This approach appears to give a lot of leeway to towns and cities to make their own decisions about how to regulate the siting of solar, and would also steer developers to previously disturbed sites. As such it was endorsed by many of the main non-profits active in the environmental and energy space, including Conservation Law Foundation, Audubon Society, Acadia Center, Save the Bay and Green Energy Consumers Alliance.
But lowering emissions will show that Maine is serious about contributing to a very important fight.
It will make us healthier, too – according to the Rockport-based Acadia Center, passenger vehicle emissions were responsible for $500 million in health costs in Maine in 2015.
The Acadia Center also figures that modernizing and making green Maine’s transportation system would be a boost to the economy. By prioritizing electric cars and buses – and by implementing a vehicle emissions cap-and-trade plan based on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – Maine can raise $1 billion in new wages, create 8,700 long-term jobs and reduce emissions by 45 percent.
Read the full article from the Portland Press Herald here.
The bill was a major issue in the energy landscape that met Gov. Lamont when he took office with an agenda that was at odds parts of the 2018 law.
“This was a big one coming into this year,” Arconti said just prior to the committee vote, two days before its deadline to act. “I think we have a really good framework going forward to a final product, and not having to address it for a while after the session.”
“It’s way better than it was, and it’s going to save Connecticut jobs, but it won’t expand the solar industry,” said Amy McLean Salls, senior policy advocate for the Acadia Center.
Solar energy is growing in the Northeast, but the urgency of climate change means that states need to accelerate the transition to clean energy sources.
In Rhode Island, siting challenges that have arisen in the past few years show that the state can’t do this without a plan. In a landscape patchworked with forest, farmland, and open space, policies and incentives must prioritize solar projects in areas with compatible land uses.
On March 14, the House held a hearing for H5789, a solar siting bill that aims to address these challenges. The bill represents months of collaboration between conservation groups, municipal planners, renewable energy developers, farm interests, state agencies and others as part of the Renewable Energy Siting Stakeholder Committee. Acadia Center has worked alongside these groups to generate a range of strategies designed to drive projects to preferred areas, including previously developed and disturbed parcels.
These strategies include:
Prohibiting the largest, most controversial projects by preventing projects from being built across neighboring parcels;
Significantly limiting the size of solar projects in designated areas of environmental concern;
Introducing an incentive through the Public Utilities Commission to reimburse solar projects in preferred areas for interconnection costs;
Directing OER to incorporate smart siting policies in an implementation plan for reaching the state’s emissions reductions goals;
Setting a deadline for municipalities to adopt individually tailored solar siting ordinances that will help local officials review projects and, if desired, establish more streamlined processes for preferred siting.
This bill is not the sole solution to the challenge of solar siting. Small-scale solar capacity in the state’s Renewable Energy Growth (REG) program has been nearly doubled to maximize residential and commercial rooftop arrays, which pose no siting conflicts. Further, just this week, OER and the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation opened a $1 million fund to support projects that propose solar on brownfields.
But make no mistake: legislators must act this session to avoid risking another year without significant protections for the state’s forests and habitats. The economics of siting currently favor large projects in flat, forested tracts, but they don’t have to remain that way.
The Malloy administration last year selected Millstone as a source of “low-cost zero carbon energy” and offshore wind that combined will bolster Connecticut’s contribution to reduced emissions. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection directed Eversource and UI to negotiate a price downward “to better reflect a reasonable rate of return for the plant’s owner, Dominion Energy,” then-Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in December.
A “normal utility rate of return on equity” is 9 percent, but the state would consider 12 percent to 15 percent reasonable for a plant with a long-term contract, Malloy said.
Emily Lewis, a senior policy analyst at the Acadia Center, an environmental advocacy group, said the attempt to negotiate a lower price with Millstone is a “big ask.”
“It comes back to ratepayers,” she said. “How much are ratepayers going to pay to subsidize Millstone?”
Read the full article from the Hartford Courant here.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.”