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Energy Update, September 10, 2010

September 10, 2010

In the States

CA – A new website called Clean Energy Jobs has been launched as a part of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Clean Energy Workforce Training Program, which is designed to help promote green collar jobs in the State.  Governor Schwarzenegger praised the website in a written statement, saying that it will highlight “how the state's community colleges and workforce investment boards, labor unions, and employers are working to meet the demand for trained workers."  The Governor also wrote that the training program itself “represents the kind of innovative thinking needed to steer our economy toward a greener future, while doing everything possible to help Californians return to work." Governor introduces green jobs websiteSan Francisco Chronicle

PA – Pennsylvania currently requires that 0.5% of the electricity in the State must come from solar power by 2021.  Governor Ed Rendell has called for an increase in that percentage during his announcement of $20.5 million to finance new solar programs within the State.  “Unless we act now to increase our solar share – even to a modest 1.5%– the types of projects we’re announcing today won’t even consider Pennsylvania,” the Governor said at the announcement, adding that solar companies already in the State may move to other States with larger mandates on solar energy.  Pennsylvania Governor calls for increase in solar targetBrighterEnergy.org

TN – Governor Phil Bredesen has announced a $2.5 million rebate program that will provide a $2,500 rebate for the first 1,000 electric vehicles sold in Tennessee.  A federal rebate program to provide $7,500 per electric car is also available to Tennessee residents, making the total amount available to electric car purchasers up to $10,000.  These rebates will be available as soon as sales begin later this year for the new all-electric Nissan Leaf, for which batteries will be manufactured in Tennessee.  The funds for the rebates will be taken from the petroleum violation escrow account, which consists of money collected from oil companies by the federal government and provided to States for use on federally approved projects.  During a speech at the Tennessee Valley Authority, Governor Bredesen said that the rebates will allow “Tennesseans to be pioneers in trying out electric cars and making them accessible and affordable in the State.”  Rebates available for first electric cars in Tenn.Bloomberg Businessweek

Regional News

At a meeting of the Southern Governors’ Association in Alabama, Governors from both Gulf and Atlantic coastal States told Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor to President Barack Obama, and Wilma Lewis, the Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Land and Minerals Management, that since States that allow offshore oil drilling are more susceptible to the risks of drilling – risks made clear to the Governors as a result of the BP oil spill in the Gulf – they should receive a higher share of royalties from offshore oil leases than they are scheduled to receive, and they should receive them as soon as possible.  In making the case for States that allow offshore drilling to receive a higher share of royalties, Governor Bob Riley of Alabama told the officials that he was “not too sure any coastal States had any idea of the risk we were taking,” and Governor Bev Perdue of North Carolina expressed her concern that States might not be willing to take the risk of an offshore oil spill if they aren’t also rewarded for assuming such risk.  Governor Riley said that the royalties would allow States to stock up on boom and other supplies necessary to handle an emergency oil cleanup, for which they had to rely on BP and the federal government during the recent Gulf spill.  Some of the Governors and other State officials also criticized the Obama Administration for imposing a temporary moratorium on deep water offshore oil drilling.  While Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi said he was glad to hear that the Administration is committed to offshore oil drilling, he also made clear that he hoped offshore drilling would continue as soon as possible.  Assistant Secretary Lewis emphasized the importance of the moratorium providing time to review regulations and ensure safety on offshore oil rigs following an incident that resulted in 11 people losing their lives and devastation to Gulf Coast communities.  Southern Governors want more oil money due to drilling risksMontgomery Advertiser

National News

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has resulted in the installation of more than two million smart meters and the weatherization of more than 200,000 homes.  Smart meters cut costs and energy usage by allowing consumers to track and alter energy use in real time and weatherization improvements reduce the amount of energy needed to control the temperature inside homes.  DOE cited a utility industry analysis that asserts that smart grid improvements, such as smart meters, can cut electricity demand by more than 4% annually by 2030, saving businesses and consumers $20.4 billion per year.  Another study by DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory also indicates that weatherization can save homeowners an average of $400 in the first year after a project is complete.  The Department of Energy is currently weatherizing 25,000 homes per month with a goal of weatherizing a total of 600,000 homes under the ARRA.  Energy Dept. says ‘smart meter’ army hits 2 millionThe Hill and DOE announces two million smart meters installed in the USEERE News and 200,000 homes weatherized in Recovery Act milestone: Vice PresidentEERE News

