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Energy Update, December 30, 2011

December 30, 2011

In the States

CO – A new rule approved by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission requires companies that engage in hydraulic fracturing, often called “fracking,” to disclose the chemicals and the concentrations of each that is used in the fluid pumped into the ground to extract gas.  The rule had been vigorously debated, and eventually Governor John Hickenlooper stepped in to help settle the issue of how to handle trade secrets.  Environmental groups and industry representatives are generally pleased with the rule, which requires companies to disclose the chemicals on a website and provide nearby residents information on fracking.  Colorado approval of fracking fluids’ full disclosure came after long negotiations and nudge from GovernorDenver Post

CT – Under a new competitive bidding program, the State’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection selected two companies out of 21 applicants to build two solar power plants that will generate a total of 10 megawatts, enough to power 10,000 homes.  The plants will help to meet a state mandate passed this year that requires 30 megawatts of new renewable energy projects.  Governor Dannel Malloy praised the competitive bidding program, saying the number of applicants shows that “entrepreneurs and clean technology innovators are excited about the new approach Connecticut has taken.”  The remaining 20 megawatts of renewable energy will be developed by utilities.  Largest-ever solar projects approved by StateHartford Courant

MS – At Governor Haley Barbour’s request, the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) has issued a set of regulations that could allow oil and natural gas drilling in State waters near barrier islands within the next year.  Environmental groups and tourism industry leader united several years ago to oppose legislation that allowed drilling in coastal areas, citing concern over environmental and economic effects of a potential spill.  The legislation that eventually passed kept some areas of the Gulf off limits to drilling but gave the MDA the authority to issue and regulate oil and gas leases in State waters.  However, Hurricane Katrina and last year’s Gulf oil spill delayed further consideration of the issue.  Earlier this year, Governor Barbour asked the MDA to work on the rules so they could be completed before his term ends.  The MDA estimates that the State will gain between $250 million and $500 million in royalties from drilling.  Miss. moves toward offshore oil and gas leasingHattiesburg American and State agency revives offshore drilling effortsSun Herald

NJ – Governor Chris Christie has signed a bill into law that will allow solar panels and wind turbines to be installed on closed landfills and quarries.  Lawmakers in favor of the new law said it would benefit the environment and the economy by creating renewable energy and jobs.  The bill was originally passed in January but was vetoed by Governor Christie due to a technical issue that was later corrected and returned to the Governor for his signature.  Solar power legislation now law in NJNorthJersey.com and Bill to promote solar energy facilities signed into lawNJToday.net

Regional News

Four states will receive a total of $60 million in a settlement with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) after a multi-year lawsuit in which the states, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and three environmental groups alleged that the TVA’s coal-fired power plants had spread pollution across the southeast.  The settlement directs the money to be spent on energy efficiency and environmental projects and requires the TVA to shutter 18 coal plants by 2017, close or convert an additional 16 by 2019, and spend $5 billion on emission control equipment for remaining power plants.  The states are currently planning how to spend the funds, which will paid out over the next five years.  States receive energy windfallChattanooga Times Free Press

Federal News

New rules released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will require power plants that generate electricity with coal or oil to greatly reduce emissions of 84 different toxins including mercury, arsenic, nickel, selenium, and cyanide.  The rules, which implement clean air mandates enacted by Congress over two decades ago and comply with a court order for federal action, are estimated by the EPA to prevent 11,000 premature deaths and hundreds of thousands of ailments each year.  Within as little as four years, all coal- and oil-fired power plants must meet or exceed the emission rates of the cleanest 12 percent of such plants.  At the current time, about 40 percent of the nation’s plants have no emissions controls in place.   An analysis by the Associated Press concluded that between 32 and 68 coal-fired power plants may close as a result of the new rules.  Utility groups have said that the rules will cost as many as a million jobs over the next decade, though the EPA estimates that it expects only a small change in employment.  EPA rules target mercury pollution, toxics from power plantsUSA Today and EPA forces dirtiest power plants to clean up toxic air pollution but gives leeway on timingWashington Post

A provision in the payroll tax cut extension legislation recently signed into law by President Barack Obama will require the White House to make a decision on whether to allow construction of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline by February 21, 2012.  The President has said previously that a decision would not be made until 2013.  The provision requires the President to approve the pipeline within 60 days of passage unless he declares it to not be in the country’s “national interest.”  Several executive branch officials have indicated that a Congressionally-imposed 60-day timeline would result in a rejection of the proposal since there is not enough time to complete the review process and the route has not yet been finalized.  If the pipeline is rejected, its developer, TransCanada, would need to submit another application and start from the beginning with more hearings and reviews, a process that has taken three years to date.  Obama signs payroll tax bill that requires speedy decision on Keystone pipelineThe Hill and Politics stamps out oil sands pipeline, yet it seems likely to endureNew York Times

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has announced federal approval of two renewable energy projects on public land in the Southwest that he says “will produce the clean energy equivalent of nearly 18 coal-fired power plants.”  The projects include a solar energy facility southwest of Phoenix, AZ that will power about 90,000 homes and a wind farm east of San Diego, CA that will power up to 65,000 homes.  These two are the latest renewable energy projects approved for construction on public land; there are currently 25 such projects that, when completed, will power 2.2 million homes.  The Obama Administration is also attempting to promote the installation of wind turbines off the east coast, though a lack of investment and expiring tax credits are hampering those efforts.  Obama admin pushes renewable energy on 2 coastsAssociated Press and Obama Administration approves 2 huge renewable energy projectsCleanTechnica

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Energy Update, December 16, 2011

December 16, 2011

In the States

NE – After calling a special session to determine how to approach environmental issues related to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, Governor Dave Heineman is now endorsing an accelerated approval process for the project.  Governor Heineman said “I certainly support expediting everything we're doing with the Keystone XL project,” which includes not only federal permitting but a State environmental review that is expected to take up to nine months.  The Obama Administration has said that it will not make a decision on whether to issue the required permits for the project until 2013.  Heineman supports speeding up Keystone XLLincoln Journal Star

