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Energy Update, April 6, 2012

April 6, 2012

In the States

CA – Governor Jerry Brown has said that he is considering allowing wider use of hydraulic fracturing in California as a means of obtaining oil from shale.  Governor Brown says that he is not considering new taxes on the procedure and did not comment on legislation that would require companies to disclose the site locations or chemicals used in the process, but said the process would self-regulate due to the State’s “very vigorous tort system.”  According to a U.S. Energy Department estimate, California has two-thirds of the country’s oil shale, which is enough to supply every west coast refinery for 17 years.  California’s Brown says he’ll consider fracking standardsBloomberg BusinessWeek and Gov. Jerry Brown says he’s studying ‘fracking’ in CaliforniaLos Angeles Times

GA – Governor Nathan Deal welcomed PyraMax Ceramics, a company that manufactures ceramic pellets used in the hydraulic fracturing process, to the State, along with the estimated 60 jobs the company plans to establish at the plant it is building in Jefferson County.  PyraMax will save an estimated $1 million per year in taxes – due to a recently-enacted law exempting manufacturing companies from energy sales taxes – and will receive employee training benefits from the State.  The company chose the site due to the benefits that Georgia offered, as well as the availability of kaolin -- a soft white clay used to make the pellets -- and assistance provided by State officials to complete the permitting process and secure contracts from natural gas and electricity companies.  Governor Deal said, “Now that Georgia knows that Jefferson County can make something happen, we look forward to future opportunities to work with other new industries like PyraMax Ceramics that the state of Georgia brings.”  Gov. Deal welcomes PyraMax Ceramics to GeorgiaAugusta Chronicle and Pellet plant bringing jobsGeorgia Public Broadcasting

VA – Governor Bob McDonnell has announced the approval by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission of a proposal from Gamesa Energy USA, in partnership with Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding, to build and install a prototype wind turbine in the Chesapeake Bay.  While Gamesa will use this project primarily to ensure optimal performance and reliability of its technology, the turbine will also produce five megawatts of clean, renewable wind power. In discussing the project in the context of his “all of the above” energy approach, Governor McDonnell said:  “This is an important next step in developing all of Virginia’s domestic energy resources to help power our nation’s economy and puts Virginia at the forefront of clean energy technology development.” The turbine will stand 479 feet tall and will be located about three miles off the coast near the town of Cape Charles on the Eastern Shore.  It is expected to be in service in 2013, which would make it the first offshore wind turbine in the country.  However, the project still needs the approval of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and review by the U.S. Coast Guard.  State approves construction of bay wind turbineLuray Page Free Press

National News

Ten Federal agencies and five U.S. States have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) creating the Great Lakes Offshore Wind Energy Consortium that will help coordinate permitting processes and expedite the development of wind power off the coasts of those states.  The MOU, which is modeled after a similar agreement involving Atlantic coast states, was signed by Governors from Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, and Pennsylvania as well as the U.S. Departments of Energy, Defense, and the U.S. Army, among other Federal agencies.  Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, another signatory, said the goal of the MOU “is to cut through red tape” in order to “create jobs and reduce pollution.”  Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett said, “This agreement will enable states to work together to ensure that any proposed offshore wind projects are reviewed in a consistent manner, and that the various State and Federal agencies involved collaborate and coordinate their reviews.”  Feds, 5 states to push for Great Lakes wind farmsAlbert Lea Tribune

U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar has announced that companies will be allowed to perform seismic mapping surveys off the Atlantic coast between Delaware and Florida to determine the location and scope of offshore oil and gas reserves early next year.  The surveys could pave the way for expanded offshore drilling by providing oil and gas companies updated information they can use in deciding where to drill.  Seismic testing could also be used to determine the most suitable locations for wind turbines and other renewable energy projects, locate sand and gravel for restoring eroding coastal areas, and identify cultural artifacts such as historic sunken ships. Some environmental groups, including the Sierra Club’s Virginia chapter, objected to the surveys because of their concern that the requisite sonic booms emitted by air guns will harm marine life, including endangered species like whales.  Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell said the announcement is “a small step forward in the development of our offshore energy resources,” but also criticized the Obama administration for not allowing offshore oil exploration off the coast of Virginia last year.  Drilling off the Atlantic coast moves a step closerWashington Post

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a proposed rule that would limit the amount of greenhouse gases that new power plants can emit.  Existing plants are exempt from the rule, which requires plants to emit less than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour of energy produced.  The rule also allows new coal plants to begin operation and implement carbon restrictions later, as long as they meet the required limit on emissions on average over a 30-year period.  Newer natural gas-fired power plants generally meet the emissions limit, but coal-fired plants would need to use a method of lowering emissions such as carbon capture and sequestration, in order to comply with the proposed rule.  Most environmental groups expressed support for the rule, but some also want emission limitations applied to existing plans.  Republicans in Congress criticized the proposal and Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) indicated he would seek a Congressional Review Act vote to stop the rule before it is implemented.  EPA unveils green house gas standard for new power plants - Politico and For new generation of power plants, a new emission rule from the EPANew York Times

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Energy Update, October 7, 2011

October 7, 2011

In the States

GA – Governor Nathan Deal attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new $98 million factory in Gainesville, GA that will produce 16-ton gearboxes for wind turbines.  Governor Deal said that while Georgia is not an ideal place for generating electricity from the wind, “we certainly are pleased that we can be part of the process that will allow us to harness wind energy.”  The new factory, which will be operated by ZF Wind Power, and which Governor Deal described as representing “cutting-edge technology,” is expected to employ 250 workers and will be in full production mode next year.  ZF Wind Power plant opens in GainesvilleGainesville Times

