Connecticut Can Move Up Energy Efficiency Rankings with Two Policy Moves

Connecticut’s 6th place ranking in ACEEE’s 2015 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard is a strong achievement. However, holding steady remains a challenge for the Nutmeg State as other peer states, like Oregon and Maryland, continue to improve their efficiency efforts. So where can Connecticut find more points for next year and perhaps even climb in the rankings? Here are two suggestions for (nearly) immediate gains.

Building Energy Codes: Putting in place modern building energy codes is crucial because it ensures that new buildings start off highly efficient. Connecticut has unfortunately not yet implemented the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), a leading model energy code for new residential and commercial construction. Most leading states have already adopted the 2012 IECC and Connecticut law even required the state to adopt the 2012 IECC within 18 months of its publication date, but Connecticut is now almost three years past that deadline with no clear adoption date in sight. If the 2012 IECC were already in place, it would not only have earned a full point under ACEEE’s scoring, but also would have locked in major energy savings as all new construction would have had to comply with this more stringent code level for the last three years. Connecticut should commit now to a firm adoption deadline in early 2016.

Combined Heat and Power: Combined heat and power (CHP) is a way to generate electricity and produce heat through the use of a single fuel, usually natural gas. CHP projects are highly efficient because they generate electricity on-site – rather than at remote power plants – and they use the waste heat for heating or industrial needs. Connecticut was an early leader in deploying CHP, but has stalled recently, installing only 3.7 MW of new capacity in 2013 and 2014 combined. The state’s 2013 Comprehensive Energy Strategy tentatively determined that 100 MW of cost-effective CHP was potentially available. By establishing a comprehensive CHP program that seeks to acquire significant new capacity and that also sets production goals for CHP generation, Connecticut could gain an additional point with ACEEE. More importantly, Connecticut could accelerate the deployment of this industry-friendly local energy resource at a time when the state needs to protect and grow its manufacturing base. Connecticut policymakers should set up a robust CHP program through new legislation in the upcoming 2016 session.

With these two reforms, Connecticut could have earned two more points with ACEEE and moved up to 4th place in the 2015 efficiency rankings. Perhaps the scoring methodology for 2016 will change – and certainly other states will continue to improve – but if Connecticut wants to keep pressing forward with energy efficiency policy innovation, it should take a hard look at energy codes and CHP.

 


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Bill Dornbos is the Director of the Connecticut Office and Senior Attorney for Acadia Center.  Bill focuses on advancing policy and regulatory solutions that seek to transform the energy system and move Connecticut towards a climate-safe, sustainable future. Recent work includes advocating for expanded investment in cost-effective energy efficiency for all fuels and analyzing greenhouse gas emissions trends in the Northeast

Lacking Natural Energy Resources, Nutmeggers Embrace Efficiency

…”Energy efficiency is about doing the same amount of work, with less energy,” said Bill Dornbos, director of the Acadia Center in Connecticut, a non-profit, that among other projects, is helping to design energy efficiency plans for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. “But if you kind of think of it another way, it’s also about preventing energy waste, which is costly, right? People needlessly paying for more energy than they need to buy to power their homes is a drag on the economy…”

Acadia Center Applauds Rhode Island’s Nation-Leading Efforts on Energy Efficiency

Rhode Island is tied with Massachusetts for first place in the utility-sector energy efficiency programs and policy category of the 2015 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, released today by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a national nonpartisan organization. In terms of the overall ranking, Rhode Island is tied with Oregon for fourth place behind Massachusetts (#1), California (#2), and Vermont (#3). This is the third year that Rhode Island has ranked in the top five states.

Least Cost Procurement, first implemented 8 years ago and extended for another 5 years this summer, is largely responsible for Rhode Island’s continued leadership on energy efficiency. “Rhode Island continues to be a leader when it comes to energy efficiency,” said Daniel Sosland, Acadia Center’s President. “Investing in low-cost energy efficiency instead of expensive electricity and natural gas helps Rhode Islanders lower their energy bills and spurs economic growth,” said Sosland.

