Thursday, April 23, 2009

Governor Perdue Signs Clean Energy Grant Legislation

On Earth Day 2009, Governor Sonny Perdue signed House Bill 473, legislation creating a commercial clean energy grant program for solar, wind, energy efficiency and geothermal heat pump projects. The grant program will be administered by the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA) and is contingent upon the availability of federal stimulus dollars from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

“HB 473 provides Georgia companies with additional incentives for investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy,” said Governor Perdue. “These clean energy grants will also help the private sector meet the state’s goal of reducing energy consumption by 15 percent.”

HB 473 will be administered by GEFA under similar terms and conditions of the current Clean Energy Property Tax Credit (HB 670) passed last year. Quality standards, such as Energy Star criteria for geothermal heat pumps and a high efficiency standard (exceeding ASHRAE 90.1.2004 by 30 percent) for lighting and buildings, determine eligibility for the grant program. The grants will be available on a first come, first served basis; installation of the qualifying clean energy property must be completed before a grant application can be submitted. The maximum grant for each applicant is limited to the lesser of 35 percent of the cost of the clean energy property or the statutory caps.

While HB 473 authorizes Georgia to use ARRA funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy grants to non-residential consumers, the state will not know whether this is possible or how much will be available until its application for recovery funds is reviewed this summer by the U.S. Department of Energy. GEFA is expected to receive a total of approximately $82.5 million for the State Energy Program through ARRA, which will support many other efforts in addition to HB 473.

Governor Perdue has committed all state agencies to reduce energy consumption per square foot in state facilities 15 percent below FY2007 levels by 2020. To further ensure that Georgia’s natural resources are protected for future generations to use and to enjoy, the Governor also challenged Georgia’s citizens, businesses and local governments to match the state’s effort. Meeting this goal will reduce Georgia’s dependence on traditional energy sources, support the economy, and improve the environment.
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ACC Comments on Provisions of House Climate Legislation

/PRNewswire/ -- Today the U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment continued its hearing on the "American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009." Additional information is available at http://energycommerce.house.gov/

American Chemistry Council (ACC) President & CEO Cal Dooley issued the following statement:

"ACC commends the Subcommittee for holding a series of hearings on this legislation. We support policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. American chemistry provides climate solutions used by consumers and businesses throughout the United States to save energy and reduce emissions: our products go into energy efficiency and renewable energy applications from insulation and solar panels to wind turbines, lightweight vehicle parts and many others. In our own operations, between 1990 and 2007 energy efficiency improved 27 percent and greenhouse gas emissions fell by 13.2 percent - among the most significant improvement of any sector.

"We have carefully reviewed the draft bill and have thoughts on a number of provisions:

"Allowance Allocation and Targets/Timelines - Climate policy should align greenhouse gas emissions reduction timelines with the availability of low-carbon energy and technologies and stable price signals. We believe the bill's aggressiveness on the number of emission allowances and targets pre-2020 could lead to allowance scarcity and price volatility that could render inadequate the bill's provisions intended to prevent 'leakage' of greenhouse gas emissions to other nations. We recommend increasing the total number of emission allowances in the early years of the program. Given uncertainty surrounding the development and deployment of carbon capture and storage and other low-emission technologies, we also suggest a lower reduction target through 2020, with larger emissions reductions during later years.

"Competitiveness - Unilateral policies to regulate greenhouse gas emissions have the potential to drive manufacturing production, jobs and greenhouse gas emissions overseas - a phenomenon known as carbon leakage. A cap-and-trade approach imposes higher costs on domestic industries due to both compliance and higher fuel and energy costs - impacts that could exacerbate the leakage problem. The chemical industry is among those at the greatest risk of domestic contraction, according to the non-profit, non-partisan research organization Resources for the Future, which has done extensive research on the leakage issue in the context of cap-and-trade.

"We commend Representatives Inslee and Doyle for development a framework designed to prevent the leakage of jobs and emissions to overseas markets. We strongly urge the committee to make certain changes to enhance the effectiveness of the framework. We have shared our specific recommendations with the Committee.

"Feedstock Credit - The chemical industry uses natural gas, natural gas liquids, petroleum and coal as raw materials, or "feedstocks," for our manufacturing. This process, which converts most of the fuels into products, does not emit greenhouse gases and should not be covered by the legislation. Unfortunately, the compensatory allowance provisions in the draft bill are insufficient to ensure that feedstocks will not be regulated. We hope to work with the Committee and the Subcommittee to remedy this issue.

