Op-Ed: Maine needs a governor who will prioritize clean energy

After a protracted primary campaign and a long week of ranked-choice tabulation, Maine’s gubernatorial slate is set. As voters assess their options for state leadership, two intertwined issues need to rise to prominence: Maine’s economy and environment. To advance both, Maine’s next governor must prioritize a clean energy future.

The good news is that this future is close at hand. With smart energy policy reform based on proven results in other states, Maine can lower energy costs; save residents and businesses money on their utility bills; boost its own economy; grow its workforce with good-paying efficiency, HVAC and solar jobs; and dramatically reduce air pollution.

Read the full article from Bangor Daily News here.

Op-Ed: Climate policy could boost R.I. transportation

While the millions of dollars in VW settlement money is a promising start, building a clean, modern, resilient and equitable network of transportation options will take much larger – and longer-term – investments. A number of policies could provide funds and market signals to accelerate and guide transportation investments; one such policy would be a regional cap-and-invest program. In Rhode Island and regionally, a cap-and-invest policy can reduce emissions while raising revenue for local reinvestment in transportation improvements to better serve residents and businesses.

Read the full article from Providence Business News here.

Alliance for Clean Energy Solutions Commends Massachusetts Senate for Passage of Ambitious Clean Energy Bill

Coalition urges full legislature to pass legislation to increase the Renewable Portfolio Standard and other key clean energy priorities

BOSTON, MA – Leaders of the Alliance for Clean Energy Solutions, a coalition of business groups, clean energy companies, environmental organizations and health and consumer representatives dedicated to advancing clean energy for Massachusetts, issued the following statements regarding the passage of An Act to Promote a Clean Energy Future by the Massachusetts Senate and the recent advancement of clean energy bills in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

“Both the House and Senate have shown great leadership in moving bills to advance markets for clean energy resources through policy mechanisms like an increase to the state’s RPS, lifting or raising the solar net metering caps and various mechanisms to drive energy storage,” said NECEC Executive Vice President Janet Gail Besser, co-leader of ACES. “It is imperative that legislative leaders come together in the coming weeks to enact energy legislation this session. Together, these policies will keep Massachusetts in the lead as a clean energy economy, ensuring that a diverse energy portfolio provides reliable and cost-effective energy products and services for Massachusetts residents and businesses.”

“The Senate has acted decisively today to advance a bold vision for clean energy progress, including market-based climate policies and long-term GHG reduction requirements,” said Mark LeBel, staff attorney for Acadia Center and co-leader of ACES. “Higher levels of renewables and ambitious commitments to offshore wind and energy storage are key policies to address the energy needs of Massachusetts and all of New England. The House is also making significant progress advancing bills to promote renewables, energy storage, and electric vehicles. The ACES coalition looks forward to working with the legislature and all stakeholders to achieve a result that the entire Commonwealth can be proud of.”

ACES’s top priority is an increase to the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). The need for this increase is highlighted in An Analysis of the Massachusetts Renewable Portfolio Standard, a May 2017 report developed by NECEC, in partnership with Mass Energy. The report found that an increase, such as the one called for by ACES, could create thousands of jobs across the region and lower wholesale electricity prices in Massachusetts while putting the Commonwealth on track to fulfill its obligations under the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) to reduce emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

Other ACES policy priorities, such as removing the net metering caps and advancing storage provide significant economic opportunity for the Commonwealth. Massachusetts lost one-fifth of its solar workforce in 2017 as a result of hitting net metering caps across much of the Commonwealth, a significant decline that could be reversed if net metering caps are increased. Additionally, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources’ The State of Charge report found that energy storage could deliver $3.4 billion in benefits to Massachusetts. Energy storage can also effect a 10% reduction in Massachusetts peak system demand and more than a million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions reductions over a ten-year period.

“By strengthening the already successful Renewable Portfolio Standard, Massachusetts has the potential to help businesses of all sizes, contribute to emission reduction goals, and put MA on the map as a competitive state to do business” says Bev Armstrong, CEO of Brazo Fuerte Artisanal Beer, and Secretary of The Alliance for Business Leadership.

