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Energy Update, October 8, 2010

October 8, 2010

In the States

AZ – Governor Jan Brewer, speaking to the Algal Biomass Organization, heralded plans for the Arizona Center for Algae Technologies and Innovations, a new research center for algae-based fuels to be built at Arizona State University’s Polytechnic campus.  It is to be constructed with $2 million in federal stimulus funds and $2 million in private investment bundled by the university and the Science Foundation, a public/private partnership created to diversify Arizona’s research and development initiatives.  The Governor said that the facility “will expand Arizona’s potential as a national global leader in research and production in algae fuel,” which she said could produce billions of dollars in investments and millions of gallons of fuel that would be used to power vehicles and aircraft.   Brewer announces investment in algae fuels researchArizona Republic

OH – A 500-acre section of land on a decommissioned coal strip mine in southeast Ohio – a piece of land comparable in size to a small airport – will soon be home to a 50-megawatt solar farm capable of providing electricity to 25,000 homes.  Governor Ted Strickland, who signed a 2008 law requiring 12.5% of electricity to be renewable, said “the future has recognized Ohio” and that the venture would bring 600 jobs to the area, 300 of them permanent.  Isofoton, the Spanish solar panel maker behind the project, passed over other States, in part due to State and federal tax credits, loan guarantees, and a grant.  Twenty megawatts will be installed in about two years with the rest completed in about four years.  Huge solar panel farm coming to southeast OhioCleveland Plain Dealer

TX – Governor Rick Perry spoke to academic and industry professionals at the Sixth Annual Clean Carbon Policy Summit and Project Expo this week.  In his speech, the Governor outlined the progress Texas has made toward diversifying the sources from which it obtains energy, cleaning the air Texans breathe, and growing the State’s economy.  Governor Perry also said that “technology and innovation could propel us into a world of cleaner, more efficient energy generated from all sources, and where the United States could be much less dependent on foreign countries for energy.”  Texas continues to lead way toward US energy independenceGov Monitor

WV – In response to regulations from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that restrict mountaintop removal – a process in which mountaintops are blasted off in order to more easily reach coal, and which releases toxic chemicals into nearby streams – Governor Joe Manchin directed his State to sue the US EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers.  Governor Manchin called the regulations “attempts to destroy our coal industry and way of life in West Virginia,” and said that only two of the 23 applications for permits that were pending last year – when the regulations went into effect – have been approved.  West Virginia sues US over mining restrictionsNew York Times

According to a new report released by the National Governors Association, every State and territory in the US has worked to increase its use of clean energy in some way.  The report identified seven categories of clean energy enhancements, ranging from energy efficiency to alternative fuels to green economic development, and found that States are undertaking these initiatives for environmental reasons, to save in energy costs, and to create jobs.  The report says that 49 States changed policies on clean electricity, 47 expanded energy efficiency, and 39 promoted clean energy as an economic growth strategy.  Report: States’ actions are promoting green energyAmerican City & County

National News

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has approved proposals to build the first solar farms on over 6,500 acres of federal land in California, and is expected to approve several similar projects soon.  More than 750 megawatts of electricity will be generated by the approved projects, enough to power over 550,000 homes, with more than three times that much capacity in the pending projects.  A new transmission line has also been approved to get the electricity into homes, but it is being challenged in court. A portion of the approved solar farms will be financed with federal stimulus funds and federal loan guarantees.  Solar power plants to rise on US landNew York Times

The Obama Administration has released four scenarios in a notice of intent outlining proposed requirements for fuel economy in cars and light trucks between 2017 and 2025.  Raising the fuel economy requirements three percent per year – the most modest increase – would result in a mileage standard of 47 miles per gallon by 2025, an increase from 34.1 in 2016, while the most ambitious proposal would increase fuel efficiency six percent per year, ending at 62 miles per gallon in 2025.  While more detailed proposals are due out in November, a point of contention with the proposals is how emissions from electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles will be calculated.  Since they do not produce any emissions themselves when powered by electricity, but do utilize  electricity generated by coal and  natural gas burning power plants, an alternative measure, such as grams of carbon emissions per mile, could be used to develop comparable emissions ratings. Fuel economy will be, um, betterNew York Times

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Energy Update, August 8, 2008

