Contact Us

444 N. Capitol St. NW
Washington, DC 20001


Phone: 202-624-1478
Fax: 202-624-1475

Blog posts : "renewable"

Energy Update, May 4, 2012

May 4, 2012

In the States

CA – Governor Jerry Brown has signed an executive order requiring the State to cut energy use, water use, and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as purchase environmentally friendly products when economically feasible.  Starting in 2020, half of all buildings constructed by the government will be zero net energy.  Then in 2025, all new State buildings will be zero net energy.  Buildings over 10,000 square feet will be required to produce energy onsite using solar or wind, and obtain LEED Silver certification or higher.  By 2015, State agencies will be required to lower emissions and water use 10 percent below 2010 levels, and by 2020 they must cut 20 percent of emissions and water use.  Governor Brown said that the order will save the State money through energy savings and also create green jobs.  California Governor issues sweeping order to green governmentSustainableBusiness.com

Regional News

Governors Butch Otter of Idaho, Gary Herbert of Utah, and Matt Mead of Wyoming met in Salt Lake City, and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval participated by phone, to discuss issues common to states, including federal management of public lands and energy production.  "We want to have the Western states, Democrats and Republicans alike, to have as strong a voice in this country as possible," said Governor Mead.  Governor Hickenlooper of Colorado was scheduled to join the conference, but was unable to participate due to legislation that required his attention.  Governor Otter made the point that Western states fare better on federal regulatory issues when they weigh in, saying "When we have rules and regulations promulgated by a federal agency without that input, there is a problem."  Western governors discuss public lands, energyDaily Herald and Governors: Mountain West needs unified voice on land, energy and waterSalt Lake Tribune

National News

TransCanada, the company whose bid to build the Keystone XL pipeline was rejected last year by President Barack Obama, has reapplied for permits with the federal government.  The new route that the company is proposing would bypass the environmentally sensitive areas in Nebraska that were the cause of some of the opposition.  Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman has signed a bill that would allow the project to be reviewed at the State level prior to any prior to any federal action.  Some opponents claim that the new route would still cover an aquifer that supplies water to eight states, but the company contends that more than three years of environmental reviews, the longest process for any such pipeline in history.  Energy co. reapplies for Keystone XL oil pipelineCBS News

 

Go Back

Energy Update, April 20, 2012

April 20, 2012

In the States

AK – Governor Sean Parnell has called a special 30-day session of the State Legislature to address several matters, including tax incentives for oil production.  Both the Alaska House and Senate earlier considered legislation on this issue, but couldn’t reach agreement.  The Senate attempted in the regular session to overhaul current tax law but was unable to agree on how to address existing oil fields, and so provided incentives for only new fields. This approach was rejected by the House, which had passed its own package of incentives.  Governor Parnell said that he prefers a complete overhaul of the tax structure, including incentives for existing oil fields, because it would help speed up production from wells that are becoming less economically viable.  He estimated that the incentives could lead to an increase of 100,000 barrels per day in less than two years, while incentives for only new fields could take as long as 10 years to increase production.  Alaska Gov. Parnell introduces oil tax billFairbanks Daily News-Miner and Alaska Governor to introduce oil tax bill this weekFairbanks Daily News-Miner

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a consolidation and expansion of programs administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Long Island Power Authority, and the New York Power Authority, in an effort to double the amount of customer-sited solar energy production this year, and to quadruple that amount in 2013.  Governor Cuomo said that the NY-Sun Initiative “puts New York at the forefront of solar development and research, creating green jobs while containing energy costs for consumers.”  Part of the initiative involves the State’s Public Service Commission doubling funding for a program that provides incentives to homes and businesses to install solar panels on-site. These funds will be transferred from an existing program designed to subsidize larger renewable energy projects.  Other changes in the initiative include solar demonstration projects, expansion of research and development, an investment in cost-cutting strategies, a new program in which the Long Island Power Authority will install their solar panels on customers’ premises, and agencies working together to streamline the permitting and interconnection processes.  Governor Cuomo announces comprehensive NY-Sun Initiative to expand solar development in New YorkSaugerties Post Star and PSC approves doubling solar incentive fundsAlbany Times Union

VA – Governor Bob McDonnell has signed 13 energy bills into law that he says will help Virginia become “the energy capital of the East Coast.”  At a signing ceremony, Governor McDonnell said that the “legislative package strengthens and adds flexibility to the expansion of our energy infrastructure, which is a key component in attracting new economic development and jobs,” as well as expanding alternative energy.  Among the new laws are measures that would expand the production and use of natural gas, expand the definition, research, and use of renewable energy, improve electricity infrastructure, support energy efficiency, and convert the State’s fleet of automobiles to use alternative energy.  McDonnell signs energy billsAugusta Free Press and Gov. signs 13 energy billsCavalier Daily

National News

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a final rule on hydraulic fracturing, which will require companies using the process to capture natural gas to implement procedures to help mitigate negative environmental effects.  The most stringent regulations, which will require rig operators to use “green completions,” which capture smog-producing gases upon initially tapping a well, will not go into effect until 2015; the initial proposed regulation would have required a 60-day implementation.  Until 2015, drillers will need to burn off the gases rather than capture them.  The gas industry, which had argued that supplies required to implement the new regulations would not be available within 60 days, called the delay an “important adjustment” that would allow compliance.  Many existing wells already use the technology required by the new rules, which the EPA estimates will make companies up to $11 million per year since they will be able to sell gases they capture instead of burning or releasing them.  Obama issues first pollution rules for gas wells, offers delayBloomberg