“Lower energy bills means more money is left at the end of the month to spend on other things, and most of that spending happens locally,” said Leslie Malone, Senior Analyst with Acadia Center. Since 2008, Rhode Island has invested over $558 million in energy efficiency and consumers have realized $1.99 billion in economic benefits. In its 2016 Energy Efficiency plan – recently filed with the Public Utilities Commission – National Grid proposes investing over $83 million in cost-effective efficiency programs to deliver electric savings that are 47% less expensive than the cost of supply, and natural gas savings that are 15% less than the cost of supply. The investments in 2016 will generate more than $256.1 million in direct benefits over the life of the efficiency measures, and add over $386.9 million to Rhode Island’s Gross State Product (GSP) and generate over 4,220 job-years of employment.

Acadia Center is a member of the Energy Efficiency Resource Management Council (EERMC), the stakeholder council charged with assisting with the development, implementation, and review of energy efficiency programs in Rhode Island. The EERMC is critical to the success of energy efficiency in the states, and Acadia Center looks forward to working with fellow members, utilities and other stakeholders to make sure that the plans are implemented effectively to deliver cost savings through lower utility bills, emissions reductions, and clean energy job growth, in addition to broader economic benefits.

See the Scorecard at: http://www.aceee.org/state-policy/scorecard

 

Contact:

Leslie Malone, Senior Analyst
401-276-0600, lmalone@acadiacenter.org

Kiernan Dunlop, Communications Associate
617-742-0054 x107, kdunlop@acadiacenter.org

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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.

Acadia Center Commends CT on #6 Energy Efficiency Ranking; Sees Opportunities for Higher Ranking Next Year

Connecticut ranks #6 among all states for its energy efficiency efforts, according to the 2015 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard released today by The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a national nonpartisan organization. Connecticut held steady at the #6 spot from last year’s ranking.

“Connecticut deserves real credit for remaining a top ten performer in the rankings,” said William E. Dornbos, Acadia Center’s Connecticut Director and Senior Attorney. “Connecticut’s strong commitment to cost-effective energy efficiency helps give the state a chance to thrive – saving consumers money on their energy bills, creating jobs in the home performance industry, and growing our economy through local investments made in nearly all of our towns and cities.”

Acadia Center reviewed the Scorecard and found that an area of particularly high scoring for Connecticut is in the “utility and public benefits programs and policies” category – the largest portion of the Scorecard’s total score. Connecticut’s utility-administered energy efficiency programs demonstrated excellent national performance, earning more points for Connecticut than forty-six other states. Only Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont scored higher in this category.

Acadia Center identified two areas in the Scorecard where Connecticut could increase its score by next year – building energy codes and combined heat and power. Specifically:

  • Connecticut has not yet implemented the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). Connecticut law requires the state to adopt the 2012 IECC within 18 months of its publication date of May 2011. Connecticut is now almost three years past that deadline. Most leading states have already adopted the 2012 IECC.
  • Connecticut has not put in place sufficient programs and incentives to speed the deployment of combined heat and power (CHP), an efficient and clean way to generate electricity and produce heat through the use of a single fuel, usually natural gas. CHP projects are highly efficient because they generate electricity on-site – rather than at remote power plants – and they use the waste heat for heating or industrial needs. Connecticut was an early leader in deploying CHP, but has stalled on that front more recently.

 

“The gaps identified in the Scorecard should guide Connecticut’s energy policy actions,” said Dornbos. “We need to act with much more urgency in updating building energy codes, deploying CHP, and with other efficiency reforms because we’re missing out on the tremendous benefits they can offer our economy and quality of life. We can and should do more on efficiency, and we look forward to working with Connecticut policymakers to accelerate progress on cost-effective energy efficiency over the next year.”

