Nov/Dec 2009

State News: August 2009



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Energy, the Stimulus and the Green Economy

By Mikel Chavers and Mary Dusenberry, CSG editors

Nearly 14 percent—or $106 billion—of the $787 billion stimulus package is aimed at reviving the green economy, including tax breaks, loan guarantees and incentives. An estimated $18 billion of the green investments in the package will help improve mass transit systems, according to Reuters.
Wisconsin is just one of the states looking to take an early advantage of the green provisions included in the stimulus. On March 3, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu met with Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle about the investments in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—investments that could help Wisconsin and other states to create jobs, help families save on their energy bills and address the climate crisis.
“Wisconsin is a leader in developing and implementing renewable energy sources that will power our economy and address the climate crisis,” Chu said in a press release. “The President’s recovery plan represents a huge opportunity for Wisconsin to build on this strength—supporting investments that will create a new generation of clean energy jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and save families money on their energy bills. I look forward to working with Gov. Doyle and other leaders in Wisconsin as we make these important investments in our economic future.”
Wisconsin’s status as a manufacturing state may position it to create jobs producing wind turbines, solar panels and a broad range of other components needed as the Obama Administration uses stimulus funding to investment in renewable energy technology, according to the press release.
Wisconsin House Speaker Mike Sheridan said his state is already applying for energy-related grants through the stimulus act and is setting that wheel in motion. The state hopes to secure $20 billion for energy projects and another $18 billion for clean water and environment projects, Sheridan said.
And even before the stimulus hit, states looking for a cleaner energy source have found it blowing in the wind.
That’s not all. As states strive to diversify their energy portfolios, some are looking at technology to make the use of coal cleaner and are once again considering nuclear energy.
Wind energy is fast becoming a renewable of choice across the American heartland. And several states offer incentives for the wind industry to put up turbines to meet a percentage of clean energy resource standards.
With an eye to making coal more environmentally friendly, states and the industry seek ways to make the numbers work, especially in a weakening economy. Although what’s considered clean coal technology is expensive, Texas is proposing a tax break and aims to stimulate coal projects that actually capture CO2 and then use the byproduct for enhanced oil recovery, injecting it deep underground to squeeze out all the oil from the fields.
In a diverse energy portfolio, experts are also saying nuclear energy has to be part of the equation. But, upfront costs of building new nuclear power plants can be staggering, according to a recent Trends in America nuclear energy brief from The Council of State Governments. These are billion-dollar projects.
When a nuclear power company, Detroit-based DTE Energy, first announced its plan to build a new 150 megawatt nuclear reactor at the Fermi plant in Michigan in February 2007, the company estimated the total project cost at $3 billion, according to the brief.


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