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a three-month funding extension required to continue federal support for transportation projects that include roads, bridges, and transit systems.  Included in this version is language that would require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.  The pipeline is opposed by some environmentalists because the type of oil sent through it will generate more greenhouse gases than other types of oil; it is supported by unions because of the jobs it is expected to create and by others who believe it will lead to a reduced dependency on foreign oil.  The bill will now go to a conference committee to be reconciled with a bill passed by the Senate that does not include a provision on the Keystone pipeline.  President Barack Obama has vowed to veto the legislation if it includes a requirement to approve the pipeline.  House Republicans revive bid to advance Keystone pipelineBusinessWeek and House clears highway bill with Keystone pipeline mandate, thwarts Obama The Hill

 

Go Back

Energy Update, February 10, 2012

February 10, 2012

State of the State Addresses

Ten more Governors have given their State of the State addresses in the last two weeks, and the majority of them discussed energy issues, mostly in the context of attracting or retaining jobs in their respective states.  Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett noted the jobs available in natural gas production and said that he is working to attract a natural gas processing plant to the Commonwealth, while Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said that he would like to permanently abolish the tax on natural gas in order to boost his State’s ability to compete for jobs.  Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin called energy “the back bone of our economy” and said that an agreement Oklahoma entered into with nine other states would lead result in the State purchasing thousands of vehicles for its vehicle fleet each year, which would help support jobs in Oklahoma’s natural gas industry.  Ohio Governor John Kasich said that lower energy costs would promote business development. 

Some Governors expressed their belief that increasing renewable energy and reducing energy use are also important goals.  Governor Fallin asked the legislature to pass a bill that would reduce energy consumption in State buildings and higher education facilities 20 percent by 2020.  Governor Kasich proposed using waste heat as an energy source and said he supports greater use of renewable energy so long as it does not raise energy costs.  New Hampshire Governor John Lynch said that he supports renewable energy, including hydroelectric power, though he opposes a transmission line bringing hydroelectric power from Canada if it does not have sufficient local support.  Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley said he supports the work that has been done to build an offshore wind farm, and noted a settlement with an energy company that requires an investment in solar and wind energy. 

Governors also highlighted some of the advancements made on energy issues over the past year.  Governor Corbett said that natural gas development has lowered prices by 40 percent in the past year.  Governor Lynch noted that many residents and businesses have benefitted from the State’s energy-efficiency fund, new production of wind turbines and biomass plants, as well as successful business expansions under the State’s Green Launching Pad program.  Governor Quinn said that Illinois has the most wind turbines of any state and that universities and government facilities have been working together on creating energy-efficient batteries.

Links to all of the Governors’ addresses can be found at the State of the State Speeches Calendar on Stateline.org 

In the States

MO – Governor Jay Nixon has added his voice in support of a proposed 600-mile oil pipeline from Illinois to Oklahoma.  "We believe this proposal has tremendous potential to boost Missouri's economy, create construction jobs across our State and brighten America's energy future," Governor Nixon said.  Since the pipeline would not cross an international border, it does not need the same federal approvals as the proposed Keystone XL project.  Enbridge Inc., the Canadian company behind the pipeline, estimates that as many as 3,400 workers would be needed to build the pipeline and as many as 400 would be employed at related facilities like pump stations.  Missouri Governor backs plans for new pipelineCBS

UT – Governor Gary Herbert has announced an initiative that would ask residents and businesses to voluntarily reduce their emissions.  The Governor said that “All of us can do something to improve Utah’s air quality,” but that it should not be done with “the heavy hand of government.”  Currently, the initiative, known as Utah Clean Air Partnership, or U-CAIR, involves a website where visitors can sign a pledge to improve air quality by changing habits such as using a push lawn mower and keeping solvents in air-tight containers.  While environmental activists were hoping the initiative would mandatory requirements rather than recommendations, Governor Herbert said “I think it’s better to do this voluntarily.”  Governor announces clean air initiativeDeseret News

WV – Governor Earl Ray Tomblin criticized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a statement after it was announced that three of the State’s oldest and most polluting coal-fired power plants will be retired this year due in part to new EPA regulations limiting mercury and other toxic emissions.  In his statement, Governor Tomblin said, "I urge the EPA to respectfully and accurately review the entire impact of their decisions -- from environmental to economical -- because individuals, families, and communities are forever changed by their short-sighted decisions."  FirstEnergy, the company that owns the plants, said that 105 employees will be affected by the shutdown, but that some of these workers will be considered for positions at other plant locations.  FirstEnergy to snuff Albright, Rivesville, Willow Island plantsState Journal and EPA causes power company to close plantsLegal Newsline

National News

U.S. Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar said that his department is “moving full-steam ahead to accelerate the siting, leasing, and construction of new” offshore wind farms.  The agency within Interior that is responsible for offshore leases, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, has cleared the way for companies to bid for and lease parcels for wind farms in designated areas off the coasts of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey after an assessment from that agency concluded that the wind farms would have no significant socioeconomic or environmental effects.  Obama administration renews offshore wind power pushWall Street Journal MarketWatch

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has granted a license to The Southern Company to build two new nuclear reactors in Georgia, the first new start for a nuclear reactor since 1978.  The $14 billion project will be built at an existing nuclear facility near Augusta and will begin operating in 2016 or 2017.  New safety features will be incorporated into the design that should simplify emergency operations in the event of a malfunction, and the reactors will be built to withstand earthquakes and plane crashes.  Some anti-nuclear organizations oppose the new reactors because they believe that safety issues that surfaced in the recent Fukushima meltdown in Japan have note been adequately addressed.  The NRC voted 4-1in favor granting the license; the lone dissenter was the Commission’s chairman, Gregory Jaczko, who opposed the license on the basis that not all requested safety features may be in place before operations begin.  Federal regulators approve two nuclear reactors in GeorgiaNew York Times

Go Back

Energy Update, January 27, 2012

January 27, 2012

State of the State Addresses

Of the 30 Governors who have given their State of the State addresses this year, 17 have specifically discussed energy issues, much of the time in the context of job creation and retention.  California Governor Jerry Brown, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin said that renewable energy would bring green jobs to their states, while Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Alaska Governor Sean Parnell, and West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin each said that their states’ fossil fuel resources would bring more jobs.  Governor Tomblin praised recent oil, coal, and natural gas investments and the jobs they will bring while promising that “I will do everything in my power to make sure that West Virginia is positioned to take full advantage of this opportunity” to build an ethane cracker facility, which he said would bring thousands of manufacturing jobs.  Utah Governor Gary Herbert and Maine Governor Paul LePage said that new jobs would arise from low energy costs, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez said that the key to economic growth and environmental protection is “sensible, predictable regulations” on energy production, and Georgia Governor Nathan Deal proposed eliminating a sales tax on energy used for manufacturing as a way to retain their business.

