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.

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

National Rankings Highlight Leadership of Northeastern States’ Energy Efficiency Programs

Policy and Funding Challenges Remain

BOSTON – Northeast states continued their nation-leading performance in the 2018 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, released today by the nonpartisan American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). Massachusetts ranked #1 for the eighth straight year, Rhode Island remained at #3, and Vermont, Connecticut and New York ranked #4, # 5 and #6, respectively.

Maine and New Hampshire ranked #14 and #21, respectively.

“Energy efficiency is a cornerstone of the clean energy economy in the Northeast and beyond. Leading states in the region are successfully demonstrating that non-polluting energy efficiency lowers consumer utility bills, reduces the cost of doing business, and provides healthier, more comfortable spaces to live and work,” said Daniel Sosland, Acadia Center president. “All states must continue to prioritize energy efficiency so that these benefits reach additional residents while sharply reducing emissions to meet climate targets.”

In addition to a strong overall performance on the Scorecard, New England states performed particularly well in the category of utility and public benefits programs, which are operated on behalf of utility customers. Together, these programs represent the single largest state policy-driven impact on greenhouse gas emissions in the region. Due in large part to energy efficiency gains, electric consumption in New England has declined over the past few years even as the population and economy have grown. Energy efficiency investments have brought billions of dollars in energy and utility bill savings to consumers and businesses and helped halt the growth of peak electric use. Increasing investments in efficiency has made nearly $500 million of expensive transmission line upgrades no longer necessary in New England.

Leading the charge with low-cost efficiency

Massachusetts and Rhode Island tied for first in the utility program category, followed by Vermont and Connecticut at third and fourth, respectively.

With strong customer-funded efficiency programs, Massachusetts and Rhode Island have achieved the country’s highest electric savings rates – at least 3% of retail sales last year – and demonstrated the significant potential that exists for cost-effective efficiency investments. Acadia Center’s EnergyVision 2030 report shows that, on average, if all Northeast states achieved at least 2.5% annual efficiency savings, efficiency would reduce emissions from electricity generation in line with regional climate targets and offset the additional electricity from increased electric vehicle and heat pump adoption.

“Massachusetts has shown over the last eight years of first place rankings that making effective use of efficiency can grow the economy while saving ratepayers money and cutting carbon emissions. Even so, Massachusetts can do more to maximize this low-cost, clean resource,” said Amy Boyd, senior attorney at Acadia Center and a member of the Massachusetts Energy Efficiency Advisory Council. “Many residents – particularly renters – and businesses need more help lowering their energy costs, and the efficiency programs can play a crucial role in transitioning ratepayers off fossil fuels.”

Rhode Island held the #3 spot overall despite state government action in 2017 that diverted $12.5 million in ratepayer efficiency funds and forced an additional $10.7 million in program cuts this year. Rhode Island’s continued strong showing stems from a state law that prioritizes investments in energy efficiency over traditional energy supply when efficiency is cost-effective and less expensive.

Policy opportunities for lagging states

The gap between the elite efficiency performers and the second tier is significant, as in prior years. While Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont are fully embracing cost-effective efficiency, neighboring Northeast states could do more to show a sustained commitment to efficiency that would reduce energy consumption and minimize consumer costs.

Connecticut took a major step backwards on efficiency in 2017, for instance. Under extreme fiscal pressure, the state diverted $127 million in ratepayer funding for efficiency to the budget’s general fund.

“Connecticut has high-quality, award-winning energy efficiency programs that deserve real praise for helping the state earn the #5 ranking,” said Amy McLean Salls, Connecticut Director and Senior Policy Advocate with Acadia Center. “However, Connecticut can, and should, do more to improve its actual energy efficiency savings levels. Connecticut has slipped down regionally on this all-important metric and will need to ramp up its energy efficiency savings goals in coming years to protect its strong in-state efficiency industry and to meet its aggressive climate targets for 2020 and 2030. As a necessary first step to increasing Connecticut’s efficiency ambitions, the Governor and General Assembly should undo the devastating fund raid imposed by legislators last year.”

