New Hampshire Must Continue to Push for Energy Efficiency Gains
This holiday season provides a chance for the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to deliver the gift that keeps on giving to Granite Staters: a strong energy efficiency program for 2021 and beyond. New Hampshire energy efficiency programs deliver a diverse set of benefits to consumers including lower overall energy system costs, individual cost savings, improved comfort, and lower overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, not to mention supporting almost 12,000 jobs in that state’s efficiency industry.
The PUC is set to vote on whether or not to approve the 2021-2023 Energy Efficiency Plan that implements the state’s Energy Efficiency Resource Standard. The Plan would require the state’s electric and gas utilities to reduce annual electric demand by 4.5% and fossil gas by 2.8% over 2019 sales. While the Acadia Center supported even more ambitious savings targets of 5% for electric utilities and 3% for gas utilities, we believe that the final Plan represents an effective energy efficiency strategy for action over the next three years. Acadia Center supports the continued progress toward acquisition of all cost-effective energy efficiency resources across all fuel types and sectors, helping New Hampshire residents, businesses, institutions, and low-income families meet their energy needs while reducing their cost of energy.
The Granite State lags its New England neighbors in overall energy efficiency policies and progress according to the recently published American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s 2020 national efficiency state scorecard. While Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Vermont are in the top 10 for overall state-wide energy efficiency policies, with these states saving enough electricity in 2019 to power 250,000 homes for a year, New Hampshire remains stalled in the middle of the pack. While the state has seen improvements in recent years, it must do more to become a regional leader on energy efficiency. New Hampshire residents and businesses deserve to reap the full benefits of robust energy efficiency programs, which not only reduce energy use and costs, but improve public health, support economic growth and employment in energy efficiency sectors, and are consumer-friendly. Acadia Center research indicates that every $1 invested in regional energy efficiency investments yields an average of $3.75 in total benefits. Leaving that kind of money on the table doesn’t make sense for New Hampshire consumers who have some of the highest energy bills in the nation.
This has been a difficult year for all, and Acadia Center understands that residential and businesses customers should not be overburdened with increasing costs. However, as result of the 2019 Granite State test, a cost-benefit calculation that ensures that any and all energy efficiency programs provide benefit to all of the state’s energy consumers, the PUC and state lawmakers can be assured that long-term energy efficiency programs are a sound investment in the state’s future. This Plan allows goals, programs, and budgets to be adjusted during the triennium as needed, while recognizing that the cost-effectiveness savings needed to drive energy efficiency improvements ensures that consumers realize the benefits of these programs. And with a vigorous economic recovery expected in 2021 and beyond, it is essential that the state have in place as strong and robust of an energy efficiency program in place as possible.
Acadia Center applauds Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island Governors for regional action to reduce tailpipe pollution.
BOSTON — Today, three states and the District of Columbia announced their plan for a regional program to cut tailpipe pollution while delivering much-needed investments in clean, equitable, and modern transportation options. Working together through the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Washington, D.C. will participate in a cap-and-invest program to revitalize their transportation system and rein in pollution from vehicles, which are the country’s largest source of carbon emissions.
“Through their collaboration on TCI, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island will deliver cleaner, fairer and better transportation options for their residents and cleaner air in the most polluted communities, said Daniel Sosland, Acadia Center’s President. “These states are providing the kind of bipartisan leadership on climate change in the region that we all deserve. Acadia Center is committed to advancing a clean energy future that works for everyone, and major improvements in the transportation sector will help achieve this vision.”
The four jurisdictions participating in the program need to achieve significant emission reductions from the transportation sector to meet their ambitious climate targets. Transportation pollution accounts for 46% of the CO2 emissions across Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C., more than double the contribution to climate change from any other sector. By participating in the TCI program, these jurisdictions will be able to invest hundreds of millions of dollars each year in clean transportation projects that create jobs, boost the economy, improve mobility, and slash pollution.
The collaboration between Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Washington, D.C. represents action at a substantial scale. With a combined GDP of $1.09 trillion, the participating jurisdictions would be the world’s 15th largest economy, similar in output to Mexico. And the scale of this project is likely to grow. In a separate document released today, the four MOU signatories were joined by eight other TCI member states to assert that they are collaborating on the next steps of the cap-and-invest program’s development, suggesting that the program will expand beyond southern New England and D.C. Notably, that list includes a new TCI member, North Carolina, demonstrating the growing appeal of the TCI framework. All together, these jurisdictions would represent the world’s third largest economy.
As for the details, the TCI jurisdictions have incorporated stakeholder feedback to make the program more equitable and ambitious. Important new provisions have been added to last year’s draft MOU to ensure that overburdened and underserved communities receive at least their proportional share of TCI proceeds, that those communities are included in investment decisions and program design, and that air quality monitors will be deployed in the most polluted communities.
“These commitments represent significant progress at the regional level, but states have much more work to do to develop stakeholder processes and policy solutions that meet the needs of their communities,” said Jordan Stutt, Acadia Center’s Carbon Programs Director. “While an equitably-designed TCI program should benefit overburdened and underserved communities, TCI is just one piece of the puzzle: other action will still be necessary to deliver transportation justice.”