In the face of the slow economic recovery, several Governors have proposed ideas that require no state funds or attract new private investment.  For example, Hawaii Governor Neal Abercrombie proposed legislation to incentivize companies to invest in energy infrastructure that would integrate more renewable energy into the grid, saying that “there is no legislation more critical to our future."  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed several new initiatives, including attracting $2 billion in private investment for grid infrastructure and a program to increase energy efficiency in State buildings to be paid for with savings in energy costs.  Utah Governor Gary Herbert proposed creating an “energy research triangle” that would pair universities and industry to research energy production technologies.  Maine Governor Paul LePage proposed lifting a restriction on the amount of hydroelectric power produced. 

Governors commonly reflect on the previous year in their State of the State addresses to evaluate the progress that has been made.  California Governor Jerry Brown said that his State’s goal of producing 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020 was ahead of schedule and that billions of private clean energy investments had been made.  Delaware Governor Jack Markell said that hundreds of jobs were created in his State last year due to upgrades and conversions of power plants to lower emissions.  Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick cited his State’s policies on renewable energy in discussing that industry’s seven percent growth in 2011.  Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin referenced signing an agreement with other states to work with automakers on converting their vehicle fleets to run on natural gas.  Governor Hickenlooper also noted an agreement between energy companies and environmental groups to disclose materials used in the hydraulic fracturing process.

Some Governors used their speeches to urge federal government action on energy issues.  Utah Governor Gary Herbert said that the federal government needed to continue working with the State on siting and permitting of energy development.  Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell called on President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress to accelerate the timetable for allowing oil and gas drilling off Virginia’s coast.  West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said that he would continue to fight against attempts to increase regulation of coal and other energy resources.

The State of the State addresses announced a range of other proposals, including:

  • Washington Governor Christine Gregoire proposing a $1.50-per-barrel tax on oil produced in Washington that would be used to improve infrastructure such as roads and bridges.
  • Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber stating that his administration will adopt a ten-year energy plan this year.
  • Maine Governor Paul LePage proposing giving ratepayers a choice of whether to purchase renewable or traditional energy.
  • Missouri Governor Jay Nixon stating his intention to work with farmers to improve their energy efficiency in order to make the State’s agriculture industry more competitive.
  • Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin proposing an increase in the amount of renewable energy required in the State’s renewable energy portfolio to 75% by 2032.

Links to all of the Governors’ addresses can be found at the State of the State Speeches Calendar on Stateline.org

National News

President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address included an overview of his energy agenda for 2012, which he began to unveil in more detail after his speech.  In his remarks, President Obama announced that he is opening 75 percent of potential offshore oil and gas reserves to development and opening enough federal land to renewable energy development to power 3 million homes.  The Defense Department will purchase much of that new renewable energy.  He also said that his administration would help develop domestic natural gas resources and separately called on Congress to pass legislation to provide production tax credits for renewable energy.  In addition, The President called for the disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing on federal lands and proposed providing energy-efficiency incentives to manufacturers.  Since the speech, President Obama has released a “blueprint” detailing these proposals, which he calls an “all-of-the-above strategy,” and has gone on a nationwide tour to promote it.  The blueprint includes a proposal to incentivize greater use of natural gas as a transportation fuel and calls for doubling the country’s clean energy output by 2035.  State of the Union Address TranscriptWhite House and Energy Blueprint Fact SheetWhite House and Obama pitches ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategyNational Public Radio

In the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels criticized the President for rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline proposal, which he said was “perfectly safe” and “would employ tens of thousands.”  Governor Daniels called for a free-market approach to energy, with lower taxes and fewer loopholes, fewer regulations, and maximizing domestic energy production.  He also characterized the President’s energy policies as “pro-poverty” for increasing consumers’ costs while not improving public health or the environment.  Full text of GOP’s State of the Union responseMcClatchy

President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address included an overview of his energy agenda for 2012, which he began to unveil in more detail after his speech.  In his remarks, President Obama announced that he is opening 75 percent of potential offshore oil and gas reserves to development and opening enough federal land to renewable energy development to power 3 million homes.  The Defense Department will purchase much of that new renewable energy.  He also said that his administration would help develop domestic natural gas resources and separately called on Congress to pass legislation to provide production tax credits for renewable energy.  In addition, The President called for the disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing on federal lands and proposed providing energy-efficiency incentives to manufacturers.  Since the speech, President Obama has released a “blueprint” detailing these proposals, which he calls an “all-of-the-above strategy,” and has gone on a nationwide tour to promote it.  The blueprint includes a proposal to incentivize greater use of natural gas as a transportation fuel and calls for doubling the country’s clean energy output by 2035.  State of the Union Address TranscriptWhite House and Energy Blueprint Fact SheetWhite House and Obama pitches ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategyNational Public Radio

In the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels criticized the President for rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline proposal, which he said was “perfectly safe” and “would employ tens of thousands.”  Governor Daniels called for a free-market approach to energy, with lower taxes and fewer loopholes, fewer regulations, and maximizing domestic energy production.  He also characterized the President’s energy policies as “pro-poverty” for increasing consumers’ costs while not improving public health or the environment.  Full text of GOP’s State of the Union responseMcClatchy

