17 bipartisan governors vow to boost clean energy

Source: Debra Kahn, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Governors of 17 states today announced a new bipartisan agreement to promote clean energy but steered clear of touching on climate change.

Led by California Gov. Jerry Brown (D), Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), the pact is aimed at boosting energy efficiency and renewable energy, modernizing the electricity grid and promoting electric and alternative fuel vehicles.

“The whole genius of this accord is we’re bringing together parties, governors of different philosophies,” Brown said today in a call with reporters. “Without having to wait for Washington, we out here among the states can accomplish something very important.”

The “Governors’ Accord for a New Energy Future” does not explicitly mention climate change. The¬†document¬†instead cites “extreme weather events,” including sea-level rise, drought and wildfires, that can affect electric reliability. It’s also not aimed at bolstering U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the utility industry, Brown said.

“There’s a very sharp cleavage in the United States on this issue of climate change, and it has a lot of partisan coloration,” he said. “We want to move forward. We want to get done important stuff without getting bogged down in the larger controversy.”

Brown said he hoped states would be able to combine massive fleet purchases of zero- or low-emission vehicles, as well as lobby the federal government more effectively for research and development funding for energy storage, alternative fuels and grid technologies.

“There’s plenty of technical advancement that can flow based on research and development, and the federal government has an ability there that if we all push together, we have a greater likelihood of attaining,” he said.

Sandoval said the agreement would help Nevada export increasing shares of renewable energy out of the state. Nevada already exports about a third of its renewable generation and is poised to increase production, with a renewable portfolio standard of 25 percent by 2025. The state also is working to install electric vehicle chargers on its highways in preparation for Tesla’s massive battery factory under construction near Reno.

“I seek to position Nevada to lead the nation in renewable energy,” he said.

Besides Sandoval, the agreement includes three other Republicans: Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. The other Democratic signatories are Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, Hawaii Gov. David Ige, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.