Green Bank Idea Draws Some Concern

Gov. Gina Raimondo’s Green Bank idea could complement existing Rhode Island renewable-energy and energy-efficiency programs, or it could lead to their demise.

Goals for a Clean Energy Future -Massachusetts Legislative Agenda for 2015

A new Massachusetts Legislature is in session. Acadia Center is ready and focused on a slate of policy initiatives developed to propel the state’s transition to a broadly electrified energy system that is low-carbon, efficient, and consumer-friendly. Massachusetts has made great strides to embrace an energy future that offers lower costs, greater consumer control and significant progress toward state and regional greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction goals. Now it is time to pick up the pace.  With advocacy action, stakeholder collaboration and in-depth economic and emissions analysis, Acadia Center is working to ensure success of these proposals, adopt forward-looking policies, uproot outdated technologies and apply new ways of thinking about energy options. Acadia Center calls for action to accomplish the following:

Accelerate Clean Energy Uptake: Ensure clean energy supply, reduce over-reliance on natural gas, and drive regional economic development by supporting proposals that use clean, distributed indigenous energy resources; enable utilities to pursue large-scale competitive procurement of renewable generation; lock in a state target to deploy 1600 megawatts of solar energy by 2020 with a “Value of Solar” utility rate structure; increase the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard growth rate to attain 20% renewable energy supply by 2020 and 80% by 2050;  direct the Department of Public Utilities to promote energy storage technologies.

Advance Electric Vehicles (EVs): With the current mix of energy generation, an EV produces less than half the GHG emissions of a comparable gasoline car. And, EVs provide cost savings for consumers — only 6 cents per mile to drive at current electricity prices — while boosting the regional economy, supporting energy independence, and improving public health. Acadia Center is working with partner organizations and policy leaders to remove barriers to EV adoption: provide incentives, develop a utility framework to increase EV adoptions, build-out charging infrastructure, increase consumer and business education about EVs, and adopt targets for state fleet EV purchases.

Price Carbon Emissions: Markets react quickly and cost-effectively to price signals. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) drove deep reductions in emissions for the power sector more quickly than expected and the economies of participating states grew faster than the rest of the country. Acadia Center is advocating that carbon pricing in Massachusetts should include fossil fuel importers and large emitters (other than power plants currently covered by RGGI) and return revenue to businesses/consumers through refunds or energy efficiency investments.

Acadia Center is engaged now with state leaders and representatives from consumer, labor, business, and other stakeholder groups to advance these priorities through state processes, legislative proposals and policy analysis.

Acadia Center’s full Legislative Agenda for Massachusetts is available here. Please check back at this blog and at our website for updates and related materials.

Support Efficiency Investments for a Clean Affordable Energy Economy

Stephen Beale’s January 15th article in GoLocalProv, “Electric Rate Hike Means Millions More in RI Tax Revenue,” states that Rhode Island’s energy efficiency programs make our electric bills more expensive. This is misleading at best. In fact, far from being any sort of “extra,” the Energy Efficiency Program Charge is the only portion of the bill that helps save us money.

RI is a proven leader in energy policy and efficiency investments; this is good news for Rhode Islanders.

Gas Price Spikes Likely through 2019 Study Says

…Acadia Center (formerly Environment Northeast), while supportive of the effort to explore alternatives, believes the study is incomplete. The group said it could be misinterpreted as support for a new subsidy that would shift multi-billion dollar risks from private corporations to the public…

New Appointees to DPU Will Face Key Decisions for MA’s Energy Future

Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Matthew Beaton today announced Robert Hayden will serve as Commissioner of the Department of Public Utilities (DPU), Angela O’Connor will serve as Chair of the DPU, and Ronald Gerwatowski will serve as Assistant Secretary for Energy.

“These appointments are coming at a critical time in the Commonwealth’s approach to energy policy,” said Daniel L. Sosland, Acadia Center President. “With major changes in technology making clean energy and energy efficiency more affordable, and big questions on the horizon about how we will plan and use energy resources, the DPU and energy administrative leadership will play an important role in shaping Massachusetts’s economic and energy future.”

Massachusetts has been a national leader in forging clean energy policies, but there is still important work to be done. The DPU is facing decisions on an array of complex and critical issues related to energy procurement, planning and infrastructure that will require input from and consideration of perspectives of a wide range of stakeholders. Key decisions this year will have long-term effects throughout the Commonwealth.

Acadia Center looks forward to working with the DPU and energy policy leaders and stakeholders to advance solutions that will meet environmental targets and challenges, grow a strong economy, protect consumer choice and build a strong energy future for Massachusetts.

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Contact:

Emily Avery-Miller, Director External Relations, Acadia Center, 617-742-0054 x100, eavery-miller@acadiacenter.org

Acadia Center is a non-profit, research and advocacy organization committed to advancing the clean energy future. Acadia Center is at the forefront of efforts to build clean, low-carbon and consumer-friendly economies. Acadia Center provides accurate and reliable information, and offers a real-world and comprehensive approach to problem solving through innovation and collaboration.

 

Boston, MA / Hartford, CT / New York, NY / Providence, RI / Rockport, ME / Ottawa, ON, Canada

admin@acadiacenter.org / www.acadiacenter.staging.wpengine.com / Daniel L. Sosland, President

 

 

Environmental group calls for further study of need for natural gas expansion

A New England environmental group with offices in Hartford is calling for further study of the need for additional natural gas transmission capacity in the region after the release of 118-page consultant’s report prepared for the state of Massachusetts.

