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Energy Update, September 9, 2011

September 9, 2011

In the States

GA – Governor Nathan Deal has written a letter to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in support of a $14 billion nuclear power plant planned for his State.  The Commission will meet on September 27th to decide whether to approve the project, which would be the first new U.S. nuclear power plant in a generation.  Governor Deal said that the plant would create jobs and increase and diversify the State’s energy supply to meet the needs of a growing population.  Ga. Gov. Deal supports new nuclear plant – Spartanburg Herald Journal

NH – New Hampshire’s Senate failed to override Governor John Lynch’s veto of a withdrawal from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the Northeast’s regional cap-and-trade program.  The repeal passed the legislature and was vetoed by Governor Lynch, but it fell just one vote short of the two-thirds majority required to override the veto. Earlier in the year, the Senate proposed a reform bill that the House rejected in favor of an outright repeal bill.  RGGI supporters claimed that maintaining membership in the program is a national security issue because of the large sums of money being sent to hostile foreign countries for energy imports and political instability caused by global warming.   They also argued that a withdrawal would only eliminate the State’s income from the sale of tax credits, not the higher electricity rates resulting from the initiative.  Those favoring a veto described the cap and trade program as an “income redistribution ploy” and the House leadership pledged to bring back a new repeal bill next year.  State upholds Lynch veto blocking RGGI repeal – New Hampshire Union Leader

Federal News

The U.S. Energy Department has announced that it will guarantee, in part, a $344 million loan to SolarCity, which will use the funds to double the amount of rooftop solar energy in the United States.  As many as 160,000 rooftops of military housing developments in 33 states will be fitted with solar panels that will be installed, owned, and operated by SolarCity, generating as much as 371 megawatts of electricity.  The guarantee is expected to significantly lower capital costs.  DOE to offer loan guarantee for solar rooftop project – Washington Post

According to an audit by the U.S. Energy Department, nearly one in three dollars authorized by federal stimulus legislation for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants (EECBG) has not been spent.  As of last month, $879 million of those funds remained unspent and another $500 million had been committed by state and local governments, but had not been fully expended.  The Energy Department acknowledged that the money was slow to get to projects, but that they had made significant progress in the past year: just $270 million was spent at this time in 2010 compared to $1.4 billion this year.  The Department also says that the grants have created 5,400 jobs.  But the Inspector General for the Department, who released the report, said that the slow pace of spending is counter to the purpose of the stimulus funding, and that if the money is not spent soon, it should be returned to the Treasury.  Energy Department audit says nearly $900M for efficiency grants to states, cities, goes unspent – Washington Post

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Energy Update, July 15, 2011

July 15, 2011

In the States

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

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

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

Regional News

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

National News

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

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

 

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Energy Update, June 3, 2011

June 3, 2011

In the States

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

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

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

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

National News

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

 

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Energy Update, February 11, 2011

February 11, 2011

In the States

MO – The Missouri legislature has passed legislation that keeps the voter-approved requirement that 15% of Missouri’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2021, but eliminates the requirement that utilities purchase energy from producers located in the state or directly from sources outside Missouri.  Governor Jay Nixon has not commented on whether he will sign or veto the measure, which would allow utilities to instead purchase renewable energy “credits” rather than require them to obtain energy from renewable projects.  Proponents of the bill say that loosening restrictions gives utilities greater flexibility to meet the renewable standard, while opponents say the legislation will result in the same rates for electricity, but none of the environmental or economic benefits from requiring the utilities to obtain a portion of their power generation from renewable sources.  Missouri General Assembly kills two rules on renewable energy sourcesKansas City Star

NH – Governor John Lynch has written a letter in opposition to a bill in the New Hampshire State House that would end the State’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the Northeast’s cap-and-trade system.  The bill, which was introduced in the House Committee on Science, Technology, and Energy, says that the permits required by RGGI have “increased consumer costs for electricity, fuel, and food.”  Governor Lynch wrote that prices would not fall after withdrawing from the program since rates are set regionally, but that the State would lose all income from the sale of the permits, about $12 million per year.  New Hampshire Governor backs Northeast’s carbon dioxide marketBloomberg and Governor Lynch opposes RGGI repealOffice of Governor John Lynch