Acadia Center is a member of Connecticut’s Energy Efficiency Board (EEB), which is a stakeholder body that has statutory responsibility for advising and assisting the state’s utilities in developing and implementing cost-effective energy efficiency plans for electricity and natural gas. The EEB recently approved a new three-year energy efficiency plan that is now before the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for its regulatory review and approval. The plan proposes energy savings targets that, if achieved, will provide over $2.1 billion in benefits to Connecticut’s residents and businesses over the life of the plan’s investment. The demand savings will be equivalent to a 262 MW power plant.

For more on ACEEE’s Scorecard, go to: http://aceee.org/state-policy/scorecard.

Contact:

William E Dornbos, Senior Attorney
860-246-7121 x202, wdornbos@acadiacenter.org

Kiernan Dunlop, Communications Associate
617-742-0054 x107, kdunlop@acadiacenter.org

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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.

Massachusetts Holds Off California to Receive Top Energy Efficiency Ranking for the Fifth Year in a Row

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a national nonpartisan organization, released its 2015 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard today, with Massachusetts holding the #1 rank for the fifth year in a row, having overtaken California in 2011. California is still close behind at #2, with only a half point separating the states’ rankings.

Massachusetts has proven its continued commitment to energy efficiency under its Green Communities Act of 2008 by saving a large and growing percentage of energy every year through efficiency measures, and delivering over $11.5 billion in economic benefits and energy savings for ratepayers over the last five years.

Massachusetts’ next 3-year plan (2016-2018) is currently being evaluated by the Energy Efficiency Advisory Council, a stakeholder board on which Acadia Center serves. The draft plan is expected to deliver $8.13 billion in economic benefits and energy savings over the 3 year period, and sets savings goals (2.93% of sales for electric and 1.24% of sales for natural gas) that are believed to be the highest in the nation, yet again. The environmental benefits the 3-year plan will deliver are equivalent to removing an estimated 408,000 cars from the road.

“Maximizing efficiency is a major step toward securing a clean energy future. Massachusetts is showing that the principle of deploying least-cost, non-polluting measures to reduce demand really works. It’s a triple-win for the environment, the economy and the end users who enjoy lower costs and more effective energy use,” said Amy Boyd, Senior Attorney for Acadia Center, and member of the Energy Efficiency Advisory Council.

“The Northeast is on the right path, and leaps ahead of some other states, but there is still a lot to do to make the most of this low-cost, clean resource. The states can work to find better ways to treat older buildings, provide new financing tools and technologies, and accelerate strategies to reach untreated homes and businesses,” said Boyd.

As a member of efficiency stakeholder boards in multiple states, Acadia Center looks forward to working with fellow members, utilities and other stakeholders to make sure that the efficiency plans for Massachusetts and other New England states are implemented effectively to deliver cost savings through lower utility bills, emissions reductions, and clean energy job growth, in addition to broader economic benefits.

See the Scorecard at: http://www.aceee.org/state-policy/scorecard

Contact:

Amy Boyd, Senior Attorney
617-742-0054 x102, aboyd@acadiacenter.org

Kiernan Dunlop, Communications Associate
617-742-0054 x107, kdunlop@acadiacenter.org

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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.

Four Ways to Reduce Your Energy Usage this Winter

With the arrival of autumn’s cooler weather as a reminder that winter is just around the corner, now is the time to think about ways to reduce your heating energy usage. You’ll save money and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time. Here are four things to consider doing before winter arrives:

  • Air sealing is one of the quickest and least expensive ways to reduce energy use. Many homes have lots of cracks and gaps that allow cold air to enter and create uncomfortable drafts. Most of the states in this region have low-cost programs that will bring in a home performance professional to do this work with specialized equipment that allows them to quickly locate and seal gaps as well as ensure that a home still gets a safe amount of fresh air. Contact your local utility to see what program offerings are available.
  • Insulation can also dramatically lower heating costs. Insulation levels are generally assessed when air sealing is done. Attic 800px-WALLTITE_spray_foam_insulation_being_appliedinsulation can pay for itself very quickly. Wall insulation is often more expensive, but is still usually a good investment for most homes. Often overlooked is basement insulation. Uninsulated basements are very common in New England and can waste a lot of energy. This waste can be dramatically reduced by either insulating basement walls or insulating the basement ceiling. In all cases make sure that proper air sealing is done in conjunction with the insulation.
  • Windows are often what individuals think of first when improving the efficiency of a home, but in many cases they cost a lot more than they save. If you have double pane or storm windows, you should probably consider upgrades first. However, if you are replacing your windows anyway for other reasons, be sure to get the highest efficiency you can, as the difference in price is typically not that great. Look for windows with the lowest “U factor” for the most savings.
  • Heating Systems are typically replaced when the old one breaks. If yours is on its last leg, make sure you have a plan in place for replacing it with a high efficiency unit. If you’ve insulated and air sealed your home, chances are you can use a smaller and less expensive unit than the size you have now. Planning ahead will spare you from trying to make these decisions on a cold winter day IMG_2763when you have no heat. Another option to consider is adding a ductless heat pump, which will produce heat even on the coldest winter days at low cost and with a lower carbon footprint. In the summer it offers very efficient cooling as well.

 

Helpful links:

 

 


 

Jamie Howland leads Acadia’s JAH1Climate & Energy Analysis Center (CLEAN), and Energy Efficiency and Demand Side Initiative. His work as a policy analyst focuses on data management on energy markets and emissions trends, buildings and land use issues.

New Study Shows Value of Solar in New Hampshire

Acadia Center today released a study that quantifies the grid and societal benefits of solar photovoltaic systems (solar PV) in New Hampshire. Establishing the value of distributed resources is increasingly important as states explore ways to meet energy needs and deploy clean energy resources. Acadia Center has also released Value of Solar studies for Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Vermont , and Maine’s Public Utilities Commission completed a similar type of analysis to inform decision making processes in that state.

Acadia Center assessed the grid and societal value of six solar PV systems to better understand the overall value that solar PV provides to the grid. By evaluating an array of configurations, this analysis determines that the value of solar to the grid – and ratepayers connected to the grid – ranges from 19-24 cents/kWh, with additional societal values of 6.7 cents/kWh

“Solar generation is a valuable local energy resource that provides significant benefits to ratepayers,” said Ellen Hawes, Senior Analyst, Energy Systems & Carbon Markets. Solar PV provides unique value to the electric grid by reducing energy demand, providing power during peak periods, and avoiding generation and related emissions charges from conventional power plants. The overall grid value of solar is the sum total of these different benefits.

In addition to the value that solar provides to the grid, Acadia Center’s study finds that solar PV provides broader societal benefits, including environmental gains from reduced or avoided greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. “Societal benefits should be included when assessing the overall costs and benefits of solar PV and determining additional incentives,” said Leslie Malone, Acadia Center Senior Analyst and an author of the report.

Currently, net metering is capped in New Hampshire, and utilities in the state are quickly reaching capped limits. A bipartisan group of legislators are looking at the possibility of temporarily raising the cap, while directing the Public Utilities Commission to revise how net-metered solar PV is credited.

“We hope that adding to the understanding of the value that solar provides to the grid and ratepayers will help inform this proceeding,” said Malone. One of the key findings of this analysis is that a “flat” system of compensation – such as net metering – can distort the market for solar PV by inadequately valuing the benefits that west-facing systems provide in mitigating costs driven by afternoon peak demand. The analysis also shows that in all cases, the value to the grid is more than the average residential retail rate of solar PV.

Acadia Center will be presenting the results of this study to the New Hampshire Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Energy (EESE) Board meeting on Friday, October 16th. For more information and methodology see:

http://acadiacenter.staging.wpengine.com/document/solarpv-nh

Contact:

Ellen Hawes, Senior Analyst, Energy Systems and Carbon Markets
802-649-1140, ehawes@acadiacenter.org

Leslie Malone, Senior Analyst
401-276-0600, lmalone@acadiacenter.org

Kiernan Dunlop, Communications Associate
617-742-0054 x107, kdunlop@acadiacenter.org

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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.