"Cost Containment and Fuel Switching - We believe climate policy should be reasonable and balanced to prevent significant natural gas price increases caused by massive utility "fuel switching" from coal to natural gas. We believe the overly aggressive emission reduction timelines in the bill, without balancing policies, would cause higher natural gas demand and higher prices for all consumers and make it more difficult for U.S. industries to compete in the global market. To minimize fuel switching, we recommend that the bill provide covered facilities with a range of options and tools for reducing their emissions. These include renewable electricity programs, utility energy efficiency programs, end-use efficiency standards (buildings, appliances, and transportation), a large pool of offsets, and a robust carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) plan. The same strategies can help manage the price and volatility of carbon permits.

"Technology Deployment - Deploying low-carbon technologies is critical to a successful climate program and to achieving near-term emission reduction targets. While we noted that the bill creates incentives and mandates to deploy certain types of "clean energy" (e.g., the Renewable Energy Standard, CCS investment, and energy efficiency), other effective technologies are largely ignored. Moreover, the bill does too little to promote investment, improvement, or expansion of Combined Heat and Power (CHP). Oak Ridge National Labs and other experts have concluded that CHP and other forms of recycled energy are grossly underutilized and should be viewed as a major contributor to low-carbon power generation. CHP should be put on equal footing with other clean energy technologies.

"Energy Supply - Affordable and available energy is closely linked to climate policy. For example, natural gas is used for renewable energy production, for the manufacture of energy-efficient materials, and as a lower-carbon electricity source - all key to reducing emissions. However, because natural gas is priced regionally, regional energy policies significantly influence natural gas supply, demand and prices. Consequently, U.S. consumers face higher natural gas prices than do those in nations whose policies bring about more available natural gas. This puts U.S. chemical makers and other manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage in the global market. To help remedy the situation, Congress must pass a comprehensive, bipartisan national energy policy that improves energy security, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and ensures that U.S. companies have access to competitively-priced natural gas.

"In 2008, the longstanding presidential and congressional moratoria on energy development in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) were lifted, helping the nation take the first step toward unlocking known U.S. energy reserves. To help bring about a sound, comprehensive climate policy, America's off-shore and on-shore energy reserves must be thoroughly researched and produced in an environmentally protective manner.

"We support responsible policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the economy. We encourage Congress to continue working toward climate legislation that achieves the core purpose of reducing GHG emissions while preserving robust growth in the United States economy."

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Delta Commemorates Earth Day 2009 by Matching Customer Donations to Offset Carbon Emissions

/PRNewswire / -- On Earth Day, Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) is doing its part to give back to the environment. For every dollar a customer donates online at delta.com and nwa.com between April 22 and May 22 to the airline's two environmental partners, The Conservation Fund and The Nature Conservancy, Delta will match up to $25,000.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20090422/CL03313)

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20090202/DELTALOGO)


Delta is making it easy for customers to donate online to help offset carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions associated with their air travel. Customers who wish to make a donation can select "Plant Trees to Offset Carbon Emissions" under "Trip Activities" when booking a flight at delta.com. At nwa.com, customers can make a financial contribution directly to The Nature Conservancy(R) or make a donation to help offset carbon emissions associated with their flight when they book.

"We have a responsibility to preserve and protect our planet's natural resources," said Tim McGraw, Delta's director of Corporate Safety, Health and Environmental Programs. "Delta remains committed to helping our customers and employees worldwide take action while also serving as a global corporate leader through a variety of ongoing environmental programs, including our carbon offset programs."

All donations made at delta.com go to The Conservation Fund's Go Zero(R) program to plant trees and restore habitat for wildlife across the United States. All donations made at nwa.com are directed to The Nature Conservancy's Voluntary Carbon Offset Program to acquire and protect land in priority conservation areas, plant trees and restore forest on those lands, and monitor and verify the carbon benefits.

Delta was the first U.S. airline to provide a carbon offset program in partnership with The Conservation Fund in 2007. Through that program, nearly 100,000 trees have been planted and 262 acres restored at three national wildlife reserves, including Lower Rio Grande Valley along the Texas Gulf Coast, Marais des Cygnes National Wildlife Refuge in Kansas and Red River National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana. The newly planted forests help absorb carbon dioxide, filter water, restore wildlife habitat and enhance public recreation areas.

