CONCORD, N.H. – On Friday, Governor Sununu vetoed a bill (HB582) that would have increased funding for efficiency projects, particularly for low income customers, who currently experience a long wait list for the popular weatherization programs. With his veto, Governor Sununu prevented additional revenue from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative from being distributed to these programs.
“By vetoing this bill, the governor has ensured that New Hampshire will continue to have difficulty investing in the cheapest form of energy available in the state,” said Ellen Hawes, Senior Analyst at Acadia Center. “This is a huge missed opportunity for New Hampshire’s residents and economy, as well as the state’s progress toward climate safety.”
Energy efficiency investments make electricity cheaper for all ratepayers. By 2027, energy efficiency is projected to reduce the amount of electricity we need to generate by more than 22%. In New Hampshire, the NHSaves electric efficiency programs deliver energy savings at 77% lower costs than buying more power. New Hampshire’s current use of RGGI auction revenue continues to provide benefits for the state, but the relatively small portion of funds directed towards energy efficiency prevents New Hampshire from maximizing its benefits.
For the first time ever, the New England grid operator (ISO New England) is predicting a decline in peak demand over the next ten years, mostly due to projected gains in energy efficiency and on-site solar generation. ISO-NE projects that by 2020, energy efficiency will reduce demand on peak days by more than all of the region’s nuclear power plants combined can supply. States must have strong programs to sustain and advance these gains.
In addition to this most recent veto, on July 19th the Governor vetoed a bill (SB205) that would have allowed the Public Utilities Commission to continue to set energy efficiency investment levels at rates most beneficial to ratepayers. This bill would have also increased the public’s ability to engage with how efficiency funds are spent, by expanding membership of the Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Energy Board.
“By requiring legislative approval for this one portion of rates, the legislature will add delay, uncertainty and increased costs for utilities, stakeholders and the Public Utilities Commission, under Sununu’s erroneous and disingenuous assertion that it is a hidden tax,” said Hawes.
HARTFORD, Conn. – Today, Acadia Center released an analysis illustrating the benefits of a new approach for Connecticut to reduce transportation pollution while improving the system to better meet its residents’ needs. The analysis shows that, if designed well, a regional cap-and-invest policy developed through the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI) could enable the state to make over $2.7 billion in crucial transportation investments by 2030, which would generate over 23,000 long-term jobs and $7 billion in economic activity.
“Connecticut can be a leader in developing a bold, equitable program to invest in needed transportation modernization while capping pollution in the state,” said Amy McLean Salls, Connecticut Director and Senior Policy Advocate at Acadia Center. “By capping transportation emissions and auctioning pollution allowances, all residents in the state will benefit through investments in transportation infrastructure and improved mobility options. The state’s overburdened and underserved communities are disproportionately bearing the brunt of non-accessible transportation options and harmful impacts of local air pollution. A modernized clean transportation system would be transformative for Connecticut’s people and economy.”
Acadia Center’s analysis demonstrates that new transportation investments funded through a regional cap-and-invest program would deliver substantial economic, environmental, and mobility benefits in Connecticut. As Connecticut works with other states to develop this program, advocates, community groups and other stakeholders are joining forces to determine what that program – and Connecticut’s transportation future – should look like.
On Tuesday evening, Acadia Center, the Center for Latino Progress, the CT Roundtable for Climate and Jobs, Sierra Club and Transport Hartford Academy gathered, joined by 55 stakeholders including transportation and environmental advocates, environmental justice activists, health professionals, business leaders, Commissioner Dykes from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and Tom Maziarz from the Department of Transportation, for an important Connecticut-focused meeting to discuss efforts to deliver a more equitable, modern low-carbon transportation future.
“It is far past time for the State of Connecticut to act. As we act to quickly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants, we have the opportunity to invest in our communities, quality of life, and local employment,” said Gannon Long, Assistant Coordinator for Transport Hartford Academy at the Center for Latino Progress. “A transportation focused cap-and-trade system, implemented in 2021, could be a useful tool in achieving the state’s critically important emission reduction targets.”
To estimate the economic opportunity for a market-based transportation climate policy, Acadia Center’s report examined a sample investment portfolio including bus fleet electrification and transit system improvements, commuter rail updates and expansion, electric vehicle rebates and charging infrastructure, 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 the most impacted parties, in particular low-income and disadvantaged communities.