NJ – Governor Chris Christie has approved a final master energy plan for New Jersey that would lower the percentage of energy required to come from clean sources by 2020 from 30 percent to 22.4 percent.  The revised plan calls for changing the focus of solar production incentives from residential installations to large-scale collection centers and increasing the amount of solar energy credits utilities will be required to buy.  The plan also calls for building a new nuclear power plant and convening a State panel to discuss the future role of nuclear energy.  The plan includes a longer-term goal to derive 70 percent of the State’s electricity from clean sources, which include nuclear, natural gas, and hydroelectric power.  Natural gas, nuclear get bigger role in energy master planNorthJersey.com and NJ energy master plan finalized: action on solar, but environmentalists still not happyNJ.com

WA – Governor Chris Gregoire is meeting with stakeholders to discuss potential changes to the State’s definition of clean energy.  A mandate passed by voters requires larger utilities to generate three percent of electricity from clean sources starting January 1, 2012, gradually increasing that percentage in coming years up to 15 percent in 2020.  Currently, the mandate does not consider existing hydroelectric energy, which generates two-thirds of the State’s electricity, to count toward meeting the goals. However, legislation is expected to be introduced in the next session that would modify the treatment of this source of energy.  Governor Gregoire has indicated she supports allowing some incremental hydropower and biomass improvements to count towards meeting the State’s clean energy standard, along with other changes to the law, such as delaying some requirements for smaller and slowly growing utilities, and allowing utilities to offset future requirements with excess conservation.  Governor weighs changes to Wash. clean-energy lawSeattle Post-Intelligencer

Federal News

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a draft report following a three-year study on hydraulic fracturing that suggests that the method of retrieving trapped natural gas may have contributed to the contamination of the water supply in central Wyoming.  The study notes that the gas wells are unusually shallow and are thus more likely to affect the water supply, but that synthetic materials used in the hydraulic fracturing process, including benzene and methane, were found in monitoring wells near the gas wells.  The study will now be peer-reviewed and available for public comment.  Wyoming Governor Matt Mead called for more testing to be done and called the study “scientifically questionable” while a local citizens’ group praised the EPA for offering protection to residents of the affected area.  E.P.A. links tainted water in Wyoming to hydraulic fracturing for natural gasNew York Times

Despite the fact that many energy-related bills have been proposed, introduced, or debated in the current Congress, almost no legislation has been enacted this year except for a bill to improve pipeline safety.  Included on the list of inaction is President Barack Obama’s proposal that he unveiled at this year’s State of the Union address: a renewable standard requiring 80 percent of the country’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2035.  Other languishing energy proposals include 15 narrowly focused bills that passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee with bipartisan support, efforts to respond to the Gulf oil spill and West Virginia coal mine explosion disasters, a range of House-passed measures to increase domestic energy production, limitations on EPA rulemaking authority, and initiatives to address climate change concerns.  The Obama Administration has moved forward with several regulatory initiatives, including new fuel efficiency standards for personal and industrial vehicles, offshore energy production oversight, and EPA regulation of greenhouse gases.  However, increased partisanship in Congress has made it more difficult to pass legislation than in previous years when lawmakers approved bills encouraging renewable energy production, increasing fuel efficiency, and increasing offshore energy production.  While some lawmakers from both parties are planning on pushing for new energy legislation in 2012, they acknowledge that the chances of passage are slim; Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chair Jeff Bingaman said, “Given the makeup of this Congress, it’s very hard to see how we get serious legislation of that sort through both houses and to the president for his signature.”  Big energy measures to slide past in 2012 - Politico

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Energy Update, July 15, 2011

July 15, 2011

In the States

HI – Governor Neil Abercrombie has signed a bill into law that will require the State’s Public Utility Commission to study and, if practicable, implement a program that would allow homeowners to finance the upfront costs of home-based renewable energy and efficiency projects through savings realized in utility bills.  This “on-bill financing” option would allow many homeowners to bypass the often unaffordable initial cost to take advantage of renewable energy and allow them to own the equipment outright once the costs are paid down through savings credits on their utility bills.  Electric customers could get a financing break with new lawHawaii News Now

NH – Governor John Lynch has vetoed a bill that would have withdrawn New Hampshire from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cap-and-trade consortium comprised of ten States in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.  The Governor explained his veto by saying the legislation would “cost our citizens jobs, both now and into the future, hinder our economic recovery and damage our state's long-term economic competitiveness.”  While the House passed the bill with a veto-proof majority of over two-thirds, the Senate did not.  The Governor also said that a withdrawal from RGGI would cost ratepayers $6 million in additional costs and the State would forego $12 million per year in sales of emissions permits.  Supporters of the bill have said that RGGI has increased energy costs.  House Speaker William O’Brian released a statement calling RGGI a “failed policy” that has raised New Hampshire’s electricity rates 149 percent above the national average.  Citing jobs and economic growth, NH Gov. vetoes bill to exit RGGIReuters

NJ – Governor Chris Christie has proposed revisions to the State’s master energy plan, last revised by former Governor John Corzine in 2008, that are intended to lower electricity rates for residents and businesses by eliminating some of the incentives and subsidies currently offered to promote clean energy.  The Governor says that New Jersey has some of the highest energy costs in the country and that he wants to make rates more comparable to other states in order to promote economic growth and reduce financial burdens on rate-payers.  The revisions would also lower the State’s renewable energy use goal from 30% to 22.5% by 2021.  However, Governor Christie is also proposing the development of large solar generation projects on brownfield sites and landfills, as well as the codification of statutory provisions intended to promote the development of offshore wind energy.  Opponents say the changes may jeopardize green investments and green job growth.  While Matt Elliot, clean energy advocate for Environment New Jersey, acknowledges that renewables currently have higher costs, he also argues that fossil fuels benefited from subsidies and that prices for solar energy and other renewables are becoming more competitive every year.  Advocates say changes threaten New Jersey’s green energyAsbury Park Press