Although New York moved up a spot in the Scorecard to #6 overall, it too continues to lag best-practice states, with current annual utility savings levels roughly one-sixth of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. In April, New York announced a plan to reduce energy consumption by 185 trillion BTUs from forecasted levels by 2025, but important details such as utility savings targets and funding sources have yet to be worked out. Acadia Center has offered four recommendations that, if implemented, would strengthen the likelihood of achieving the 2025 energy efficiency target.

“New York should be commended for seeking to jump-start its efficiency efforts,” said Cullen Howe, Acadia Center’s New York Director. “But now it needs to follow through by setting aggressive but achievable targets and ensuring that efficiency’s many consumer and environmental benefits are realized.”

Maine’s dip from #13 to #14 reflects the impact of inconsistent funding and regulatory uncertainty, despite the achievement of reasonable energy savings levels. Maine continues to lead the nation in deployment of clean, efficient electric heat pumps, thanks in part to leadership from Efficiency Maine, the independent administrator of the state’s efficiency programs. The three-year energy efficiency plan currently under review is an opportunity to secure steady, long-term commitments that expand energy efficiency access and savings for Maine homes and businesses and improve economic security.

Despite implementing the first year of the Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) in 2018, New Hampshire maintained the same relatively low rank as last year, primarily because spending on energy efficiency has not fully ramped up. The EERS puts New Hampshire on a path to reducing energy waste, and the state should progress in future rankings as it pursues more efficiency.

The 2018 Scorecard did recognize New Hampshire’s efforts to target significant energy efficiency funding to low-income communities.

The Scorecard is available at: https://aceee.org/state-policy/scorecard

Media Contacts:

Erika Niedowski, RI Director and Coordinator, Energy Efficiency Initiative
eniedowski@acadiacenter.org, 401.276.0600 ext. 401

Krysia Wazny, Communications Director
kwazny@acadiacenter.org, 617.742.0054 ext. 107

EPA and NHTSA Proposal on Car Standards Threatens Climate, Public Health, and States’ Rights

BOSTON — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released for public comment their proposal to roll back the federal clean car standards. The clean car standards require automakers to limit the amount of pollution emitted by the vehicles they produce. The administration’s preferred proposal keeps vehicle standards flat beyond 2020, which is a reversal from the original program design that steadily increased the standards through 2026. At the same time, EPA is proposing to revoke the right of states to adopt more stringent vehicle emission standards set by California, which allows them to better protect their citizens by limiting pollution within their borders.

In response, Acadia Center has released the following statement:

“Today’s proposal from the EPA launches a two-pronged attack on Americans. The proposed rollback of federal clean car standards would do nothing but increase pollution and raise costs for consumers. It is compounded by a direct assault on the ability of states to protect the health of their citizens by adopting stricter vehicle emission standards – forcing states to swallow this dangerous rollback,” said Daniel Sosland, president of Acadia Center. “States combatting pollution must have the right to reduce tailpipe emissions within their boundaries, as the Clean Air Act intended. For over 40 years, states have had this explicit authority to protect their citizens’ health by reducing vehicle pollution.”

Under the Clean Air Act, states suffering from air pollution have the authority to put in place stronger limits on tailpipe pollution when federal standards fall short. Thirteen states, including most of the Northeast, and the District of Columbia are already exercising this right. Colorado just announced their intention to adopt more stringent clean car rules too. That means that states representing more than 118 million people and over a third of the automotive market are exercising this right.

“Today’s decision goes against the conclusion from experts that stringent clean car standards are in the best interest of all Americans, protecting them from unnecessarily high fuel costs, respiratory and other health problems caused by pollution, and climate change from greenhouse gas emissions,” said Emily Lewis, policy analyst at Acadia Center. ” Americans across the country are breathing easier because the clean car states’ commitment to delivering cleaner, more efficient cars to consumers.”

The Obama Administration approved the latest clean car standards in 2012, with the support of automakers and California. In January 2017, the EPA concluded that these standards are working, achievable, and should not be rolled back.