“Cap-and-invest programs do not operate in a vacuum – they work best when they are designed to complement other policies and accelerate the transition to less-polluting options,” said Jordan Stutt, Carbon Programs Director at Acadia Center. “This analysis illustrates how cap-and-invest proceeds could bolster Connecticut’s existing efforts to deliver modern, accessible, low-carbon transportation options while spurring local job creation.”
BOSTON – Last Friday marked the close of a three-month public comment period on the Baker Administration’s proposal to overhaul rules that establish what electric power generation resources qualify for renewable energy subsidies. Massachusetts clean energy advocates sent a letter yesterday to Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Kathleen Theoharides sharply criticizing these proposed regulatory changes that would, among other things, significantly increase rate-payer subsidies for wood-burning power plants and garbage incinerators.
The letter, signed by Acadia Center, Conservation Law Foundation, Green Energy Consumers Alliance, the Massachusetts Sierra Club, Partnership for Policy Integrity, and RESTORE: The North Woods, states:
“[T]he Department of Energy Resources (DOER), which is now under your purview, has led a deeply flawed rulemaking process for an even more deeply flawed proposal to rewrite regulations implementing the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). …These regulations are currently the linchpin of Massachusetts climate policy; numerous other policies of the Commonwealth incorporate RPS-eligibility in their implementation, including the Clean Peak Standard now under development. Changes to the RPS regulations must be grounded in environmental and climate science.”
The organizations signing today’s letter commit to “help[ing] the Baker administration correct course and to ensure that the RPS assists the state in complying with the Commonwealth’s climate mandates, rather than promoting technologies that will actually increase emissions.” The groups are requesting stakeholder input into a study that the Baker Administration is only now conducting on the impacts of the proposed regulations, and the opportunity for environmental advocates and climate scientists to meet with decision makers to share their information.
Throughout the public comment period, DOER’s proposals to substantially roll back science-based standards governing the eligibility of biomass power plants for subsidies raised the most extensive concerns. Nearly one hundred organizations signed on to a letter to DOER calling on the agency to withdraw its proposed rule changes, which also impact subsidies for hydroelectric power and other areas of renewable energy. Signers included local, state and national environmental groups, public health advocates, consumer protection groups, local governments, and municipal groups, including the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission.
Dozens of scientists, doctors, environmentalists, and concerned citizens testified at public hearings across the state, and more than a thousand written comments were submitted in opposition. In addition, nearly 40 state legislators submitted a letter raising concerns about the proposed biomass eligibility rollbacks, and Attorney General Maura Healey also weighed in, flagging multiple ways in which the proposal may violate state law and undermine efforts to meet climate change goals.
Several state legislatures in the Northeast have gone big on climate in recent weeks.
New York passed a sweeping climate plan pledging to reach 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040 and net zero greenhouse gas emissions, across the whole economy, by 2050. Maine enacted legislation that doubles the amount of renewable electricity in its Renewable Portfolio Standard to 80% by 2030 and 100% by 2050. Connecticut authorized a massive boost to offshore wind—the construction of up to 2,000 megawatts.
Not Rhode Island. Legislators in Rhode Island ended their six-month session late last month without passing any climate legislation at all.
Several climate bills died in committee, including one that would have established an economy-wide price on carbon pollution and another that would make binding the greenhouse gas reduction targets of the Resilient Rhode Island Act. (Unlike in Massachusetts and Connecticut, Rhode Island’s emissions reduction goals are aspirational, not mandatory.)
The General Assembly also failed to act on a high-profile challenge whose resolution is important to ensuring that solar reaches its potential as a climate solution in Rhode Island. Here’s a look at how that issue played out.
Balancing solar and land stewardship
Both the House and Senate introduced legislation that would have addressed the urgent pressure many communities are facing over the siting of large-scale, ground-mounted solar projects. The bills were informed by the work of a group of stakeholders the state Office of Energy Resources and the Department of Environmental Management convened nearly two years ago to work through the complexities of the issue.
Acadia Center has added its clean energy expertise to the group, which includes renewable energy developers, municipal planners, clean energy advocates, conservation groups, and consumer advocates. The goal? To develop strategies that balanced the need to accelerate solar while also minimizing its environmental impact on forests and prime farmland.
