In Somerset, Last Coal-Burning Power Plant In Mass. Shuts Down

Peter Shattuck, director of the Acadia Center’s Clean Energy Initiative, says Dominion didn’t realize there was a revolution going on in energy production — away from coal to natural gas, renewable resources and efficiency.

“The owners really got caught flatfooted, though,” he said. “They put a ton of money into that facility and basically had to drop it a couple of years later.”

[…]

“We’re putting all of our eggs in a big natural gas basket, and it’s risky,” said Shattuck, of the Acadia Center.

He warns we’ve become dangerously over-reliant on natural gas to generate electricity, adding that we need to look to alternatives.

“Brayton is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show we can go straight from coal to clean energy,” Shattuck said. “We know how to do this. We have the tools: offshore wind, energy storage — these are the technologies of the future. We just need to use them in a smart way to make the grid stronger.”

Read and listen to the full story from WBUR Public Radio here.

How New York Is Building the Renewable Energy Grid of the Future

Jamie Howland, director of the Climate and Energy Analysis Center at the Acadia Center, an advocacy organization, said this is all still a work in progress. “It is going to take some time to know how well it’s working.”

Meanwhile, he worries about what New York hasn’t done to prime the economy. “New York has to import all its fossil fuels, so for every dollar spent on energy efficiency, the economy grows by five dollars. And New York can clearly do more on energy efficiency. It is lagging states like Massachusetts and Rhode Island.”

Read the full article from InsideClimate News here.

Connecticut lawmakers target successful energy efficiency program in effort to plug budget hole

“The RGGI cut is terrible but the energy efficiency program cut would be catastrophic,” said Bill Dornbos, Connecticut state director at the Acadia Center, a clean energy advocacy organization.

This is not Connecticut’s first try at raiding the state’s energy efficiency programs program, doing so successfully in 2003 and 2009. “When something like this happens, contractors and vendors leave Connecticut and go to neighboring states that have strong, fully-funded energy efficiency programs, like Massachusetts and Rhode Island,” Dornbos said. “After two years — and there is no certainty that the money will come back then — we will have to rebuild the program structure.”

[…]

“The Senate Republican proposal is a reflection of the new political dynamic,” Dornbos says. “I think [because of] the power sharing agreement in the Senate, proposals from either side should be taken seriously.”

Other states have used RGGI revenue to help plug general budget shortfalls, New York and New Jersey among them, according to Jordan Stutt, a policy analyst with Acadia. “The RGGI [memorandum of understanding] requires all participating states to use at least 25 percent of their auction revenue for consumer benefit or strategic energy purposes, and [Connecticut’s] proposed sweep of RGGI funds would clearly violate that provision,” he explained.

[…]

Energy efficiency also pays for itself. Every $1 invested in energy efficiency will save $3.89 in utility bills, according to the Acadia Center. Dornbos said that, over the next two years, the proposed cuts could leave an estimated 24,000 low-income households “without any good solution for how to handle their energy bills.”

“RGGI helps expand customer access to Connecticut’s high-quality energy efficiency programs,” he said. “If we lose RGGI revenue, the energy efficiency programs will have to serve fewer customers. Connecticut will be turning its back on some of the neediest households.”

Read the full article from ThinkProgress here.

Obama’s Clean Power Plan Might Be Dead In D.C., But States Are Rebuilding It Themselves

But as Fast Company has written before, the emissions reductions laid out under the Clean Power Plan are already underway, and the directive from Virginia, says Jordan Stutt, a policy analyst at the clean-energy research nonprofit Acadia Center, “is the first domino in what will be a series of states moving to adopt clean energy policies.”

In issuing the directive to Virginia’s DEQ, McAuliffe instructed that his state’s proposal to limit energy-sector emissions should fall in line with those already in place across the country, and is looking specifically to California and a coalition of nine East Coast states united under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), both of which have successfully implemented cap-and-trade policies to curb carbon dioxide emissions. Stutt says that while cap-and-trade policy implementation has been slow to spread beyond California and the RGGI (pronounced “Reggie”) states, and now Virginia, “the conversation is getting louder.” Following Obama’s introduction of the Clean Power Plan two years ago, “the whole country began preparing to comply with the standards, and most states were looking at how a RGGI model–a cap-and-trade model–might work in their state,” Stutt says.

[…]

“States are looking to these programs; they don’t want to be missing out on all the benefits the RGGI states and California have been seeing for revenue to be reinvested in clean energy initiatives and infrastructure needs,” Stutt says.

