the Governor’s energy plan which includes the construction of more nuclear plants. New Jersey weighs building another nuclear plant, first since 1973New York Times

OH
– As part of a comprehensive energy bill, Ohio lawmakers have agreed to change the incentive system for power companies. Until now, utilities have been encouraged by the state to produce as much power as possible. The new law would require the companies to produce less power next year, and a small rate hike, which would fund energy efficiency programs. The bill would also require 12.5% of the energy in the state’s portfolio to come from renewable sources with benchmarks for each year in between. Lawmakers push energy efficiencyToledo Blade and Group says wind an economic boonToledo Blade 
WI – In an effort to get more citizens of Wisconsin to get electricity from renewable resources, Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton is creating a website which will allow consumers to find utilities providing renewable energy. Although 2.3 million residents have access to renewable energy, only 39,000 receive it. The lieutenant governor is hoping more demand will create more supply of renewable energy. Making it easier to go greenWisconsin Radio Network

National and Regional


Five governors gathered at Yale University's Conference of Governors on Climate Change along with state officials from other states and signed a declaration that the states will continue to fight global warming and that Congress and the next president should work with them on establishing a new national policy. Eighteen governors have signed the declaration.
Governors convene at Yale to fight global warmingHartford Courant and Sub-national action on climate changeYale University

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