In early April 2017, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) partnered with investor-owned electric distribution companies across the state to jointly issue a request for proposals (RFP) for renewable energy generation. The mission of the RFP is to ultimately help the state meet goals outlined by energy diversity legislation signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker in August 2016. By the time the initial deadline closed on July 27th, the state had received nearly four dozen bids for a contract to add more renewable power to its energy portfolio.
Earlier this year, Massachusetts passed legislation that will require the state’s distribution utilities to purchase carbon-free electricity from hydropower and on and offshore wind farms under long-term contracts for up to 30% of the state’s electricity supply. Despite opposition from incumbent generators and large consumers over concerns that the bill would interfere with market competition, Democratic legislators found common ground with Republican Governor Charlie Baker to enact historic “clean energy” legislation that will transform the fuels used to generate the state’s power while significantly reducing its carbon-footprint. To learn more, read on!
Last Sunday, the Massachusetts Legislature passed a compromise energy bill to significantly increase electricity produced by renewable energy sources. The state’s utilities will be required to purchase power from on and offshore wind farms, as well as power from hydroelectric dams located largely in Canada. Governor Baker is expected sign the bill in short order, as he has strongly supported purchasing imports of clean energy. To learn more about this bill, read on!
This week, the House had hearings on several energy policy issues, including the crude oil export ban, the electric grid, and a broad bipartisan energy package. Also in D.C., President Obama continues his busy fall climate agenda as he prepares for Pope Francis’ visit, which will partly center on the Pope’s environmentally focused encyclical Laudato Si.
The Department of Energy also had two exciting announcements this week. On September 10, the DOE released its second Quadrennial Technology Review, outlining the energy world’s broad research and development challenges. It emphasizes current technological developments in several areas, such as fuel cells and water use, that are crucial to the country’s energy future. The Department also awarded $6.5 million to seven organizations to advance low environmental impact hydropower technologies. For a full report on the week in Washington, read the latest update from ML Strategies.
Just in time for tax day – but 14 days behind the Congressional deadline – the IRS released the statutorily required calculations to determine the value of the Section 45 Production Tax Credit (“PTC”) credit amount in 2015, and whether or not a phase-out of the calculation would be required.
The PTC has historically been the primary incentive for the wind industry, but a number of other clean energy technologies are also eligible for the credit.
Last week, California Governor Edmund (Jerry) Brown announced a $1 billion emergency drought package and an executive order mandating a statewide 25 percent cut in potable water use through the end of next February. These measures seek to save water, increase enforcement to prevent wasteful use, and coordinate the state’s drought response. In addition to impacting day to day water use, the drought has decreased California’s hydroelectric capacity, shifting the state’s energy landscape and increasing the risk of service disruption. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, California’s hydro production saw a 60 percent decrease from 2011 to 2014. Natural gas and solar are replacing relatively cheap hydroelectricity, resulting in utility price increases. A recent report by the Pacific Institute said electricity costs jumped $1.4 billion from 2012 to 2014 as electricity suppliers switched to gas-fired generation and other sources.
Keeping these energy needs in mind, Governor Brown’s announcements also called for new water energy technologies.
Written by David Leiter and Sarah Litke
Ten days after the Senate passed its version of the Farm Bill 66-27, the House defeated the $940 billion H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, on June 20. Next steps on the measure are uncertain, though there may still be time for passage later this summer. Continue Reading House Defeats Farm Bill, Senate Advances Modest Energy Legislation – ML Strategies Weekly Energy and Environmental Update
Written by Sarah Litke and David Leiter
Congress came to a halt early last week as members mourned the loss of their colleague Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) who passed away last Monday. Following the Senator’s funeral on Wednesday, the Senate considered the Farm Bill on Thursday, voting 75-22 to invoke cloture. On Monday, the Senate voted 66-27 in favor of the bill, and attention now shifts to the House, where the bill could reach the floor for debate as soon as next week. Continue Reading The Farm Bill Moves Through the Senate – ML Strategies Weekly Energy and Environmental Update
This week’s Energy & Environment Update provides news on the progress of current bills as well as the status of the nominations of Dr. Ernest Moniz and Gina McCarthy. In the House, the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a hearing on LNG and other US energy exports, while the Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on hydraulic fracturing. Continue Reading The 2013 Farm Bill, Liquid Natural Gas, and Hydropower – ML Strategies Weekly Energy and Environmental Update
Last week, President Obama delivered the State of the Union address, in which he heavily focused on plans to tackle future economic issues including matters pertaining to the energy and climate. The President proposed initiatives to support renewable and alternative energy programs, such as making permanent tax incentives for solar and wind energy as well as doubling energy generation over the next 7 years. Additionally, the House passed the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013 (H.R. 267) in a unanimous vote February 13th. Among other things, the legislation will expand small hydropower projects by reducing the FERC’s licensing requirements for small-scale hydroelectric projects with low environmental impact. Continue Reading State of the Union Address and Passing of a Hydropower Bill – ML Strategies’ Energy & Environmental Weekly Update