Massachusetts Would Set Highest Energy Savings Goals in the Nation with 2016-2018 Energy Efficiency Plan

Boston, MA– Massachusetts’ utilities have proposed the nation’s most ambitious energy efficiency programs, which will produce almost $8 billion in benefits over the next three years. The next chapter of the award-winning MassSave energy efficiency programs is now in the hands of the Department of Public Utilities, with a decision on the final proposed 2016-2018 Energy Efficiency Investment Plans expected by the end of January. Public comment on the plans is being heard today, November 30, 2015, beginning at 2 PM at the DPU’s offices at One South Station, 5th Floor.

The proposed plan features goals and strategies for saving energy and reducing bills for Massachusetts homes and businesses. If adopted, the programs will provide almost $8 billion in economic benefits and energy savings over the three year period – on top of $12.5 billion in benefits that the programs have delivered since 2008. The plan also sets the highest savings goals in the nation – annual reductions of 2.93% of electric retail sales and 1.24% of natural gas retail sales – even higher than the 2015 savings goals that resulted in Massachusetts being ranked #1 in energy efficiency by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy for the 5th year running. Energy savings would deliver environmental benefits equivalent to removing over 410,000 cars from the road.

“Massachusetts’ energy efficiency programs are delivering on their promise to create large energy savings for consumers, and move the Commonwealth toward a clean, affordable and secure energy future,” said Daniel L. Sosland, Acadia Center President. “Efficiency is the best near-term energy strategy for reducing Massachusetts’ residents’ energy bills. Investing in energy efficiency produces immediate bill savings that persist for years to come,” said Sosland.

The three-year plan was developed collaboratively with the state’s utilities and key stakeholders representing a wide range of consumer and environmental interests, including Acadia Center, the Energy Efficiency Advisory Council (EEAC), the Department of Energy Resources, and the Attorney General’s Office. By making successful use of the EEAC as a stakeholder council, the proposed plan improved markedly since the original draft in April. Among other factors, annual electric savings goals increased 17%, while the cost per unit of savings decreased 13%; and annual gas savings goals increased 15% while the cost per unit of savings decreased 6%, compared to the April 30th draft.

“Energy efficiency is a resource just like energy from Brayton Point, Pilgrim Nuclear, or other centralized power plants” said Acadia Center Senior Attorney, and EEAC representative, Amy Boyd. “But energy efficiency is much cheaper, cleaner, and lower risk. Approving this plan would be the best way to help customers save money.”

By investing in as much low-cost energy efficiency as possible, Massachusetts is reducing the cost of doing business in the state and leaving consumers with more money in their pockets. Such consumer savings are often spent right in Massachusetts —where they can support our local markets, our students, our education and health facilities—while payments to fossil fuel providers head immediately out of state. Every dollar invested in cost-effective energy efficiency boosts the Massachusetts Gross State Product an estimated $6.40 and every $1 million invested in energy efficiency generates around 43 job-years of employment.

 

Contact:

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

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

 

###

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.

We Are Not Facing an Energy Crisis, Here Are Four Reasons Why

The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office recently released a study showing that energy efficiency and demand response are more cost-effective than publicly-funded pipelines in meeting the region’s energy needs, and that renewable energy will help us achieve greenhouse gas reduction goals. Four key facts support the study’s findings:

  • Electricity prices have declined without new pipelines: Massachusetts’ electricity prices are declining due to improved planning and market reforms. Specifically, Eversource’s winter rate is 27% lower than last year’s rate, and National Grid’s rate is almost 25% lower than last year. These lower prices are due in part to market reforms, implemented by the regional grid operator ISO-New England, that are improving utilization of existing gas delivery infrastructure and leading power generators to develop plans for ensuring adequate fuel supplies during winter peak.
  • Energy efficiency is reducing electricity demand: Massachusetts’ and other New England states’ aggressive energy efficiency programs are causing winter energy demand to decline, reducing the need for additional pipeline capacity and other energy infrastructure. Despite using conservative assumptions that overstate the cost and understate the impact of efficiency programs, ISO-NE predicts that winter peak demand will decline by 0.1% annually through 2024, and the actual impact of energy efficiency is likely far greater. Acadia Center has demonstrated that ISO-NE consistently overestimates energy consumption and peak demand: winter peak energy demand was 24% lower in 2014 than the 2006 projection, and total 2014 energy consumption was 17% lower than the 2006 projection. These inaccurate projections overstate the need for expensive energy infrastructure, including oversized natural gas pipelines that could be used to support gas exports overseas the majority of the year.
  • Clean energy procurement will displace gas generation: On November 12th Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for significant quantities (up to 1,000MW plus) of hydroelectric and wind, and solar energy that will displace natural gas generation and reduce power sector natural gas demand. Legislative proposals in Massachusetts to procure additional hydroelectricity and wind could more than double the quantity of energy in the RFP, offsetting even more natural gas demand. It is worth noting that the costs for hydroelectricity, renewable energy, and transmission are conservatively overstated in the Attorney General’s report, and actual prices for blended wind and hydroelectricity would have to be lower to compete in the regional electricity market.
  • Gas plants with limited backup generation: New power plants approved through the regional grid operator’s Forward Capacity Market Auction in early 2015 all include natural gas generation with oil backup. On the few coldest days when natural gas supplies are dedicated to meeting heating needs, these plants will run on oil. This modest, limited use of oil generation during winter peaks in the near term, before more renewable generation comes online, would have a far smaller impact on GHG emissions than new pipelines used year-round, and would be less expensive to consumers than pipeline expansion.

 

The Attorney General’s report shows that commonsense market reforms, improvements in energy efficiency, and new clean energy supplies offer the best pathway to addressing winter price volatility, and achieve necessary GHG reductions, and the findings are matched by facts on the ground.


 

Shattuck_Headshot

Peter Shattuck is Director of Acadia Center’s Massachusetts office and Clean Energy Initiative. Peter’s work at Acadia Center focuses on cleaning up the energy supply across all sectors of the economy. Driving market-based emissions reductions is at the core of this work, using cap and trade policies such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which Acadia Center has tracked since the program’s early development in the 2000s.

AG report draws reactions along pipeline issue lines

The study shows that publicly funded natural gas pipelines in New England are unnecessary, said the Boston-based Acadia Center, one of more than a dozen energy, environmental and consumer groups that served as advisers. “This study is matched by facts on the ground,” said Peter Shattuck, Acadia’s Massachusetts director. “Common sense market reforms, improvements in energy efficiency, and new clean energy supplies coming online are already addressing winter price volatility, making it clear that massive outlays for subsidized gas pipelines are an unnecessary risk for Massachusetts citizens to bear.”

Giving Solar Consumers the Cold Shoulder

…As the article describes, many business groups argue that lifting the caps would result in hundreds of millions of dollars more in consumer electric bills. These numbers, however, are off-base as shown by studies done by Environment Massachusetts and the Acadia Center, among others. In fact, lifting net-metering caps will result in a net social gain…

Report: New England Doesn’t Need More Natural Gas Pipelines

…Peter Shattuck says energy prices are coming down. He’s with the Acadia Center, a nonprofit think tank that advocates for clean energy solutions. He points out that Massachusetts’ electricity prices are about 25 percent lower than last year and it’s because of a combination of factors. “It’s better planning by the power plant owners, simply ensuring that their plants are ready to run, that they have adequate supplies of fuels and also significantly due to market reforms,” he says…

Eversource, National Grid gas-reliant RFPs run afoul of state rules, greens say

Requests for proposals submitted by National Grid and Eversource run afoul of Massachusetts’ regulations requiring energy resources be considered on equal footing, according to a group of clean energy developers led by the Acadia Center, Smart Grid News reports…

New Pipelines Unnecessary in New England: Facts Support Findings of MA Attorney General Study

BOSTON, MA – New publicly-funded natural gas pipelines in New England are unnecessary according to a new study by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. This finding is validated by significant developments in the region’s energy markets, including:

  • Improved planning and market reforms that have avoided electricity price increases despite record cold weather
  • Expanded efficiency programs that are reducing energy demand cost-effectively
  • Large-scale procurement for natural gas alternatives such as wind and hydroelectric power
  • Backup generation that new natural gas power plants will install to reduce reliance on natural gas during infrequent peak demand periods

 

“Acadia Center has long argued that the public should not be forced into the novel role of underwriting expensive, risky, privately owned pipeline projects before a full and fair considerations of all viable alternatives,” said Daniel Sosland, President of Acadia Center. “The recommendations of this study prove the wisdom of not rushing to the conclusion that new pipelines are the only solution to a reliable and affordable energy system. It is encouraging to see that analysis is demonstrating that natural gas market reforms and clean energy alternatives offer better, more affordable options.”