Delta's carbon offset program is one of the airline's many efforts to effect positive, global environmental change including:

-- The improvement of fuel efficiency by 35 percent since 2000.
-- The reduction of annual water consumption by more than 150,000,000
gallons per year since 2004 through process improvement and
elimination of unnecessary water usage.
-- The diversion of more than 1.8 million pounds (923 tons) of aluminum,
plastic and paper products from community landfills since June 2007
through the airline's onboard recycling program.

-- The promotion of modernized Air Traffic Control (ATC) systems
worldwide that afford more direct aircraft routing, resulting in the
reduction of carbon emissions.



The Conservation Fund and The Nature Conservancy are part of Delta's Force for Global Good, a program that unites Delta employees and customers in philanthropic and social responsibility efforts.

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Chrysler Celebrates Earth Day by Revealing All-New Electric Minivan Concepts to U.S. Postal Service

/PRNewswire/ -- Chrysler invented the minivan 25 years ago. More than 12 million minivan sales later, Chrysler today showed off four all-electric Chrysler Town & Country minivan concepts to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) as part of the USPS Earth Day celebration.

Chrysler LLC, in conjunction with the USPS and select energy service providers, also announced that the company intends to apply for the U.S. Department of Energy's (DoE) Transportation Electrification stimulus program for a federal grant, which would enable Chrysler to establish a nationwide demonstration fleet of zero-emission electric minivans that could be used by the U.S. Postal Service for mail delivery.

"With more than a 40 percent market share, our Chrysler and Dodge minivans continue to lead the segment we created more than 25 years ago," said Frank Klegon, Executive Vice President--Product Development, Chrysler LLC. "Our ENVI electric minivan concepts illustrate Chrysler's innovation with electric vehicle technology and show what the future could hold."

Chrysler's ENVI group leveraged the flexibility of its electric-vehicle strategy to demonstrate an all-electric version of its best-selling minivan. These electric minivan concepts are targeted specifically for use by the U.S. Postal Service for mail delivery.

"We continue to look for energy-efficient replacement vehicles for our aging fleet as we explore ways to reduce our transportation-related carbon emissions," said Sam Pulcrano, Vice President--Sustainability, U.S. Postal Service.

"Chrysler and the Postal Service have an established relationship as there are more than 10,000 of our minivans in the Postal Service fleet," said Lou Rhodes, Vice President--Advance Vehicle Engineering and President of ENVI, Chrysler LLC. "The Postal Service is a recognized environmental innovator and leader, and we are excited at the prospect of continuing our relationship by working to deliver alternative energy postal delivery vehicles in the future."

Because robust grid integration is essential for widespread customer acceptance of electric vehicles, Chrysler has enlisted the involvement of key utility partners, including Duke, ConEd and DTE. Each has signed a letter of intent (LOI) with Chrysler to equip post offices in strategically selected regions of the United States with a charging infrastructure for the envisioned program. The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) also has signed an LOI to provide USPS integration tools.

"Our partnership is structured to easily expand into additional regions of the country as the scope of the project increases," added Rhodes.

Earlier this month, Chrysler announced A123Systems as one of its strategic partners and production battery supplier for the company's initial production electric vehicles. Chrysler LLC and A123Systems signed an agreement stating that A123Systems will supply energy storage systems for Chrysler's first-generation ENVI Range-extended Electric Vehicles and battery-only Electric Vehicles. Based in Watertown, Massachusetts, A123Systems has announced plans for a Michigan-based production facility. A123Systems will manufacture Nanophosphate Lithium ion prismatic battery cells, modules and battery packs for Chrysler LLC. Advanced lithium-ion battery chemistry has the capability of meeting consumer demands for performance, driving range and durability.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Study Shows Georgia EMCs' $17 Million Investment Pays Off in Demand Reduction and Energy Savings

/PRNewswire/ -- A recently released study of Georgia's Electric Membership Corporations (EMCs) reports that in 2008 the EMCs spent $17.2 million on programs that reduced demand by 173 MW, an 11 percent increase in demand reduction from 2007, and created energy savings of 34,580,000 kWhs, an increase in savings of 21 percent from 2007. The spending includes the development, implementation, and communication of programs that help members save energy and reduce costs, such as energy audits, electric appliance incentives and financing plans, load control options, rate options, weatherization programs, and compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb distribution.

"The amount of energy the EMCs and their members saved in 2008 would serve over 2,200 homes for an entire year, or put another way, the amount of energy saved equals what is required to serve the population of a community the size of Adel, Georgia (population 5,399), for 2008," says Paul Wood, president/CEO of Georgia EMC.