While cap-and-trade has proven effective in the RGGI states and California, and it’s likely to be the model that Virginia pursues (Stutt met with legislators in the state as far back as two years ago, as they were gauging the possibility of Virginia becoming part of RGGI), NextGen Climate founder and philanthropist Tom Steyer–who has considered running for governor of California–tells Fast Company that “there is no one magic bullet” that will dictate how states drive clean energy policies going forward. “The unending increase in the efficiency and effectiveness of technology is driving down the cost of renewable energy sources like wind and solar dramatically,” Steyer says. Unlike coal, whose price continues to rise as its supply constricts, renewable generation can proliferate with no harm to society, and states on both sides of the political divide are responding to the favorable market conditions.

[…]

While currently, those states most aggressively pursuing cap-and-trade and other carbon-reduction policies are blue states, both Kiely and Stutt emphasize that support for clean energy policies extends across political divides. RGGI was proposed by a Republican, former New York governor George E. Pataki, and John Kasich, the Republican governor of Ohio, vetoed an attempt by the state legislature in December to make the state’s renewable energy standards voluntary, saying to roll back the renewable energy policy would hurt Ohio’s economy (the legislature is continuing to fight the veto). And some of the strongest supporters of wind energy come from states like Iowa and Texas, where the availability of natural resources has driven the cost of renewables down. In Iowa, the cost is so dramatically lower that to do anything other than integrate wind into the energy landscape would put the state at an economic disadvantage–and powerful Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is strongly in support of increasing the amount of wind power the state produces.

Read the full article from Fast Company here.

Tesla pledges 10 CT stores, dealerships doubtful

A report this month by the Acadia Center disputed those job-loss concerns, finding that New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey have experienced “no evident decline in dealership jobs” since they started allowing direct sales.

Read the full article from the Hartford Business Journal here.

CT’s delayed energy plan could mean trouble for Millstone bill

“The reality of the competition being set up for Millstone is no competition at all,” said Bill Dornbos, who heads the Connecticut office of the environmental advocacy group Acadia Center. “It’s a competition that’s going to have one winner.”

Read the full article from the CT Mirror here.

Proposed Budget Raid Would Cost Connecticut Jobs, Economic Growth and Consumer Trust

HARTFORD, CT — A budget proposal released late yesterday by Senate Republicans would divert $160 million annually from Connecticut’s award-winning energy efficiency programs over the next two fiscal years—a staggering 64% cut in ratepayer funding levels that would devastate energy efficiency services for all residents and businesses. If enacted, a raid of this severity would cause significant and immediate job losses in Connecticut’s energy efficiency sector, deprive many consumers—especially residents with low or fixed incomes—of their best protection against high energy costs, stall Connecticut’s efforts to reduce carbon pollution and other air pollution, and force the state’s struggling economy to bear the increased burden of costly energy waste and higher grid infrastructure costs.

“This shortsighted budget proposal would effectively end Connecticut’s energy efficiency programs for the next two years, and perhaps beyond,” said Bill Dornbos, Connecticut Director and Senior Attorney at Acadia Center. “Cost-effective energy efficiency is at the center of any modern clean energy strategy, and so this troubling cut would be a needless step backwards for Connecticut, almost certainly crippling the emerging clean energy economy that will be so crucial to our future.”

Evaluated annually for cost-effectiveness by state regulators, Connecticut’s energy efficiency programs, also known as its Conservation & Load Management programs, have produced significant economic, public health, and environmental benefits for almost two decades now. Energy efficiency investments made in 2016, for instance, will save consumers approximately $961.8 million in lifetime bill savings, meaning every $1 invested in energy efficiency will save another $3.89 on utility bills. Energy efficiency, which replaces imported fossil fuels with in-state labor, also creates local jobs, and the 2016 investments alone generated approximately 12,000 jobs in Connecticut’s energy efficiency sector. The 2016 investments will also help protect public health and the environment, reducing carbon pollution by 3.3 million tons, SOx pollution by 2,916 tons, and NOx pollution by 1,556 tons.

“Labeling these productive energy efficiency investments as ‘taxes currently paid on energy bills’ does a real disservice to the thousands upon thousands of people and businesses that they help each and every year. This funding is how the state’s utility companies procure the lowest-cost energy resource, efficiency,” said Dornbos. “The irony here is that raiding these electric ratepayer funds for the General Fund deficit actually does create the very electricity tax that some claim as the justification for this harmful proposal.”

For more on the performance of Connecticut’s energy efficiency programs, please see the most recent Annual Legislative Report issued by the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Board. Acadia Center currently serves as the Vice Chair of the Energy Efficiency Board and has been an appointed member since the Board’s creation in 2000.

For more on the jobs and economic growth generated by cost-effective investments in energy efficiency, please see Acadia Center’s report Energy Efficiency: Engine of Economic Growth.