 
Lower electric prices due to market reforms: Massachusetts’ electricity prices are declining due to improved planning and market reforms. Specifically, Eversource’s winter rate of 10.39 cents/kWh is 27% lower than last year’s rate, and National Grid’s rate of 13.03 cents/kWh is almost 25% lower than last year. Lower prices are due in part to market reforms implemented by the regional grid operator ISO-New England and planning requirements established by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In conjunction these reforms are improving utilization of existing gas delivery infrastructure and leading power generators to develop plans for ensuring adequate fuel supplies during winter peak.

Energy efficiency reducing electricity demand: Massachusetts’ and other New England states’ aggressive energy efficiency programs are causing winter energy demand to decline, reducing the need for additional pipeline capacity and other energy infrastructure. Despite using conservative assumptions that overstate the cost and understate the impact of efficiency programs, ISO-NE predicts that winter peak demand will decline by 0.1% annually through 2024, and the actual impact of energy efficiency is likely far greater. Acadia Center has demonstrated that ISO-NE consistently overestimates energy consumption and peak demand: winter peak energy demand was 24% lower in 2014 than the 2006 projection, and total 2014 energy consumption was 17% lower than the 2006 projection. These inaccurate projections overstate the need for expensive energy infrastructure, including oversized natural gas pipelines that could be used to support gas exports overseas the majority of the year.

Clean energy procurement will displace gas generation: On November 12th Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for significant quantities (up to 1,000MW plus) of hydroelectric, wind, and solar energy that will displace natural gas generation and reduce power sector natural gas demand. Legislative proposals in Massachusetts to procure additional hydroelectricity and wind could more than double the quantity of energy in the RFP, offsetting even more natural gas demand. It is worth noting that the costs for hydroelectricity and renewable energy are conservatively overstated in the Attorney General’s report, and actual prices for blended wind and hydroelectricity would have to be lower to compete in the regional electricity market.

Gas plants with limited backup generation: New power plants approved through the regional grid operator’s Forward Capacity Market Auction in early 2015 all include natural gas generation with oil backup. On the few coldest days when natural gas supplies are dedicated to meeting heating needs, these plants will run on oil. This modest, limited use of oil generation during winter peaks in the near term, before more renewable generation comes online, would have a far smaller impact on GHG emissions than new pipelines used year-round, and would be less expensive to consumers than pipeline expansion

“This study is matched by facts on the ground,” said Peter Shattuck, Massachusetts Director for Acadia Center who served on the report’s Study Advisory Group along with representatives from utilities, the natural gas industry, and clean energy and consumer groups. “Commonsense market reforms, improvements in energy efficiency, and new clean energy supplies coming online are already addressing winter price volatility, making it clear that massive outlays for subsidized gas pipelines are an unnecessary risk for Massachusetts citizens to bear.”

 
Peter Shattuck will be taking part in a press availability call at 11:30 EST today to discuss the findings of the report, joining leaders from the business, municipal, and health sectors, including:

  • Jed Proujansky, Selectman of Northfield, Massachusetts.
  • Andy Savitz, Director of Sustainability for the City of Newton and author of The Triple Bottom Line, a nationally-acclaimed handbook for business leaders seeking to embrace sustainable business practices.
  • Tedd Saunders, Chief Sustainability Officer at the Saunders Hotel Group.
  • Bill Ravanesi, Senior Energy Director with Health Care Without Harm.

 

CALL DETAILS:

Wednesday, November 18, 11:30 EST
Conference Call: 712-775-7031, PIN: 301-222-738.

 

Contact:

Peter Shattuck, Clean Energy Initiative Director
pshattuck@acadiacenter.org, (617) 742-0054 x103

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

 

###

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.

Foul! National Grid, Eversource called on RFP

…A letter initiated by Acadia Center, non-profit clean energy research and advocacy organization, on behalf of clean energy developers calls for “fair consideration of alternatives to natural gas” in meeting the region’s electricity needs and a redrafting of the RFP to allow for participation of lower cost and lower risk clean energy options to meet the region’s clean energy needs…

Fair Competition Needed in Utility Energy Contracting

BOSTON, MA -Acadia Center joined with clean energy developers today in calling for fair consideration of alternatives to natural gas in meeting the region’s electricity needs. In a joint letter, Acadia Center and the other signatories request that utilities National Grid and Eversource redraft the solicitation to remove the current bias toward natural gas projects and ensure that a full array of cleaner, lower cost options are able to compete.