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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

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Energy Update, March 12, 2010

March 12, 2010

In the States

DE – Governor Jack Markell has proposed an extension and expansion of existing law that would increase the use of renewable energy within the State.  Current law dictates that Delmarva Power must obtain 20% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2019; the proposed changes would require that other utilities comply, that 30% of electricity come from renewable sources by 2029, that preference be given to renewable energy producers within Delaware, and other minor changes.  The Governor hopes these changes will prompt more “green” jobs in the State as well as more home-based solar power production.  Markell pushes for renewable energy in DelawareThe News Journal

VA – Governor Bob McDonnell has signed legislation that endorses the Federal government allowing oil and gas drilling off Virginia’s coastline.  The plan that Governor McDonnell endorsed would funnel royalties to the State, though some of this funding would be directed to the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium, a partnership between industry, government, and universities to research and develop renewable energy.  McDonnell signs offshore energy bills Virginian Pilot and Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium

WY – Governor Dave Freudenthal has signed three bills into law that will centralize control over wind farm development and impose a new tax on electricity produced by wind.  The new laws will require a tax of $1 per megawatt of wind power, place a moratorium on using eminent domain laws to take private land for power lines, and extend permitting authority for the State over those power lines.  The Governor praised the legislature for passing the bills, saying that the wind energy industry is welcome in the State, but only if it pays its way.  Gov signs 3 wind bills into lawCheyenne Tribune

Regional and National News

Two Democratic Governors joined a group of 18 Republican Governors in sending a letter to the Congressional leadership asking that Congress keep the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from imposing regulations on greenhouse gases.  The Governors wrote that the EPA is unable to fully consider the economic effects of the regulations, which the Governors believe would place heavy administrative burdens on state environmental agencies, prove costly to consumers, and have a devastating impact on state economies and jobs. The EPA has responded to the Governors, dismissing the premise that regulatory action would necessarily weaken the economy.  Several pieces of legislation, introduced in Congress by members of both parties, would delay or eliminate the ability of EPA to regulate greenhouse gases; those in favor of a delay have been encouraged by the Governors’ letter, while supporters of the EPA have been relatively silent on the matter.  US Governors ask Congress to stop EPA RulesWall Street Journal and Governors’ letter to Congressional leadershipGulf Coast News and EPA defends greenhouse gas capsPolitico

Four Democratic Senators have called for a halt to stimulus spending on wind farm projects on the grounds that too much of the money has been sent outside the United States.  The Senators specifically cited a potential project by a company that has not yet applied for stimulus funds, but has signaled that it might install wind turbines manufactured in China.  Union leaders have supported the Senators’ position, while the Obama Administration has disputed it, as has the project manager for the referenced wind initiative, who said at least 70% of each turbine would be fabricated and assembled in the United States.  The American Wind Energy Association has also disputed the claims of the Senators, saying that 53%-63% of the value of equipment bought with stimulus funds has come from within the United States, and that 50,000 jobs would be lost if grants were suspended.  Four Democratic Senators aim to halt stimulus wind projectWashington Post

President Barack Obama met with several members of his administration and a bipartisan group of 14 Senators to discuss concerns about a potential energy bill that would include caps on carbon emissions.  The President offered concessions on nuclear power and drilling for oil and gas while emphasizing the importance of capping carbon emissions.  The Senators attending the meeting represented diverse viewpoints.  Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, for example, made it clear that any proposal must include safeguards for coal and Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio remarked on the importance of job creation.  Senator LeMieux of Florida dismissed the possibility of supporting a cap on carbon, focusing instead on promoting nuclear power, and Senator Lugar of Indiana, who also said he was unlikely to support putting a price on carbon emissions, announced he has begun drafting legislation to promote nuclear power and clean coal technology, as well as stricter auto fuel efficiency standards.  Obama, key Senators make their pitch for climate and energy billNew York Times

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Energy Update, November 25, 2009

November 25, 2009

In the States

AZ – Governor Jan Brewer has announced that up to 400 high-paying jobs will go to Arizona residents as a result of the State’s renewable energy tax incentive program.  The Chinese solar energy company Suntech will begin operations in the State in January when the incentives go into effect with an initial investment of between $13 and $17 million, and continue to build facilities in the next few years.  The Governor also said she is in talks with other large-scale renewable energy companies who have expressed interest in starting operations in the State.  Brewer: addition of Chinese solar firm shows impact of tax creditsAZCapitolTimes.com

