Energy

Nuclear energy has provided commercial electricity generation in the United States since 1957, when a plant in Shippingport, Penn., came online. Between 1966 and 1977, 75 nuclear reactors were built in the U.S. However, a combination of escalating costs and increasing safety and environmental concerns halted almost all construction of new nuclear reactors in the U.S. after 1978. While the future of nuclear energy is uncertain, the construction of the first new reactors in decades and the continuing need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is leading to an increased interest in nuclear energy.

In a unanimous opinion in Hughes v. Talen Energy Marketing the Supreme Court held that Maryland’s program which guarantees a power plant generator a contractual rate rather than the “clearing price” wholesale rate set at a federally-approved capacity auction is preempted by the Federal Power Act (FPA).

The State and Local Legal Center filed an amicus brief arguing that Maryland’s program should not be preempted. At least one other state, New Jersey, has implemented a similar program.  

CSG Midwest

The nation’s leader in wind energy and use has hit yet another milestone. Iowa is now getting more than 30 percent of its electricity from this renewable source — the only U.S. state that has reached this threshold. According to Gov. Terry Branstad, the state has the potential to reach 40 percent within the next five years.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s final Clean Power Plan, or CPP, is the first regulation that seeks to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. A top issue for states in 2016 will be determining how to comply.

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On March 11, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed into law the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan, which requires the state’s two largest utilities to eliminate their use of coal for electricity generation by 2035 and to double their use of renewable energy sources to 50 percent by 2040. The legislation was crafted and supported by a diverse group of stakeholders, including the utilities affected by the legislation and various environmental and ratepayer advocates.

CSG Midwest
Canada and the United States have long been each other’s most important energy partners, with annual trade between the two countries in this economic sector at nearly $100 billion. Cross-border pipelines bring natural gas and oil south to major U.S. markets, and two Midwestern states, Minnesota and North Dakota, imported 12 percent of their electricity from Canada in 2014.
“North America is an integrated market,” notes Dan D’Autremont, speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan.
But leaders at the federal, state and provincial levels are taking steps now to deepen the two countries’ relationship, this time with an emphasis on sharing information and working more closely on innovations to reshape the future of energy policy and energy use across the entire continent.

Most of the country lost an hour of sleep as clocks sprung forward Sunday, March 13 for daylight saving time. Some states are looking to opt out of the practice, insisting that the downsides outweigh the benefits.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to the White House last week marked the first time in nearly two decades that a Canadian leader has made an official visit to Washington. The last time that the White House hosted a Canadian state dinner, Bill Clinton was President, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) had been signed, and the World Trade Organization was still in its infancy.

CSG Midwest
The Midwest is not known as a center of solar energy development, but in fact, electricity from the sun is being generated across the region. And at the same time, perceptions about solar energy are changing — including which parts of the country can be leaders in further developing and using this renewable power source.

The New York Times says that the oil industry is in its “deepest downturn since the 1990s, if not earlier”. The price of a barrel of oil has plummeted, falling more 70 percent since mid-2014, and gas prices at the pump have followed – falling from $2.21 one year ago to $1.70 today (AAA). Unfortunately, a drop in energy prices means a headache for several states that rely heavily on severance taxes for revenue.

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