“Reducing pollution from the transportation sector was difficult before EPA undermined state efforts. The challenge is even greater now, but leadership states are up to the task,” said Jordan Stutt, Acadia Center’s Carbon Programs Director. “Last week eight Northeast states and Washington, D.C., convened a listening session, as part of an ongoing series of stakeholder meetings, to explore opportunities for regional collaboration to modernize and decarbonize the transportation sector. Given the federal rollbacks, it is more important than ever that these states advance ambitious policies to reduce pollution and enable investment in clean transportation.”

Media Contacts:

Emily Lewis, Policy Analyst
elewis@acadiacenter.org, 860-246-7121 x207

Krysia Wazny, Communications Director
kwazny@acadiacenter.org, 617-742-0054 x107

Alliance for Clean Energy Solutions Commends Massachusetts Senate for Passage of Ambitious Clean Energy Bill

Coalition urges full legislature to pass legislation to increase the Renewable Portfolio Standard and other key clean energy priorities

BOSTON, MA – Leaders of the Alliance for Clean Energy Solutions, a coalition of business groups, clean energy companies, environmental organizations and health and consumer representatives dedicated to advancing clean energy for Massachusetts, issued the following statements regarding the passage of An Act to Promote a Clean Energy Future by the Massachusetts Senate and the recent advancement of clean energy bills in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

“Both the House and Senate have shown great leadership in moving bills to advance markets for clean energy resources through policy mechanisms like an increase to the state’s RPS, lifting or raising the solar net metering caps and various mechanisms to drive energy storage,” said NECEC Executive Vice President Janet Gail Besser, co-leader of ACES. “It is imperative that legislative leaders come together in the coming weeks to enact energy legislation this session. Together, these policies will keep Massachusetts in the lead as a clean energy economy, ensuring that a diverse energy portfolio provides reliable and cost-effective energy products and services for Massachusetts residents and businesses.”

“The Senate has acted decisively today to advance a bold vision for clean energy progress, including market-based climate policies and long-term GHG reduction requirements,” said Mark LeBel, staff attorney for Acadia Center and co-leader of ACES. “Higher levels of renewables and ambitious commitments to offshore wind and energy storage are key policies to address the energy needs of Massachusetts and all of New England. The House is also making significant progress advancing bills to promote renewables, energy storage, and electric vehicles. The ACES coalition looks forward to working with the legislature and all stakeholders to achieve a result that the entire Commonwealth can be proud of.”

ACES’s top priority is an increase to the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). The need for this increase is highlighted in An Analysis of the Massachusetts Renewable Portfolio Standard, a May 2017 report developed by NECEC, in partnership with Mass Energy. The report found that an increase, such as the one called for by ACES, could create thousands of jobs across the region and lower wholesale electricity prices in Massachusetts while putting the Commonwealth on track to fulfill its obligations under the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) to reduce emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

Other ACES policy priorities, such as removing the net metering caps and advancing storage provide significant economic opportunity for the Commonwealth. Massachusetts lost one-fifth of its solar workforce in 2017 as a result of hitting net metering caps across much of the Commonwealth, a significant decline that could be reversed if net metering caps are increased. Additionally, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources’ The State of Charge report found that energy storage could deliver $3.4 billion in benefits to Massachusetts. Energy storage can also effect a 10% reduction in Massachusetts peak system demand and more than a million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions reductions over a ten-year period.

“By strengthening the already successful Renewable Portfolio Standard, Massachusetts has the potential to help businesses of all sizes, contribute to emission reduction goals, and put MA on the map as a competitive state to do business” says Bev Armstrong, CEO of Brazo Fuerte Artisanal Beer, and Secretary of The Alliance for Business Leadership.

“Companies and investors across the Commonwealth have embraced renewable energy to help cut costs, reduce exposure to the volatility of fossil fuel prices, and stay competitive,” said Alli Gold Roberts, senior manager of state policy at Ceres, a sustainability nonprofit organization that works with the most influential investors and companies to build leadership and drive solutions throughout the economy. “A stronger Renewable Portfolio Standard will drive additional economic growth. That is why major Massachusetts companies support increasing the standard to achieve 50 percent renewable energy by 2030.”

