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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UT – Governor Gary Herbert has withdrawn Utah from the upcoming cap-and-trade program that will be implemented under the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), a regional climate change agreement to limit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, February 12, 2010

February 12, 2010

In the States

AZ – Governor Jan Brewer has announced that Arizona will no longer fully participate in the Western Climate Initiative, citing potential higher costs for consumers.  The Governor signed an executive order effectively withdrawing the State from the planned cap-and-trade system and ordering the Department of Environmental Quality to review a plan to place more regulations on vehicle emissions.  Although these two programs will not be implemented, the State is not fully withdrawing from the Initiative, and will continue to work with other States to promote solar energy, limit pollution by setting smart growth policies, and taking steps to adapt to climate change.  The State is also continuing a program to make its entire state vehicle fleet hybrid, low-emission, or alternative fuel by 2012.  Arizona quits Western climate endeavorArizona Republic

MA – Governor Deval Patrick’s recently announced new plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions.  When combined with measures he and others have already put into place, these proposals would result in an 18.6% decrease in emissions from 1990 levels by 2020, according to a new draft report by the Eastern Research Group.  The Global Warming Solutions Act, signed by the Governor in 2008, requires Massachusetts to lower greenhouse gas emissions 10% to 25% by 2020.  The Governor cited the move toward reducing emissions as good for the environment and the economy, saying “[o]ur investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy are creating jobs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions dramatically.”  Mass. to meet gas reduction targetBoston Globe and Draft Report to Climate Protection and Green Economy Advisory Committee [pdf]Eastern Research Group

WY – Governor Dave Freudenthal is proposing stricter regulations on the wind power industry, including an excise tax of $3 per megawatt hour, and more restrictions on land use and zoning that would make building wind turbines and producing wind energy more expensive.  The Governor said that the wind energy industry “remains a profit-oriented business that should be treated the same as other energy producers."  Gov.: Tax wind powerStar-Tribune

State of the States – Most Governors have given a State of the State address, and many of them have included energy issues in their speeches.  Some of these are highlighted below.  The full text and summaries of all of the State of the State addresses can be found on the Stateline.org website.

CT – Governor M. Jodi Rell proposed eliminating the sales tax on “machines, equipment, tools, materials, supplies, and fuels used in renewable energy and green technology” in her annual State of the State address.  She also proposed a loan forgiveness program for students who get certain degrees related to renewable energy or health and choose to stay and work in the State. 

MI – Governor Jennifer Granholm said the Federal economic stimulus has helped the State make investments in clean energy and “take us from the rust belt to the green belt” in her State of the State address.  The Governor also said that several billion private sector dollars have been invested in building electric cars, batteries, wind turbines, and solar cells resulting in the creation of tens of thousands of new jobs.

NV – In his State of the State address, Governor Gibbons said that his office is working to promote solar, wind, and geothermal energy as well as research and development for new green technologies.  The Governor noted economic and environmental benefits, saying these industries would create long-term high-paying jobs. 

National News

President Barack Obama met with a bipartisan group of 11 Governors recently to discuss the future of energy.  While the President underscored the need to produce more biofuels, especially ethanol, and cleaner coal, Governor Gregoire of Washington expressed interest in nuclear power, Governor Rounds of South Dakota asked for help in developing biofuels resources in the Midwest, and Governor Beshear of Kentucky praised Obama’s interest in clean coal and expressed concern over cap-and-trade proposals.  Also in attendance were Governors Riley of Alabama, Baldacci of Maine, Schweitzer of Montana, Strickland of Ohio, Bredesen of Tennessee, Douglas of Vermont, Manchin of West Virginia, and Freudenthal of Wyoming.  Governors talk energy with ObamaStateline.org and Wash. Gov. says nuclear energy must be consideredSeattle Post-Intelligencer and Rounds says he pushed for SD in energy meetingKTIV.com and Kentucky Gov. Beshear praises Obama clean-coal initiativeCourier-Journal

More than 200 companies, including some major energy companies, have combined efforts to promote the passage of a Senate climate change bill this year.  Leaders from the companies and business groups have cited the need to compete with China, reduce dependence on foreign oil, and reduce carbon emissions as all worthy goals that can be achieved through climate change legislation.  In the Senate, Senators Kerry, Lieberman, and Graham are working together to craft legislation that will attract Republicans and Democrats.  President Obama has also shown a willingness to compromise to pass a bill this year: he proposed allowing more nuclear power in his State of the Union address, requested more Federal loans to build nuclear power plants in his FY2011 budget, and asked Secretary of Energy Steven Chu to address the issue of nuclear fuel and waste.  Coming together on climate billPolitico

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