Guided by 13 smart siting principles stakeholders developed through consensus, the committee put forth strategies that garnered widespread support from diverse quarters. The legislation, as introduced, would have:
Closed a loophole that effectively allowed projects to bypass the current statutory 10 MW cap on individual remote net metering projects by combining multiple installations at one site. Co-locating projects on contiguous parcels would no longer be allowed;
Applied a smaller size cap—of 4 MW—to solar projects in designated areas of environmental concern;
Created a new incentive for siting solar projects in preferred areas like landfills, gravels pits, and brownfields by reimbursing energy developers for interconnection costs; and
Established a timeline for municipalities to adopt individually tailored solar siting ordinances to help local officials review projects and provide developers with a more predictable process.
The House’s siting bill never came to a vote in committee. The Senate passed a watered-down version that did not sufficiently address siting incentives. While the Senate’s amended bill mandated enactment of municipal siting ordinances, other critical strategies including reasonable size limits in areas of environmental concern and incentives for siting in preferred areas were scrapped.
Without any of the improvements proposed in the solar siting legislation, the status quo will largely continue: Rhode Island is likely to see the construction of more large projects on cleared forestland.
In some communities, the legislature’s inaction could have the opposite effect: leading to municipal moratoria that put at least a temporary pause on any solar construction. That outcome not only hinders Rhode Island’s ability to meet its climate goals but also dents growth of the clean energy sector, which has been a bright spot in the economy.
Rhode Island continues to be a leader in energy efficiency, and is moving ahead with a full-size offshore wind farm to join the nation’s first, Block Island. Rhode Island has committed to develop, along with nine states and Washington, D.C., a regional policy proposal to cap and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the most polluting sector: transportation. The Governor just signed an Executive Order for focused inter-agency work on the state’s heating sector, which must move off natural gas. All of this is welcome progress.
Still, the legislature will have to think—and act—bigger on climate, or risk Rhode Island being left behind. The climate crisis is here; there is no time to waste.
Two years ago, Acadia Center’s EnergyVision 2030 examined the energy mix needed to achieve the Northeast’s 2030 decarbonization goals and determined that at least 13% of the region’s electricity needs could be served by the development of 9.5 GW of offshore wind. In New England and New York, Acadia Center has advocated for ambitious state procurement goals and these states have recently made incredible progress. Over the last three years, Northeast states have raised their collective 2035 offshore wind goals from 1.6 GW to 14.6 GW, and they may exceed the EnergyVision 2030 target if several of the projects are completed before 2030. Together, the Northeast states’ ambitious targets for offshore wind development could generate enough electricity to satisfy a quarter of the region’s total electricity needs.
Although only one small offshore wind project is in operation today, states have begun to make real progress toward reaping the benefits of one of the world’s most bountiful clean energy resources – the abundant wind off of the Atlantic coast. States are finding that offshore wind is available, feasible, affordable, and it supports economic development, good jobs, and carbon reductions. The combined commitments from the Northeast states could produce as much as 60 TWhs of carbon-free electricity, reducing carbon emissions by about 29 million tons every year.
State comparison of current commitments, selection processes, completed procurements, and construction of offshore wind.
Since 2016, Acadia Center has been actively working with Connecticut to grow its commitment to offshore wind and, in 2018, Governor Malloy’s administration made its first two procurements totaling 300 MW. The first 200 MW project is predicted to support about 1400 jobs through both the addition of wind farm construction jobs and the jobs supported by increased spending in the local economy by those new workers. Following these two procurements, the state entered into a public-private partnership with the wind and marine services industries for a $93 million redevelopment of the New London state pier as a hub for regional offshore wind activities. With its long-standing maritime economy, New London has great potential to become one of the support centers for offshore wind build out in the region. In June 2019, Acadia Center and a coalition of clean energy advocates won a major victory when the state passed legislation requiring that the state issue solicitations for 2000 MW of offshore wind by 2030, or about 30% of the state’s electricity consumption. This commitment puts Connecticut at the front of the pack for northeastern states in terms of share of total electricity demand to be provided by offshore wind.
In 2016, in response to efforts by Acadia Center and a coalition of clean energy advocates, Massachusetts passed legislation to secure its first 1600 MW of offshore wind by 2027. It has since selected an 800 MW project to be completed by 2021. The project is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 1.6 million metric tons annually, equivalent to removing about 315,000 cars from the road, and deliver net benefits of $1.4 billion over the 20-year life of the contract. The contract demonstrated that the offshore wind industry can supply energy at costs competitive with fossil fuel generation over the long term. The developer also committed $15 million in investments to spur the offshore wind industry in Massachusetts. Governor Baker’s administration has issued a request for proposals for another 800 MW, with bids due in August 2019.