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: macleanenergysolutions.org

Media Contacts:

Krysia Wazny, Acadia Center
kwazny@acadiacenter.org 617-742-0054 x107

Sean Davenport, NECEC
sdavenport@necec.org 617-600-7204

Eversource Granted High Profit Margins, Automatic Annual Rate Increases, and Detrimental Charges for New Solar Customers

57 Consumer, Clean Energy, and Community Organizations Call on State Leaders to Address Counterproductive Decisions

BOSTON — Today, Acadia Center, Health Care Without Harm, MASSPIRG, Vote Solar, and 53 other organizations released a joint statement pointing to serious concerns over decisions by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) in Eversource’s recent electricity rate case. These decisions are inconsistent with the consumer-friendly clean energy future that Massachusetts is striving for. The 57 organizations bringing forward these concerns come from many different perspectives, including low-income and ratepayer advocates, environmental, health and clean energy public interest organizations, solar advocates, and clean energy businesses.

“Massachusetts is embracing many innovations on clean energy, including energy efficiency and offshore wind, that will boost the Commonwealth’s economy, benefit consumers, improve public health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” noted Daniel Sosland, President of Acadia Center. “Unfortunately, in four important ways, the DPU’s decisions in Eversource’s rate case represent a significant step away from embracing a clean energy future. Instead, these DPU decisions provide incentives for the company to invest in outdated and expensive energy infrastructure, reduce customer control, and impose significant unnecessary costs on consumers.”

Two of these decisions, unnecessarily high profit margins (known as the return on equity) and automatic annual revenue increases going forward, could collectively cost ratepayers an extra $460 million over five years. The other two decisions, unprecedented new demand charges on new residential solar customers and the elimination of optional residential on-peak/off-peak rates, would move away from electricity rates that are efficient and consumer-friendly.

“Hospitals typically have very small margins, so every unnecessary penny per kWh for Eversource means a lot less money for healing patients,” said Paul Lipke, Senior Advisor for Energy and Buildings at Health Care Without Harm. “Unless addressed, Eversource’s rate changes also increase pollution and shift costs from energy to health care. This conflicts directly with efforts to constrain the Commonwealth’s health costs, and at a time when households already spend six times on health care what they spend on energy. We can and must do better.”

“The Commission has decided to effectively raise costs, remove value and reduce customers’ understanding of and control over bills by approving Eversource’s new solar demand charge,” said Nathan Phelps, Regulatory Director for Vote Solar. “This decision is out of step with Massachusetts laws to encourage the state’s transition to a clean and reliable electricity system, and out of step with the DPU’s own prior leadership ensuring that solar customers are treated fairly for the local power they generate. We urge the Legislature and the Governor to reject this decision and reinstate Eversource customers’ right to lower their own utility bills with rooftop solar, protect the thousands of solar jobs serving our state, and deliver on the Commonwealth’s commitment to building a clean energy economy.”

“For many of us, our electricity bills are a significant monthly expense, and we rely on regulators to make sure utility companies like Eversource don’t overcharge ratepayers or adopt pricing practices that are deceptive or unfair,” said Deirdre Cummings, MASSPIRG’s Consumer Program Director. “In this case, the DPU has approved Eversource’s new pricing schemes that will result in hundreds of millions in excessive charges; while at the same time, Eversource has made it harder for consumers to monitor their electricity use and reduce their bills.”

“Residential on-peak/off-peak rates should be used as a key tool to manage peak demand. Historically, these have been underutilized because the utilities do not publicize them and make them difficult to sign up for,” said Mark LeBel, Staff Attorney for Acadia Center. “Instead of optimizing these rates and making them easier to access, the DPU let Eversource eliminate them.”

The decision on the return on equity is currently being appealed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court by Attorney General Maura Healey, and the decision on demand charges for new residential solar customers is being appealed by Vote Solar and other parties. The decision on demand charges is the subject of a bill recommended favorably by the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy at the Massachusetts legislature, and a requirement for optional on-peak/off-peak rates is included in several different bills. The DPU recently denied the Attorney General’s motion for reconsideration on the automatic annual revenue increases.