WI – Legislators will not take up a bill proposed by Governor Scott Walker that would have increased property setback requirements where wind turbines are built.  However, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules is holding a hearing on a rule that would allow property owners to build wind turbines only 1,250 feet from their property line, as previously proposed by the State’s Public Service Commission.  This rule could either move forward or be blocked by a vote of the legislature.  Governor Walker’s bill proposed that turbines be set back by at least 1,800 feet and he has said he wants “to see the wind industry, like every other industry, be effective here in the state of Wisconsin,” but that promoting this industry must also be balanced with property rights.  Legislature won’t take up Walker’s wind-siting billMilwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Some States, facing record deficits for the past few years, are seeking to ensure that no revenue is lost due to technological and environmental advances.  Since owners of electric cars use the same roads as gas-powered cars, but do not pay a gas tax that funds those roads, lawmakers in Oregon and Washington have introduced legislation that would charge drivers of electric vehicles either a flat fee or a mileage tax in order to make up for this lost revenue.  Oregon’s bill would impose a per-mile tax of 0.6 cents or about $90 per 15,000 miles driven (about the equivalent of the gas taxes paid for a hybrid), while the bill in Washington would impose a flat fee of $100 when registering an electric car with the State.  Proposal would charge drivers of electric carsRegister-Guard and Electric car owners might face $100 State feeSeattle Times

National News

In an effort to support President Obama’s stated goal of deriving 80% of electricity from renewable sources by 2035, the Departments of Energy and Interior released a joint plan to spur quick development of offshore wind farms, which includes up to $50.5 million of funding incentives.  The funding will be allocated over the next five years and split into three separate initiatives: developing better tools to study and implement offshore wind systems; improving the design of drivetrains inside wind turbines; and removing barriers to the marketplace.  The plan also identifies 911 square nautical miles off the coasts of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia that will undergo early environmental reviews to expedite the process of approving offshore wind development.  U.S. selects zones in four States to accelerate offshore wind energyBloomberg and Salazar, Chu announce major offshore wind initiativesEERE News

Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Lisa Jackson testified for more than two hours before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power, in part to defend her agency’s actions in regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.  Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY), who is sponsoring a draft bill that would revoke the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases, said that "Congress intends to reassert itself in the statutory and regulatory process at EPA and specifically the Clean Air Act."  Administrator Jackson said that the Clean Air Act and scientific evidence of global climate change compelled her agency to move forward with regulating greenhouse gases and that the proposed legislation “would eliminate portions of the landmark law that all American children and adults rely on to protect them from harmful air pollution." Global warming heats up Republican attacks on EPAWashington Post

 

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Energy Update, December 10, 2010

December 10, 2010

In the States

NC – A recent report by the National Wildlife Federation says that North Carolina has the greatest potential for wind energy of any Atlantic Coast State, which was welcome news to Governor Bev Perdue.  The Governor supports offshore wind development and would like to see one or two companies building turbines off the State’s coast in the next two years, provided “it can be developed cost-effectively and safely,” according to her spokeswoman.  The Governor also said that she still supports offshore oil drilling, so long as it is done safely, protects the State’s natural resources, and provides some revenue sharing.  Wind companies have already taken notice of the State and have applied for offshore leases that would allow construction of as many as 500 turbines offshore, enough to power up to 550,000 homes.  Drilling banned; eyes turn to windCharlotte Observer

VT – Governor-elect Peter Shumlin has written a letter to the Vice President of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant asking that the plant restart the process of extracting water contaminated with radioactive tritium from onsite wells.  A leak of the radioactive material was discovered a year ago, and the plant extracted the water in an effort to contain the material until November when the project ended.  One of the Governor-elect’s advisors, a nuclear engineer, is worried that tritium could reach the public’s water supply if more of the affected water is not extracted.  Shumlin urges Vermont Yankee to extract tainted waterBurlington Free Press

In the face of high unemployment and record deficits, States are turning to new revenue sources.  At least three States have used a portion of proceeds from the sale of carbon pollution credits under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)  to help balance their budgets.  The RGGI agreement binds States to use at least 25% of the proceeds for such programs as alternative energy, energy efficiency, and consumer benefits, and all States combined have applied about 80% to these purposes.  In New Jersey, where legislation has been introduced to withdraw from the RGGI, $65 million of carbon credit proceeds has been used to help fill the State’s budget gap.  If the RGGI program is eliminated, however, such funding will no longer be available.  States diverting money from climate initiativeNew York Times