Acadia Center’s advocacy in 2018 helped secure passage of legislation authorizing an additional 1600 MW of offshore wind by 2035 pending a study to investigate the necessity, benefits, and cost of more offshore wind. In keeping with input from Acadia Center and other stakeholders, the May 2019 study supports increasing the state’s overall commitment to 3200 MW. These findings are bolstering the push for legislation to set the state’s overall offshore wind target at 6000 MW by 2035, which would be equivalent to nearly 50% of the electricity consumed by the state.
To support the construction of these large projects, the site of Massachusetts’ last coal plant will be converted to serve as a base providing support and logistics for the offshore wind industry, as well as transmission and battery support for turbines offshore.
So far, New York leads the region in its total commitment to offshore wind capacity at 9000 MW, and it is making offshore wind a centerpiece of its plan to decarbonize the state’s electricity system. As a first step, the state issued a procurement in November 2018 of at least 800 MW. Leading up to its release, Acadia Center worked with allies to ensure that the procurement was structured to maximize consumer savings, support workforce development, and include environmental protections. The state is poised to announce its selection for a project up to 1200 MW.
New York’s offshore wind goal is a major building block of Governor Cuomo’s recently announced commitment to 100% emissions free electricity by 2040 and a net-zero carbon economy by 2050.
Rhode Island led the region’s offshore wind efforts by hosting the first offshore wind project built in the United States: the 5-turbine, 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm, completed in late 2016. In May 2019 the state also approved a contract for 400 MW of offshore wind and is considering proposals for up to an additional 350 MW. The state is on track to reach the Governor Raimondo’s goal of 1000 MW sourced from clean, renewable energy by 2020.
Rhode Island has also been an early home to U.S. offshore wind industry headquarters for major companies, including Deepwater Wind (recently acquired by Ørsted) and GEV Wind Power. The presence of these new developers in the state demonstrate that a robust offshore wind industry can create not only clean power and cost savings, but good jobs and economic development opportunities.
Other Northeast States
Maine: Unlike its neighbors to the south, Maine’s coastal seabed drops off steeply right from shore, meaning that wind developers can’t use technology that attaches towers to the ocean floor in shallower depths. But that hasn’t stopped Maine from moving forward with offshore wind. Maine is looking to a much newer and experimental technology using floating platforms. Governor Mills recently signed a law recommitting Maine to a project consisting of two 6-MW turbines on floating platforms.
In another important step signaling Maine’s strong commitment to offshore wind (and other clean energy innovations), Governor Mills has created the Maine Offshore Wind Initiative and joined Massachusetts and New Hampshire to participate in the Gulf of Maine Intergovernmental Regional Task Force on Offshore Wind. As the costs of floating platform-based offshore wind come down, Maine’s opportunities to make larger commitments to offshore wind will continue to grow.
New Hampshire: Until recently, New Hampshire was on the sidelines in the offshore wind development race. But, in January 2019, Governor Sununu formally requested that federal regulators establish a state-federal offshore wind Task Force that will follow a multi-year process that 15 other states have already initiated. Without this process, New Hampshire would only be able to develop offshore wind projects within three miles of the coast — the point at which state waters end and federal waters begin. In April, regulators established a regional Gulf of Maine task force to coordinate activities in Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.
What does this mean for people in the Northeast?
These massive commitments by the Northeast states along with others along the eastern seaboard will allow for this new, burgeoning industry to develop and offer opportunities for states to roll out their offshore procurements and construction in a coordinated way. Based on performance shown to this point, costs will continue to decline as the industry grows. For example, turbines are getting larger, producing more electricity and resulting in lower and lower prices per megawatt-hour.
Each state making these commitments will vie for the economic development and employment benefits that the offshore wind industry buildout promises, breathing new life into the numerous deep-water ports up and down the coast. Many of the region’s port communities have struggled through the decline of the industries that formerly drove their economies, but they are now poised to reap the benefits offshore wind can bring.
The buildout of offshore wind resources will also contribute significantly to the urgent push to decarbonize the way we generate electricity and power our buildings, industries and transportation systems. The destructive and dangerous impacts of the changing climate are upon us, and they disproportionately affect coastal communities and fisheries through sea-level rise and warming waters. Replacing old, dirty fossil fueled generation with offshore wind is an important step toward an electric grid that will support the clean electrification of our buildings and transportation sector.
In addition to reducing carbon emissions, offshore wind will reduce other harmful emissions related to burning fossil fuels. These emissions damage people’s lungs and hearts and take a serious economic toll on affected communities. Reducing such emissions has significant human health benefits especially for those living in economically disadvantaged communities where fossil-fueled plants are concentrated.