Regional News

At meeting in Halifax, Nova Scotia, a group of New England Governors and Canadian premiers have discussed a new transmission line from Canada that would bring clean hydroelectric power to major population centers in New England States.  Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin discussed the plan with reporters in a teleconference call, saying it is too soon to know whether the transmission line will be routed through Vermont, but that any State willing to host it could expect to receive preferential rates.  Governor Shumlin also discussed proposals from two Canadian companies to purchase the State’s largest utility.  Group looks to bring more Canadian power to New EnglandVermont Public Radio

National News

U.S. Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner of Virginia have introduced legislation that would allow for offshore oil and natural gas drilling in federal waters off the Virginia coast.  The bill requires half of leasing revenues to go to the State to be used for renewable energy development, conservation, and infrastructure.  Senator Warner cited the large amount of money sent to unfriendly oil-rich nations and Senator Webb said the drilling would bring more domestic energy and an improved economy.  Governor Bob McDonnell said the proposed legislation is a “common-sense proposal” that would bring “much needed jobs and revenue.”  The Director of Sierra Club’s Virginia chapter sad the plan will not reduce costs or dependence on foreign oil and that the efforts would be better spent on renewable energy.  Webb, Warner introduce bill to allow offshore drillingRichmond Times Dispatch

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a final rule that requires power plants in 27 states to reduce emissions that contribute to pollution in neighboring states.  The EPA estimates the rule will save hundreds of billions in health care costs due to a reduction in chronic health problems caused by the pollution, and prevent tens of thousands of premature deaths in 2014 but will cost around $800 million per year.  The rule, which goes into effect January 1, 2012, has received mixed reactions from States.  Governor Rick Perry of Texas called the rule “another example of heavy-handed and misguided action from Washington, D.C.” that would have negative consequences for residents in his State.  However, Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Deb Markowitz, the State’s top environmental official, believes the rule will greatly help Vermont since it has had difficulty attaining federal air quality standards because of emissions produced in other nearby states.  "By reducing ozone and fine particle pollution, EPA's new rule will protect the health of Vermonters, saving lives and preventing illnesses," Markowitz said.  New EPA rule aims to reduce pollution across State bordersPittsburgh Post-Gazette and Texas Governor bashes new federal environmental regulationsNew Orleans Examiner and Vermont environment chief hails new EPA ruleBoston Globe

 

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Energy Update, June 3, 2011

June 3, 2011

In the States

ME – Governor Paul LePage and members of his administration are questioning whether the State policy should dictate increase renewable energy use.  The Governor has proposed replacing the State’s renewable energy standard, which currently requires a one-percent increase in renewable energy use each year, with an option for individual customers to choose whether to purchase up to 100% clean energy for their own homes.  While critics of the proposal have noted that $1 billion has been invested in alternative energy since the renewable energy standard was enacted four years ago, Governor LePage believes most of the new “green jobs” are temporary and the that the state mandate will result in a net loss of jobs and increase electricity costs.  The Governor’s administration is also skeptical of some of the claims made by proponents of a massive offshore wind energy proposal, specifically that the project would reduce dependence on foreign oil.  Since the vast majority of homes in the State use heating oil – and cars use gasoline – rather than electricity, consumers would need to transition to heating systems and vehicles powered by wind-generated electricity in order to  decrease oil use, an expensive and logistically difficult prospect.  LePage urges rollback of renewable energy requirementBangor Daily News and LePage administration questions feasibility of offshore wind powerBangor Daily News

MN – Governor Mark Dayton has vetoed a bill that would have allowed more electricity produced by coal-fired power plants to be sold in Minnesota.  In his veto message, Governor Dayton said “Minnesota must continue on a path of progress to a sustainable, clean, and safe energy future, rather than increasing our already heavy reliance upon coal-fired electricity, which threatens our health and climate."  As an alternative to new coal plants, the Governor said the State’s utilities should focus on natural gas, hydroelectric, and renewable sources.  Governor Dayton, however, signed a bill that will allow electricity to be sold in Minnesota created by a new coal plant on the North Dakota border, which will avoid a lawsuit with the neighboring state.  He also signed a bill that will allow an existing coal plant to convert to natural gas.  Gov Dayton signs, vetoes variety of billsDL-Online and Looser restrictions on coal power vetoed by DaytonStamford Advocate and Minnesota Governor vetoes bill supporting more coal-fired generationPlatts

NJ – Governor Chris Christie has vowed to take New Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a 10-state cap-and-trade organization designed to limit greenhouse gas emissions, by the end of the year.  Governor Christie said that the program is not effective because it “does nothing more than tax electricity, tax our citizens, tax our businesses, with no discernible or measurable impact upon our environment.”  RGGI Inc., the nonprofit in charge of the program, has said that while emissions have been reduced 30% since 2005, half of which is due to the program, New Jersey’s ratepayers will save about $3.38 per year on average due to the State’s withdrawal from the program.  Although Governor Christie’s administration used $65 million in RGGI revenues to help balance the State’s budget, other revenues allowed the State to provide loans to companies to help install enough renewable energy technology to power 19,600 homes.  The Governor also acknowledges that human activity contributes to climate change, has said he will not allow another coal plant to be built in the State, and is supportive of increased natural gas and nuclear energy production.  Gov. Christie declares regional cap-and-trade initiative ineffective, ‘gimmicky’ partnershipNJ.com and Christie to pull N.J. out of cap-and-trade energy programNorthJersey.com