August 8, 2008
In The States

FL – Florida Power & Light’s Sunshine Energy Program, ostensibly designed for ratepayers to voluntarily fund alternative energy projects, has been shut down by the State’s Public Service Commission after an audit revealed that only 20% of contributions went towards its purported goal. Regulators and lawmakers expressed outrage at the program, claiming that its spending did not meet the wishes of its contributors. State shutters FPL ‘green’ programMiami Herald and Florida PSC terminates FPL’s Sunshine Energy ProgramRenewable Energy World

KY – Governor Beshear has ordered regulations to be written that would allow small, low-speed electric vehicles to be operated on public roads in Kentucky. The move is expected to help attract an electric car manufacturing company to build a plant in the state. Beshear authorizes electric cars on state roadsLouisville Courier-Journal

MA – Governor Patrick signed legislation which exempts cellulosic ethanol from the State’s gasoline excise tax and increases the amount of biodiesel required to be blended in with regular diesel at all of the diesel pumps and heating oil in Massachusetts. Massachusetts enacts advanced biofuels billRenewable Energy World

MD – Several measures are being taken in Maryland with the goal of creating a more sustainable transportation infrastructure. Specifically, Governor O’Malley announced the construction of four new E-85 pumps which will allow consumers to burn less fossil fuel, a mandate for the state’s vehicle fleet to use a blend of 5% biodiesel and more ethanol, a request for guidelines which will allow for more electric vehicles more quickly, and a public awareness campaign for public transit. State announces plans for more sustainable transportation fuel systemSouthern Maryland Online

ME – Maine’s State Solar Incentive Program, which provides $500,000 annually in rebates to rate-payers who install solar power and solar hot water systems on their homes, ran out of money on June 20. There will be no more money available for rebates for the next two years under the current plan. The owner of a solar energy company in Maine has suggested that a new solar rebate plan be added into a proposal to spend $3 billion over 10 years to insulate Maine’s homes. Mainers go solar, snap up systems that make heat as the sun shinesPortland Press Herald

TX – A proposal by NRG Energy Inc to build a coal-fired power plant in Texas is no longer being opposed by environmental groups after the company offered a compromise. In exchange for the groups not continuing their fight against the plant, NRG has agreed to either capture or offset half of its carbon emissions. The company will also support either a large-scale solar energy project or an energy efficiency program in the state. Green groups drop opposition to Texas coal plantReuters.com

WI - Governor Doyle expressed support for the Midwest Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord, a plan involving nine States and two Canadian provinces which would impose a cap-and-trade system on greenhouse gases. The Governor cited inaction on the federal government’s part to stem climate change as motivation to move forward with the plan. The group could begin reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2012. Doyle advocates regional emissions planMilwaukee Journal Sentinel

Regional News

The Western Climate Initiative (WCI), which includes seven States and four Canadian provinces, has released a draft on how it plans to implement a regional cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions. The draft plan would begin monitoring emissions in 2010, capping industrial emissions in 2012, and would add other emissions in 2015. Unlike the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in the Northeastern US that regulates only electric utilities, the WCI would regulate greenhouse gasses from several sources. Under the current plan, individual states would decide whether to hand out or auction off credits and polluters could write off up to 10% of their emissions by investing in offsets such as planting trees. Group proposes climate-saving strategySeattle Post-Intelligencer and U.S.-Canada carbon trading group eyes 2012 startReuters and Western states, provinces put together an emissions strategyOregonian

Despite the dramatic increase in talk of offshore oil drilling recently, there is little chance that such drilling would occur on the West Coast, even if Congress were to lift its ban on the process. The Governors of California, Oregon, and Washington have signed on to an action plan for the Pacific which opposes offshore drilling and promotes the health of the waters on the coast. 3 West Coast Governors oppose new offshore drillingLos Angeles Times

National News

The presidential candidates have been both touting their own and condemning each others’ energy plans recently. John McCain has called for the construction of 45 new nuclear power plants by 2030; Barack Obama has also called for more nuclear energy, but not without first studying how to deal with security of the fuel and disposal of waste. Sen. McCain recently reversed his earlier opinion and now enthusiastically endorses offshore oil drilling. Sen. Obama expressed doubts that it would help gas prices but that he is willing to compromise on the issue if a drilling bill also included alternative energy production and other green programs. Sen. Obama also proposed tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in order to tamp down gas prices in the short term. McCain at nuclear plant highlights energy issueNew York Times and Obama, in new stand, proposes use of oil reserveNew York Times