“Companies and investors across the Commonwealth have embraced renewable energy to help cut costs, reduce exposure to the volatility of fossil fuel prices, and stay competitive,” said Alli Gold Roberts, senior manager of state policy at Ceres, a sustainability nonprofit organization that works with the most influential investors and companies to build leadership and drive solutions throughout the economy. “A stronger Renewable Portfolio Standard will drive additional economic growth. That is why major Massachusetts companies support increasing the standard to achieve 50 percent renewable energy by 2030.”

About the Alliance for Clean Energy Solutions (ACES)
The Alliance for Clean Energy Solutions (ACES) is a “coalition of coalitions” comprised of business groups, clean energy companies, environmental organizations, labor, health, and consumer advocates dedicated to advancing clean energy for Massachusetts. ACES is committed to ensuring that those charged with shaping Massachusetts’ energy policies have the most rigorous, current data on the benefits and costs of clean energy. Our goal is to ensure that the Commonwealth can attain a cost-effective, reliable and diverse energy supply to power its businesses, communities and households, which will reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, create a stable and prosperous business environment and meet the Commonwealth’s greenhouse gas emissions requirements. For more information: macleanenergysolutions.org


Media Contacts:

Krysia Wazny, Acadia Center
kwazny@acadiacenter.org 617-742-0054 x107

Sean Davenport, NECEC
sdavenport@necec.org 617-600-7204

Deepwater Wind Wins Bid To Bring Offshore Wind Power To Connecticut

Connecticut’s share of the pie is the smallest of the three states at 200 megawatts, but it’s the largest allowed by this bidding cycle, enough wind energy to meet about three percent of state demand.

Emily Lewis, a policy analyst at Acadia Center, a clean energy advocacy group, said the decision is encouraging, but she hopes Connecticut does more.

“Massachusetts has mandated 1600 megawatts of offshore wind by 2027. So we’d like to see Connecticut set a similar target in law so that we know that we’re moving toward that,” Lewis said.

Read or listen to the full report from Connecticut Public Radio here.

State Taps First-Ever Offshore Wind Power In Clean Energy Program

The Malloy administration on Wednesday directed the state’s first purchase of offshore wind power, joining Connecticut with southern New England’s drive to generate wind power from the Atlantic Ocean.

[…]

Emily Lewis, a policy analyst at Acadia Center, said the clean energy advocacy group hopes the state builds on its commitment “by setting an ambitious offshore wind mandate that creates a sustainable offshore wind industry.”

Read the full article from the Hartford Courant here.

Labor and Clean Energy Advocates Applaud Connecticut’s Selection of Bid for 200 MW Offshore Wind

HARTFORD – Today, Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) selected Deepwater Wind’s proposal for 200 MW of offshore wind as one of the winning bids in an open request for proposals to support nascent energy technologies, including fuel cells and anaerobic digestors in addition to offshore wind.  The selection builds on the regional momentum for offshore wind, following the selection of two projects totaling 1200 MW by Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Deepwater Wind’s winning project is estimated to power about 91,000 homes.

“Connecticut today is showing the region that it wants to participate in the budding offshore wind market and will share in the benefits of being an early mover in adopting this technology,” said Emily Lewis, a policy analyst at Acadia Center. “Acadia Center commends DEEP on taking this important step to procure offshore wind for the state. We hope Connecticut continues to build on this commitment by setting an ambitious offshore wind mandate that creates a sustainable offshore wind industry and continued economic growth.”

The full details of the bid are still hidden until the contracts are completed, but information released to the public indicates that Deepwater Wind’s bid includes:

  • A commitment of at least $15 million for the New London State Pier;
  • Plans for significant in-state construction and assembly operations, leading to 1400 direct, indirect, and induced jobs in Connecticut;
  • Collaboration with local entities to support workforce development, research and economic growth.

“This announcement, combined with the state’s recent commitment of bond funding to revitalize the State Pier, demonstrates that Connecticut is serious about securing its share of the highly-paid offshore wind jobs coming to the Northeast,” said John Humphries, lead organizer for the CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs. “Whether it’s on the docks, in the water or on the factory floor, Connecticut has the skilled labor needed to jumpstart this new industry bringing clean energy to the region.”

“The building trades workforce of Eastern Connecticut is eager to do whatever is needed to support this growing industry,” said Keith Brothers, president of the New London-Norwich Building and Construction Trades Council. “We urge the Administration and developers to ensure the highest quality construction and timely completion by negotiating project labor agreements for both the port infrastructure and offshore wind projects. Connecticut’s workers are ready to build and maintain the turbines and all the onshore facilities.”