CA – The State of California has taken a big step toward implementing a broad-based State cap-and-trade program ahead of any potential action by the US Congress on federal climate change legislation.  Draft rules issued this week by the California Air Resources Board would require major sources of air pollution, including power plants, refineries, and concrete factories to being reducing emissions in 2012.  The State’s goal is to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.  Beginning in 2015, emissions from industrial and transportation fuels would also be subjected to reductions.  The draft rule does not specify how to allocate permits allowing companies to emit carbon dioxide and other GHGs, which is one of the most contentious issues being debated at the federal level.  The chairwoman of the Air Resources Board, Mary D. Nichols, has stated that her preference is for all permits to be auctioned.  Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has said the new rules will help California address a serious environmental problem while allowing companies flexibility in meeting the State’s clean-air goals.  California takes step to limit emissionsNew York Times

ME – Governor Jon Baldacci was present at the dedication of three new offshore wind turbines that are now producing power for communities on the Fox Islands off the coast of Maine.  The project is the largest community-owned wind production facility on the east coast and the largest off-shore wind farm in New England.  The turbines were welcomed by the communities, who currently  pay twice the national average for electricity sent from the mainland, but now have a cleaner, more affordable method of energy production.  New England community wind project goes online, begins powering islands off MaineClean Edge News

OR – Governor Ted Kulongoski is seeking recommendations from two State agencies on the efficacy of the Business Energy Tax Credit after the Oregonian newspaper determined that some lawmakers had downplayed the cost of this incentive before its passage in 2007.  The Governor’s office has expressed concern over the cost, saying that the State should only be as generous with the tax credits as is necessary to encourage growth in the clean energy sector, which is the goal of the credits.  State legislators will take up the issue again in the next legislative session after a previous measure, a much lower cap on the tax credits, was vetoed by the Governor earlier this year.  Governor orders review of Oregon energy tax creditsThe Oregonian

National News

Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) announced he will not support cap-and-trade legislation in its current form and unveiled a climate bill he authored with Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN).  Senator Webb expressed disapproval of the cap-and-trade concept and the burdens such an approach might impose on US business vis-à-vis China.  Instead of imposing restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions and establishing a market for pollution credits as the current bill would, the Webb-Alexander bill would provide up to $100 billion in loan guarantees for clean energy production, mainly to nuclear power plants, as well as $750 million per year for alternative fuel research and development.  US Senators unveil bill to double nuclear powerReuters and Jim Webb bails on cap-and-tradePolitico

The US Department of Energy has announced $683 million in new stimulus money for clean energy programs.  The newly announced funds will provide $620 million to support 16 regional smart grid demonstration projects in 21 states and 16 utility-scale projects to help store renewable energy, $45 million for a new facility that will be able to test the next generation of wind turbines (expected to be too big for current domestic facilities), and $18 million in grants to support small business innovation in clean energy technology.  The DOE and USDA have also announced $28.4 million in continued investment to increase the yield and efficiency of biomass and other biofuels.  DOE Awards $620 Million for Smart Grid and Energy Storage ProjectsEERE News and Secretary Chu Announces $45 Million to Support Next Generation of Wind Turbine DesignsEERE News and Recovery Act Announcement: DOE to Invest $18 Million in Small Business Clean Energy Innovation ProjectsEERE News and USDA-DOE Make Available $4 Million for Biomass Genomics ResearchUS Department of Agriculture and DOE and USDA Select Projects for more than $24 Million in Biomass Research and Development GrantsUS Department of Energy

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Energy Update, November 13, 2009

November 13, 2009

In the States

TX – A new report from Environment Texas, using data from the US Department of Energy, shows that although Texas produces more carbon dioxide than any other state, its carbon dioxide emissions were reduced by 2% from 2004 to 2007 while the US collectively increased those emissions by 0.7% during the same period.  Governor Rick Perry said the report shows that the State is able to reduce emissions without imposing taxes or regulations and expressed opposition to federal climate change legislation that he believes would harm industry in Texas.  Report: Texas greenhouse gas emissions downAssociated Press

