State eyes investments in electrifying vehicle fleet

Rep. Roland Lemar, D-New Haven, who co-chairs the Transportation Committee, said lawmakers soon would introduce legislation requiring half of the state’s light-duty fleet, and 30 percent of public transit vehicles, to be electric by 2030.

“We know that’s just the start,” Lemar said, adding that state cooperation with advocates and the private sector would create jobs, boost the economy and improve the environment.

Emily Lewis, a policy analyst with the Acadia Center, said electric vehicles reduce emissions by about 75 percent compared to standard gas vehicles. She called electrifying the state fleet “a good place to start,” noting the state can lead by example and purchase electric vehicles while implementing policies to inspire consumers to do likewise.

Read the full article from The Day here (article may be behind paywall).

Massachusetts’ New Energy Efficiency Plan Ensures It Will Continue to Lead, But DPU Nixes Crucial Improvements for Consumers and Climate

BOSTON – On January 29, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) approved the 2019-2021 Energy Efficiency Plan, which will deliver more benefits than ever to Massachusetts’ electricity and natural gas customers. The three-year plan outlines goals and strategies to save energy and reduce bills for Massachusetts homes and businesses through the MassSave programs. It promises to deliver $7.6 billion in benefits, and reduce carbon emissions by 2.6 million short tons, as much as removing 500,000 cars from the road. It sets savings goals of 2.7% of sales for electric savings and 1.25% of sales for natural gas savings—the highest natural gas savings goal ever set in Massachusetts.  It also introduces an active demand management program featuring energy storage and allows strategic electrification for the first time.

As groundbreaking as this efficiency plan is, it could have been even better. In its approval of the Plans, the DPU rejected three key pieces created in settlement between stakeholders and the utilities through the energy efficiency advisory council process.  These pieces represented the future of expanding equitable access to the programs, appropriately valuing the carbon reductions efficiency can create, and leveraging the efficiency programs to further consumer—rather than utility—control.

“Massachusetts has consistently led the nation in its returns on investment in energy efficiency, bringing unprecedented benefits to consumers and the climate, and this plan will continue that leading trajectory,” said Deborah Donovan, director of Acadia Center’s Massachusetts office. “Unfortunately, while stakeholders, government agencies, Massachusetts’ advocates, and the utilities all agreed to build on that success with innovative approaches, the DPU undermined their efforts.”

Massachusetts’ energy efficiency programs consistently lead national rankings released by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, hitting number one overall for eight years running. Massachusetts’ commitment to invest in as much low-cost energy efficiency as possible has allowed it to reduce business costs and create more jobs. By efficiently powering homes and businesses, Massachusetts has improved its economy, public health, and carbon footprint, all while keeping more energy dollars in the state.

“Massachusetts has been very successful in meeting—and exceeding—the targets it sets for itself, but to fully achieve its goals for the climate and bring benefits to all consumers, our efficiency programs have to keep improving,” said Amy Boyd, Acadia Center senior attorney and environmental representative on Massachusetts’ Energy Efficiency Advisory Council. “The DPU could have done much more to allow the efficiency programs to take on some of the biggest obstacles to deeper savings and equitable service and set an example for other states across the country.  Instead, the DPU rejected a compromise between stakeholders and the utilities that would have incentivized utilities to ensure they were serving renters, established the full value of compliance with the Global Warming Solutions Act, and let consumers on Cape Cod combine solar, electrification, and energy storage to have more control over their energy use.”

Boyd continued, “The DPU did require utilities to report far more data on historically underserved populations.  Through the Energy Efficiency Advisory Council process, Acadia Center will encourage the utilities to use this additional data to identify and better address the needs of underserved populations and increase transparency.”


Media Contacts:

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

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

No ‘big splash’ as Connecticut continues slow wade into offshore wind

On Dec. 28, then-Gov. Dannel Malloy and former Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Robert Klee announced 100 megawatts from Revolution Wind as the sole offshore wind project. Two nuclear plants and nine solar projects were among the other successful bids.

“What’s curious is they went with the smallest rather than the largest of orders,” said Emily Lewis, senior policy analyst with the environmental nonprofit Acadia Center. “This seems like the next incremental step to take. It wasn’t the big splash some of us were hoping for.”

Read the full article from Energy New Network here.

What you need to know about the CMP transmission line proposed for Maine

The New England Clean Energy Connect would run from the Canadian border to Lewiston.

It would be a high voltage, direct current transmission line that would run 145 miles from Beattie Township, a small community on the Canadian border, to Lewiston, where it would connect to the New England electric grid. The line is expected to cost $950 million, which would be paid for by Massachusetts.

Most of the line would run overhead on 100-foot towers. It would, however, run under the Kennebec River between Moxie Gore and West Forks, a concession Central Maine Power made to residents worried about the impact a line over the river would have on the area’s scenery and tourism industry. The line would then run overhead to Lewiston, where CMP would build a $250 million conversion station.

Read the full article from Bangor Daily News here.

