A Regional Affair: Offshore Wind in Massachusetts Clears Hurdle in Rhode Island

Rhode Island has given its regulatory approval for the first large-scale wind farm to be built in the United States. This approval is a significant step forward for the project.

Last year, Massachusetts selected a developer, Vineyard Wind, to build a wind farm for it in federal waters off the coast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Because Rhode Island fishermen operate in those waters, that state also had the opportunity to decide whether the project fits within its laws and interests. In its testimony on this question before Rhode Island’s Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC), Acadia Center reiterated the importance of offshore wind for Rhode Island and the region’s transition to a healthy clean energy economy.

Acadia Center’s EnergyVision 2030 analysis forecasts that to meet greenhouse gas reductions of 45% by the year 2030, the Northeast must take aggressive action to shift our electricity to clean renewable sources, including approximately 6,400 MW of offshore wind. The 800 MW from Vineyard Wind’s project will be the first serious step in that direction.

The CRMC ruled in favor of this position and certified the project.

However, Acadia Center also drew attention to the need for developers like Vineyard Wind to make the process for these projects much more inclusive and collaborative, bringing in all affected communities and industries, like commercial fisheries, earlier.

In this case, the fisheries testified to projected losses because of the way the wind farm will be sited. In the end, Vineyard Wind offered the fisheries a compensation package. But if they had been actively engaged earlier, all parties may have seen better outcomes.

The CRMC encouraged a more collaborative process when Deepwater Wind, now Orsted, developed the Block Island Wind Farm project in Rhode Island waters. This framework could be used going forward for additional projects in the near term. In the meantime, Acadia Center will work with people in government, business, and local communities to develop policies that support offshore wind off the coast of Rhode Island, with special attention to embedding greater inclusion in future projects.

Read Acadia Center’s testimony before the CRMC here.

$2B offshore wind farm gets RI approval

Vineyard Wind cleared a major hurdle on Tuesday when Rhode Island coastal regulators determined the $2-billion wind farm proposed in offshore waters to be consistent with state policies.

Although the 84-turbine project is planned in Atlantic Ocean waters south of Martha’s Vineyard where the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management holds lead permitting authority, it needs consistency certifications from the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council and its counterpart in Massachusetts primarily because it would affect the states’ fishing industries.

With the Massachusetts approval still under consideration, the decision from the Rhode Island coastal council represents a step forward for a project that has divided opinion and would have come as a relief to Vineyard Wind.

Read the full article from the Providence Journal here.

CMP sweetens the deal, picks up support from Mills and others for $950M project

Central Maine Power announced this morning it has signed a stipulation asking the Maine Public Utilities Commission to authorize its $950 million transmission project to deliver Canadian hydropower through Maine to Massachusetts.

The proposed settlement includes conditions that Acadia Center and Conservation Law Foundation sought directly from CMP under a Jan. 30 memorandum of understanding signed by CMP President and CEO Doug Herling and CMP Vice President, Treasurer and Controller Eric Stinneford.

Read the full article from Maine Biz here.

Conditions Reached on Hydropower Line Seek a Shift to Clean Energy in Maine

Acadia Center continues to push for more climate, clean energy and consumer benefits

ROCKPORT, ME – Parties in a proceeding reviewing whether the Maine PUC should issue a certificate for Central Maine Power’s proposed hydropower line through Maine have entered into a settlement that requires significant consumer and clean energy commitments. Acadia Center engaged in the settlement negotiations as a means to seek increased cooperation from CMP in transitioning to a clean energy future. The settlement provisions submitted to the Maine PUC today incorporate conditions that Acadia Center and Conservation Law Foundation sought directly from CMP under a Memorandum of Understanding.  The MOU provisions are necessary to advance climate and clean energy efforts in Maine, amplify benefits for the state, and address changes needed at CMP.

“The greatest threat to Maine’s forest and traditions like fisheries and winter recreation is a warming climate,” noted Acadia Center president, Daniel Sosland. “Maine’s utilities must realign their management practices to support a rapid shift from fossil fuels like oil and natural gas to sources that produce less climate pollution, such as solar, wind and many kinds of hydropower. It is past time for CMP to embrace clean energy and climate efforts, not obstruct them. The provisions in this settlement begin to take steps in that direction.”