VT – Governor Peter Shumlin has signed a bill into law that is designed to greatly reduce the administrative burdens usually encountered with the installation of small scale solar systems on residential or small business buildings.  Prior to when the bill  goes into effect in January, local ordinances, building and electric codes, zoning laws, the processes for permitting and inspections, and other requirements have varied widely, even between neighborhoods in the same town, so that one installation may cost twice as much as another.  Governor Shumlin said in a statement regarding the new law that “there is a fiscal and environmental urgency for Vermont to move off fossil fuels and toward sustainable sources of power.”  The Governor also signed an omnibus energy bill that will make it easier for homeowners to finance residential renewable energy and energy efficiency projects and another bill that will increase the amount of excess renewable energy that homeowners can put back on the grid and charge utilities.  Vermont streamlines small-scale solar powerHuffington Post and Governor to sign Vermont energy billBloomberg BusinessWeek

National News

The federal government has agreed to a $45.6 million loan guarantee for a solar power project near Las Vegas, Nevada. The plant will consist of 90,000 solar modules mounted on panels that will track the sun and produce enough power for 4,700 homes in the area.  The project will employ 250 construction workers.  While a senior official for the company behind the project cited high infrastructure, labor, and material costs as reasons for the need for a loan guarantee, one solar analyst questioned the need for the loan guarantee.  Solar power firm wins federal loan guaranteeSan Francisco Chronicle and Federal loan guarantee for Nevada solar project raises questionsForbes

 

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Energy Update, November 24, 2010

November 24, 2010

In the States

HI – Almost three years after State officials signed a general agreement with the Federal government to develop a cleaner energy future, Hawaii is making progress in diversifying its energy sources.  A State law passed last year requires Hawaii’s electric utility company, Hawaiian Electric, to use renewable sources for 40 percent of its power by 2030.  At the same time, it must cut projected electricity consumption by 30 percent.  This past September, State regulators ruled that the utility will be paid a guaranteed amount no matter how much energy it sells.  The new financial model will allow Hawaiian Electric to become more of a power distributor than power producer.  Another regulatory change will allow individuals to get paid by the utility for producing their own power.  An expansion of smart-grid technologies is also underway and will help Hawaii increase the use of renewable power generated from available wind, solar and geothermal resources.  Another project could link wind farms proposed for the islands of Lanai and Molokai with “power-hungry” Oahu through an undersea cable.  In describing Hawaii’s need to change course to meet its energy needs, outgoing Governor Linda Lingle gave an interview in which she said, “We had to be transformational.  It couldn’t be incremental any longer.”  State lays groundwork for more clean energy -- Maui News

MO – Governor Jay Nixon has endorsed a plan that would allow utilities to charge customers for early costs of developing a new nuclear power plant, a practice currently prohibited by State law.  Missouri utilities have expressed interest in expanding the State’s only current nuclear plant, but have not yet decided whether to build it.  If the proposal is approved, the utilities will pass on to consumers the $40 million in site permits required to determine the viability of the project.  Nixon endorses idea of second Callaway County power plantNews Tribune 

NJ – Governor Chris Christie has filed a motion to stop a proposed offshore natural gas terminal and a 50-mile pipeline from being constructed.  Governor Christie said that he “will not subject our state’s shore and economy to the environmental risks that are inseparable from such a project.”  The terminal is one of three proposed liquefied natural gas terminals to which the Governor expressed opposition earlier this year; the other two plans were withdrawn.  Gov. Christie opposes proposed natural gas facility off Asbury ParkThe Star-Ledger

National News

The U.S. Department of the Interior has announced a new initiative – Smart From the Start – intended to help identify and pre-approve appropriate locations along the Atlantic Coast for offshore wind turbines.  Interior Secretary Ken Salazar introduced the new program at a public event at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland and said it was the result of “a lesson learned” from the Cape Wind project in Massachusetts.  The site for that project was approved in April, but construction has been stalled by opponents who have brought legal challenges.  Interior officials are hoping the new site selection process will allow new leases to be granted as early as 2011.Administration wants to speed up process for windmills in AtlanticWashington Post

The New York Times recently ran a special energy section outlining recent changes in the world’s energy sources and consumption, along with the roles politics and economics have played in those changes. Although Republicans generally favor nuclear energy and have now gained the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, a “nuclear renaissance” may not happen quickly because of Republican opposition to carbon pricing that could help make nuclear power more competitive.  While coastal States slow or halt building new coal power plants, retiring plants in the South, Midwest, and Mountain regions are likely to be replaced with coal, and the developers are hoping to use new technologies to lower or capture greenhouse gas emissions.  Solar gardens are being built on the edges of some towns to capture energy without requiring trees to be cut down for roof installations, while biologists ensure that minimal impact is made on large solar projects in the desert.  And though two years ago, experts were warning that oil and gas supplies were being depleted, new-found deposits and new technologies to obtain it have extended that timeline for several decades, though with predictable downsides, such as the recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  G.O.P. gains on Capitol Hill may not advance nuclear power and In the heartland, still investing in coal and There will be fuel and The benefits of solar with the beauty of trees and Concerns as solar installations join a desert ecosystemNew York Times

Other News

At the World Mayors Summit on Climate in Mexico City, a group of 138 Mayors from around the world signed an agreement to lower greenhouse gas emissions in their cities.  The cities will post their commitments and progress on the carbonn Cities Climate Registry (cCCR), a website that allows uniform reporting tracking.  Signatories to the pact include some major world cities, such as Vancouver, Buenos Aires, Johannesburg, and Jakarta, and also include four U.S. cities: Burnsville, MN; Des Moines, IA; Los Angeles, CA; and North Little Rock, AR.  Calgary, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Mexico City, and Nagpur have already entered their data onto the website.  The agreement was meant to be a sign of the willingness of Mayors and cities to work on climate issues and as a catalyst for action at the upcoming global climate change summit in Cancun.  Mayors flaunt resolve in advance of CancunNew York Times and Mayors sign global pact to tackle urban emissionsCNN International and cCCR Signatory Cities [pdf]cCCR and cCCR PioneerscCCR

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Energy Update, September 24, 2010