In the Northeast, offshore wind is poised to meet the region’s needs as older generating plants are retiring because of economic pressures, environmental standards, and aging equipment. Grid operators, market participants, and advocates like Acadia Center are looking for ways to shift how the grid operates as more and more renewable energy resources like offshore wind begin to produce electricity. Replacing some of these older retiring plants with offshore wind will bring other benefits in the form of lower wholesale electricity prices – reflected in the significant economic benefits realized in the MA and RI contracts. In addition, because offshore wind may deliver energy during peak winter conditions when dirty gas and oil-powered plants are currently paid to run, these new facilities will further bring down the price – and pollutants – from electricity generation.
As offshore wind grows, the region will also face a range of challenges. Economically, the industry has benefited from the federal Investment Tax Credit, which is due to expire at the end of 2019. If allowed to expire, projects that go under contract after the end of this year may face up to 12% higher costs. Further, the construction and operation of many thousands of wind turbines and the needed transmission cables must appropriately address impacts on whales and other endangered species, birds, and a fishing industry already under significant pressure as a result of warming waters and overfishing. Advocates and decisionmakers must engage with local communities to address concerns around siting the landfall cables and other local impacts.
On the economic side, states and stakeholders should consider coordinating procurements to achieve an orderly build out of projects, allowing the industry to ramp up the supply chain and train a work force. States should look closely at whether each project should be connected to the shore individually or whether a central transmission back bone makes more economic and environmental sense.
Offshore wind is on a track to succeed in the Northeast, given the surge of state interest. However, the future success of this resource depends on its implementation, which must be accomplished on an aggressive schedule in order to reap the economic and environmental benefits. The projects must also proceed in ways that set a good precedent for the U.S. industry. Project selection, siting, and transmission must all be considered with an eye toward meeting fast-approaching climate deadlines and ensuring that labor, environmental, and economic justice issues are central to planning. Acadia Center will continue to work closely with the states, advocates, and other stakeholders on these issues, bringing its independent analytic, advocacy, and coalition-building expertise to ensure the successful deployment and continued expansion of offshore wind in the region.
Acadia Center Applauds Strong Suite of Climate and Clean Energy Actions
AUGUSTA, Maine – Maine’s most ambitious bills to fight climate change in a decade are now law. Today, Governor Mills signed three bills that will put Maine on track to 100% renewable energy by 2050, create an innovative Climate Council that allows voices from around the state to have a say in fighting climate change, expand access to renewable energy and put communities on the path to become energy independent. These join a suite of complementary bills that Governor Mills has signed into law since taking office, which reverse years of inaction and promise to advance the fight against climate change and bring the benefits of the clean energy economy to the people of Maine.
“For so long, Mainers have watched while other New England states invest in solar, wind, and large-scale procurements that reduce their dependence on foreign oil, lower consumer costs and provide cleaner and healthier power – now Maine will be a leader in creating jobs, saving money on energy bills and tackling the climate crisis using resources here at home,” said Daniel Sosland, Acadia Center President.
The bills signed today are An Act to Promote Clean Energy Jobs and to Establish the Maine Climate Council (L.D. 1679), An Act to Reform Maine’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (L.D. 1494), and An Act to Promote Solar Energy Projects and Distributed Generation Resources in Maine (L.D. 1711). They follow three other groundbreaking energy laws passed this month with bipartisan support.
Since the beginning of 2019, Governor Mills has signed legislation to restart a stalled offshore wind procurement process, install 100,000 clean and energy-efficient heat pumps in homes around the state in the next five years, create a fund to support rebates for the lease or purchase of an electric vehicle, expand training programs to build the clean energy workforce and address a suite of electric grid modernization initiatives, from energy storage to non-wires alternative solutions.
Altogether, these actions represent a remarkable turnaround in the leadership’s commitment to tackling the climate crisis and bringing the benefits of energy efficiency and clean energy to Maine. As neighboring states have demonstrated, the clean energy economy creates high-paying local jobs, saves consumers money and improves health and air quality by reducing the use of polluting fossil fuels.
“Acadia Center’s Building a Stronger Maine policy blueprint, submitted to the next governor at the end of 2018, laid out five critical areas where Maine needed to modernize its transportation and energy systems in order to address climate change and stay competitive in the New England region,” said Arah Schuur, Vice President – Climate and Energy at Acadia Center. “It should gratify all Mainers to see bipartisan support that takes concrete steps in each of these areas. Acadia Center applauds Governor Mills and the Maine Legislature for their swift action on clean energy.”
