2015 was a good year for Acadia Center. New York Magazine, U.S. News & World Report, and MarketWatch included us in select 2015 lists of top charities making a difference and Charity Navigator once again included us on its list of “Top 10 Charities Worth Watching.” Our staff continued to provide tangible alternatives to an energy system based on fossil fuels and was quoted in the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, and the Hartford Courant among other media outlets as experts in our field. In case you missed them, here are some more Acadia Center highlights from 2015:
Expanding our Vision
In 2015, Acadia Center expanded our Vision series with the release of UtilityVision in February and Community|EnergyVision in December. The publications, which started with EnergyVision in 2014, outline a clear, compelling pathway to a low carbon future that offers lower energy costs and greater overall economic benefit. UtilityVision digs deeper into the world of regulatory change with a plan that will help reshape the electric power industry to level the playing field for efficiency and renewables, and provide incentives for clean energy. Community|EnergyVision identifies how exciting new energy technologies offer communities the power to have a cleaner, lower cost energy supply and greater control over energy decisions.
Getting our Ideas Out There
Peter Shattuck, Director of Acadia Center’s Massachusetts office and Clean Energy Initiative, wrote a three-part analysis series that was published in Commonwealth Magazine. The series influenced the public debate over whether billions of dollars should be spent on proposed energy infrastructure. Acadia Center effectively showed why the Northeast region does not need to invest in risky gas pipelines. We offered practical ideas for how the region can build a reliable, clean, lower cost and consumer friendly energy future. Shattuck went on to serve on an Advisory Group for the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office along with representatives from utilities, the natural gas industry, and clean energy and consumer groups.
Acadia Center co-led a successful legislative campaign with the CT Roundtable on Climate & Jobs to put in place new requirements for utility regulators that should reduce the currently excessive fixed charges paid by all residential customers. The fixed charge – sometimes called the customer service charge – is a monthly flat minimum fee that customers must pay to have access to electricity. High fixed charges disproportionately burden low income customers and interfere with energy efficiency and clean energy investments. Connecticut utilities Eversource Energy and United Illuminating have the two highest residential fixed charges of any major electric utility in New England.
The legislative remedy passed by Connecticut’s General Assembly during its 2015 special session should reduce these high fixed charges to historically reasonable amounts – likely less than $10 per month. Once applied in the next rate case for each utility, the new law will give over a million residential customers increased control over their electricity costs. Acadia Center intends to participate in those rate cases to ensure that this new consumer protection is properly applied.
Providing the Facts
The staff in Acadia’s CLEAN Center used our extensive energy and climate database to create the Value of Solar series, which shows why solar energy offers great consumer value and outlines the specific benefits realized in various states. CLEAN Center work also rebutted regressive claims, and helped us successfully beat back a proposal by the region’s largest utility that would have raised consumer costs in a manner that would have greatly limited energy efficiency and clean energy choices.
These are only a few of Acadia Center’s accomplishments in 2015 and we hope to continue our progress advancing a clean energy future in 2016.
Kiernan Dunlop is a Communications Associate in the the Boston office and brings experience in communications and environmental organizing. She has been a contributing writer for eco-RI News and the New Bedford Standard-Times. She supports Acadia Center’s communications efforts with press and media outreach, online and print content, events and other outreach strategies.
Bill Dornbos is the Director of the Connecticut Office and Senior Attorney for Acadia Center. Bill focuses on advancing policy and regulatory solutions that seek to transform the energy system and move Connecticut towards a climate-safe, sustainable future. Recent work includes advocating for expanded investment in cost-effective energy efficiency for all fuels and analyzing greenhouse gas emissions trends in the Northeast