That message was echoed by Sean Daly, Business Manager and member of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 90. “IBEW’s skilled electricians have already installed grid-scale solar projects and onshore wind turbines here in Connecticut. Now we’re eager to help bring this new source of clean energy to the state. And if the legislature authorizes more offshore wind purchases, we look forward to hiring and training new workers. This new industry will be good for our workers and their families, and it will be good for our communities.”

Tony Walter, President of the CT State Council of Machinists, also urged state leaders to encourage Deepwater Wind to invest in local supply-chain development. “From aerospace to submarines, Connecticut’s Machinists provide precision manufacturing outcomes every day. The offshore wind industry will need high-quality parts and equipment, and we should be building them here in Connecticut.”

 


Media Contacts:
Emily Lewis, Policy Analyst
elewis@acadiacenter.org, 860-246-7121 x207

John Humphries, Organizer, CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs
john@ctclimateandjobs.org, 860-216-7972

Mistaken Assumptions: Analysis from Pipeline Proponents Significantly Overestimates Oil and Coal Consumption and GHG Emissions

Making smart policy decisions on any issue requires sound objective analysis. To contribute to the public debate on a range of regional energy and environmental decisions, including evaluation of proposals for electric ratepayers to finance new regional natural gas pipelines, Acadia Center recently released a fact sheet that takes a comprehensive look at several different regional trends for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, electricity generation, and fuel consumption across all sectors.

Recently, Concentric Energy Advisors (Concentric) produced a report that includes an emissions analysis of this past winter’s electricity generation on behalf of a coalition of advocates for ratepayer-funded expansions in natural gas pipelines. Acadia Center’s Climate and Energy Analysis Center (CLEAN Center) reviewed this analysis, and it seems clear that the Concentric analysis significantly overestimated winter greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from oil and coal generators in New England this past winter, likely between 15–20% higher than actual emissions from these sources.

This is because the Concentric report, like most analyses, makes assumptions as a part of its calculations. Assumptions are often used when data is incomplete or to avoid additional analysis that will only provide small improvements in accuracy. A frequently used assumption in electricity generation calculations is called a “heat rate,” which measures how efficiently a power plant turns fuel into electricity. A lower heat rate means a plant uses less fuel to generate the same amount of electricity. This information can be used to estimate the amount of fuel that a power plant consumes based on the amount of electricity it has generated. The estimated level of fuel consumption can then be used to estimate greenhouse gas emissions. However, fuel consumption data is often reported directly and can be used to more accurately estimate greenhouse gas emissions. Acadia Center’s recent analysis used fuel consumption data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) to estimate GHG emissions for recent months where emissions data isn’t directly available.

The Concentric analysis begins with electricity generation data from ISO New England and then uses assumed heat rates to calculate fuel consumption. The calculated fuel consumption is then combined with an assumed emissions rate to estimate GHG emissions. In this case, Concentric used assumed heat rates based on S&P Global Market Intelligence data to represent the heat rates of power plants in New England. The Concentric analysis does not state if this assumed heat rate data is based on regional or national figures, nor does it compare it to other published data for regional heat rates as a check on its accuracy.

The Acadia CLEAN Center examined recently reported EIA data on fuel consumption and generation for individual power plants in New England from December 2017 through February 2018. This data can be used to directly calculate actual heat rates. Based on Acadia Center’s analysis of this EIA data, it appears that the assumed heat rates in the Concentric analysis for oil and coal generation in New England are significant overestimates. In other words, the Concentric analysis assumed those types of power plants used more fuel to generate electricity than they actually did.

Table 1 – Concentric Assumed Heat Rates and Actual Heat Rates (MMBTU/MWh)

Concentric assumed heat rate versus actual heat rate

As shown in Table 1, the assumed heat rate in the Concentric analysis for oil generation is 25% higher than the actual heat rate for oil generation in New England this past winter. Similarly, the assumed heat rate in the Concentric analysis for coal generation is 9% higher than the actual heat rate for coal generation in New England this past winter.

There can be many reasons that assumptions do not accurately represent reality. Assumptions based on historical data or national data do not necessarily reflect recent local conditions in New England. The assumptions in the Concentric analysis about the relative inefficiency of oil generation could also be reflecting a more general misconception about oil generation in New England. The older oil generating units in New England are more inefficient. However, newer units, including combined cycle and combustion turbines that can run on both natural gas and oil, are much more efficient.