Go Back

Energy Update, August 12, 2011

August 12, 2011

In the States

IL – Governor Pat Quinn has signed a bill into law that paves the way for a coal gasification facility to be built in southern Illinois just miles from where coal will be mined for its operation.  The facility will convert coal into synthetic natural gas and remove and store more than 90% of carbon emissions.  At the bill signing, Governor Quinn said that the plant will “help revive the coal industry in southern Illinois while ensuring that Illinois remains a leader in the development of state-of-the-art clean energy facilities.”  The new law should also help to stabilize the price of the resulting natural gas, provide other consumer protections, and create over 1,600 jobs, 550 of which will be permanent.  Governor Quinn also recently signed other energy legislation, including a bill to study the potential for offshore wind energy in Lake Michigan, and another bill to allow counties to establish districts for wind farms.  Governor Quinn signs law to advance clean energy projectDecatur Tribune and Southern Illinois coal-gasification plant will bring hundreds of jobsEvansville Courier-Press and Quinn signs bill to study offshore wind energyChicago Tribune

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill into law that will change the way power plants are built, the oversight of smaller energy development projects, and the manner by which energy efficiency projects are paid for by homeowners and businesses.  The new law reinstates a process for approving new power plants that had expired in 2003. Governor Cuomo said this streamlined process will provide a “faster, easier, more expeditious, and more predictable” way to approve new plants.  This approval process will apply to all fuel types, traditional as well as renewable.  The new law also creates a seven-person board to oversee development of all power plants over 25 megawatts in size; a previous law only required State oversight of plants over 60 megawatts in size, leaving local communities to oversee those projects, which can include wind farms and battery storage facilities.  Under the new law, homeowners and businesses will also be able to finance energy-efficiency projects through additional payments on utility bills.  The law has the support of the power industry, environmental groups, and consumer groups.  Gov. Cuomo approves power plant siting billIthaca Journal

PA – As the debate over whether to impose a tax or fee on gas retrieved from the Marcellus shale continues, Governor Tom Corbett has offered a potential solution to the question of what to do with the potential revenues, which may impact lawmakers’ decisions on the matter.  Governor Corbett has suggested using some of the revenues to cap the more than 100,000 abandoned shallow wells, some of which date back to the mid-1800s, and which can lead to a range of consequences, including the leaking of new wells the explosion of nearby buildings.  Currently no funding exists to properly cap the aging wells, many of which do not currently have a known or fiscally solvent owner.  The proposal has been endorsed by both drilling companies and the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.  Corbett: Shale gas fee could cap wellsPittsburgh Tribune-Review

National News

The Obama administration has unveiled new rules that will, for the first time, require heavy-duty trucks and buses, including tractor trailers, to comply with fuel efficiency and emissions control guidelines that will cut fuel use 23% below 2010 levels by 2018.  U.S. officials estimate that the new regulations will increase the cost of a new tractor trailer by over $6,000, but will save the owner an estimated $73,000 over the life of the vehicle in reduced fuel costs.  The new regulations were issued jointly by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and were welcomed by engine manufacturers, the trucking industry, and environmental groups, who all appear to agree that the rules allow sufficient time for full compliance while effectively reducing greenhouse gas emissions and save money on fuel.  Fuel efficiency rules set for heavy-duty trucks and busesWashington Post

The U.S. Army is aiming for a target of 25% of its electricity use to come from renewable sources by 2025.  In an effort to achieve this goal, the Army will spend as much as $7.1 billion through a task force that will work with developers to build renewable energy power plants that will produce about 10 megawatts each at bases in the U.S.  Army Secretary John McHugh said that the renewable energy goal is “the right thing to do for the environment in this era of diminishing resources and the right thing to do for federal taxpayers.”  Army forms unit to manage development of renewable power plantsBloomberg

 

Go Back

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

 

Go Back

Energy Update, July 1, 2011

July 1, 2011

In the States

CA – The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has postponed full implementation of the State’s cap-and-trade system for one year, until 2013, though ARB Chairwoman Mary Nichols maintains the State will still be on track to meet the underlying law’s emissions goal:  reducing GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.  The law was originally supposed to take effect at the beginning of 2012.  "We will be testing the system, doing simulation models, but no one will be held accountable during that year for compliance," Nichols said. "But at the end of 2014, people will still be where they would have been if the program had started." She also indicated that Governor Jerry Brown did not involve himself in the Board’s decisions.  A judge ruled in March that the State had not adequately analyzed alternatives to the cap-and-trade program before requiring its implementation, as required by California’s Environmental Qualify Act, but an appeals court has since ruled the State can move forward while the appeal is being heard.   California delays its carbon trading program for a yearLos Angeles Times and California delays cap-and-trade auctions, citing potential gamingNew York Times

FL – Governor Rick Scott has proposed developing a new State energy policy that would encourage renewable energy, but also would also address other issues such as offshore drilling and clean coal.  He also wants the Public Service Commission to lower requirements for utilities to conserve more electricity through consumer rewards and incentives.  The Governor has said that he wants to attract manufacturing jobs to the State and that doing so would require lower energy costs.  While one of the State’s utilities estimated that a plan in place to lower energy usage would cost the average residential consumers an additional $13.20 per month over nine years, the Governor is looking for alternative approaches for meeting Florida’s energy needs. In a meeting with energy stakeholders, Mary Anne Carter, Governor Scott’s chief advisor said, “The Governor is a big proponent of renewable energy.”  The Governor, however, also prefers allowing free-market forces to determine the type and amount of renewable energy use rather that favoring a single type of producer or driving the market through a renewable standard set by the State.  Scott calls for reducing energy-saving rebatesSunSentinel and Scott wants to reduce energy efficiency rules and push cost-effective renewablesMiami Herald