HARTFORD, Conn. – Today, Connecticut’s House of Representatives passed landmark legislation that would require the state to solicit 2000 MW of new offshore wind energy by 2030, building significantly on the first 300 MW of offshore wind the state procured last year. This legislation would initiate the first new procurement this summer and includes rigorous environmental requirements and robust labor provisions. The bill has been strongly supported by a broad group of clean energy, labor, industry, and environmental advocates, and it comes on the heels of a major announcement by the governor promising new port infrastructure for this industry.
“This bill is an amazing achievement for the state of Connecticut, and the House of Representatives demonstrated exceptional bipartisan leadership in passing it today,” said Emily Lewis, senior policy analyst at Acadia Center. “This bill will put Connecticut on the path to reach its clean energy and climate commitments and is a critical element in building the state’s clean energy economy. Coupled with the recently announced public-private partnership to redevelop the State Pier in New London, Connecticut is solidifying its position as a national leader on offshore wind energy.”
Passage of the bill follows an announcement last week by Governor Lamont that the state of Connecticut, Bay State Wind, terminal operator Gateway, and the Connecticut Port Authority will be partnering in investing $93 million to redevelop the State Pier in New London to support the growing offshore wind industry in the state and the Northeast region.
“Passage of this bill by the House of Representatives is a tremendous victory for Connecticut’s workers and their communities, which will benefit from local jobs, economic development, and clean energy, ” said John Humphries, lead organizer for the CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs. “We applaud the efforts of legislators on both sides of the aisle, who worked together to make this aggressive long-term commitment to offshore wind with the strongest labor and environmental protections of any state in the region. We urge the Senate to act quickly and send this bill to the Governor’s desk, so we can all get to work making Connecticut the regional hub for this emerging industry.”
Over the past year, Acadia Center and the CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs have worked with allies to build broad support for an offshore wind mandate of at least 2000 MW by 2030. By passing this bill, legislators have provided a strong, bipartisan endorsement of this measure, which will not only help meet the state’s ambitious climate and clean energy goals but also help position Connecticut at the nucleus of the nascent Northeastern offshore wind industry.
Coalition to focus on establishing long-term net zero emissions targets, expanding clean energy procurement, modernizing regional energy infrastructure and taking action to address climate impacts of transportation.
BOSTON, MA – The Alliance for Clean Energy Solutions (ACES), a coalition composed of diverse organizations dedicated to advancing clean, affordable and reliable energy for Massachusetts, announced its legislative priorities today. The priorities build off of previous successes in the Commonwealth to advance clean energy but also take a longer term perspective and embark into new areas where action to address pollution is vital. They will facilitate clean energy development, reduce climate pollution and its associated health impacts, protect consumers, enhance economic growth and encourage innovation.
“We have made great strides in advancing renewable energy generation since ACES was originally formed, and our priorities continue building on that foundation,” said Deborah Donovan, Massachusetts Director of Acadia Center. “The science on climate has painted a clearer picture of the urgency of the crisis and requires Massachusetts to establish clear long-term goals reflecting the latest data. We are calling upon the legislature to also address other areas where we have not made as much progress, like modernizing our grid and lowering emissions from transportation while also ensuring the needs of low income, working class communities and communities of color are made more central.”
The priorities look to establish long-term greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) targets and to continue the success Massachusetts has had in building renewable energy generation by improving and expanding the state’s procurement mechanisms. They also aim to make substantial improvements to the region’s electrical infrastructure by modernizing the grid to accommodate renewables and other clean resources like energy storage. Lastly and significantly for the coalition, they look beyond electric power to the GHG impacts of transportation.
“The ACES policy priorities are critical to the economic, energy and environmental future of the Commonwealth,” said Peter Rothstein, President of NECEC. “Our diverse coalition looks forward to working with the legislature to build upon Massachusetts’ success deploying cost-effective clean energy solutions to reduce carbon emissions, while driving innovation in clean tech and creating jobs.”
The ACES legislative priorities include:
Transportation Climate Policy and Equitable Clean Transportation Investment – Implement the regional approach to transportation climate policy under discussion (Transportation and Climate Initiative) in a timely manner, with proceeds to be invested to reduce transportation emissions, provide access to clean transportation for all, including communities with the least access to clean, reliable mobility options, through an inclusive process in the Commonwealth.