September 24, 2010

In the States

ALGovernor Bob Riley has signed off on a plan submitted by TORP Technology to build a closed-loop liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal off the coast of Alabama.  In recent years, Governor Riley has rejected several proposals that would have relied on a less environmentally-friendly open-loop system that would have required the use of seawater from the Gulf to warm up imported LNG.  The company must also pay $25 million for a fund that will protect the marine environment, and will be administered by the State’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.  A large local environmental group said that its concerns had been alleviated by the Governor, who praised the proposal, saying “with this agreement, we’re able to protect the environment, improve our economy with 250 new jobs, and provide an important alternative source of natural gas for Alabama.”  Gov. Riley approves “closed loop” LNG facilityWNCF

MI – In a speech to an energy symposium, Governor Jennifer Granholm stressed that the wind energy sector is a key element in the State’s economic future.  The Governor said that the State’s strategy is to use federal funds, tax incentives, renewable energy Renaissance Zones, and a consortium of universities, national labs, and the State to boost both the manufacturing of wind power generators such as turbines and the use of wind power in the State.  So far the strategy has created 5,300 jobs and leveraged as much as $58 million in federal investment.  Wind energy critical for Michigan clean energy economyGovMonitor

NJ – As a consequence of Governor Chris Christie’s prioritization of developing brownfields into solar farms, and strong incentives for renewable energy production, solar businesses that have been searching for large, undeveloped tracts of land in the State are working with the Department of Environmental Protection to procure landfills.  The Department is helping utilities and other companies navigate the federal and State regulatory landscape in order to convert unused properties into revenue- and energy-generating land.  Local governments, facing budgetary problems of their own, are hoping that developers will use the sites in order to generate more revenue as well.  As solar power developers search for sites, NJ tries to cash inNewark Star-Ledger

UT – Governor Gary Herbert gathered a large crowd for the third in a series of public hearings on Utah’s energy future.  Groups representing environmental, conservation, State, and coal interests were given an audience by the Governor, who said that “there has been a healthy difference of opinion on what we should be doing when it comes to energy” and said that all types of energy production will be considered when developing the State’s ten-year energy policy.  Gov. Gary Herbert’s 3rd energy hearing brings diverse ideasDeseret News

VA – Governor Bob McDonnell has announced that he will hold the State’s first energy conference in October 2010, and that T. Boone Pickins, a Texas oilman who campaigns for energy independence, will be headlining the event.  Governor McDonnell stressed the need to utilize all forms of energy production, including “traditional, alternative, and renewable sources” such as “wind, coal, solar, nuclear, biomass, oil, and natural gas.”  “By fully developing our domestic energy resources we can provide reliable, low-cost power that will lead our country closer toward energy independence,” the Governor said.  T. Boone Pickins to speak at Virginia’s first energy conferenceWashington Post

National News

In the waning days of the current Congress, Senate Democrats are hopeful that they can pass a renewable electricity standard (RES) bill by the end of the year that would require 15% of electricity in the country to come from renewable sources by 2021.  Several Senate Democrats including Barbara Boxer, Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are strongly in favor of moving forward with the bill.  Although Republican Senator Sam Brownback is a cosponsor of the legislation, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s spokesman says he “does not support” the measure, with other Republicans also expressing similar opposition.  Democrats warm to last-ditch energy pushPolitico

Eighty percent of States will be prepared to issue greenhouse gas permits in compliance with US Environmental Protection Agency regulations starting January 2 or shortly thereafter according to a report by the National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA).  While some States are fully prepared to comply, many others still need to change their laws in order to allow the permitting process to begin.  Still other States will not be incompliance with the regulations, and some of these still actively oppose them.  A rule issued last month would allow the EPA to take over the permitting process for noncompliant States, drawing criticism from some officials in States that do not plan to comply.  Report: 80% of States on track for greenhouse gas permitting, enforcementNew York Times and States moving full speed ahead on greenhouse gas permitting [pdf]National Association of Clean Air Agencies

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Energy Update, August 27, 2010

August 27, 2010

In the States

ID – Governor Butch Otter participated in the groundbreaking ceremony for what will be Idaho's largest wind farm project, called the Oregon Trail Wind Farm. The project, which includes a total of 11 different wind farms, will consist of 122 wind turbines that will power nearly 40,000 homes, and is expected to create 175 jobs. In addition to the sizable investment in wind energy, Idaho lawmakers are hoping to lure geothermal investment to the area. A geothermal power plant could serve as a baseline energy source for when the wind is not blowing enough to create any electricity; a bill that would lower lease rates for geothermal developers is expected to be considered in the legislature in 2011. Lawmakers highlight legislation aimed at developing renewable energyTwin Falls Times-News

IL – Governor Pat Quinn has signed two bills into law that are designed to increase the amount of solar energy produced in the State. The “Solar Ramp-Up Bill” will require a gradual increase in the proportion of solar energy that must be purchased by the State's utility companies from 0.5% in 2012 to 6% from 2015 on. Homeowners associations will not be allowed to prohibit the installation of solar panels on members' roofs under the Homeowners' Solar Energy Act. The Governor said the new laws will promote renewable energy development, create jobs, and lessen dependence on fossil fuels for meeting electricity demand within the State. Illinois ramps up solar developmentEpoch Times

ME – Ocean Renewable Power Company has installed the largest ocean energy power plant to date off the eastern coast of Maine. The 60 megawatt tidal energy generator prototype has met or exceeded expectations in tests thus far, and will be used to charge a battery and provide power to a Coast Guard station in Eastport, Maine. The company's CEO hopes to have a 150 megawatt version connected to the electric grid in late 2011. Governor John Baldacci praised the company's success in his weekly radio address, and called for more renewable energy development that he said would lead to more jobs and less dependency on foreign oil. Maine company says underwater turbine is a successBangor Daily News and Baldacci touts renewable power in MaineBangor Daily News