GA – Governor Nathan Deal has ordered that a scheduled increase in the State’s gasoline tax from 20.4 cents per gallon to 22 cents per gallon that was to take effect on July 1 be suspended until the end of the year.  The legislature will need to finalize the decision, but the Governor’s plan has the support of the State House Speaker.  Governor Deal cited gasoline’s “escalating costs in 2011” in his announcement of the freeze, and said that the move should save consumers $40 million in the coming months.  Governor freezes gas tax Atlanta Journal Constitution

NV – Governor Brian Sandoval has vetoed a renewable energy bill because of a provision added on the legislature’s last day that would have increased electricity rates to pay for a transmission line that would be used to export power from the State.  The bill would have allowed a single utility, NV Energy, to bypass the normal approval process for this project, which critics contended would have cost as much as $1 billion.  The utility would have been able to send renewable energy power to other States with renewable energy standards, including California and Arizona.  Governor Sandoval said that any potential rate hike “would result in the imposition of an unnecessary and unfair burden on our recovery.”  The project may still move forward without the bill, as other companies have also expressed interest in building the transmission lines.  Governor vetoes controversial last-minute energy billLas Vegas Sun

National News

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court threw out a lawsuit from brought by a group of States and environmental groups that, if successful, would have forced power plants to lower greenhouse gas emissions.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) already regulates greenhouse gas emissions from some large industrial plants and is planning to issue regulations to control power plant emissions next year.  While some members of Congress are seeking legislation to block the EPA from using the Clean Air Act to issue regulations further limiting greenhouse gas emissions, the plaintiffs in this case were seeking the right to require lower emissions more quickly through a lawsuit, which could have given federal judges a role in overseeing emissions standards, currently the authority of the EPA.  The court ruled that giving such power to judges is not consistent with the Clean Air Act and rejected the lawsuit, but said that the group could sue the EPA in federal court should they disagree with the agency’s rulemaking decision.  States cannot bypass EPA on power plant emissions, Justices ruleNew York Times and Supreme Court tosses lawsuit against utilitiesPolitico

 

Go Back

Energy Update, June 17, 2011

June 17, 2011

In the States

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill into law that will encourage businesses, farms, and schools to generate renewable energy onsite by allowing remote net metering.  Until the law was signed, renewable energy systems needed to be very close to the place where the energy was consumed and connected to the same meter in order to receive a credit from the utility.  Remote net metering will allow credits to be issued even if the source of electricity, like a solar array or wind turbine, is connected to a different meter than the one where electricity is consumed.  Now, non-residential facilities can create renewable energy farther away from energy consumption sites and still receive credits.  Governor Cuomo also announced that the State will spend $191 million on 17 projects through the renewable portfolio standard, which uses a surcharge on some utilities rates to fund renewable energy projects.  The projects will eventually produce enough clean energy to power 145,000 homes.  Cuomo signs net-metering bill, announces renewable energy projectsDemocrat and Chronicle

UT – Governor Gary Herbert visited the Sufco mine in Salina, Utah to express his wish to increase the use of coal in the future, saying that the fuel “certainly for the next generation, has a role to play.”  However, Governor Herbert also warned that the federal government may impose additional costs on carbon emission if the industry doesn’t “find cleaner ways to have affordable energy.”  During the Governor’s visit, which closely follows the release of his 10-year energy plan, he said “we ought to be burning more coal, but we ought to be concerned about the environment, too.”  Governor sees future deep in Utah coal mineSalt Lake Tribune

VA – Governor Bob McDonnell signed a bill into law at a ceremony in Richmond that will create a clean energy grant program to help fund companies that make or assemble renewable energy, nuclear energy, conservation, energy storage, or grid efficiency equipment.  In addition, the new law will create solar energy demonstration projects, raise a cap on the amount of energy homeowners and businesses can generate, and create a voluntary fund for solar energy development.  Another bill signed by the Governor will fund renewable energy products through the Virginia Resources Authority.  Governor McDonnell said that the renewable energy industry has “amazing potential” for economic development and energy independence and that creating incentives for its growth “makes great sense.”  Gov. Bob McDonnell promotes clean, renewable energy at ceremonial signingRoanoke Times

 

Go Back

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

 

Go Back

Energy Update, May 6, 2011

May 6, 2011

In the States

IA – In a speech to a renewable energy symposium, Governor Terry Branstad praised the wind energy industry in the State, saying that wind power could help achieve his stated goals of creating 200,000 jobs and increasing family income by 25 percent within five years.  The Governor also said “I think that Iowa has the potential to be the leader of renewable energy.” Branstad talks alternative energyDaily Iowan

MO – In the two years since Governor Jay Nixon signed an executive order requiring State agencies to use less energy, Missouri’s government has cut electricity use by 3% and propane and natural gas use by 15%.  Following the Governor’s executive order, agencies replaced windows, upgraded lighting, and adjusted thermostats.  The overall cut in energy usage by State agencies was 5.5 percent.  Mo. Gov. says State cut energy use by 5.5 percentBloomberg BusinessWeek

NH – Governor John Lynch, in a press conference with U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu and University of New Hampshire President Mark Huddleston, announced the six companies that won a second round of funding from the State’s Green Launching Pad, which provides federal stimulus funds to clean energy companies in an effort to foster innovative energy technologies and create more jobs.  Companies receiving the funds focus on a range of technologies, including clean energy storage, and hydroelectric and solar power.  Governor Lynch called the first round of the project “a tremendous success,” and that he is “focused on making sure that we are growing the jobs and companies of the future right here in New Hampshire” through the Green Launching Pad.  Green Launching Pad winners announcedNew Hampshire Business Review and ‘Green’ firms in Granite State get helpNashua Telegraph