 

Solar Installations Skyrocket, But Connecticut Consumers Still Need to Do Their Homework

…Jamie Howland studies climate and energy at Acadia Center, a non-profit clean energy research organization. He said the declining price of a solar installation can make it a good deal, but “consumers have to do their homework and be careful.” Howland said customers should chart out any additional costs before going solar. If your roof is old and in need of replacement, for instance, do that before putting a panel on it. If there will be extra costs for things like tree removal, factor that in…

Climate Smart Communities Conference Focuses on Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Best Practices

The 2015 Climate Smart Communities Conference held in Newburgh, New York on September 25th brought together state and local municipal officials, program managers, and other stakeholders seeking to address and mitigate the impacts of climate change. The conference focused on the Climate Smart Communities (CSC) program, a unique partnership established in 2009 between six New York State Agencies and local communities designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The program expects local governments to lead by example through adopting more clean and efficient municipal operations and encouraging broader community participation with education and outreach.

There are currently 167 Climate Smart Communities throughout New York State, though levels of engagement vary widely. For a city or town to receive the designation, its local government must adopt a pledge that consists of ten elements ranging from decreasing community energy use to enhancing community resilience. Governments that do so are eligible to work with CSC Regional Coordinators to achieve their climate goals.

Climate Smart Communities Map New YorkSource: NYS Department of Environmental Conservation

The morning session at the conference started with a discussion of community microgrids. Interest in the small-scale power grids recently spiked in the state thanks in part to the NY Prize (RFP 3044) – a 40 million dollar community microgrid competition. In his presentation, John Saintcross, Assistant Director of NY Prize, emphasized that the competition is designed to promote broad participation. Of the 137 submissions received in the first stage of the competition, only five are expected to win $3-5 million to complete their projects by 2020, but the State hopes that participation alone will encourage local communities to continue exploring the idea of a microgrid and seek other funding opportunities.

Climate Smart Community Conference

 

The second presentation featured highlights from a New York Power Authority (NYPA) program intended to develop and fund energy plans for the five largest cities outside NYC. The plans included a comprehensive set of initiatives set to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions as well as improve quality of life. The cities pursued projects ranging from updating the building codes to upgrading streetlights to LEDs.

However, obstacles to completing these projects exist. For example, eighty percent of municipalities are unable to upgrade streetlights under utility ownership, making regulatory reform providing for a buyout option or an LED tariff their only option if they want to go through with the project. Senate Bill S5205B, which addresses the issue, is currently pending in the NY Legislature.

The conference closed with a joint discussion and anonymous vote on key issues communities face while pursuing sustainability initiatives. The audience members identified flooding and energy outages as primary risks in their communities and called for technical assistance as well as assistance with financing strategies. The state agencies intend to continue working with local municipalities to gather additional feedback and facilitate the process of establishing goals and targets, developing implementation plans, and identifying funding opportunities.

Overall, the conference successfully highlighted innovative community projects, identified areas for program improvement, and provided a platform for participants to exchange ideas and resource sharing among participants.

 


 

Irina_Rodina

Irina Rodina is Staff Counsel at Acadia Center focusing on grid modernization and utility reform in New York State. Irina has extensive experience in environmental and energy policy, including renewable project development and market issues, community energy development, sustainable agriculture, and climate change.

 

RGGI must be reformed to meet CPP, 2050 state goals -report

…That’s according to the Boston-headquartered Acadia Center, which in a report published Tuesday said that while RGGI meets the criteria set out in the final version of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) released this summer, the scheme’s cap and how quickly it decreases needs to be modified, as does the market’s supply safety valve.

The finalised CPP rules encourage the use of multi-state, mass-based emissions trading schemes to help meet a national target to cut power plant emissions by 32% below 2005 levels by 2030…