The settlement will deliver consumer and community benefits to Mainers ranging from energy efficiency for low-income households, general rate relief, expansion of broadband infrastructure, and support for impacted host communities. Under the provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding, CMP will begin to adopt more clean energy, resilience and other consumer-friendly and clean transportation measures for Maine. The proposed settlement only applies to the PUC-issued certificate and will be subject to further review.  Issues addressing critical siting and land use impacts are being addressed in separate proceedings at the DEP.

Acadia Center believes that the project proponents must avoid, minimize or mitigate land use impacts and ensure clear, transparent accounting to verify regional climate benefits. Further, Acadia Center believes that CMP, Avangrid and its parent company Iberdrola must build on the commitments in the MOU and the settlement and move away from prior positions such as blocking expansion of solar and other clean energy technologies that will benefit Maine’s communities, homes and businesses.

Acadia Center’s full statement on the New England Clean Energy Connect: http://acadiacenter.staging.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Acadia-Center-Statement-NECEC-Line_2019-02-21.pdf 

Memorandum of Understanding between Acadia Center, CLF, and CMP: https://acadiacenter.staging.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/CLF-and-Acadia-Center-NECEC-Settlement-MOU-EXECUTED-VERSION-W7100223x7AC2E.pdf 

Text of the Settlement: http://acadiacenter.staging.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/NECEC-CMP-Stipulation.pdf 


Media Contacts:

Krysia Wazny McClain, Communications Director
kwazny@acadiacenter.org, 207-236-6470 x107

Deborah Donovan, Senior Policy Advocate
ddonovan@acadiacenter.org, 617-742-0054 x103

The Northeast is poised to regain momentum on clean energy

A bloc of states from Maine to New Jersey are stitched together by shared power sources and an interdependent set of economies, highways, and waterways. They moved in unison in the earliest throes of clean energy policy. But in recent years, politics has peeled off some while others have surged ahead.

Now some of the smallest and most unlikely players are helping to get everyone moving together again.

Read the full article from Yale Climate Connections here.

As states look to cut transportation emissions, RGGI offers a model — and room to improve

As a group of Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states begins to design a system to curb regional transportation emissions, planners are expected to turn to the decade-old Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative as a model. Experts say the initiative can provide a good starting point, but that important questions must be answered to translate the concept to transportation.

“We can’t simply cut and paste [the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative] and apply it to the transportation sector,” said Jordan Stutt, carbon programs director at environmental nonprofit the Acadia Center. “There are a lot of considerations that need to be made which are specific to the way we move people and goods.”

Read the full article from Energy News Network here.

Solar policy fight is picking up where it left off

Anyone who thought legislation passed last year would extinguish controversy over the transition away from that widely used method of compensating solar energy customers for their excess power would have been wrong.

[…]

The direction from the Lamont administration has been clear, said Acadia Center Connecticut Director Amy McLean Salls.

“I don’t understand why, in my opinion, we’re regressing back to a place where we are not paying attention to Lamont administration goals,” she said. “We need to be moving forward here and fixing the problem.”

Read the full article from the CT Mirror here.

New Massachusetts energy efficiency plan to push storage, heat pumps and ‘demand response’

The 2019-2021 energy efficiency plan, approved by the Department of Public Utilities on Jan. 29, would cut aggregate retail electricity sales by 2.7 percent and cut natural gas sales by 1.25 percent within the three-year period.

The plan provides new tools for Mass Save, the energy efficiency program run by the state’s utilities. Homeowners will see incentives to switch from oil and propane furnaces to electric heat pumps. Commercial and industrial energy storage will be encouraged; “strategic electrification” will get a boost; and “demand response” — where customers save money by curtailing or shifting consumption during periods of heavy power demand — will gain greater footing.

Read the full article from MassLive here.

Sea Change: Maine should act more like the renewable energy dynamo it is

The fastest-growing sources of electricity generation in the coming two years will be solar and wind, a federal report projects, as prices keep dropping and new projects come online.

These power sources are gaining ground wherever they’re allowed to take hold. In a vivid example of “what’s possible when you infuse a can-do spirit with policy,” Massachusetts has “blown past” goals once thought unrealistic, says John Rogers, a senior energy analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit science advocacy organization. Massachusetts now has nearly six times more solar power installed per person than Maine, according to the Acadia Center, a nonprofit promoting clean-energy efforts (see chart).

Read the full article from the Times Record here.