Media Contacts:

Bill Dornbos, Connecticut Director & Senior Attorney
wdornbos@acadiacenter.org, 860-246-7121 x202

Krysia Wazny, Communications Director
kwazny@acadiacenter.org, 617-742-0054, x107

Analysis Shows Direct Sales of Electric Vehicles Have Not Negatively Impacted Car Dealership Employment Levels

HARTFORD, CT — Acadia Center today released a new analysis that shows there has been no negative impact on car dealership employment levels in states that allow the direct sales of electric vehicles (EVs) to consumers. Over the past several years, Connecticut has debated whether to permit the direct sale of EVs by manufacturers. Connecticut is one of only a few states that prohibit this practice. The Connecticut General Assembly is currently deciding whether to advance H.B. 7097, a bill that would allow direct sales of EVs in the state.

“EV direct sales are a smart move with no downside for Connecticut,” said Bill Dornbos, Connecticut Director and Senior Attorney at Acadia Center. “Not only does it help open the EV market for consumers, but it will also help reduce the state’s increasing greenhouse gas emissions while bringing in more sales tax revenue. We need new policies like direct sales that remove barriers to EV market penetration so we can realize their immense economic and climate benefits.”

Progress on EV direct sales has been stalled over the speculation that direct sales could negatively impact employment at existing Connecticut car dealerships. Today’s empirical analysis shows that this concern has not materialized in other states that have EV direct sales.

“This research puts to rest the main argument against EV direct sales in Connecticut,” said Emily Lewis O’Brien, Policy Analyst at Acadia Center. “We hope the debate can now move forward and EV manufacturers can bring more of these clean vehicles to the state. Direct sales are just another tool to promote EVs and give consumers more clean transportation options.”

With today’s energy mix in the Northeast, EVs emit about 75% less greenhouse gases than conventional vehicles. EVs also cost about half as much to fuel, even with low gas prices, and provide major benefits to public health, energy independence, and the regional economy. Recognizing these benefits, Connecticut committed with other states in the Northeast to put 1.4 million zero-emission vehicles, primarily EVs, on the road by 2025.

Acadia Center analyzed employment data in the auto dealer industry from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2012-2016 and the New York Department of Labor for 2009-2016. The report is available here.


Media Contacts:

Emily Lewis O’Brien, Policy Analyst
elewis@acadiacenter.org, 860-246-7121 x207

Bill Dornbos, Connecticut Director & Senior Attorney
wdornbos@acadiacenter.org, 860-246-7121 x202

Advocates say cutting Connecticut energy efficiency funds a mistake

William Dornbos, Connecticut director and senior attorney at Acadia Center, said Wednesday that the proposal by Senate Republicans to divert $160 million annually from the state’s energy efficiency programs over the next two years “would effectively end Connecticut’s energy efficiency programs for the next two years, and perhaps beyond.”

“Cost-effective energy efficiency is at the center of any modern clean energy strategy, and so this troubling cut would be a needless step backwards for Connecticut, almost certainly crippling the emerging clean energy economy that will be so crucial to our future.” Dornbos said.

The cut being proposed by Republicans represents a two-thirds reduction from current funding levels, he said.

That kind of funding reduction would eliminate incentives available to homeowners to have energy audits done. About 40 companies do the audits around the state, Dornbos said, and “if vendors and contractors have less work, they will begin laying off staff, selling equipment, and losing trained technicians to nearby states with strong, well-funded energy efficiency programs.”

“With previous raids on the energy efficiency programs, we have seen major disruption and job losses in the home performance and efficiency contractor sectors that lingers well past the raids and takes years to overcome,” he said.

Dornbos projected that job reductions attributable to funding cuts in energy efficiency programs could top 12,000 workers in Connecticut. Over time, the cuts might result in the loss of another 28,000 jobs as a result of a reduction in consumers using disposable income created through energy efficiency efforts.

Beyond the jobs that will likely be lost, Connecticut residents of modest means will be more likely to see their energy bills rise if efficiency programs are drastically cut, he said.

“It would deprive many consumers — especially residents with low or fixed incomes — of their best protection against high energy costs,” Dornbos said.

Read the full article from the New Haven Register here.

McAuliffe puts Va. on a path to its own Clean Power Plan

RGGI states are currently re-evaluating their trading rules, and Jordan Stutt, a policy analyst at the Acadia Center, said the timing could be convenient for Virginia.

“As Virginia could develop this new regulation as the RGGI states are revising their existing rules, setting up all 10 states for concurrent adoption of the new rules in 2018,” he said.

Praise from greens, with caveats

Stutt said the move makes sense for Virginia because “in addition to the price signal favoring low-carbon generation, participating in this market could generate substantial revenue for reinvestment in the state.”

Read the full article from E&E News here (may require a subscription to access).