The study, 2009 EMC Demand Side Management, Energy Conservation, and Energy Efficiency Report, produced annually by Georgia EMC, documents EMC energy efficiency, energy conservation, and demand side management (DSM) activities and quantifies the potential effects those activities have on reducing demand in the state.

The study also reveals that by year-end 2008, 100 percent of the state's electric cooperatives provided green energy in their overall resource mix to members. This commitment to renewable capacity represents more than 24 MW of green energy available to members by mid-2009.

"When you combine green energy, the demand reduction in 2008, and the potential we have for an additional 100 MW of demand reduction through interruptible rates for commercial/industrial accounts, we're looking at approximately 300 MW in demand reduction and renewable resources," says Wood. "That's about the size of two or three medium peaking generation plants," he adds.

Out of 42 Georgia EMCs, 38 offer customers renewable electricity through Green Power EMC, a non-profit cooperative formed by electric cooperatives to promote renewable energy from Georgia-based resources; three receive power from TVA and participate in TVA's Green Power Switch; and one receives renewable energy from a local farmer that uses an anaerobic digester to produce electricity.

"Georgia's EMCs have been active with demand side management, energy conservation, and energy efficiency for many years and are committed to investing in new and ongoing programs," says Wood. "Their leadership and level of participation in exploring green energy options is confirmation that renewable resources have an important role in meeting the future energy needs of this state."

Each of Georgia's EMCs tailors the programs they offer to meet the needs of their customers. For example, the report shows that most EMCs provide in-home energy audits while only a few have a manufactured home program. Because almost 90 percent of EMC customers are residential, the majority of energy conservation and efficiency programs are focused on those customers. Approximately 8.6 percent of EMC customers are considered commercial/industrial.

Other key findings from the report include:

-- Georgia EMCs have been leaders in installing automatic meter reading
(AMR) and advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) systems, which
provide customers with more detailed billing information and
facilitate time-based rate options. At year-end 2008, 27 EMCs had some
level of AMR/AMI infrastructure installed, benefiting over 670,000 EMC
customers.
-- Georgia EMCs have had active load management programs for many years
and currently have 160,725 load management switches installed on their
customers' air conditioners, water heaters, and irrigation systems.
This represents an 11 percent increase in the total number of load
management switches that were in place in 2007. These systems can
reduce summer peak load by approximately 154 MWs.


"Overall, the EMCs' programs help decrease greenhouse gas emissions, help defer the need for building additional power plants, and help reduce transmission and operating costs," says Wood.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

High-Yielding Switchgrass the Focus of Ceres and University of Georgia Researchers

/PRNewswire/ -- Energy crop company Ceres, Inc., announced today that it will work with University of Georgia researchers to develop new high-yielding switchgrass seed varieties and improved crop management techniques for the southeastern United States. Switchgrass, which can reach yields of 6 to 10 dry tons or more in the Southeast, is widely considered an ideal raw material for next-generation biofuels and biopower.

The multi-year project will bring together plant breeders, agronomists and support scientists at Ceres and the University of Georgia to develop improved seed varieties. Field researchers will also evaluate cropping practices in the Southeast, adapting developments made by The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, an Oklahoma-based agricultural research institution with which Ceres has a long-term product development collaboration.

"This project allows us to expand our internal and collaborative plant breeding activities in a region where we believe the industry will have a strong presence," said Ceres plant breeding director Jeff Gwyn, Ph.D. He noted that University of Georgia has experienced researchers and a well-regarded collection of switchgrass breeding materials and germplasm -- the precursors of commercial seed varieties. "There's a lot of headroom for improvement and I'm confident that working together we can continue to drive up yields at a robust pace," he said.

Plant breeder Charles Brummer, Ph.D., University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, said that regionally focused research will be valuable for growers across the region since Georgia and the Southeast have a unique set of environmental factors, owing to their long growing season and high rainfall.

"By trialing and selecting new products in the middle of their target market, we can make greater gains more quickly and with greater certainty," Brummer said. He noted that in addition to selecting higher-yielding plants, researchers will examine seeding rates, row spacing and no-till planting recommendations, and other crop management practices.

Ceres will have commercialization rights for products developed under the Ceres-funded project. The Noble Foundation will also participate in the project, including both field research and switchgrass breeding lines. Other aspects of the collaboration were not disclosed.