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal of an Appeals Court ruling that allowed a suit brought by eight States and New York City against five coal-burning utilities to move forward.  In the suit, the States claim that the plants operated by the utilities are a “public nuisance” in that they contribute to global climate change.  The Obama Administration urged the Supreme Court to hear the appeal because it contends the States’ claim could interfere with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.  The utilities support the appeal, but for a different reason – they argue the matter should be addressed by Congress rather than the courts.  The States involved – California, Connecticut, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin – urged that the appeal be rejected.  Justices to rule on States’ emissions caseNew York Times

National News

The Obama Administration has postponed implementation of U.S. EPA regulations on emissions of ozone until July 2011 and of mercury and other pollutants until April 2012, citing the need for further study on the effects of the pollutants.  The rules would have affected several hundred cities and 200,000 industrial boilers, heaters, and incinerators.  Environmental groups voiced opposition to the rule delay, while manufacturers and Republican congressional leaders praised it, with some calling on the EPA to do away with the rules altogether.  EPA delays tougher rules on emissionsNew York Times

President Barack Obama has reinstated a ban on offshore oil drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico as well as the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.  Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar issued a statement on the ban citing the recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as a reminder to exercise caution when deciding whether or not to drill offshore.  News of the ban was welcomed by Florida Senator Ben Nelson and Environment America, but opposed by the oil industry.  Obama reinstates ban on offshore oil drillingTrade Only Today

The Republican Steering Committee has voted on who will chair the House committees in the 112th Congress.  The Energy and Commerce Committee will be chaired by Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan who favors an “all-of-the-above” approach to energy production and who has said he will scrutinize the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s plans to regulate greenhouse gases.  Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington State, who will be the next chair of the Natural Resources committee, supports increased domestic energy production and his party’s “all-of-the-above” energy position.  Rep. Upton expected to cross final hurdle to Energy gavel with GOP caucus vote todayNew York Times and Hastings loses bid to consolidate energy jurisdictionThe Hill

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Energy Update, July 10, 2009

July 10, 2009

In the States

CO – Governor Bill Ritter says that 150 green collar jobs will be created when construction begins on a new 6,000 acre wind farm.  The farm will produce three percent of the power utility Tri-State’s electric output, which is ahead of the company’s state government-mandated schedule to produce 10% of its power from renewable sources by 2020.  Tri-State announces sprawling wind farm near BurlingtonState Bill Colorado

KY – Governor Steve Beshear has announced a plan that would use federal stimulus funds to help grow the state’s burgeoning renewable energy and energy efficiency industry as well as deploy those technologies within the state.  The Governor has proposed using $52.5 million to create 600 jobs from energy efficiency activities and the development of clean technologies, including advanced transportation batteries.  His plan also includes establishing a loan fund for energy efficiency projects, exploring implementation of a smart grid, a program to help assess and improve home energy efficiency, new tools for increasing the energy efficiency of industrial and commercial facilities, and a program that will make schools more energy efficient while helping educate students about energy efficiency and conservation.  Governor Beshear also announced that Glendale, Kentucky has been chosen by NAATBatt, a consortium of 50 organizations and corporations, as the site for a $600 million facility to manufacture advanced lithium-ion batteries.  This advances Kentucky’s position as a hub for advanced energy technologies such as batteries and other alternative energy products.  A bevy of new business in the Bluegrass StateBusiness Facilities

NH – Fully 25% of the New Hampshire state government’s energy needs are now being met by wind power.  Governor John Lynch said the state, which has a goal of receiving 25% of all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025, is “leading by example” with a $4 million deal to deliver wind energy from around the country to its buildings.  New Hampshire has also established a green jobs initiative that will train workers and provide loans to businesses with RGGI pollution credit auctions and federal stimulus funds.  State signs wind power deal to boost alternative energy - New Hampshire Union Leader

Regional and National News

Up to 1,000 square miles in six Western states have been opened up for lease by the Interior Department for development of utility-scale solar energy.  The availability of the solar energy zones in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah should help spur new alternative energy investment and clears a bottleneck of applications that had previously overwhelmed the Department.  Six western states named solar-energy hotbedsChristian Science Monitor

The US Environmental Protection Agency has released a guide designed to help individual states save money on energy by implementing energy efficiency solutions.  The “Clean Energy Lead By Example Guide” was created by the EPA’s State Climate and Clean Energy Program and can help individual states identify potential strategies, resources, and tools for that state.  More information and the guide can be found here:  EPA’s clean energy guidebook targets statesEnvironmental Protection Online