A Modern, Clean, and Resilient Grid – Provide for a future with widespread local energy resources, including solar, storage, and demand response, with improvements to the timeliness and fairness of interconnection processes, smarter electricity rates, improved net metering, enhanced access for low and moderate income (LMI) customers, and increased stakeholder input.
Stronger Long–term Climate Protection Policies – Expand the greenhouse gas reduction requirements of the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner, commensurate with the latest science, by using planning, public policy, and funding to reach interim targets⏤maximizing energy efficiency, utilizing 100% clean or renewable energy, deploying energy storage and other innovative clean technologies, implementing natural climate solutions, and expanding carbon pricing to all sectors.
Improved and Expanded Renewable Energy Procurement Mechanisms – Authorize additional state and regional procurements for offshore wind and other RPS Class I renewable energy resources, guard against conflicts of interest in project evaluation and selection, require climate benefits for all selected projects, enable new procurement mechanisms and funding sources to empower businesses and communities, and ensure that environmental impacts of electricity generation and transmission are appropriately avoided, minimized, and mitigated.
Also, the ACES legislative priorities include support for specific strategies related to energy efficiency, clean and efficient heating, and electric vehicles.
“Massachusetts has many great policies on the books, but more is needed to address transportation emissions and to meet our climate obligations,” said Eugenia Gibbons, Policy Director at Green Energy Consumers Alliance. “With the right mix of new policies, we can further reduce emissions and save more money by avoiding imported fossil fuels.”
“Investing in clean energy solutions is an integral step in hitting climate goals and stimulating economic growth,” said Jesse Mermell, President of The Alliance for Business Leadership. “Already, the clean energy sector has created over 100,000 jobs and contributed billions of dollars to the Commonwealth’s economy. Advancing the ACES priorities can reaffirm the state’s commitment to transitioning to a cleaner future and send signals that Massachusetts is a competitive place in which to work and do business.”
About the Alliance for Clean Energy Solutions (ACES) The Alliance for Clean Energy Solutions (ACES) is a “coalition of coalitions” comprised of business groups, clean energy companies, environmental organizations, labor, health, and consumer advocates dedicated to advancing clean energy for Massachusetts. ACES is committed to ensuring that those charged with shaping Massachusetts’ energy policies have the most rigorous, current data on the benefits and costs of clean energy. Our goal is to ensure that the Commonwealth can attain a cost-effective, reliable and diverse energy supply to power its businesses, communities and households, which will reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, create a stable and prosperous business environment and meet the Commonwealth’s greenhouse gas emissions requirements. For more information: https://www.acesma.net/.
42 Groups Join Together to Help Lawmakers, City Officials and Business Leaders Develop 21st-Century Clean Transportation Network Offering More Options and Serving the Needs of All in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic
WASHINGTON, D.C. AND BOSTON – Forty-two local, regional and national groups today launched a new coalition, Our Transportation Future, established to help Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states develop a regional clean transportation system that protects public health, curbs climate-changing pollution, expands economies and improves the flow of commerce. The coalition will support states’ efforts to address a transportation system that is unworkable, outmoded and is the leading source of carbon pollution driving climate change.
Our Transportation Future (OTF) is committed to finding solutions and modernizing transportation across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region. The coalition aims to help transform the region’s transportation system into a model for the nation that gets people in rural, suburban and urban communities where they need to go safely, more efficiently and with less exposure to harmful pollution.
OTF experts are taking an active role to educate state policy makers and the media. The new OTF website will provide important news, information and announcements about the ongoing efforts to modernize transportation across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. A monthly round-up of media coverage and commentary about regional clean transportation is available at OTF with a free subscription.
OTF supports the policy objectives of the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), a collaboration of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia working to reduce transportation pollution and invest in a modern, clean transportation future for the region. In December 2018, nine TCI states and D.C. committed to working over the course of 2019 to design and create a market-based program to limit transportation pollution while improving public transit, expanding electric vehicle use, establishing more bikeways and pedestrian walkways and fostering economic growth.
Jordan Stutt, carbon programs director, Acadia Center, said: “This broad group of organizations has united around a shared reality: it’s time to invest in our transportation future. Our air is polluted, our public transit is outdated, and traffic is choking our cities. Through TCI and other clean transportation policies, we can invest in solutions for cleaner air, healthier people, and a thriving economy.”