NJ – Governor Chris Christie has signed a bill into law that uses two approaches to help build a wind power sector in the State. One approach is to provide financial assistance and $100 million in tax credits to companies that participate in building offshore wind farms. The other approach is to provide a steady market by requiring utilities to purchase 1,100 megawatts from wind power producers, which will not only create demand, but also help secure financial backing for wind power projects. Governor Christie signed the bill at a vacant chemical plant on the Delaware River that will be converted into a production and assembly site for wind turbines and components. Christie signs law encouraging offshore wind turbinesPhiladelphia Inquirer

National News

A report released by the US Department of Energy shows that the US as a whole used less energy in general but more energy from renewable sources in 2009 than in 2008. Total energy consumption declined by 4.6% from from 2008, while production of wind energy increased 44% from .51% to .74% of total energy production. Other modes of energy production from renewable sources rose as well, including solar, hydrothermal, and geothermal energy. The reduction in energy usage and increase in renewable energy production corresponds with a decrease in the use of fossil fuels to create energy; coal, natural gas, and petroleum all declined in use in 2009. Several factors contributed to the drop in energy consumption including higher-efficiency appliances and vehicles as well as the economic downturn, which resulted in less production and consumption in general. The White House has also issued a report which claims that the stimulus has put the US on track toward achieving three major energy goals: cutting the cost of solar power in half by 2015, cutting the cost of batteries for electric vehicles 70% by 2015, and doubling the amount of energy created by renewable sources by 2012. Americans using less energy, thanks to recession, technologyChristian Science Monitor and Annual Energy Review 2009 [pdf]US Energy Information Administration and White House report: US on track to double renewable energy outputWall Street Journal and The Recovery Act: Transforming the American economy through innovation [pdf]The White House

The US Department of Energy has released $120 million to 120 private companies, nonprofits, universities, local governments, and national organizations in order to expand existing, successful weatherization programs and to fund new, innovative approaches to weatherizing low-income single and multifamily homes. The awards will allow grant recipients to install renewable energy systems (such as solar panels, wind turbines, and tank-less water heater systems), incorporate other services such as improving indoor air quality and lead abatement, and leverage private sector investment. DOE announces nearly $120 million to advance innovative weatherization projects, highlight progress in the program nationallyEERE News

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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, May 21, 2010

May 21, 2010

In the States

AK – Governor Sean Parnell has signed a pair of bills into law into law that offer companies tens of millions of dollars in tax incentives to drill for natural gas in Cook Inlet and make it cheaper and easier to build gas storage facilities.  Demand for natural gas grows in the winter, when the need for heat is greatest, and slowing production from existing wells will need to be supplemented by either importing gas from elsewhere or increased domestic drilling.  While some companies have existing leases to drill, the incentives are meant to prompt them into drilling sooner than later and store supplies for later use.  Legislature’s incentives may draw gas rig to InletAnchorage Daily News

HI – Hawaii has been chosen to be one of the first States to help launch the new all-electric car from Nissan, the LEAF, which is powered by lithium-ion batteries and produces zero tailpipe emissions.  Governor Linda Lingle recently spoke at event announcing Nissan’s decision and said that the car “will build on Hawaii's progress to end our state's over-reliance on imported fossil fuels and increase our energy security.”  The State has set a goal of obtaining 70% of its energy from clean sources by 2030.  Residents can now reserve the car, which is eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit, and costs more than 60% less per mile to drive than the average gasoline-powered car.  Hawaii selected as an early launch State for Nissan LEAF vehicleReliable Plant

ME – Governor John Baldacci has signed five energy bills into law that will make generating and transmitting wind energy easier in the future.  Included in the new laws is the creation of “energy corridors” or new transmission lines along major highways, steering funds to energy efficiency and alternative energy projects, as well as a smart grid and other infrastructure to allow energy efficient use of electric vehicles.  Home and business owners will be allowed to tack upfront costs of energy efficiency projects onto their property tax bill for 10 to 20 years, and energy companies will be required to provide at least $4,000 in community benefits per wind turbine.  Another bill institutes the Ocean Energy Task Force recommendations by creating a permit system, clarifying the leasing process, and setting energy goals for offshore wind and tidal energy systems.  Baldacci signs energy bills aimed at cutting oil consumptionMaine Public Broadcasting Network and Energy bills smarten up State policyBangor Daily News

NJ – Governor Chris Christie and the State’s Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner, Bob Martin, have filed a petition with the federal Environmental Protection Agency to require a coal-fired power plant 500 feet across the border in Pennsylvania to reduce its emissions.  According to the Commissioner, the plant in question emits three times as much as all seven coal power plants in New Jersey, but residents on both sides of the river are susceptible to the pollution.  The plant is already the subject of a federal EPA lawsuit, though the plant’s owners say they are fully compliant with all Pennsylvania permit limitations.  NJ Gov. Chris Christie, DEP chief seek reduced pollution from coal-burning plant in PAThe Star-Ledger

WI – Governor Jim Doyle is promoting the collaboration of two large university research consortia with private companies to research and develop clean energy solutions, saying “it is crucial that Wisconsin develop and maintain a leadership role in these emerging energy technologies.”  Under the plan, the Center for Renewable Energy Systems in Madison and the Southeastern Wisconsin Energy Technology Research consortium in Milwaukee will combine into a single statewide group and provide energy research services for industry in the State.  Wisconsin makes a play for clean energyCivSource

Governor Doyle has also signed a bill that will make burning garbage for energy count as “renewable” and help the State realize its goal of obtaining 10% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2015.  Also listed as “renewable” is the Apollo light pipe, a small glass skylight dome that reflects daylight inside a building and reduces energy use.  The skylight system is manufactured in Wisconsin.  The Governor also vetoed a bill that would have required State buildings to become more energy efficient.  Governor Doyle said that he vetoed the measure because the way it was written would have delayed current maintenance projects and would have created “chaos” for the State’s building construction program.  Disputed renewable power bill signedMilwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel

National News

Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman publicly released their climate change and energy legislation in the company of both utility company executives and environmental advocates, but without the bill’s other original co-author, Senator Lindsey Graham.  Climate provisions include a cap and trade policy that would cap utility, oil, and heavy industry emissions (following a temporary exemption), but not as broadly as the as the economy-wide House plan passed last year.  Greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by 17% by 2020 and 83% by 2050 compared to 2005 levels.  Permits would initially be given away to utilities and coal burning power plants would receive more permits than natural gas power plants.  In the wake of the ongoing Gulf oil leak, the legislation has been amended to scale back some the expansion of offshore oil drilling.  States will now be able to stop certain plans to drill for oil off the coast of neighboring States.  Nuclear plant operators would also receive loan guarantees under the proposed legislation.  The nuclear power industry and utility companies generally embraced the plan, while some oil companies also voiced support.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, however, did not endorse the bill.  Senator Graham issued a separate statement on the bill in which he predicted the bill would not gain bipartisan support given immigration politics and the recent oil spill in the Gulf.  Climate bill’s fate down to businessPolitico and Senate gets a climate and energy bill, modified by a Gulf spill that still growsNew York Times 

The Georgetown Climate Center has produced an overview of the legislation’s State-related provisions.

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Energy Update, April 23, 2010

April 23, 2010

In the States

HI – Governor Linda Lingle’s Clean Energy Initiative is not moving as quickly as planned, as concerns over electricity costs have caused some utilities to refrain from signing contracts with renewable energy producers to preserve lower prices for consumers.  Renewable energy advocates agree that upfront costs will be higher for renewable energy projects, but note that since 90% of the electricity in the State is produced with petroleum and prices for fuel will almost certainly rise substantially in the future, the investment in renewable energy such as wind and solar will result in lower future costs.  Hawaii’s green efforts not cheap, but will pay off, advocates sayHonolulu Advertiser

MI – Governor Jennifer Granholm is promoting Michigan’s potential in producing wind turbines and other equipment, explaining at a conference sponsored by the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association that she is “so bullish on wind power” and that she wants the State to be “the place where climate change solutions are researched, developed, and produced.”  The Governor also said she wanted to make use of the State’s windy coast line and install the first offshore wind turbines in the Great Lakes, adding that she has a wager with Ohio Governor Ted Strickland on the matter.  Granholm’s bullish on Michigan’s wind-power futureDetroit Free Press

NJ – Governor Chris Christie discussed his vision of New Jersey’s energy future at a forum sponsored by Rutgers University, saying that he and the Lieutenant Governor “are setting up a regulatory environment that is friendly to business” and that his environmental policies will not be “incompatible to having a growing economy.”  During his speech, he indicated support for developing off-shore wind farms, more manufacturing of renewable energy equipment and the installation of solar panels on landfills and on farm land.  The Governor also said he will review the 2008 Energy Master Plan, but did not disclose what he would change in it.  Gov. Christie discusses energy plan at Rutgers forumThe Star-Ledger

UT – Governor Gary Herbert has withdrawn Utah from the upcoming cap-and-trade program that will be implemented under the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), a regional climate change agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions.  Utah now joins Arizona in quitting the cap-and-trade program after State legislators passed resolutions asking the Governor to withdraw from the interstate agreement.  The Governor’s office said that the State is “simply not in a position at this time to implement cap-and-trade” but would still like to have a seat at the table at the WCI.  Utah sticking with climate pact but not its cap-and-trade planSalt Lake Tribune

National News

Vice President Joe Biden has announced the recipients of the US Department of Energy’s Retrofit Ramp-Up initiative, the competitive Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program funded by the Recovery Act.  Twenty-five communities will receive $452 million under the new program, and are expected to leverage $2.8 billion in private funds over three years to create 30,000 jobs performing retrofits on large-scale operations and facilities, as well as businesses and homes.  Grant recipients include a regional consortium of southeastern States, as well as cities, counties, state governments, and nonprofits in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin.  DOE’s Retrofit Ramp-Up Initiative awards $452 million to 25 communitiesClean Edge and Retrofit Ramp-Up selected projects [pdf]US Department of Energy

Simultaneous Congressional committee hearings were held on coal and natural gas last   week at which representatives from each industry promoted the positive aspects of their energy products while questioning the applicability or efficiency of the other.  Coal representatives emphasized the relatively low expense and domestic abundance of coal and warned that a significant shift toward natural gas could leave the US without enough supply, consumers with widely varying electricity rates, and a lack of capital to develop clean coal technologies.  Natural gas advocates, including oil magnate T. Boone Pickens, said that gas is also cheap and abundant, but it emits half the amount of greenhouse gases as coal and can be used to power cars and trucks.  The oil industry responded to that last point by saying that cars outfitted to run on natural gas would cost significantly more to consumers and that  the price of other products made from petrochemicals like plastics would increase if oil production capacity was scaled back.  Coal chiefs go on offensive as Pickens pushes case for natural gasNew York Times

State representatives are expressing concern over how varying environmental regulations in the states, including regional greenhouse gas cap-and-trade agreements, will be treated under forthcoming climate change legislation.  The legislation being crafted by Senators Graham, Kerry, and Lieberman is expected to eliminate such interstate programs.  Regulators in some States, including California, are worried that federal legislation could undermine existing or future policies and regulations that are designed to protect the environment in favor of a purely federal approach.  States fear devil in details of climate bill - Reuters

States are experiencing varying degrees of consumer enthusiasm toward appliance rebate programs made possible by the Recovery Act, which allocate stimulus funds to consumers who purchase certain Energy Star-compliant appliances as replacements for outdated or inefficient appliances.  Many States such as Florida, Illinois, and Texas have been overwhelmed by customers seeking rebates on dishwashers, clothes dryers, and other home appliances, emptying the available funds in days or sometimes hours.  Some states, however, such as Missouri, have experienced far less demand for such rebates.  Appliance discounts, for the swiftNew York Times