In December, Ceres launched the first switchgrass and sorghum varieties developed for bioenergy, which are sold under the company's Blade Energy Crops (www.BladeEnergy.com) label. Ceres has established the largest field-trial network for dedicated energy crops in the United States, including more than a dozen leading universities and institutions.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

AWEA Annual Wind Energy Industry Report Reflects Strong Growth in 2008, Dramatic Increase in Manufacturing

Wind energy leaders in several categories maintained their #1 positions even as other leaders emerged in new categories, while 24 states saw new wind turbine and component manufacturing facilities opened, expanded or announced in 2008, according to the annual wind energy industry rankings report released today by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

The new listings, based on 2008 year-end numbers, show Texas leading in wind capacity and largest wind farms installed, Minnesota and Iowa both generating over 7% of their electricity from wind, and Indiana as the state with the fastest growth in wind on a percentage basis.
In company rankings, NextEra Energy Resources (formerly FPL Energy) continues to lead in wind farm ownership; GE Energy remained the wind turbine maker with the largest amount of new capacity installed, and Xcel Energy again leads investor-owned utilities in wind power. Wind power’s recent growth has also accelerated investment in manufacturing: wind turbine and turbine component manufacturers announced, added or expanded more than 55 facilities in 2008 alone, spanning 24 states from Alabama to Wisconsin.

“The wind energy industry today generates not only clean energy for our economy, but also hope and opportunity for American workers and businesses,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “Whether it is building or maintaining a wind project, or producing wind turbine components, you’ll find people employed in wind power in nearly all 50 states today,” Bode said.

“But we cannot rest on past achievements. We need the right policies in place for our industry to maintain its momentum. A national Renewable Electricity Standard, requiring utilities to generate 25 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025, is vital to provide the long-term, U.S.-wide commitment businesses need to invest tens of billions of dollars in clean energy installations and manufacturing facilities, and create hundreds of thousands of American jobs,” Bode said.

Highlights from AWEA’s new report include:

• Iowa, with 2,791 MW installed, surpassed California (2,517 MW) for the No. 2 position in wind power generating capacity.
• The top five states in terms of capacity installed are:
 Texas, with 7,118 MW
 Iowa, with 2,791 MW
 California, with 2,517 MW
 Minnesota , with 1,754 MW
 Washington, with 1,447 MW

• Oregon moved into the 1,000-MW club, which now counts seven states, including Texas, Iowa, California, Minnesota, Washington and Colorado.
• Indiana ranked as the state with the fastest growth rate, expanding installations from zero to 131 MW, followed by Michigan (48%), Utah (21%), New Hampshire (17%) and Wisconsin (6%).
• Two states – Minnesota and Iowa – now get over 7% of their power needs from wind. Minnesota ranks first in this list (7.48%), followed closely by Iowa (7.1%). The rest of the top five are Colorado, North Dakota, and New Mexico.
• Ten new manufacturing facilities came online, 17 were expanded, and 30 were announced in 2008, according to AWEA estimates. These investments and announcements span 24 states: Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, Tennessee, Wisconsin, South Carolina, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Illinois, Alabama, Ohio, Indiana, Montana, Texas, Minnesota, Idaho, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Massachusetts.
• Approximately 85,000 people are employed in the wind industry today—a 70% increase from 50,000 a year ago—and hold jobs in areas as varied as turbine component manufacturing, construction and installation of wind turbines, wind turbine operations and maintenance, legal and marketing services, and more.
• NextEra Energy Resources remains atop the list of project owners, with 6,290 MW of wind power assets, roughly 25% of the total installed in the U.S. The three companies that make up the next 25% are Iberdrola Renewables, MidAmerican Energy (including PacifiCorp), and Horizon-Energia de Portugal.
• GE Energy turbines accounted for 43% of all new capacity installed in the U.S. in 2008. The rest of the top five include Vestas, which accounted for 13%, Siemens and Suzlon at 9% each, and Gamesa at 7%. Several new companies--Acciona, REPower, Fuhrlander, DeWind and AWE--entered the U.S. market in 2008.
• The wind power generating fleet of over 25,300 MW in place as of December 31,2008 will generate an estimated 73 billion kWh in 2009, enough to serve the equivalent of close to 7 million average U.S. homes.

The full annual rankings report is available on the AWEA Web site at www.awea.org and a state-by-state listing of existing and proposed wind energy projects is available at http://www.awea.org/projects.
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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

U.S., Pakistan Collaborate on $24 Million Energy Project

/PRNewswire / -- A joint statement of collaboration was signed between the United States Government and the Ministry of Finance of the Government of Pakistan. The signing marked the announcement of the United States Agency for International Development's 3-year, $24 million Energy Efficiency and Capacity Building project, according to a U.S. Embassy announcement today.