WA – Governor Christine Gregoire has signed a bill that will phase out the State’s only existing coal-fired power plant and ban coal plants from the State in the future.  Under the new law, the plant’s owner, TransAlta, must take one boiler at the power plant offline by 2020 and the other by 2025, and establish a $30 million fund for economic development in the county that houses the plant.  TransAlta’s CEO, Steve Snyder, said the company plans to build a new gas-fired plant that will open by 2020.  TransAlta may also build a wind farm elsewhere in the State and does not plan to eliminate any jobs during the transition.  At the bill signing, Governor Gregoire said “Coal power was a part of our past.  Our prosperity now depends on our ability to move forward with a clean energy future.”  In Centralia, Gov. Gregoire signs bill that ends TransAlta’s coal use by 2025Olympian

WY – During a speech at an energy development conference, Governor Matt Mead said that rising oil prices are “a tax on all of us” and that the profitable extraction of energy resources in Wyoming is essential to furthering clean energy goals.  Governor Mead said that energy development is vital to the State’s economy, but that it can be done without degrading the environment, saying “we want a clean environment, we want energy development, and those two are not mutually exclusive.”  The Governor also said that “there’s just no question” that development must be done “in a timely and efficient manner.”  Wyoming Governor Mead insists energy can be developed safely, quicklyStar-Tribune

 

Go Back

Energy Update, April 22, 2011

April 22, 2011

In the States

CA – Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the country’s strongest renewable energy standard that will require electric utilities in the State to generate 33 percent of their electricity from renewable sources in less than nine years.  Although the new law limits the amount of rate hikes due to the new requirements, opponents of the measure cite studies showing that rates may increase by 7-19 percent.  The Governor cited reliance on foreign oil, economic instability, and climate issues in expressing his support for the law while other supporters said it would keep investment strong in the renewable energy industry.  Calif. sets nation’s most aggressive goal for renewable energy as critics say rates will soarWashington Post

OK – Governor Mary Fallin has signed a new law that will expand the allowed length of horizontal drilling into shale reservoirs, easing investment costs for companies to drill for oil and natural gas.  Proponents said that the new law allows for increased production while protecting mineral owners’ rights, and modernizes regulations to account for technological advances that have made it possible to extend drilling longer than was previously possible.  Drilling bill modernizes state oil and gas statutesEnid News & Eagle and Oklahoma’s Gov. Mary Fallin signs energy reform billThe Oklahoman

OR –  Speaking at a conference on the future of energy, Governor John Kitzhaber announced he is developing a 10-year plan for Oregon that will emphasize renewable energy as a way to rebuild the State’s post-recession economy.  During his remarks, one example he cited was the possibility of retrofitting homes with energy-saving materials as a way to replace economic activity previously generated by the housing construction industry.  He also said that he and Governor Christine Gregoire of Washington State had recently discussed forming a three-state coalition with California focused on creating green energy jobs and reducing carbon emissions.  Kitzhaber says it's time for a 10-year plan on clean energy in Oregon – The Oregonian

National News

The U.S. Departments of Energy and Agriculture have announced $30 million in spending on projects that will support research and development in advanced biofuels, much of which will be in rural areas in the Midwest.  These funds come from the Biomass Research and Development Initiative and could help rural communities become less reliant on fossil fuels.  They will now be able to produce much of the fuel they use for heating and electricity locally, lessening dependence on foreign oil.  The home-grown fuel can also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, since burning biomass creates no more pollution that the decomposition process that occurs naturally.  U.S. expands seeding of biomassNew York Times

The U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Duke Energy and the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit utility consortium, to test its first electricity-related invention.  The new product is an energy storage device that may allow electric power generated by wind turbines to be stored and then used when needed.  It may also have applicability to solar power.  Electric power would be used to pump air into an underground cavern.  When more energy is needed, this compressed air would flow through a generator, at 70-75% efficiency.  ARPA-E provided $750,000 to General Compression, the company that makes the device, which then attracted $12 million in private investments.  ARPA-E is poised to put products on the gridNew York Times

The U.S. Supreme Court appears likely to dismiss a case in which six States are suing five energy companies to limit their greenhouse gas emissions.  While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has begun regulating emissions from new and modified industrial sources, the States are seeking to apply Federal and State laws to regulate existing plants.  Justices listening to oral arguments in the case expressed skepticism about the States’ claim that the costs and benefits of emissions standards can be evaluated by courts rather than determined through the regulatory process administered by federal agencies.  U.S. Supreme Court signals rejection of State climate-emissions lawsuitsBloomberg

Three U.S. States – New York, Minnesota, and California – have joined with 11 utility companies and two environmental groups as a coalition to ask the U.S. EPA to allow States to choose the best approach for meeting federal greenhouse gas emissions standards.  Specifically, the coalition seeks permission to regulate greenhouse gases through existing regional or statewide cap-and-trade programs or renewable energy standards as an alternative to plant-specific limitations.  Some power companies that use more fossil fuels than those taking part in the coalition did not join and are continuing to raise general objections to new restrictions on plant emissions.  States, utilities ask EPA to boost regional cap-and-trade programs

 

Go Back

Energy Update, March 25, 2011

March 25, 2011

In the States

AR – In delivering the keynote address to a wind power workshop in Little Rock, Governor Mike Beebe said that States’ investments in wind energy would create jobs, improve the environment, and strengthen national security and made a case for States to increase wind energy production.  Governor Beebe said that while Arkansas may not be the ideal candidate for wind farms compared to the rest of the country, it can still be involved through manufacturing wind power products.  Mike Beebe: Wind energy important to Arkansas jobs, economyArkansas Business

UT – After consulting with academic, industrial, environmental, and governmental experts, as well as receiving public input, Governor Gary Herbert issued a 10-year energy plan for Utah.  Among the goals Governor Herbert set in the plan are “a balanced use of fossil fuels and alternatives and renewable resources” that also balances economic and environmental interests, promotes energy efficiency, and increases partnerships with universities and communities to “address future energy challenges and opportunities.”  The Governor’s plan also calls for seriously debating the use of nuclear energy in the State as a way to provide baseload energy capacity.  Gov. Gary Herbert’s energy plan includes nuclearDeseret News and Energy Initiatives and Imperatives: Utah’s 10-Year Strategic Energy Plan [pdf]Governor Gary Herbert