Table 2 – Oil Heat Rates for Electric Generation Sites with Significant Oil Combustion from Dec. 2017-Feb. 2018 (MMBTU/MWh)

As this data shows, many of the electric generation sites in New England that used a significant amount of oil this past winter were much more efficient than assumed in the Concentric analysis and only one site, New Haven Harbor, was less efficient than the overall average assumed in the Concentric analysis.

The impact of this inaccurate assumption by Concentric flows through to subsequent calculations. This means that the estimates in the Concentric analysis for combined GHG emissions from coal and oil generation would be much higher than actual GHG emissions from coal and oil generation, likely between 15–20% higher. As a result, calculations of incremental GHG emissions during the winter cold snap are likely significant overestimates, as well as the other calculations in the Concentric analysis based on the estimate of incremental GHG emissions.

No one who is concerned with climate change wants fossil fuel plants to continue releasing greenhouse gases. But using emissions data to justify any policy case requires accuracy. To better inform the broader energy and environmental debate in New England, Concentric should update its analysis based on actual heat rates in New England this past winter. More broadly, all of the tools available to meet our energy needs—market reforms, energy efficiency, energy storage, solar, wind, and fixing gas leaks among them—need to be fairly evaluated in order for the right conclusions to be drawn.

National Grid would boost revenues by $19.6M in settlement with R.I. regulators

“The settlement includes several changes to the utility business model, which should begin to change the incentives for National Grid — away from traditional capital investments and towards outcomes that benefit consumers and the environment,” Mark LeBel, staff attorney for the Boston-based Acadia Center, wrote in comments to the PUC.

Read the full article from the Providence Journal here.

 

Rhode Island Settlement Paves Way for Modern, Consumer-Friendly Electricity Grid and Further Progress on Clean Energy

PROVIDENCE – Today, a comprehensive settlement was filed on behalf of all parties in two related dockets at the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission: National Grid’s rate case and the Power Sector Transformation docket. Acadia Center strongly supports the settlement because it begins to reform the utility business model, makes significant investments in a modern and efficient electricity grid and new clean energy programs, and lays out a pathway for even more ambitious and rigorous reforms. It also saves ratepayers over $40 million in base rates across three years from National Grid’s original proposal and results in a 25-30% bill discount for low income customers. This settlement follows in the footsteps of the Power Sector Transformation Initiative created at the direction of Governor Gina Raimondo.

“New clean energy technologies at lower costs offer an historic opportunity to build a modern, more equitable energy system that benefits consumers, reduces pollution and improves economic productivity,” said Daniel Sosland, president of Acadia Center. “With this settlement, Rhode Island jumps into a  leadership role among the states on utility regulatory reform necessary to position it for further progress in coming years. Acadia Center is thrilled that Rhode Island is moving to embrace this future and remains committed to ensuring that the state and its residents see significant benefits from these reforms.”

Acadia Center participated in every phase of the Power Sector Transformation process in 2017 and filed testimony in both dockets covered by today’s settlement. Acadia Center has long advocated for states to embrace the types of reforms included in the settlement, through reports and materials such as UtilityVision. This includes reforms to the utility business model that place less emphasis on capital investments and more on results, improvements to the efficiency, intelligence and flexibility of the electric grid, and planning improvements to efficiently use local energy resources and provide customers with better incentives.

“Rhode Island is poised to be the first state in New England to implement serious reforms to the utility business model,” said Amy Boyd, senior attorney at Acadia Center. “This is a key step to incentivizing utilities to act in the public interest, instead of merely advancing their own bottom line.”

The settlement also includes new clean energy programs to facilitate increased adoption of efficient electric heating technologies, new investments in electric vehicle charging stations, and competitive procurements for advanced energy storage. It creates a pathway for critical next steps such as a study of advanced metering functionality and time-varying rates and further utility business model reforms.

“Electrification of heating and transportation are crucial pieces of a long-term greenhouse gas reduction strategy. New programs and investments should help push Rhode Island forward in the coming years.” said Mark LeBel, staff attorney at Acadia Center. “In addition, Acadia Center looks forward to next steps and further reforms in Rhode Island. Providing Rhode Island ratepayers with more efficient electricity rates that reflect the costs of electricity usage and help lower peak demand will be key to a smarter electricity system and integrating electric vehicles and heating.”