UT – Governor Gary Herbert made his first trip to Washington DC since assuming the office of Governor to reach out to the Obama administration on contentious oil and gas leases in Utah.  The Bush administration moved the auction for the leases up to December 2008, during which an activist bid up the cost of the leases without having the money to buy them.  Interior Secretary Ken Salazar subsequently cancelled many of the leases due to environmental concerns and the fraudulent bids.  The Governor met with Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes to discuss how they could work together to deliver some of the leases to companies that had submitted legitimate bids; the Deputy Secretary invited the State and the companies to provide a legal argument for not cancelling the auctions that included fraudulent bids.  Guv stresses public lands on DC tripDeseret News and A bid too far: Utah oil lease activist Tim DeChristopher faces jail timeWall Street Journal

WV – Governor Joe Manchin held a private meeting with federal and state officials and coal industry representatives to discuss the future of coal.  After the meeting, the Governor held a press conference to announce his intention to join West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller and Representatives Nick Rahall and Shelley Moore Capito in a high-level meeting with US EPA officials to discuss new regulations on mountaintop removal.  Rep. Rahall said that during their meeting coal executives expressed confusion over the regulations and Rep. Capito said two meetings she had previously scheduled with the EPA were cancelled.  W. Va. Gov. to host private meeting on coalAssociated Press and W. Va. Leaders seek coal answers from White HouseCharleston Gazette

Regional and National News

Mid-Atlantic – Governors Jack Markell of Delaware, Martin O’Malley of Maryland, and Tim Kaine of Virginia have agreed to coordinate the efforts of their states to produce wind energy offshore and transmit it throughout the region while creating new jobs.  Each state is interested in developing offshore wind power and stands to gain from the resources such a collaboration would provide. MD, DE, VA enter offshore wind power partnershipThe Capital and Governors commit to offshore wind energyWTOP

Federal – Democratic Senators passed the Senate’s climate change bill out of the Environment and Public Works Committee 11-1 despite a Republican boycott of the hearings.  To move the bill, committee chair Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) bypassed a rule that would have required participation by both parties.  Republicans, who boycotted the hearings because they believed not enough time was provided to read the bill and thought the EPA had failed to adequately study the costs, objected to the bill’s passage without their input.  Though the bill passed the committee, many Senators believe that another bill, being crafted by Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to allow more nuclear energy and offshore drilling, is more likely to pass the Senate.  Many Senators also believe that no other major action will be taken on climate change legislation in the Senate until next year.  Democrats move on emissions billWashington Post and Democrats push climate bill through panel without GOP debateNew York Times and Climate bill likely on the shelf for rest of the yearWall Street Journal

Senator Chuck Schumer has sent a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu asking him to refuse stimulus money for a wind farm project in Texas unless the “high-value components, including the wind turbines, are manufactured in the United States.”  The letter was prompted by an Investigative Reporting Workshop study that found that 84% of stimulus money for green projects has gone to foreign companies and that the project in Texas in particular will create 2,000 jobs in China and 300 in Texas.  The Texas project is being financed by $450 million in stimulus funds and more than $1 billion in investments from Chinese banks.  Schumer seeks to block stimulus money for Chinese-backed Texas wind farmNew York Times

Stimulus Funding -- The US Department of Energy announced nearly $500 million in new stimulus grants, including $338 million of stimulus money awarded to 123 schools, tribes, local governments, and national laboratories to advance geothermal energy development.  Another $155 million of additional stimulus funds is being used to leverage $634 million of private investment for industrial energy efficiency projects.  The Treasury Department has also issued $2.2 billion in Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) that will act as low-interest loans to help energy co-ops, governmental entities, and public power providers develop clean renewable energy projects such as wind or solar power.  Department of Energy awards $338 million to accelerate domestic geothermal energyEERE News and Secretary Chu announces more than $155 million for industrial energy efficiency projectsEERE News and Treasury allocates $2.2 billion in bonds for renewable energy developmentTreasury Department Press Room

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Energy Update, October 2, 2009

October 2, 2009

In the States

CA – This week, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger hosted the Global Climate Summit 2, which gathered over 1,200 participants from across the U.S. and the world to help discuss climate change issues and influence national policy in their countries prior to the UN summit planned for Copenhagen, Denmark in December.  California officials also hoped the summit would allow other governments to see what the state has accomplished and build on its achievements in negotiating a new global climate change pact at that meeting.  Topics included how to decrease energy usage, how to obtain cleaner energy, and how to best offset greenhouse gas emissions.  Schwarzenegger leads governors’ summit on global warmingChristian Science Monitor and Climate summit delegates like state’s planned carbon trading marketLos Angeles Times