The MOU also charts an ambitious emission reduction trajectory. The emissions cap will decline by 30% from 2023 to 2032, consistent with recommendations Acadia Center submitted on behalf of 200 organizations in November. Reducing CO2 emissions from transportation fuels by 30% will help states achieve their climate targets while delivering critical improvements in air quality. The TCI program and additional transportation policies are key to realizing Acadia Center’s vision for a just and sustainable future.
Acadia Center is a regionally-focused, non-profit organization headquartered in Rockport, Maine, working to advance a clean energy future that benefits all.
Massachusetts and Regional:
Jordan Stutt, Carbon Programs Director
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Amy McLean Salls, Connecticut Director and Senior Policy Advocate
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Hank Webster, Rhode Island Director and Staff Attorney
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Jeff Marks, Maine Director & Senior Policy Advocate
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Northeast States Again Rank High in 2020 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, but Massachusetts’ Fall to Second Place Highlights Need for Continued Improvement
Rockport, ME – Massachusetts has lost its energy efficiency crown to California, after 9 years on top of the national rankings for efficiency, according to rankings released by the nonpartisan American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). As they have for the past decade, Northeast states performed well in the 2020 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, with Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, and New York filling out the top 5 spots, respectively. Connecticut ranked #7, Maine at #16, and New Hampshire at #18, a slight improvement from the 2019 Scorecard, which ranked New Hampshire at #20.
“Investing in energy efficiency is the best way to reduce the energy burdens faced by consumers in the Northeast,” said Daniel Sosland, Acadia Center’s President. “The region’s continued strong showing in the national rankings is due to the last decade of successful efficiency policies and programs in these states – helping the Northeast lower carbon pollution while providing over $49 billion in economic and public health benefits, region-wide.”
“Massachusetts’ falling to #2 highlights the need to not rest on past success, but instead keep innovating to ensure that the programs are helping to deliver clean, healthy buildings in our poorest neighborhoods, too,” Sosland continued.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on state budgets and policy agendas across the country and has forced hundreds of thousands of people in the clean energy sector out of wo rk, especially energy efficiency contractors. The pandemic has slowed progress on new energy efficiency legislation, and yet, existing efficiency policies and appliance standards continued to help reduce energy use and emissions and save consumers money.
The ACEEE rankings, released annually, are based on scoring in categories including state government initiatives, building efficiency policies, utility and public benefits programs, transportation policies, and appliance standards. The Northeast’s success in the rankings is largely the result of a policy championed by Acadia Center that requires programs to pursue all energy efficiency that is cost-effective, rather than defining a prescribed level of funding, and to involve stakeholders in developing efficiency plans. ACEEE awarded Massachusetts and Rhode Island a near-perfect score in the utility program category, praising the programs for being the largest contributor to state greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals. And both Massachusetts and New York have begun to incorporate fuel-neutral savings goals that better align efficiency programs with electrification.
“Over the last ten years, Massachusetts’ strong customer-funded efficiency programs have grown the economy while lowering electric and gas bills and cutting emissions – and they’ll continue to do so. Massachusetts lost its first-place rank largely because it has not adopted appliance efficiency standards – an area heavily weighted under the scoring rubric,” said Amy Boyd, Director of Policy at Acadia Center and a member of the Massachusetts Energy Efficiency Advisory Council. “Massachusetts should adopt appliance standards, but also take this shift in rankings as a wake-up call that even though our utility efficiency programs are among the best in the nation, they’re not perfect. We need to ensure that all communities and customers can access the efficiency programs and include climate as one of the program’s explicit statutory goals.”
The Northeast is a national leader in energy efficiency, but states can and must do more. Acadia Center is working with states in the Northeast to keep energy efficiency funding high, serve low- and moderate-income communities better, and align energy efficiency programs more closely with climate targets.
Most importantly, many households in the Northeast—particularly those living in older buildings in environmental justice communities—suffer from excessive indoor air pollution, unhealthy temperature swings, and other inadequate living conditions. The communities most impacted by this substandard housing disproportionately consist of people of color. These buildings also emit more climate pollutants than better-weatherized housing. Existing efficiency programs must embrace this chance to marry traditional energy savings with crucially important equity and climate goals. Acadia Center is working with a wide range of partner organizations on policy changes that will enable efficiency programs to seize this opportunity.
Massachusetts drivers are starting to buy electric cars again
Clean transportation activists are praising Massachusetts’ efforts to expand its electric vehicle incentives while also arguing for changes that would put vehicles within reach for more households.
Electric vehicle sales are slowly rebounding in the state: In September, the number of new purchases submitted for an incentive payment more than doubled from the previous month, from 156 to 339. In October, the number edged up to 345.
These totals fall well short of the peaks reached in 2018, but those who follow the industry are cautiously optimistic, noting that vehicle sales across the board are starting to edge back up from COVID-driven slumps. And the electric vehicle market, they said, is recovering at a slightly faster rate than traditional internal combustion vehicles.
“There is some degree of recovery going on from COVID,” said Jordan Stutt, carbon programs director at the Acadia Center. “Obviously we have a long way to go there, but some people are buying cars again and a lot of those are [electric].”
Read the full article from the Energy News Network here