International, National and Regional
Since the Energy Office was created in
1973, the agency has been active in numerous regional and national
However, beginning in 1991, the historic
role the agency played in organizations began to change:
- In 1991, the Governors' Ethanol Coalition was founded
by nine members and the Energy Office was designated the group's headquarters.
Today, the 24-member group fosters ethanol growth regionally, nationally, and
- In 1997, the six-state Governors' Public Power
Alliance was formed and the Energy Office was designated to handle
administrative details for the group.
- In 1997, the Energy Office was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy
to run the day-to-day operations of the 13-state Western Regional Biomass
Energy Program. The Energy Office's contract to operate Western runs through
The activities of each organization during the reporting period are profiled
in this section.
Governors' Ethanol Coalition
By 1999, 23 states and one territory were members of the ethanol policy and
promotion group as well as representatives from Brazil, Canada, Mexico and
Sweden. The goals of the organization are to increase the use of ethanol, to
decrease the nation's dependence on imported energy resources, improve the
environment and stimulate the national economy.
An Energy Office staff member is one of the Nebraska governor's
representatives on the Coalition and the agency is the administrative
headquarters of the group.
For the 1998-1999 fiscal year, the Coalition expended $139,145 for services
and activities and received a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.
During the reporting period, the Coalition undertook activities in several
- Fourteen university and college teams, including
students from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, competed in the second
National Ethanol Vehicle Challenge. The competition challenged teams of
engineering students to improve mileage, reduce automobile emissions and
improve cold start performance on passenger cars that had been modified to
operate on 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. Private funding from
several sources augments the University effort.
- The Coalition and several other parties continued to
target three urban areas -Minneapolis, Chicago and Denver - to develop ways to
increase the number of 85 percent ethanol pumps and use by the motoring
- The quarterly Ethanol Alert, financed with a U.S.
Department of Energy grant, was delivered to more than 4,000 subscribers.
- The Coalition's web site at www.ethanol-gec.org
was maintained by the agency.
- Coalition members worked to defeat the exemption of
California from the oxygen requirement in reformulated gasoline that must be
used in the nation's smoggiest regions under the Clean Air Act. These efforts
have been concentrated on modifying federal legislation and securing an
exemption from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
- Coalition members participated in the California
regulatory process to find a replacement for the banned gasoline additive
MTBE, or methyl tertiary butyl ether. California, which uses the cleanest
transportation fuels produced in the world to address air pollution problems,
continued to search for a solution to MTBE water pollution problems. In the
past several years, increasing amounts of MTBE have been found in water
resources in California. Because of its chemical properties, MTBE is very
difficult to remove from water. In March 1999, Governor Gray Davis of
California used an Executive Order to ban use of MTBE in fuels sold in the
state after 2002. Ethanol, or one of its chemically-related alternatives, is
one possible replacement for MTBE.
- The Coalition financed a major study on the ability
of ethanol to move through water and groundwater systems. Those studies,
called "fate and transport," are used to determine if and how quickly water
supplies can be rendered polluted.
- Coalition members testified before Congress on the
benefits of the oxygen requirement in reformulated gasoline.
- The Coalition and its affiliate organization, the
National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition, continued to work to expand the use of
E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. The federal
government, the National Corn Growers and others fund this activity. The
Coalition and its partners began exploration of how best the Ethanol Vehicle
Coalition could be restructured to maximize its effectiveness.
Western Regional Biomass
In late 1997, the agency was selected by the U.S.
Department of Energy to operate the 13-state Western Regional Biomass Energy
program, one of five regional projects across the nation. The Energy Office
manages the program with the Denver Regional Support Office under a cooperative
Biomass is renewable organic matter such as forest
residues, agricultural crops and wastes, wood and wood wastes, animal wastes,
livestock operations residues, aquatic plants and municipal wastes.
The five-year operational contract is for $3.075 million
which pays for program operations and funds the biomass grant projects. Examples
of the work performed include publication and distribution of a quarterly
newsletter, publication and distribution of an annual solicitation for projects,
monitoring of projects funded by Western, distribution of Western-produced
materials and creation and maintenance of a web site: www.westbioenergy.org
During the reporting period, the Energy Office continued
day-to-day operational oversight for the 13-state region. A $103,500 grant was
received by the Energy Office for the day-to-day operation of the Western
regional program. The agency spent only $67,521 from the grant by the end of the
reporting period. The agency also received $805,000 in funds to award for grants
on projects in the 13-state region.
Over the years, Western has been responsible for
providing funding for numerous projects in Nebraska including Lincoln's 95
percent ethanol buses, soydiesel fuel tests in Department of Roads' trucks and
other ethanol and alternate fuel activities.
In March, representatives from the 13-state region that
provide oversight selected six projects in five states totaling $259,309 for
funding. An estimated $433,605 will be provided in matching funds. Thirty-five
proposals totaling $1.5 million had been submitted for funding. In Nebraska, two
projects were funded:
Bryan and Bryan received a $75,000 grant to assess and
install a gas purification system for the methane gas produced as a waste
by-product from ethanol production at the High Plains facility in York.
The Nebraska Ethanol Board received a $5,000 grant to
update and reprint an ethanol publication.
Governors' Public Power
The Governors' Public Power Alliance - a bipartisan,
short-term coalition of six of the nation's governors - was formed to make
certain that electric industry restructuring by the federal government does not
disadvantage the 68 million Americans who are served by locally- and
consumer-owned electric utilities. More than 2,000 publicly-owned electrics and
900-plus rural electric cooperative utilities provide services to almost
one-quarter of Americans. In Nebraska, the entire state is served only by
publicly-owned power systems.
The Alliance advocates positions on issues that are
beneficial to all consumers, whether served by customer-owned or investor-owned
electric utilities. The governors are concerned that consumers served by local
and regional electrics may be overlooked in federal legislative and regulatory
proposals, and seek to counter-balance the political influence of the
investor-owned utilities and large corporations which are driving restructuring
During the group's first year, 1998, Nebraska's governor
served as chairman and Tennessee's governor served as vice chairman. In 1999,
Nebraska Governor Johanns and Tennessee Governor Sundquist shared the
Chairmanship. Alaska Governor Knowles was Vice Chair of the group.
During the reporting period, the Alliance submitted
testimony at three Congressional hearings:
- U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Ways and
Means, March 1999. The Alliance commented on the President's fiscal year 2000
budget proposal that addressed private use restrictions in effect on
publicly-owned utilities and the impact of restructuring on the utilities'
past and present generation and transmission projects.
- U.S. House of Representatives, House Agriculture
Committee, General Farm Commodities, Resource Conservation and Credit
Subcommittee, May 1999. In this testimony, the Alliance reiterated its
opposition to federal mandates and potential loss of local decision-making
- U.S. Senate, Committee on Energy and Natural
Resources, June 1999. This testimony, which was presented in person by
Co-Chair and Nebraska Governor Johanns, addressed the potential lack of
competition in sparsely populated areas, praised opt-out provisions of a
federal competition mandate if the process could be simplified, supported
market power protections and aggregation of customers and expressed some
reservations about a renewable portfolio standard and public benefits fund
that included a rural safety net but required state matching funds.
The Energy Office provides administrative support to the
Alliance and maintains the group's web site: www.publicpoweralliance.org