NC – In a letter to US Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, Governor Bev Perdue indicated she may be willing to consider offshore oil and gas drilling depending on the amount of reserves located off North Carolina’s shore and whether a panel of scientists and engineers she plans to assemble indicate drilling can be done safely and without hampering offshore wind energy development.  Governor Perdue commented on a draft proposal prepared by the Bush administration, which would allow certain sites to be explored for possible extraction of fossil fuels.  The Governor would also like more information on the share of oil and gas revenues the State could expect to receive.  Secretary Salazar has indicated he is likely to scale back the proposal before presenting it to President Obama and Congress prior to final approval.  Perdue indicates she’s open to offshore drillingWinston-Salem Journal

PA – Governor Ed Rendell spoke at a news conference to covey the importance of clean energy to Pennsylvania’s financial and environmental goals.  He cited the State’s $900 million of investment since 2003, an energy portfolio standard that mandates the development of alternative energy sources, energy conservation laws, and adoption of the California Clean Car Rule to reduce emissions from mobile sources as actions that have helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions and created thousands of new jobs.  The Governor also expressed support for more research on carbon capture and storage technologies.  Rendell calls for clean energy developmentPittsburgh Post-Gazette

TX – Governor Rick Perry voiced strong opposition to federal climate change legislation during a meeting with State business and political leaders.  The Governor said that Texas has done well in balancing the interests of business and the environment and that new federal mandates on carbon emissions and other climate changing pollution would raise the prices of many everyday products for consumers and eliminate 200,000 to 300,000 jobs in the State.  He suggested the Federal Government should follow Texas’ lead by expanding the nation’s alternative energy portfolio, reducing the cost of alternative energy forms like solar and wind, and promoting investment in technology that captures emissions of carbon dioxide rather than institute a cap-and-trade policy.  Texas governor voices opposition to climate billAustin American-Statesman

WV – Governor Joe Manchin gave a speech to the US Chamber of Commerce in which he noted that while coal may create pollution, coal-producing states such as West Virginia have helped build a vibrant American economy.  The Governor believes that the pending House cap and trade legislation, in its current form, will cost too many jobs and that there may be ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by recycling carbon dioxide into a useful product.  He also raised concerns about the potential for newly created alternative energy industry jobs moving offshore if production costs prove to be too high in the US.  Manchin calls for energy balanceCharleston Daily Mail

Regional and National News

Attracting renewable energy manufacturing plants and workers is less difficult for states that have generous incentive programs than for those that do not.  Some states provide millions of dollars in tax and other incentives for companies to build such facilities – which produce not only renewable energy technology but high-paying and high-skill jobs – while other state provide little or none.  With renewable energy becoming a key component of economic development, states are competing to provide more generous subsidies in return for new clean energy investment and jobs.  Clean-energy jobs touch off bidding wars between statesUSA Today

Senators John Kerry and Barbara Boxer have introduced the Senate’s version of climate change legislation.  Many details are missing from the bill as it is currently written, though the two sponsors say it will be deficit-neutral.  The bill would require a reduction in carbon emissions to 20% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 80% below 2005 levels by 2050 through a cap-and-trade mechanism, cleaner coal technologies, natural gas, and nuclear energy production, more solar and wind energy production, and increased energy efficiency.  Republican leaders have already voiced opposition to the bill, calling it a tax on families and small businesses while environmental advocates have expressed mixed reactions.  Boxer, Kerry launch campaign to pass Senate cap-and-trade billNew York Times and Overview [pdf], Section-by-section summary [pdf], and Bill text [pdf] for S.1733 – Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act

To date, more than $1 billion in stimulus funds has already been spent on clean energy projects, including $550 million that was just awarded for new renewable energy production (in lieu of tax credits), $300 million for energy conservation efforts in public housing projects, and $36 million for energy efficiency projects in Pennsylvania.  An additional $410 million in stimulus funds have been recently announced, including $161 million for a wind power transmission line, $144 million to advance the smart grid, and $106 million for Energy Efficiency Community Block Grants.  Treasury, Energy surpass $1 billion milestone in Recovery Act awards for clean energy projectsEERE News and U.S. Treasury and DOE award $550 million for renewable energy projectsEERE News and HUD grants $300 million in Recovery Act funds for green housingEERE News and DOE delivers $36 million to Pennsylvania for energy efficiency projectsEERE News and Recovery Act helps to fund transmission line for Montana wind powerEERE News and DOE announces $144 Million in Recovery Act funding for the smart gridEERE News and Obama administration delivers more than $106 million for energy efficiency and conservation projects in nine statesEERE News

