In the next few months, policymakers across New England may commit tens of billions of ratepayers’ dollars to gas pipelines and electric transmission that will shape the region’s energy future for decades to come. Some of the projects probably make sense, and could help to replace the region’s outdated power plants with cleaner resources, stabilize costs, and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, as Part I of this analysis series described, bigger is not necessarily better – particularly when it comes to pipelines – since the region is already struggling with over-reliance on natural gas.
The Challenge A previous post, Massachusetts Net Metering and Solar Policy Status and Next Steps , addressed the Net Metering and Solar Task Force report and outlined some considerations for reforms going forward. Front and center right now is the issue of statutory net metering caps,* which limit the amount of solar that can be credited for generating electricity. These caps have been reached in National Grid’s service territory, which is preventing municipal, community-shared, and low-income solar projects from moving forward in 171 cities and towns across the Commonwealth. Policymakers in the Baker Administration and Legislature have made it clear
…“The big energy winners this session were rooftop solar and natural gas,” said a statement from Bill Dornbos, Connecticut director and senior attorney for the regional advocacy group Acadia Center. “We’re committed to making potentially massive new investments in both the clean fuel of the future and the best of the old-school fossil fuels. I’m not sure both can be right, but we’re placing the bets, and they’re in the hundreds of millions of dollars.”…
…”The end of the day, the really cutting-edge energy legislation didn’t make its way through,” said William Dornbos, the state director of the Acadia Center, an energy and environment advocate. The highest-profile part of the bill had initially been a $10 cap on the fixed monthly fee on residential electricity bills; the cap was later reduced to a list of definitions for costs that utilities could allocate to the fixed fee…
A group of 44 organizations, including sustainable energy and environmental advocates, solar developers, public health organizations, and community groups, have proposed the Next Generation Solar Policy Framework for Massachusetts, which they say would put the state on a path to a self-sustaining solar industry that can help the state meet its energy and environmental goals… “It is indisputable that solar power is now part of the Commonwealth’s economic and energy future,” said Daniel L. Sosland, Acadia Center President.
New England’s energy system is not mired in the crisis that many people assume it is, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Acadia Center argues in a policy paper published this week by Commonwealth Magazine. The article — to be followed by two more parts over the next few weeks — argues that New England energy markets performed well during record cold in 2015, undercutting the widespread belief that the six states in the region need aggressive action to head off looming shortages. (This article is available only with a subscription to EnergyWire or E&E Publishing)
Forty-Four Organizations Propose Next Generation Solar Policy Framework for Massachusetts and Call for Lifting of Net Metering Caps
Boston, MA – In advance of a hearing today on solar policy at the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy Committee at the Massachusetts legislature, forty-four organizations, including sustainable energy and environmental advocates, solar developers, public health organizations, and community groups, are proposing the Next Generation Solar Policy Framework for Massachusetts. This framework would put us on a pathway to a self-sustaining solar industry that can help our state continue a record of success on jobs inside and outside the solar industry, meet its energy and environmental goals, and ensure all citizens and communities have access to solar resources.
New England’s energy system is at an important juncture, but we are not facing a crisis. After last year’s winter, many argued for radical action to head off looming shortages and increasing prices. However, when we look at how well the energy system weathered the record-cold of 2015, the crisis narrative breaks down. Furthermore, when considering the potential financial motivations behind some of the proposed “solutions,” a more complicated picture emerges. This three-part analysis series endeavors to clarify this picture by describing the problem and risks that New England faces, the steps that states are taking to address the problem,