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Energy Update, June 26, 2009

June 26, 2009

In the States

ME – Governor Baldacci has signed a new law that will establish a six-year pilot program that will allow individuals and groups to sell renewable power to the Public Utilities Commission at a fixed rate for up to 20 years, with the goal of encouraging small renewable energy projects.  The law also allows for energy to be bought in blocks by investors and consumers.  Baldacci signs law prompting smaller energyKennebec Journal

OR – The state’s legislature has passed some – but not all – of the energy-related legislation that was on the agenda for this session.  A bill that would create a low-carbon standard for fuel sold in Oregon has passed, but a bill that would guarantee that emissions will be 10% below 1990 levels by 2020 has not.  Some pending bills would reverse existing clean energy legislation, such as a bill that would decrease tax credits for alternative energy producers that easily passed the House, though Governor Kulongoski’s office has said that the Governor will not “allow any rollback.”  Many green-friendly bills don’t make the cut in OregonOregonian and Update: Bill to cut carbon emissions from gasoline, diesel fuel, gains approval - Oregonian

SD – South Dakota currently produces 237 megawatts of electricity with wind power and has some of the greatest potential for more, but only if transmission lines are upgraded to carry more alternative energy.  The state’s electricity grid has not been updated since the 1970s.  The Obama administration has designated $11 billion in stimulus funds to upgrade the nation’s electric grid and private companies have invested billions more to build the needed transmission lines.  While these improvements will allow more wind power to be created in South Dakota’s rural areas and used in populated centers, as well as lessen the chances for interruptions in the power supply, much more investment is needed to sufficiently expand transmission capacity.  Wind power blocked by ‘glass ceiling’Argus Leader

Regional and Federal News

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative completed its fourth auction, selling 30.8 million pollution allowances for $3.23 each for a total of $104 million.  The 10 states in the Initiative have so far sold over 110 million allowances for a total of $366.5 million that will be used to weatherize homes, perform energy efficiency audits, help small businesses lower energy usage, and other uses.  Auction raises $104 M for renewable energyRutland Herald

Automakers Ford, Nissan, and Tesla will receive a total of $8 billion in order to retool their factories to build electric vehicles and battery packs and increase fuel efficiency.  Business leaders say tens of thousands of jobs will be created by the loans, which are part of the $25 billion in loans approved for automakers by Congress in 2007.  The cap-and-trade legislation currently being discussed in Congress contains a provision to double the loans to $50 billion.  The Energy Department is working with GM and Chrysler, who must get out of bankruptcy before being eligible for the loan.  3 automakers get loans to build more efficient carsWashington Post

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has voted 15-8 to pass what has been called a compromise between Republicans and Democrats on energy and climate change policy.  The legislation would require that utilities obtain 15% of their energy from renewable energy by 2021, but would not put a cap on the amount of greenhouse gases polluters could emit.  The bill would also allow drilling for oil within 45 miles of coastlines, provide incentives for carbon capture and storage, expand the national petroleum reserves, and increase funding for clean energy technology and training.  Senate panel approves energy billNew York Times

American Clean Energy and Security Act

On Friday, June 26, the House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act, written by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman and promoted by President Obama by a vote of 219-212.  The legislation would limit emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 80% below 2005 levels by 2050.  Additional language was added the night before the vote, including additional emission allowances for rural electric cooperatives, authority for the US Department of Agriculture to determine agricultural offsets for farmers, and a number of other provisions benefiting specific industries.

During the debate, one point of contention between parties was the cost of the bill to rate-payers.  The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average household will pay an additional $80-$111 per year by 2020, while the Congressional Budget Office estimates the average household will pay an additional $175 per year by 2020, with those in lowest-income homes saving $40 per year due to rebates.  Republicans estimated that the average household would pay an additional $3,100 per year.

Another issue revolved around the efficacy of the provisions.  Supporters of the bill claimed that up to 1.7 million jobs would be created through the creation of clean energy infrastructure while opponents claimed millions of jobs would be lost in closing small businesses and manufacturers that cannot afford the additional costs.  Supporters also asserted that the reductions in emissions would stem or reverse global climate change, while opponents generally questioned the effectiveness of the legislation in the absence of international cooperation and the degree to which climate change poses a near-term threat.

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