Energy conservation efforts are expanding in Pakistan, resulting in the promotion of energy audits for commercial enterprises, consumer awareness campaigns to highlight the importance of efficiency in household appliances, the introduction of low-energy applications in new building construction, and renewed attention to power losses between transformers and household connections. Recurring power shortages have made energy conservation increasingly important. Some estimates indicate that 1,500 megawatts per year could be saved with an effective national campaign.

The Energy Efficiency and Capacity Building project will improve demand-side management practices in Pakistan's distribution companies; implement energy efficiency programs; support energy service companies working with Pakistani industries; and increase awareness of energy efficient practices among business and residential users. The project will also support the improvement of human resource management for the energy sector through coordinated training programs and energy partnerships.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

New Report Shows Higher Than Expected Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Oil

/PRNewswire / -- Today, a leading national advocate for advanced biofuels released a new study showing that the production and use of a gallon of oil releases more climate change emissions than previously believed. The New Fuels Alliance study, conducted by an independent research firm, found that some gallons of oil release 20 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than assumed by the currently proposed California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) to be adopted this month, even before adding price-induced carbon effects.

"This report uncovers two things about oil: (1) that there are significant direct sources of emissions omitted from the current Low Carbon Fuel Standard, which means that the current 'carbon score' for oil under the LCFS is too low; and (2) that we have not even scratched the surface of understanding the secondary, economically-induced carbon impacts of petroleum," said Brooke Coleman of the New Fuels Alliance. The second issue is important because the California Air Resources Board plans to add secondary, economically-induced carbon emissions to the carbon score of biofuel but not oil. "The current draft LCFS proposes that using more biofuel causes economic ripple effects in the marketplace that could have a climate change effect but that using more oil does not have any ripple effects in our economy," said Coleman, "which is of course not the case."

The report shows, for example, that thermally-enhanced oil recovery in California emits roughly 14 percent more climate emissions than average gasoline, while a gallon of petroleum from Venezuelan heavy crude emits 12 percent more greenhouse gases, even before taking into account secondary, economically-induced emissions. Neither fuel would be debited for these increased emissions over the "California average" carbon score for petroleum. "We're basically talking about the oil industry using significantly higher carbon intensity petroleum gallons for free under the LCFS."

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Report: U.S. Power Plant Carbon Dioxide Emissions Eased Slightly in 2008, But Much More Progress Needed to Meet CO2 Reduction Goals

/PRNewswire / -- Due in part to the recent economic slowdown and milder-than-usual weather, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from U.S. power plants dropped 3.1 percent in 2008, tempering a steady increasing trend in the preceding years, according to a new report from the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP).

EIP officials cautioned that the one-year dip is a departure from the recent trends in power plant carbon dioxide emissions, which have risen 0.9 percent since 2003, and 4.5 percent since 1998, according to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Despite the slight overall national improvement in CO2 emissions, six states had increases in power plant emissions of 1 million tons or more from 2007 to 2008: Oklahoma (3.1 million); Iowa (1.8 million); Texas (1.7 million); Nebraska (1.3 million); Illinois (1.1 million) and Washington (1.1 million).

Commenting on the new report, EIP Senior Attorney Ilan Levin said: "Unfortunately, one year of improved data does not mean that we are on the right path for carbon dioxide reduction from U.S. power plants. We clearly cannot afford a wave of conventional fossil-fired power plants that would only add tens of millions of tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere every year over the lifetimes of these new plants. If the United States is serious about curbing greenhouse gas pollution and meeting the goals that the scientific community says are needed, then many of the nation's dirtiest power plants will either need to be cleaned up or retired. We have no time to lose."

According to the EIP report: "The drop in CO2 emissions in 2008 is primarily attributable to a drop in electric generation -- gross electric output was down approximately 3.3 percent in 2008, as compared to 2007, according to the EPA data. The economy and the weather are two key factors that affect electric generation and CO2 emissions from year to year. Other factors, including the rising demand for electricity and the growth of generation by both existing and new fossil-fired power plants over the past decade, may make it increasingly difficult to make needed long-term reductions and reverse the rising emissions trend. The Department of Energy predicts that carbon dioxide emissions from power generation will increase 15 percent between 2009 and 2030, due to new or expanded coal plants. According to the National Energy Technology Laboratory, an additional 1,392 megawatts of new coal-fired generating capacity was added in 2008, and another 26,131 megawatts have been permitted."

