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Blog posts : "smart grid"

Energy Update, December 2, 2011

December 2, 2011

In the States

HI – In a ceremony at the State Capitol, Governor Neil Abercrombie signed an agreement with the president of the Japanese government-sponsored New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) to build a smart grid on part of Maui in order to better integrate renewable energy sources.  Since the existing grid is not built to accommodate power supplies that vary such as solar or wind energy, the smart grid, which NEDO President Hideo Hata said would be “the most advanced smart grid in the world,” is needed to take advantage of large scale renewable energy projects planned in Hawaii.  Governor Abercrombie said the smart grid would help move the State away from imported oil use, strengthen Hawaii’s renewable energy technology capacity, and serve as a model for the Asia-Pacific region, as well as the rest of the world.  “After the test is done, we’ll have in place an alternative energy infrastructure that will be highly valuable to us now and on into the foreseeable future.”  The smart grid will cover homes and businesses in Kihei and electric vehicle charging stations on other parts of Maui.  Abercrombie signs deal to build smart grid on MauiBloomberg BusinessWeek

NE – Governor Dave Heineman has signed into law two bills that passed the unicameral legislature with unanimous support after a special session was called to respond to issues related to the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.  One new law gives greater control over future pipeline sitings to the State’s Public Service Commission, while the other is the result of an agreement with TransCanada, the Keystone XL project’s developer, to reroute the pipeline away from environmentally fragile areas in the State.  Under the second piece of legislation, Governor Heineman will need to approve the final route following the completion of a new environmental study.  Members of the Natural Resource Committee, which crafted the legislation, walked the bill to the office of Governor Heineman immediately after passage, where the Governor signed it upon arrival.  Governor signs two oil pipeline bills into lawLincoln Journal Star

NY – Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced an incentive program that will provide vouchers of up to $20,000 to buyers of electric trucks weighing over 10,000 pounds.  The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority will provide up to $10 million for the program, which will fund vouchers for at least 450 vehicles.  Electric vehicle manufacturers, such as Smith Electric Vehicles, which recently announced construction of a new factory in New York City that would build solar electric trucks, praised the program, while it drew skepticism from some environmentalists, including NYU environmental studies professor Juliette Warren, who said the program may increase air pollution through greater use of coal-fired plants to charge the vehicles.  Cuomo announces electric vehicle incentive programWashington Square News

Federal News

A Treasury Department program that provides incentives for companies to invest in renewable energy projects is set to expire at the end of this year.  The “1603” program offers tax-equity financing for renewable energy projects, but also allows investors to more quickly realize cash profits from their investments, which would not be the case without special grant payments.  After construction of a project is complete, investors can receive a cash payment instead of waiting for a tax credit against future tax liabilities.  This arrangement makes renewable energy projects very attractive to investors and has greatly increased demand for this type of financing.  Analysts have said that the program will likely not be extended even though the program is widely supported by Congress due to the price tag: around $3 billion per year.  More than 760 trade groups and energy companies sent a letter to Congress urging a one-year extension of the grant program, which reads in part that such an extension “will create jobs, spur economic growth, and promote private sector development of energy technologies.”  Clean energy funding to drop after Obama grant program endsBloomberg BusinessWeek and Letter to Congress from trade associations and energy companies [pdf]1603 Coalition

President Barack Obama has announced, along with former President Bill Clinton, a program that is designed to improve energy efficiency in both public buildings and commercial properties without additional public investment.  The program, which expands an existing effort, the Better Building Initiative, will use $2 billion borrowed by energy services companies to finance energy-efficiency upgrades for federal buildings, and another $2 billion for improvements for property owned by private sector companies, universities, and state and local governments.  The energy services companies will then be paid back through the energy savings costs achieved through energy retrofits.  By 2020, the program is expected to improve efficiency in 1.6 billion square feet of commercial office space by at least 20 percent.   Obama, Clinton, together again, pitching efficiencyBoston Globe and Obama enlists Clinton, 3M, Alcoa, in $4 billion energy planBloomberg BusinessWeek

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