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Energy Update, September 18, 2009

September 18, 2009

In the States

CA – Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed an executive order that will require 33% of electricity consumed in the state to come from renewable sources by 2020.  He prefers this approach to a bill recently passed by the state legislature that would require the same reduction, but also mandate that much of the renewable energy be produced in the state.  The Governor indicated he plans to veto this bill and said, “I am totally against protectionist policies.”  California will now have one of the country’s strictest renewable energy requirements. The state has an existing goal of obtaining 20% of energy from renewable sources by 2010, but that goal may be difficult to meet within the prescribed timeline.  Schwarzenegger orders renewables goalNew York Times

HI – Geothermal, wind, and other renewable sources are already producing nine percent of Hawaii’s electricity, which Governor Linda Lingle intends to greatly increase under the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative she unveiled last year.  The plan states that by 2030, renewable sources should produce 40% of the energy in the state, which has heretofore relied on imported oil for most of its electricity needs.  Several issues must still be resolved before that goal can be met.  Backup and storage systems must be devised and constructed, an underwater cable will be needed to connect the state’s six separate power grids, agreements must be developed between the power demands of urban areas and the rights of native populations, and environmental concerns for land use and plants and animals must be addressed.  Hawaii tries green tools in remaking power gridsNew York Times

KS – In a speech to the Kansas Wind Working Group, Governor Mark Parkinson noted the decline in construction of wind turbines in 2009 and called on the federal government to create a renewable energy standard to drive the market for wind power.  Statehouse Live: federal renewable standards, transmission needed for more wind development, officials sayLawrence Journal-World

MI – A Ford assembly plant in Wixom is being redeveloped into a renewable energy industrial park that will produce solar panels and storage batteries.  Governor Jennifer Granholm is strongly in favor of the $725 million project saying that it is “symbolic of the Michigan that we are to become.”  The new park will employ 4,000 highly trained workers and use local resources and existing infrastructure when it begins operations in about two years. Ford and Granholm cheer Wixom plant redevelopment planDetroit Free Press  

Regional and National News

The Federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department have released details on a plan for eventually raising fuel economy standards for passenger cars, light duty trucks, and medium duty passenger vehicles.  Carmakers will need to increase fuel economy in these models to an average of 35.5 miles per gallon – four years sooner than Congress mandated in a 2007 law – and limit carbon dioxide emissions to 250 grams per mile under the new regulations.  White House rolls out details of auto fuel economy, emissions standardNew York Times

The US Department of Energy has recently announced nearly $430 million in energy-related stimulus spending for weatherization, water power technology development, and energy efficiency and conservation projects.  Most of the funds will be delivered to states, but the water power projects funds will go to companies to study potential and cost of hydrokinetic power and improved traditional hydropower.  DOE and Treasury have announced that $502 million in stimulus funds have been released in lieu of tax credits for alternative energy projects and USDA released another $13 million for rural clean energy projects.  DOE also unveiled a new program called “Retrofit Ramp-Up” that will provide $454 million in stimulus funds to improve energy efficiency in residential, commercial, and public buildings.  DOE delivers $60 million in recovery act funds for weatherizationEERE News and DOE awards 14.6 million to develop water power technologiesEERE News and DOE delivers more than $354 million for energy efficiency and conservation projects in 22 statesEERE News and DOE and US Treasury award $502 million for renewable energy projectsEERE News and DOE to offer $454 million for “Retrofit Ramp-ups” in energy efficiencyEERE News and USDA awards $13million for rural clean energy projects – EERE News

The US House of Representatives has passed a bill that would establish a $9 million two-phase three-year program for research and development of heavy-duty hybrid and plug-in hybrid trucks.  The House Science Committee’s Ranking Republican member, Ralph Hall (TX), noted that while trucks use more fuel than passenger vehicles few federal dollars have been expended to research the potential of hybrid technology in heavy duty trucks.  Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) has introduced a companion bill in the Senate.  House passes bill to encourage hybrid trucksCQ Politics

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