KS – Governor Sam Brownback held an economic development summit this week that focused on generating and transmitting energy.  During the summit, an announcement was made of a new project that will become the State’s largest wind farm.  This 66,000 acre, $800 million facility, called Flat Ridge 2, will span four counties and create 419 megawatts of wind power, 500 construction jobs, and 30 operations jobs.  At the gathering, Governor Brownback said “I love wind energy.  It’s a fabulous industry that fits our State well.”  The Governor also said the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) is “key for the State of Kansas if we want to continue to develop wind energy.”  The summit’s agenda also included traditional energy production; Governor Brownback said that Kansas must create an “all of the above” portfolio, that the State “can’t walk away from any” type of energy production, and noted growth in oil and gas drilling and ethanol production.  Citing a need to reduce importation of energy resources, the Governor said “We need renewable energy.  We need coal.  We need oil and gas.  We're in the top 10 states in each of these fields, and we need to grow all of them.”  $800 million wind farm planned across 66,000 acres in KansasKansas City Star and Brownback brings heat to energy policy – Topeka Capital-Journal and Brownback asks energy industries to cooperate for growthWichita Eagle

MD – The solar energy industry in Maryland is growing rapidly – the amount of photovoltaic generating capacity installed in the second quarter was four times as much as the first quarter – due in part to State grants, tax breaks, a mandate for solar energy production, and innovative financing options from businesses.  The mandate, which requires an increasing amount of solar energy per year until 2022 when 2% of the State’s electricity must come from solar power, was cited by the Maryland Energy Administration’s director of energy market strategies, Kevin Lucas, as helping to create demand for solar panels.  In order to meet the 2022 mandate, 30 to 40 times more solar power must be harnessed than is currently produced.  Industry officials also cited the importance of a 30 percent federal tax credit,  local property tax breaks, and a State grant system that provides up to $10,000 to homeowners for installing a solar system paid for by the permits sold under a regional cap-and-trade system.  In addition, some companies are offering leasing options for solar systems, which allow consumers to pay little or no up-front costs, but benefit from lower electric bills and pay a monthly fee to the leasing company.  In the second quarter of this year, Maryland ranked eighth in the nation in solar installations, ahead of some sunnier states, and much higher than a few years ago when the State generated virtually no solar energy.  Solar home business shining in MarylandBaltimore Sun and Number of solar energy installations up in StateGazette.net

OH – Governor John Kasich recently held a two-day energy summit that brought together over 1,000 energy sector business leaders and government officials.  Part of Governor Kasich’s message to the summit was that “the pursuit of clean alternative, renewable, and advanced energy sources and their supportive technologies is the pursuit of the future, and our commitment to them shouldn’t waiver despite the fact that their costs aren’t yet where we want them to be.”  Governor Kasich also said that he does not support a full repeal of the State’s renewable energy standard (but would support some changes to it) and he would like to allow national oil and gas companies to develop fossil fuels from shale rock.  He described the potential shale development as an economic opportunity, saying, “if we do it right, Ohio’s new gas finds hold the potential to restore hope and prosperity to struggling regions of our State.”  Ohio Gov. John Kasich says he supports renewable energyCleveland Plain Dealer and Kasich talks of renewable energy’s value but hints at tweaking State rules – Columbus Dispatch

Regional News

Governors Robert Bentley of Alabama, Haley Barbour of Mississippi, and Bob McDonnell of Virginia all appeared at the Southern States Energy Board (SSEB) Governors Energy Summit to discuss regional and state energy issues.  Governor Bentley noted last year’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but said that while we should learn lessons from the spill, oil drilling should proceed.  Governor Bentley also said that “if we’re going to take the responsibility of having to clean up our coasts and having to lose money because of any spill, then we ought to be able to get money from” federal revenues collected from offshore energy production.  Governor Haley Barbour said that he would like to see a second nuclear power plant built in his State, saying “we don’t have ‘not in my backyard,’ we have ‘please, in my backyard.’”  Governor Bob McDonnell called for the federal government to allow more offshore oil drilling along the East Coast and also expressed support for more nuclear energy development.  Governor McDonnell said he believed in an all-of-the-above approach to energy development, including renewable energy, but focused his comments on coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear energy development.  While Governor McDonnell said he did not expect any major changes in Washington, he did say that the SSEB would entertain three proposed policy statements at the group’s annual meeting later this month that would urge the Obama administration to loosen current regulations to allow more offshore oil drilling.  Gov. Robert Bentley: Oil spill shows need for state revenue from drilling in federal watersAL.com and Gov. Haley Barbour: ‘We’d love to have another nuclear power plant’GulfLive.com and McDonnell blasts Obama at energy summitWashington Examiner and Governors asked to help revive offshore leasing at energy summitOil & Gas Journal

Federal News

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has committed to obtaining 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025 and expanded its funding for renewable energy from $400 million in 2006 to $1.2 billion in 2009.  This goal does not apply to vehicles operated in theaters of military operations such as tanks.  The Pentagon has offered economic and security concerns as reasons for the shift, but not environmental.  For every one dollar added to the price of a barrel of oil, DoD spends an additional $30 million per year, so diversifying energy sources is being employed as a cost containment strategy.  With regard to security issues, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, who says that renewable energy sources will make the Navy and Marines “better war fighters,” cited the statistic that one Marine is either wounded or killed for every 50 fuel convoys that supplies the war in Afghanistan.  When asked about greenhouse gas emissions, Secretary Mabus said “it’s a good byproduct, but it’s a byproduct.”  Not all fuel sources in the military will be cut equally or on the same schedule; for example, fossil fuel use in non-combat vehicles operated by the Navy and Marines will be cut 50 percent by 2015, but fuel consumption on ships will be cut by 15 percent by 2020.  Military spearheads clean-energy driveWashington Post

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