WY – Governor Matt Mead applauded the leasing of federal land to mining companies for the extraction of up to 750 million tons of coal during a news conference with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.  The leases are estimated to be worth between $13.4 billion and $21.3 billion in revenue, with roughly half this amount going to the State.  More than a dozen similar leases will be granted over the next three years.  Governor Mead said “We need the energy.  We need the jobs that come with the energy.”  Federal lands in Wyoming opened to coal miningNew York Times

Nuclear Power

The nuclear crisis in Japan that followed the devastating earthquake and tsunami has brought renewed scrutiny of the use and expansion of nuclear energy industry in the United States.  For example, spent fuel located in the Japanese plant overheated, causing some government officials here in the U.S. to renew calls for the opening of Yucca Mountain, the federally designated nuclear waste storage facility, or another similar site.  Massachusetts State Attorney General Martha Coakley and Senate President Therese Murray wrote in a letter to federal Energy Department officials that "the events in Japan show that a breach can occur," and called for a central nuclear repository.  Former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and current member of a panel advising the Obama on nuclear waste storage, Richard Meserve, said that "There may be some things about the vulnerability of spent fuel pools that will be learned as a result of the Japanese accident that will cause us to rethink what we do in the U.S."  Storage of nuclear waster gets new scrutinyWall Street Journal

Additionally, the push for more nuclear power may face new obstacles due to the issues raised by the current nuclear crisis in Japan.  While President Barack Obama has not backed down from seeking $36 billion in loan guarantees for nuclear plants, and his Energy Department says that nuclear is a “low-cost, carbon-free” fuel that will spur job growth and protect the environment, the industry, its backers, and pro-environment groups are preparing for a long battle over the future role of nuclear power in the United States.  Lobbyists’ long effort to revive nuclear industry faces new testNew York Times

EPA Regulations

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson has proposed rules that would drastically cut the amount of toxic emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants.  The plan to reduce mercury, acid gas, sulfur dioxide, and 81 other pollutants has been delayed for 20 years, and if approved, would still not take effect for five more years.  Affected plants would need to utilize a variety of methods to reduce the emissions, which are expected to cost a total of $10.9 billion per year nationwide, or about $3 – $4 per month per electric bill.  EPA estimates that as many as 17,000 deaths, an additional 11,000 heart attacks, and 120,000 cases of asthma per year would be prevented every year under the new rules.  EPA proposes toxic emissions rules for power plantsNew York Times

 

Go Back

Energy Update, January 31, 2011

January 31, 2011

In the States

MN – Several bills have been drafted that would repeal, to differing degrees, a 2007 bipartisan law that bans new coal-fired power plants and the importing of coal-powered electricity until carbon offsets or a plan to lower emissions are in place.  Sponsors are saying that the law places unnecessary burdens on industry, slowing economic recovery once the recession is over.  Governor Mark Dayton has not said yet indicated whether he will veto any particular repeal bill, but he did campaign in part on maintaining a moratorium on new nuclear power plants that is a part of the same law.  Minn. Republicans hope to undo clean energy policiesMinnesota Public Radio

NM – A State Supreme Court ruling has reversed an order by Governor Susana Martinez that blocked publication of regulations aimed at reducing emissions from utilities and dairies within the State.  One of the regulations requires a three percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions every year.  The Court ruled that the regulations must be published in the State’s register, but opponents of the regulations plan to work with the Governor and the State legislature to change the rules.  Court reverses New Mexico Governor on environmental rulesNew York Times

State of the State Addresses

While approximately half of the Governors have given their State of the State or State of the Commonwealth addresses, the realities imposed by the financial downturn caused most Governors to focus their speeches on addressing fiscal difficulties and job creation rather than energy issues.  Still, some Governors incorporated energy plans tied to job creation and retention.

Several Governors cited recent energy business investments that would help lead their States to better fiscal times, including South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, and Delaware Governor Jack Markell, all of whom who noted recent increased renewable energy investments or improvements.  Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said that Nordic Windpower USA’s new plant will create 200 jobs, and proposed to create more through the construction of a new nuclear power plant.  Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour noted several investments in his State, including coal, oil, nuclear, LNG, solar, ethanol, coal-to-liquids, and carbon capture projects. 

A few Governors called for increased domestic renewable energy production.  For example, Hawaii Governor Neal Abercrombie expressed support for accelerating renewable energy projects in his State, and improving Hawaii’s energy security.  Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval called for more renewables on federal lands, saying, “I support all efforts to make Nevada the renewable energy capital of the country.” 

Some Governors discussed a mix of fossil fuels and renewable energy resources available to their states.  Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell said he hoped to make Virginia the “Energy Capital of the East Coast” by investing, in part, in solar, wind, waste-to-energy, and biomass, and promoting offshore wind by leasing offshore parcels for wind energy production and serving as headquarters for the Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Consortium.  But he also called for increasing oil, coal, gas, and nuclear energy production.  While Alaska Governor Sean Parnell said that investments in hydroelectric power and renewable energy grants in his State would create jobs and help the State meet his goal of 50% renewable power by 2025, he also wants to lower taxes on oil production in order to create more jobs.  Wyoming Governor Matt Mead discussed “value-added” projects such as combing wind power with gas-fired turbines, as well the manufacturing of wind turbine components.  In addition, he supports continued use of coal while making it a cleaner fuel through carbon capture and sequestration, and also advocates greater use of carbon injection technologies for enhanced oil extraction, as well as coal gasification.  

In discussing his State’s abundant fossil fuel resources, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said he will aggressively pursue the State’s lawsuit against the U.S. EPA over mountaintop removal regulations, and that he supports development of the Marcellus Shale in West Virginia and carbon capture and sequestration.  