Officials with the Acadia Center say the report released Thursday by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Synapse Energy Economics fails to address why New England ratepayers and not private sector energy companies should pay for any expansion of capacity.

A warning on natural gas

Just minutes before Charlie Baker became governor, the Patrick administration released a $250,000 study suggesting winter electricity prices are likely to remain very high for the next four years and additional natural gas pipeline capacity is needed to address the problem.

[…]

Peter Shattuck, Massachusetts director for the Acadia Center, which advocates for clean energy, said it might not make sense to require customers across New England to pay for new pipeline capacity that may only be needed for about three years under the report’s most optimistic demand scenario. He said the report also failed to consider what might happen to energy markets if the price of oil remains unusually low.

State-funded report recommends big increase in gas pipeline capacity

A report commissioned by the Patrick administration and released Thursday, less than an hour before Charlie Baker’s inauguration as governor, shows the need for a significant increase in natural gas capacity to help fuel local power plants on cold days.Peter Shattuck, clean energy initiative director at the nonprofit Acadia Center, said the report did not consider the recent worldwide plunge in oil prices or fully assess other energy projects that could eventually come online.

[…]

“It’s important for the governors . . . to look at all the alternatives before they make a significant gamble on gas,” he said. “I don’t think the study does that.”

Reducing New England’s Overreliance on Natural Gas: Massachusetts Study a First Step toward an Integrated Regional Alternatives Plan

Boston, MAOn January 8, 2015 Massachusetts released a “Low Demand Analysis” evaluating means to reduce overreliance on natural gas through investments in clean energy. The analysis found that prioritizing energy efficiency, renewable energy, and imports of Canadian hydroelectricity would reduce Massachusetts’s exposure to wintertime price spikes that result from our growing dependence on natural gas for heating and electricity generation. However, constraints placed on the study limit its applicability to current energy challenges facing New England; this initial analysis should not be interpreted to support a new subsidy that would shift multi-billion dollar risks from private corporations to the public.

 

“Massachusetts has taken an important but preliminary step toward thorough analysis of viable supply- and demand-side solutions to meet our energy needs,” said Acadia Center President Dan Sosland. “Because electric ratepayers across New England are being asked to subsidize the construction of a pipeline that could take decades to pay off, alternatives need to be examined in all New England states to ensure that we have an accurate, up-to-date picture of how to power the region while reducing risks to consumers and bringing down greenhouse gas emissions.”

 

A number of key limitations make the need for updated, regional analysis clear:

  • Limitation to Massachusetts – Taken together, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont account for the majority of energy use in New England and offer significant clean energy opportunities but the study evaluated alternatives to natural gas pipeline capacity only for Massachusetts.
  • Outdated assumptions – Key assumptions underpinning the model no longer reflect economic and political realities on the ground. Examples include:
    • Fuel prices – Prices for oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) have dropped significantly since the study was launched, affecting the economics of pipeline gas versus alternatives that do not require new infrastructure.
    • Electricity imports – Recently-proposed projects to import a mix of Canadian hydroelectricity and wind from northern New England are not reflected in the analysis.
    • Offshore wind – Forthcoming legislation in Massachusetts will feature significant procurement of offshore wind – which reduces gas demand and prices during winter peaks – yet offshore wind was not included in any of the scenarios.

 

Proposals to expand natural gas pipeline capacity rely on an unprecedented region-wide electricity tariff requiring federal approval. It is critical for policymakers both to demonstrate that they have fully examined and exhausted alternatives across the region and also to minimize risks to consumers. These risks include natural gas price increases due expanded exports, which the Department of Energy has concluded could raise prices by almost 50%, or a repeat of last year’s cold weather, which caused natural gas prices in Pennsylvania to skyrocket, undermining the argument that imported shale gas would reduce price spikes.

“This report begins to show a way to break our addiction to natural gas,” said Peter Shattuck, Massachusetts Director for Acadia Center. “Now we need a full assessment of alternatives to a multi-billion dollar pipeline ‘fix’ that would increase our addiction, transfer risk from private corporations to the public, and undermine efforts to reduce climate pollution most cost-effectively.”

It is important to note that New England states’ mere consideration of subsidizing new pipeline capacity has likely had a chilling effect on the market and undermined potential private sector financing for energy infrastructure. In contrast to the proposed pipeline tariff in New England, private producers are bearing the financial risks associated with the Constitution Pipeline running from Pennsylvania to New York. Since New England Governors initially proposed supporting new pipeline capacity in 2013, similar private financing proposals have failed to materialize as developers wait to see if the public will take on project risks.

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Contact: Peter Shattuck, Massachusetts Director, 857-636-2502, pshattuck@acadiacenter.org
Emily Avery-Miller, Director External Relations, Acadia Center, 617-742-0054 x100, eavery-miller@acadiacenter.org

Acadia Center is a non-profit, research and advocacy organization committed to advancing the clean energy future. Acadia Center is at the forefront of efforts to build clean, low-carbon and consumer-friendly economies. Acadia Center provides accurate and reliable information, and offers a real-world and comprehensive approach to problem solving through innovation and collaboration.

Boston, MA / Providence, RI / Hartford, CT / Ottawa, ON, Canada /

admin@acadiacenter.org / www.acadiacenter.staging.wpengine.com / Daniel L. Sosland, President