For the fourth time this year, Congress has failed to pass legislation providing $18 billion tax credits for the production of alternative energy and energy efficiency products. The bill passed the House in May and most Senators agree with the tax credits. The National Governors Association sent a letter to Congress signed by all 50 Governors expressing support for a five-year extension of the credits. However, disagreements over how to pay for it have prevented it from going to the Senate floor for debate. Republicans disagree with the Democrats’ plan to offset the costs by postponing a tax break for multinational companies and preventing hedge fund managers from deferring some overseas profits. The alternative energy industry has expressed to Congress that if the bill was not passed this time, many projects would halt due to uncertainty in funding. President Bush has threatened a veto if the bill is passed with the Democrats’ offsets. Solar, wind tax credits stalledSan Jose Mercury News and GOP blocks action on tax, renewable energy packageAssociated Press and Stalling our energy futurePolitico and 50 out of 50 Governors call for a renewable energy tax credit extensionIndustry Week

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Energy Update, July 25, 2008

July 25, 2008
In the States

CA – Due to Governor Schwarzenegger’s guidance to the California Building Standards Commission, that body unanimously passed new building standards. Starting in 2010, every new commercial and residential building in the state will use up to 50% less water and 15% less energy. California adopts nation’s first statewide “green” building code (pdf)California State and Consumer Services Agency and California establishes statewide green building standardsUS DOE EERE

KY – Governor Beshear has called on his Energy and Environment Cabinet to create a plan for energy self-sufficiency. In a press release, the Governor said that the time has come to change the way the state creates and uses energy. The Governor also said that the plan will reduce consumption and carbon emissions, produce and use more coal and alternative energy, and create more jobs. Beshear wants Kentucky to become ‘Energy Capital of the World’Business First of Louisville

MA – Governor Deval Patrick has signed the Green Communities Act, which should lower electricity rates and reduce the amount of energy used to create that electricity. The law applies primarily to utility companies, and includes a requirement for mandatory long term contracts with renewable energy companies, purchases of some energy efficiency products (and rebates for ratepayers to do the same), and favorable rates for buying solar or wind energy from consumers. Massachusetts Governor signs comprehensive energy reform billClean Edge

PA – Governor Ed Rendell has signed into law two provisions that should increase the amount of biofuels produced and consumed in the State. One new law will institute an annual subsidy of $5.3 million for the State’s biofuel industry. Once more biofuels are made, the other new law will take effect, requiring the sale of biofuel blends in the place of pure gasoline or diesel at the state’s fuel pumps. One difference between these and similar laws passed in other states is that the ethanol produced and sold in the state is to be cellulosic ethanol, which does not use food products to make the fuel. The use of corn and other foods to create ethanol has been blamed by some public officials and groups as the cause of higher food prices. Rendell signs legislation to increase the production of biofuels statewideConshy Recorder

TX – Texas is the state with the highest production of wind power in the United States, producing 4.296 GW of energy in 2007, or enough to power as much as 3 million homes. The state is also planning to spend $4 billion – $5 billion to construct power lines, which will transmit more than four times as much wind power than it does now to power-hungry cities. Ratepayers will see an increase of about $4 per month to fund the project. Texas goes from ‘Oil Capital USA’ to wind leaderDailyTech and State supports $4.9 billion wind power planThe Statesman

National Governors Association Centennial Meeting

During the NGA plenary session that focused on problems associated with energy, Robert Malone, Chairman and President of BP America, called for a more for a more a balanced national energy program that would include: increased domestic drilling offshore and in Alaska; increased use of nuclear power; energy conservation; alternative energy projects such as wind and solar, and some form of carbon reduction program. Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran, Correspondent for The Economist and co-author of the new book Zoom: The Global Race to Fuel the Car of the Future cited three “pillars of instability”: poverty; the environment; and geopolitics. He called for a paradigm shift toward market liberalization (for greater innovation), environmentalism, and a confluence of new technologies. Securing a Clean Energy Future Tops Agenda as Governors Meet in Philadelphia (Press Release)National Governors Association and Governors say they’d like more federal helpPhiladelphia Inquirer

National News

The U.S. Senate agreed almost unanimously this week that oil speculation should be curbed, but the effort stalled when the parties could not agree on how many amendments would be allowed. Republicans specifically want to add amendments which would lift the current federal ban on offshore oil drilling, while Democrats are trying to avoid voting on such an such an amendment. An amendment package from Sen. Bingaman would increase the amount of leases where drilling is already allowed, increase fuel economy in vehicles, and improve building codes. Standoff over amendments keeps energy speculation bill on holdCQ Politics

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