Links to all of the Governors’ addresses can be found at the State of the State Speeches Calendar on Stateline.org

National News

President Barack Obama gave his annual State of the Union speech to Congress last week, during which he issued a challenge of producing 80% of electricity from clean energy sources by 2035.  President Obama said that all forms of energy production are needed to meet this goal, and mentioned nuclear power, clean coal, and natural gas in addition to wind and solar.  U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, who gave the Republican response to the State of the Union, emphasized the need for less government spending and a more limited government rather than new investments.  Several high-ranking Democrats expressed support for the idea of a broader clean energy mandate while most Republicans remained skeptical about incentivizing one energy type over another or imposing mandates on the private sector.  Senators laud “clean energy” pushPolitico and State of the Union (Transcript)White House and State of the Union Response (Transcript)House Budget Committee

According to a new report commissioned by the federal government as required in the 2009 Defense Authorization Act, the United States military would not receive any significant benefit from greater use of alternative fuels.  The study, performed by the RAND Corporation, said that focusing on energy efficiency would have a greater impact on lowering greenhouse gases.  The report received criticism from Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy for the Navy Thomas W. Hicks, who said he was not consulted by RAND, and that the report ignores energy security issues, and from environmental groups, biofuels proponents, the Algal Biomass Organization, and others.  RAND says that while the military is a major consumer of liquid fuels, it still only uses two percent of the country’s daily intake, and since some biofuels are still in their infancy, the money spent on alternative fuels in the military would have a small effect on greenhouse gas emissions.  Alternative fuels don’t benefit the military, a RAND report saysNew York Times

 

Go Back

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

Go Back

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

Go Back

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

Go Back

Energy Update, June 18, 2010

June 18, 2010

In the States

AK – Governor Sean Parnell has signed two energy bills designed to spell out how Alaska will obtain energy in the coming years.  One new law mandates that the State obtain 50% of its electricity from renewable sources within 15 years.  The other law promotes energy efficiency through the creation of an Energy Efficiency Revolving Loan Fund and a requirement that the least efficient 25% of State buildings undergo weatherization.  The new law also requires that State Transportation Department vehicles be powered by compressed natural gas and contains some incentives for non-renewable resources as well.  State goal: 50 percent renewable energy sources by 2025KTVA TV  

CO – Governor Bill Ritter signed The Community Solar Gardens Act, which allows groups of individuals, who may not be able to install solar panels on their rooftops, to collectively own a solar array, enabling them to tap into potential benefits from the State's net-metering laws and tariffs.  The amount they will be paid will depend upon the size of their ownership shares of the solar garden, the performance of the solar array, and their own monthly electricity usage.  Washington, Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts already have laws on the books to support community solar energy and Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) is sponsoring a community solar bill in the US Senate.  Colorado Governor signs community solar gardens act into law  – Ecopolitology (blog)

OH – Governor Ted Strickland has signed an energy bill that will provide tax breaks to companies that produce renewable energy and jobs in Ohio.  To qualify, companies must begin construction before 2012 and produce energy by 2013 or 2017, depending on the type of energy produced.  Counties have the option to decide whether to cooperate in relieving energy businesses from the tangible personal property tax, which could affect whether renewable energy companies invest in particular areas.  Ohio Governor to sign advanced energy tax billUSA Today and Gov. Strickland signs wind energy bill into lawTimes Bulletin   

Regional and National News

The primary elections currently taking place around the country could profoundly affect the outcome of deliberation over federal climate change legislation.  To date, many of the Democratic and Republican primary winners have staunchly opposed cap-and-trade measures at the State and federal level.  If a climate bill is not passed in this Congress, a new set of Senators, elected in part through these primaries, will have the opportunity to influence the direction of any such legislation.  Similarly, the primaries will determine gubernatorial candidates who will not only help to shape State policies affecting the future use of fossil fuels and alternative energy, but who also will be making their views known to policymakers in Washington.  Climate bubbles below the surface of primary winsNew York Times

President Barack Obama addressed the nation on June 15 on the subject of the BP oil spill, now in its ninth week, as well as potential energy and climate change legislation.  The President did not specifically lay out his administration’s agenda on cap-and-trade or other controversial energy measures, opting instead to focus on the need to act and to consider all proposals.  The lack of specifics has left the fate of energy legislation without real direction.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said he is unsure of which energy legislation to move forward, while other Senators used the occasion to promote their or others’ energy bills or rally behind or criticize the President.  With regard to how to best regulate greenhouse gas emissions, there is little cohesion among Senators, including within the Democratic caucus, with arguments ranging from legislation with no climate change measures, to only regulating power plants, to regulating many sources of pollution such as transportation.  President Obama speech has energy bill in limboPolitico and President Obama’s Oval Office address on BP oil spill & energyThe White House

As electric cars gain in popularity and two major auto manufacturers, General Motors and Nissan, plan to release plug-in models later this year, federal regulators are struggling to determine a definition of auto efficiency for these non-gasoline powered vehicles.  Mike Duoba, a research engineer at Argonne National Laboratory, said, "The language we have been speaking -- mpg -- isn't sophisticated enough."  The onset of electric vehicles "will require new metrics to effectively convey information to consumers," according to an EPA statement, though researchers predict it will be difficult to find one measurement to convey a car’s efficiency in terms of both electricity and gas without making too many  assumptions about consumer driving habits.  The new metrics are expected to change the way fuel-economy estimates are calculated and displayed and will shape consumer choices that, in the aggregate, could profoundly affect smog and carbon emissions.  The EPA is scheduled to propose a rule by August.  More electric cars means finding new standards to measure fuel efficiency – The Washington Post

Go Back

Energy Update, June 4, 2010

June 4, 2010

In the States

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

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

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

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

Regional and National News

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

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

Go Back

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.

Go Back

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

Go Back

20 blog posts