New Jersey looks to rejoin RGGI to tackle greenhouse gas emissions

But Jordan Stutt, carbon programs director at Acadia Center, a clean-energy research and advocacy organization with offices throughout the northeastern United States, said those fears are unfounded.

“The doomsday concerns about electricity prices and competitiveness in the region have not come true,” he said.

Emissions from power plants have dropped 51 percent from 2008, a year before the program started, to 2017, he said. Electricity prices in the region have fallen nearly 6 percent, while they have increased by nearly 9 percent in the rest of the country.

Read the full article from WHYY here.

A Regional Push to Clean Up Cars, Trucks and Mass Transit

The effort isn’t unprecedented: California already has a plan to curb transportation emissions, and many East Coast states are members of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Since 2009, the initiative known as “Reggie” has capped the overall carbon dioxide produced by power plants and required plant operators to buy permits for their emissions.

Power plant emissions have fallen by 51 percent in the region since the program began, according to an analysis of RGGI data by the Acadia Center, an environmental nonprofit with offices in five Northeast states. States have used the permit proceeds to weatherize homes and to give consumers rebates on their electric bills. But the region faces significant hurdles in replicating that reduction with transportation emissions.

Read the full article from Stateline here.

As States Join Forces on Transportation Policy, Massachusetts Could Raise over $5.5 Billion for Transportation Investments

BOSTON – Today, Acadia Center released a new report illustrating the benefits of a new approach for Massachusetts to reduce transportation pollution while improving the system to better meet its citizens’ needs. This new analysis shows that, if designed well, a regional cap-and-invest policy could enable the state to make over $5.5 billion in crucial transportation investments by 2030, which would generate over 52,000 long-term jobs and $17.5 billion in economic activity.

“Massachusetts could generate tremendous value for its residents through a cap-and-invest program for transportation,” said Deborah Donovan, Massachusetts Director and Senior Advocate at Acadia Center. “By capping transportation emissions and auctioning allowances, this innovative policy simultaneously creates funds for transportation infrastructure and improvements, reduces harmful pollution, and supports a clean economy.”

This analysis comes on the heels of a December announcement from nine states and Washington, D.C. that they will create a regional program to cap transportation emissions and spur investment in transportation improvements. Massachusetts has been a leader in this effort, from hosting listening sessions to gather public feedback to Governor Baker’s creation of the Commission on the Future of Transportation. Last month, that commission released a sweeping report that included the recommendation that Massachusetts lead the effort to create a regional transportation cap-and-invest program to reduce pollution and fund investments in public transit, rural mobility, and electric vehicle infrastructure.

Acadia Center’s analysis highlights the benefits that Massachusetts could achieve by putting cap-and-invest proceeds to work.

“This new analysis demonstrates that putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions and reinvesting the proceeds would be a driver of economic growth for Massachusetts,” said Emily Lewis, Senior Policy Analyst at Acadia Center. “The cap-and-invest approach received strong support at public listening sessions in Massachusetts and across the Northeast, and these findings show why.”

To estimate the economic opportunity for a market-based transportation climate policy, the report examined a sample investment portfolio including commuter rail updates and expansion, electric vehicle rebates and charging infrastructure, bus fleet electrification and expansion, and walking and biking infrastructure. To determine how funds from this type of program are ultimately invested, participating states will need to develop a process that includes input from all impacted parties, in particular low-income and disadvantaged communities.

“Cap-and-invest programs work best when they are designed to complement other policies,” said Jordan Stutt, Carbon Programs Director at Acadia Center. “This analysis illustrates how cap-and-invest proceeds could bolster the Commonwealth’s existing efforts to deliver modern, accessible, low-carbon transportation options.”

Read the full report here: https://acadiacenter.staging.wpengine.com/document/investing-in-modern-transportation-benefits-for-massachusetts/


Media Contacts:

Jordan Stutt, Carbon Programs Director
jstutt@acadiacenter.org, 617-742-0054 ext. 105

Emily Lewis, Senior Policy Advocate
elewis@acadiacenter.org, 860-246-7121 ext. 207

Clean energy advocates push for aggressive electric vehicle roadmap

The Connecticut EV Coalition advocates for solidifying the Connecticut Hydrogen and Electric Automobile Purchase Rebate (CHEAPR) program at least through 2025. The program offers incentives up to $5,000 for state residents who buy or lease a new battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric or fuel cell electric vehicle.

At least 35 vehicles are eligible for the program, and industry leaders say more electric cars — with longer mileage ranges — are coming to dealerships every year. The CHEAPR program is not funded through taxpayer or ratepayer dollars but through merger settlement funds set aside to help the state meet clean energy goals.

“Electrifying and modernizing transportation is key to a consumer-centric clean energy future,” said Emily Lewis, a senior policy analyst at Acadia Center, in a recent statement. “Electric cars and transit buses are healthier, free of tailpipe pollutants, and cheaper to operate.”

Read the full article from The Day here (article may be behind paywall).