International News

A report from the European Commission was edited to remove a controversial analysis which concluded that biofuels emit up to four times as much greenhouse gas emissions as regular gasoline or diesel.  The omission caused one participant in the study to disown it, and the edited section was released only through the use of freedom of information laws.  The report’s conclusions are controversial in that there are many variables that could affect the greenhouse gas emissions of a particular biofuel, including what kind of plant was grown to make the fuel and whether the land used to grow the plants was cleared of existing plants.  Once-hidden EU report reveals damage from biodieselReuters

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Energy Update, August 21, 2009

August 21, 2009

In the States

CT – Renewable energy is a growing industry in Connecticut, resulting in new jobs, thriving small businesses, and millions in new investments.  The new projects range from a small wind turbine on a farm to a million-dollar-plus solar array at a school and are made possible in part through state funds and federal stimulus money.  Clean energy taking root in ConnecticutHartford Courant

NJ – Governor Jon Corzine praised residents, businesses, and environmental groups during the celebration of the 4,000th solar installation in the state.  Solar energy now produces more than 90 megawatts statewide.  The Governor implied that such installations help achieve his goal to increase the use of renewable energy and create more jobs.  New Jersey reaches renewable energy milestoneNew Jersey Newsroom

NY – Governor David Paterson has signed an executive order that will seek to cut emissions from all sources to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.  He also named a Climate Action Council to make recommendations on how to best achieve this goal.  Deputy Secretary for Energy Tom Congdon noted that such a program will make the State more competitive if and when a national carbon-cutting program is implemented.  State joins effort to limit greenhouse gasAlbany Times-Union

Regional and National News

MidwestState officials’ responses to the federal government’s calls for more investment in “green” jobs ranges from alarm to advocacy.  Some see the shift from manufacturing to green jobs as a poor trade-off that will result in a large net loss of jobs.  Others are more optimistic and see it as an opportunity to reduce greenhouse gases and boost their local economies.  The number of green jobs is growing throughout the region, but still represents a much smaller percentage of total jobs than the manufacturing sector.  Greening the rustbeltEconomist

National – The federal government is continuing its investment in alternative energy through more than $350 million of stimulus assistance and and other funds released in the past month.  The projects include $52.5 million for concentrating solar research, $13.8 million for 28 wind projects, $21.45 million for community renewable energy projects, $47 million for smart grids and statewide clean energy programs, $6.3 million for biofuel research, and $212 million for other clean energy projects.  US government continues to fund renewable energy R&D RenewableEnergyWorld.com

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Energy Update, June 25, 2008

June 18, 2008
In The States

IA – Governor Chet Culver received the American Wind Energy Association’s 2008 State Leadership Award on behalf of the Iowa Department of Economic Development at the WINDPOWER 2008 Conference and Exhibition in Houston, Texas. The IDED received the award for generating more wind energy in Iowa than in any other state and attracting so many wind energy companies to the state. Iowa blows away competition, wins wind awardRadio Iowa

KS – Speaking at the same conference, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius called on Congress to renew tax credits for renewable energy production. She strongly suggested that the length of the extension was a paramount concern as investors shy away from projects with unknown future costs. See below in National News for an update on HR 6049, which extends tax credits for renewable energy production among other things. Wind backers lobby for extension of tax creditsSalina Journal

MA – Governor Deval Patrick and House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi are working together to make Massachusetts one of the greenest states in the country. DiMasi’s bill, which is in conference after passing the State House and Senate, would provide tax incentives to homeowners and cities who install equipment like solar panels or wind turbines, mandate that utility companies engage in long-term contracts with producers of alternative energy, and require that 20% of the state’s energy come from renewable sources. Leaders unite on push to go greenDaily News Tribune

NJ – A new bill sponsored by state Senator Bob Smith in New Jersey would allow owners of preserved farmland to produce alternative energy on their properties, or also sell it to a utility company. Under the proposed legislation, alternative energy production would fall under the term “agricultural activity,” and would immunize farmers from nuisance complaints from neighbors. Opponents claim that farmland preservation would be more difficult; they say new construction on the land could spur other kinds of development. NJ weighs bill encouraging alternative farm energyWashington Post

NY – A coal fired power plant that will capture and store its carbon emissions underground has received the support of the Governor of New York, David Paterson. With that support comes a grant of $6 million from the state to the Oxy-Coal Alliance, a coalition of enterprises which will research the project. Up to 90% of the plant’s carbon emissions would be stored up to 5,000 feet underground. Opponents say that the plant’s technology is untested and that the cost of creating the electricity will soar 40%. The plant could be online as soon as 2013. Governor supports cleaner coal plant in Chautauqua CountyNewsday

TN – Governor Phil Bredesen is confronting climate change with conservation and energy-efficiency efforts. Since two state buildings near the Capitol underwent an energy-efficiency overhaul in the 1990s, cost savings have become more pronounced. The Governor has expressed interest in creating the same type of changes in many, if not all, state buildings including the Capitol and public schools. These projects could also show the citizens of Tennessee that small changes can both save money and help cut greenhouse gas emissions. Tennessee: Bredesen Looks to Improve State's Energy EfficiencyChattanooga Times Free Press


National News

The bill to extend tax breaks for producers of renewable energy has twice failed to gain enough votes for cloture in the Senate. A major point of contention is whether the bill will contain offsets to pay for the provisions. Sen. Baucus has introduced a substitute bill, which makes minor changes in offsets in an effort to accommodate both parties, but at least $61 billion of spending on the one-year Alternative Minimum Tax patch would still not be offset. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has said that if the bill goes back to the House without completely offsetting the costs, it will not reach the floor. Senate will try to revive tax billCQ.com (subscription) and Senate again fails to initiate debate on tax breaks - CQ.com (subscription)

A bill in the Senate that would repeal tax breaks on oil and gas companies to pay for alternative energy projects has stalled in the US Senate and it is doubtful that it will move anywhere for the rest of the year. Even if the bill were to somehow pass, the President has already issued a formal veto threat. Energy debate continues, largely for showCQ.com (subscription) and Statement of Administration Policy on S. 3044Executive Office of the President

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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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