Our Transportation Future is a coalition of local, regional and national organizations committed to modernizing transportation across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region. OTF is focused on improving our transportation system — the ways we move people and goods in the region – to spur economic growth, make us healthier and safer, clean up the environment, and improve our quality of life.
An improved transportation system means more clean cars and trucks, more reliable mass transit, more walkable and bikeable communities, and investments that connect everyone, including those in underserved and rural areas.
OTF members include: A Better City, Acadia Center, Ceres, Clean Air Council, Climate Law and Policy Project, ClimateXChange, ConnPIRG, Connecticut Public Interest for the Environment, Conservation Law Foundation, Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), Energize Maryland, Environment America, Environment Connecticut, Environment Massachusetts, Environment Maryland, Environment Maine, Environment New Hampshire, Environment New Jersey, Environment New York, Environment Rhode Island, Environment Virginia, Environmental Advocates of New York, Environmental League of Massachusetts, Green Energy Consumers Alliance, Green For All, Health Care Without Harm, Maryland PIRG, Mass Climate Action Network, MassPIRG, NJPIRG, Northeast Clean Energy Council, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), PennEnvironment, Sierra Club, Transportation for America, Transportation for Massachusetts, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Union of Concerned Scientists, USPIRG, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, Vermont Natural Resources Council, and 350 MASS for A Better Future.
Krysia Wazny McClain, Communications Director
617-742-0054 x107, firstname.lastname@example.org
Maine is at a crossroads in its climate and energy future. For the state to move forward and embrace a consumer-friendly, low-polluting clean energy future, its biggest utility, Central Maine Power (CMP), must dramatically change the way it does business and do much more to support consumer and community access to solar, wind, building weatherization, and clean technologies like electric vehicles and heat pumps. Up to this point, CMP has frequently blocked these measures. It is time for CMP to change.
As a whole, Maine has struggled to make progress toward a clean energy future, falling behind its New England neighbors despite strong calls from Mainers and their communities for more clean solutions. Governor Mills understands the threats climate change poses to Maine’s economy and way of life. She has committed the state to the Paris Climate Accords among other steps. But for her attempts to gain ground, the state’s utility companies must also reform and stop putting roadblocks in the path to progress.
For instance, Maine prevents its communities from adopting advanced building energy codes. Maine bars community choice aggregation and has consistently blocked efforts to more fairly compensate solar customers for the power they create. CMP must align its investments and rates with consumer interests so that they have access to clean energy options like rooftop and community solar.
CMP’s request for a certificate from the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for a proposed power line to transmit hydroelectricity from Canada to New England has raised a host of issues directly tied to core Maine concerns: the urgent need to reduce climate pollution from energy generation; reforming the role of the state’s utilities, particularly Central Maine Power; and whether the intrusion of this project in the Maine forest is appropriate.
Acadia Center is involved in issues surrounding the project because of the importance of these issues to Maine’s energy, economic, and consumer future. In the PUC proceeding, Acadia Center has joined with other parties to recommend that if the PUC issue a certificate for the project, it should impose a set of commitments on CMP to support clean energy and consumer access to new technologies. These conditions would require CMP to:
Provide measurable benefits to Maine ratepayers and affected communities.
Support Maine’s efforts to expand its clean energy economy.
Increase access for Maine residents to clean transportation and clean distributed energy resources such as solar.
Make CMP’s planning and decision-making more transparent to expand opportunities for alternative investments in solar, storage, and efficiency.
Support a study examining pathways to achieve regional decarbonization goals.
Outside of the issues before the PUC, a review of whether the land use and siting impacts of the project are tolerable is pending at the Department of Environmental Protection. Acadia Center looks to the efforts underway by organizations engaged in the Department of Environmental Protection permit review process to determine if the impacts to Maine’s forests and natural landscape are acceptable. Acadia Center does not believe this project should proceed unless there is satisfactory resolution of the land use issues, in addition to consumer benefits, and the need by the state’s largest utility to work in concert with clean energy and climate values.
In addition, the energy companies involved—CMP, Avangrid, and Hydro-Quebec—must change in their willingness to provide transparent information, to allow the public to determine that the regional climate benefits of the project are real and will bear out over time.
Conditioning the PUC certificate with added requirements on CMP is only the beginning of the changes in direction CMP must undertake. The company cannot cite the climate benefits of this proposal while also blocking clean energy options for Maine consumers and communities. In order to decide if the project is good for Maine, the Northeast, and the global climate, the public needs to know more.
Acadia Center’s statements on the line and the proposed settlement filed with the PUC are available here.