EIP released the report today against a backdrop in which leading scientists agree on the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 80 percent over the next fifty years. The Obama Administration has proposed a plan to reduce emissions by 83 percent (from 2005 levels) by 2050, through cap-and-trade legislation. The Administration has proposed an interim short-term goal of a 14 percent reduction in emissions by 2020.

The 10 states that emitted the most CO2 in 2008, measured in total tons, are: Texas, Ohio, Indiana, Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, and West Virginia.

The 10 states with the largest CO2 increases over the past 10 years (from 1998 to 2008) are: Texas (26.9 million tons); Arizona (22.6 million); California (18.8 million); Georgia (17.7 million); Illinois (17.7 million); Oklahoma (16.6 million); Alabama (8.9 million); South Carolina (7.5 million); Colorado (6.7 million); and Iowa (6 million).

According to the EIP report, Oklahoma's massive 2007-2008 increase in CO2 emissions is primarily attributable to ramped up generation at three power plants: Muskogee units 4 & 5 (coal), Sooner units 1 & 2 (coal) and Northeastern units 3314 (coal) & 3302 (natural gas) accounted for the vast majority of the CO2 increase. Combined, the units increased their CO2 emissions 4,286,131 tons from 2007 levels.

Reported C02 emissions were obtained from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency "Clean Air Markets" webpage. The database is a publicly accessible repository for emissions and other operational data self-reported by the utility industry, and includes more than 1,000 power plants regulated under the federal Acid Rain Program. Additional information on these programs and the database can be found on EPA's Clean Air Markets web page at http://www.epa.gov/airmarkets/.

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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Tax Relief Executive Orders Ratified by General Assembly

Governor Sonny Perdue announced today that the General Assembly has given final passage to three House Bills that ratify Executive Orders cutting taxes on Georgia’s citizens.

House Bill 46 ratified an Executive Order that suspended the state’s prepaid state motor fuel tax on dyed fuel oils (off-road diesel). Dyed fuels are specifically used for off-road purposes in agricultural, timber, mining and construction industries. These industries were unfavorably affected by the amount of off road diesel in 2008 and the effect was to do away with Georgia’s sales tax on the sales of off-road diesel.

By suspending the tax, farmers and timber owners saved the four percent sales tax charged on off-road diesel. The state does not charge an excise tax on this type of fuel, and the executive order did not impact local taxes.

Rep. Jay Roberts introduced the legislation in the House and was carried in the Senate by Sen. John Bulloch. The bill will ratify the suspension of the collection of this tax from May 2008 through May 2009.

House Bill 121 ratified an Executive Order suspending the increase in gas tax that was set to go into effect on July 1, 2008. Taxpayers saved an estimated $70 million from the suspension, seeing relief at a time when gas prices were at an all-time high.

The suspension froze the state motor fuel and state sales taxes on other categories of fuel, including diesel, aviation gasoline, liquid propane gas and special fuels, which includes compressed natural gas. Taxes on diesel were set to rise 4.2 cents a gallon to 16.5 cents and taxes on aviation gasoline would have increased by 3.6 cents per gallon to 20.9 cents. Propane taxes would have risen 0.8 cents a gallon to 8.2 cents and taxes on compressed natural gas would have increased 2.9 cents per gallon to 13.8 cents. The suspension does not freeze or apply to any local sales and use taxes.

Rep. Jim Cole introduced the bill and was carried in Senate by Sen. Bill Heath. Both bills received unanimous passage by both bodies.

House Bill 59 ratified an Executive Order that removed the sales and use tax on drugs that are provided as samples to physicians and those dispensed for clinical trials, which are approved by the Institutional Review Boards (IRBs). By eliminating the inconsistency in the law, pharmaceutical medicines will be sold at retail and not taxed, but those that are distributed for no cost are subject for taxation.

This legislation was introduced by Rep. Larry O’Neal and was carried in Senate by Sen. Ronnie Chance. The bill passed unanimously in both bodies.
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Friday, April 3, 2009

Georgia Tech Powers Southeast's First Solar Cell Manufacturer

Using technology developed at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Suniva Inc. has become the first solar cell manufacturer in the Southeast. The company is making high-efficiency crystalline-silicon photovoltaic cells around the clock at a 73,000-square-foot facility in Norcross, north of Atlanta.

Moreover, Suniva expects to expand quickly. Using technology based on the research of Georgia Tech Regents’ Professor Ajeet Rohatgi, the company is presently manufacturing its ARTisun solar cells at a rate of 32 megawatts (MW) annually. Since an average U.S. home requires about 5 kilowatts of power, Suniva’s present annual output can furnish enough solar cells to supply about 6,300 homes, Rohatgi says.