“Acadia Center would like to thank the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers, National Grid, the Office of Energy Resources and other intervenors for all of the hard work and collaboration that went into this settlement,” said Erika Niedowski, policy advocate in Acadia Center’s Providence office. “Collaboration and an open exchange of ideas is crucial to developing policy solutions that meet the needs of a wide range of stakeholders. Establishing the Power Sector Transformation Advisory Group provides a new forum to continue this dialogue on key issues in the coming years.”


Media Contacts:

Erika Niedowski, Policy Advocate, Rhode Island Office
eniedowski@acadiacenter.org, 617-742-0054 x103

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

Momentum for Offshore Wind Grows with Stakeholder Meeting and Recent Announcements

NEW LONDON, CT – Last night, offshore wind manufacturers, state and city officials, clean energy advocates, and labor groups met in New London at a reception to discuss the economic opportunity offshore wind could bring to Connecticut. The event was hosted by RENEW Northeast, the CT Roundtable on Climate and and Acadia Center, and it was coordinated with the Danish Consulate as part of their offshore wind Road Show. It built on recent local advocacy and an announcement from the state that it will invest further in port facilities, showing the growing momentum and potential for offshore wind in the state.

In advance of the event, a group of 30 diverse organizations sent a letter to Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection urging them to move forward with selecting an offshore wind bid out of the three that have been submitted to the state through an open request for proposals for clean energy. Connecticut’s selection of an offshore wind bid would follow the lead of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, which announced at the end of May that they had selected to collectively move forward with 1200 MW of offshore wind development.

The event also followed an announcement from the State Bond Commission on Friday to approve $15 million for revitalizing the State Pier in New London, which would be a significant boon to marine industries—including offshore wind—seeking to use the facility.

The event featured several speakers including Michael Passero, Mayor of New London; David Kooris, Deputy Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development; Scott Bates, Chairman of the Connecticut Port Authority; Abby Watson, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy; Lars Kristensen of Bladt Industries; State Senator Paul Formica; and State Representative Chris Soto.

The organizers, speakers, and attendees at the event released the following statements:

Emily Lewis, Policy Analyst at Acadia Center:

“The diversity of groups supporting offshore wind speaks to the multitude of benefits it will bring Connecticut. It will grow the state’s clean energy supply and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It will create jobs and develop the  economy. With so much enthusiasm, the state needs to select an offshore wind proposal now to ensure it maximizes the benefits.”

Francis Pullaro, Executive Director for RENEW Northeast:

“Over the next decade, the New England and Mid-Atlantic states are expected to deploy gigawatts of new offshore wind power projects. Building offshore wind at this scale creates real economic opportunities for Connecticut. New London is the perfect location to support the expansion of offshore wind.”

John Humphries, Organizer for the CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs:

“This visit to New London by international manufacturing companies highlights the significant economic potential that offshore wind brings to southeastern Connecticut.  New London’s port is well-positioned to become a regional hub of activity to support projects up and down the coast. Offshore wind represents a tremendous opportunity for Connecticut’s workers and communities, providing jobs, economic growth and clean energy.”

Michael Passero, Mayor of New London:

The City of New London is thrilled to be able to show off its magnificent deep water harbor and we look forward to working with all the key stakeholders in the offshore wind industry as they learn of the advantages that New London Harbor offers in the development this exciting new power source.

Tony Walter, President of the CT State Council of Machinists:

“These manufacturers have definitely come to the right place to find skilled labor ready to work.  From aerospace to submarines, Connecticut’s Machinists provide precision manufacturing outcomes every day.  If the offshore wind industry needs high-quality parts and equipment, we’re ready to build it here in Connecticut!”

Scott Bates, Chairman of the Connecticut Port Authority:

“Connecticut is investing $15 million to begin upgrading the infrastructure at State Pier in New London, because we believe in the power of our state’s maritime industry to attract new commerce, grow the regional economy and create stable, long-term jobs right here at home.”


Media Contacts:
Francis Pullaro, Executive Director, RENEW Northeast
fpullaro@renew-ne.org, 646-734-8768

John Humphries, Organizer, CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs
john@ctclimateandjobs.org, 860-216-7972

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