The letter is written in response to Requests for Proposals issued by the utilities on Friday October 23rd. The solicitation requires responses by November 13th – only a three week window – and seeks bids only from providers of liquefied natural gas, regional gas storage, and pipeline expansion projects. Eversource and National Grid are participants in at least one project that could qualify for contracts; the pipeline expansion and storage project Access Northeast.

The letter states: “In this RFP, the utilities limited their solicitation to a particular set of resources, gave notice to no other resources, and established a timeline so short, only their partners could submit timely responses. The RFP not only pre-judges the results by effectively barring competition, but also virtually guarantees that the Commonwealth’s ratepayers will pay more than necessary to achieve a reliable winter energy supply.”

The letter additionally notes that the proposed procurement does not appear to comply with Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities’ requirement that the proposed agreement compares favorably to “all energy resources reasonably available in the market that have the potential to address the objective of providing electricity at a reasonable cost and that compare favorably in terms of price and non-price factors.”

The procurement closes shortly before the expected release of a Regional Electrical Reliability Options Study undertaken by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, and following the announcement of electricity rates for the winter of 2015-2016 that are lower than past years. Specifically, Eversource’s winter rate of 10.39 cents/kWh is 27% lower than last year, and National Grid’s rate of 13.03 cents/kWh is almost 25% lower than last year. In Rhode Island, National Grid’s proposed rate of 8.9 cents/kWh is over 20% lower than last winter’s basic service rates.

In an appendix to the letter, Acadia Center provides supporting information on the cost-effectiveness of energy efficiency as an alternative to natural gas supply. New England’s investments in energy efficiency have already proven valuable in winter: without the demand reductions achieved since 2000, ratepayers would have paid an additional $1.46B in winter 2014 alone. The appendix also describes how the region’s grid operator has consistently over-estimated future energy demand, potentially contributing to overbuilding of natural gas pipeline and other energy infrastructure. Specifically, Acadia Center demonstrates that ISO-NE has consistently overestimated energy consumption and peak demand, with actual energy demand coming in 17% lower in 2014 than the 2006 projection, and summer peak demand falling 20% in 2014 from 2006 predictions.

The letter and appendix can be found at: http://acadiacenter.staging.wpengine.com/document/joint-comments-on-massachusetts-utilities-gas-procurement/

Contact:

Peter Shattuck, Clean Energy Initiative Director
pshattuck@acadiacenter.org, (617) 742-0054 x103

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

###

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.

How to: Critically Review Technical Reports

Analytical studies play a crucial role in the energy policy world. They help decipher complex energy markets and technologies and often affect policy decisions. This makes it important for decision makers and other policy stakeholders to critically analyze these studies.

The following steps will help you critically analyze data whether you’re a policy stakeholder or an interested third party:

  • Find the Technical Details – Whenever you encounter any new results or conclusions in a study, the first thing to do is look for the technical details of the analysis. These could be part of the main report in the form of appendices or a separate document. Within the technical details it is important to focus on the following components: scope, assumptions or data variables, data sources, methodology, and results and conclusions.
  • Understand the Assumptions or Data Variables, Scope and Caveats – Assumptions or data variables, analysis scope and caveats set up the context in which the study was done and also decide its applicability as they represent subjective aspects of the analysis. It is important to go over them to understand the potential and limitations of the analysis’ findings.
  • Investigate the Reliability of Data Sources – The data used in a study significantly affects the quality of its results and conclusions, making it important to note the reliability of data sources used in the study. If data used in a study is not properly sourced or referenced or the source is not credible, it may require further investigation.
  • Review the Methodology – The methodology section of a study outlays the mathematical models used to analyze the respective problem. Reviewing the methodology helps us understand the sophistication and detail with which the problem has been analyzed.
  • Apply What you Learned to the Results and Conclusions – The results and conclusions of a study generally contain the information relevant to the policy stakeholders’ decision-making process. A better understanding of the data used in a study can help gauge the limitation or applicability of the results and make sure the conclusions made are realistic.

 

These steps can help anyone look at analytical studies with a critical mind and will lead to a deeper understanding of the results, which is especially important when those results influence policy decisions.

 

 


 

VKumar-Headshot-e1411354535469-150x150

Varun Kumar is Policy Data Analyst in Acadia’s Climate and Energy Analysis (CLEAN) Center. He assists in the analysis of energy, climate and economic information as part of Acadia Center’s advocacy and research efforts.