Suniva plans to ramp up to an annual solar-cell output of nearly 100 MW – enough to power about 19,000 U.S. homes. The company currently employs about 70 people and expects to add more staff as it grows.

Suniva uses a patented technology it calls Star to extract maximum performance from wafers of monocrystalline silicon, a material often used for solar power generation.

A solar cell contains several layers, and every layer plays a role in the cell’s overall efficiency. Rohatgi has studied solar cells in depth for some 30 years, learning how to optimize each layer to get maximum output – at the least cost.

“We want to be right at the sweet spot,” said Rohatgi, who is both Suniva’s founder and chief technology officer. “We want cells that are highly efficient but low in cost, and that can generate power at a cost comparable to the power you buy from the electric company.”

Rohatgi’s solar-cell research has received significant funding over many years from the U.S. Department of Energy.

“Suniva is a shining example of how government support for research can lead to very real job creation,” said Robert Knotts, director of federal relations for Georgia Tech. “It’s a strong reminder of why we should invest in research.”

Suniva’s current solar-cell output falls in the 17- to 18-percent efficiency range, which Rohatgi classifies as high, especially in a lower-cost cell. But the company is continuing to improve its technology, and recently the National Renewable Energy Laboratory certified a new Suniva cell and cell structure at 20 percent efficiency, generally considered very high.

Suniva is a graduate of VentureLab, a Georgia Tech program supported by the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) to foster young companies based on commercially promising research. In early 2008, Suniva joined the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), Georgia Tech’s science and technology incubator.

Georgia Tech’s VentureLab is part of Commercialization Services, a unit of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute. Commercialization Services’ work involves identifying, evaluating and promoting Georgia Tech research discoveries that show commercial promise.

To date, Suniva has received total funding of $55.5 million from several venture capital organizations, including Menlo Park, Calif.-based New Enterprise Associates (NEA). Even more significant, Suniva now has contracts worth more than $1 billion through 2013, with more agreements expected.

Rohatgi, who runs the University Center of Excellence for Photovoltaic Research and Education in Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, admits he was hesitant when VentureLab and NEA began encouraging him in 2006 to start a solar-cell company. He told them it would be better to wait until he’d achieved even higher efficiencies in a low-cost cell.

“The VentureLab people were very helpful to me as I thought through the pros and cons of starting a company,” Rohatgi said. “I wanted to wait for 20 percent efficiency, but VentureLab and NEA executives convinced me that we already possessed a unique balance of efficiency and cost.”

Rohatgi said Suniva gained another advantage early on—a first-class management team.

“With the help of NEA and VentureLab, Suniva has assembled a great management team with enormous experience in running technology manufacturing companies,” he said. “I have to admit that being able to put together such a well-established team played a big role in my decision to start the company in August 2007.”

Suniva’s chairman and CEO, John W. Baumstark, is a technology-industry veteran with wide experience that includes serving as CEO of DWL before its acquisition by IBM and as chief operating officer of TRADEX Technologies before and during its acquisition by Ariba Inc. for $5.6 billion in 2000.

The company’s vice president of manufacturing, Stephen P. Shea, ran BP Solar’s manufacturing line for many years. Daniel L. Meier, vice president of research and development, has worked for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and has run R&D for two other companies.

Other top Suniva management includes CFO James M. Modak and vice president of marketing and sales J. Bryan Ashley.

According to Baumstark, Suniva’s expansion plans have not been hampered by global credit problems.

“We've been fortunate,” Baumstark said recently. “We've picked partners well and have not had to cut back. Having versatility and orders already in place has been very good for us.”

In August, Suniva announced it had solar cell orders from Solon AG of Germany for $500 million through 2012, and some $480 million in orders through 2013 from India’s Titan Energy.

Baumstark added that Suniva executives are currently negotiating with several other companies about additional deals.

"In the next two to three years, we expect the quality-price balance of our product will put us at grid parity at a dollar per watt,” Baumstark said, meaning that power from Suniva cells would cost about as much as buying power from the electric company.

Rohatgi said he will continue to work to make Suniva an important contributor to Georgia’s manufacturing base.

“It’s a very nice feeling to bring in new technology to Atlanta and to Georgia,” he said. “Suniva is the first solar-cell manufacturing company in the Southeast, and we want very much for it to be a complete success.”

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