Media Contacts:

Mark LeBel, Staff Attorney
mlebel@acadiacenter.org, 617-742-0054 x104

Janice Gan, Public Engagement and Communications Associate
jgan@acadiacenter.org, 617-742-0054 x106

Reversal of Federal Clean Car Standards Will Harm Consumers and Climate

BOSTON — Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that the agency will attempt to roll back federal clean car standards, reversing a decision in January 2017 that reinforced those standards. The clean car standards require automakers to limit the amount of pollution emitted by the vehicles they produce. In response, Acadia Center has released the following statement:

“Clean car standards protect all Americans from unnecessarily high fuel costs and from pollution that is dangerous to their health. Rolling back these standards will damage the country’s economy and its competitive position, contrary to erroneous assertions by EPA. EPA’s decision will cost consumers a net savings of about $1,600 over the lifetime of a car, increase pollution that causes and exacerbates asthma, and unnecessarily pour more emissions that cause climate change back into the atmosphere,” said Daniel Sosland, Acadia Center’s president.

“In undermining fuel efficiency standards, EPA leadership has defied its own experts, who have evaluated them extensively and confirmed their effectiveness. Once again, EPA rejects sound science and frustrates the growth of technology improvements for vehicles, which are already available and which consumers deserve.”

The Obama Administration approved the latest clean car standards in 2012, with the support of automakers. In January 2017, the EPA concluded that these standards are working, achievable, and should not be rolled back.

“In the absence of federal leadership, it’s essential that the nation’s coalition of clean car states exercise their right to safeguard the health of their residents and the planet,” said Emily Lewis, policy analyst and coordinator of Acadia Center’s Electrification of Transportation and Heating Initiative.

The clean car states include nearly all states in New England as well as New York, and together they represent 113 million Americans and more than one-third of the auto market.

“The clean car states will not be immediately affected by EPA’s decision, but millions of Americans in neighboring states will pay more at the pump while suffering the consequences of increased pollution — pollution which cannot be limited by state lines and affects us all,” said Lewis.

“The Northeast can redouble its commitment to reducing pollution from the transportation sector by embracing a new cap-and-invest program,” said Jordan Stutt, policy analyst. “Seven Northeast states and Washington, D.C., are now holding listening sessions to explore opportunities for regional collaboration to modernize and decarbonize the transportation sector. A multi-state cap-and-invest program can reduce transportation pollution and raise money to support cleaner and more modern ways of moving people and goods, including through low- and zero-emissions vehicles. The necessity and urgency of this step is further emphasized by the EPA’s abandonment of national policies to support a low-emissions system.”

Media Contacts:

Emily Lewis, Policy Analyst & Coordinator, Electrification of Transportation and Heating Initiative
elewis@acadiacenter.org, 860-2467121 x207

Krysia Wazny, Communications Director
kwazny@acadiacenter.org, 617-742-0054 x107

Rhode Island Listening Sessions for Clean Transportation Are “Positive Step” in Commitment to Regional Policy

Acadia Center, Ceres, NRDC, Sierra Club, and Union of Concerned Scientists See Leadership Opportunity at First Listening Session after Bonn Pledge to Develop Clean Transportation

PROVIDENCE, RI (Media Advisory) — Leading environmental, scientific and business organizations working to advance modern, clean and low-carbon transportation are hopeful that upcoming listening sessions will lead to the development of much-needed transportation policy. Rhode Island and other states across the region (Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Vermont and the District of Columbia) are initiating a series of public listening sessions on transportation and climate issues, seeking public input on the solutions that can implemented to improve and modernize the transportation system. Two listening sessions in Rhode Island will kick things off on April 3rd and 4th, 2018, in Newport and Providence, respectively. For details, go to: http://climatechange.ri.gov/state-actions/listening-sessions.php.

In November, the seven states and Washington, D.C., pledged to explore regional policies to reduce carbon pollution from the transportation sector. The Rhode Island listening sessions for clean transportation will provide a launching pad for discussion of current challenges as well as an opportunity to propose policies that will reduce air pollution generated by cars and trucks while building an equitable transportation network that better serves all of Rhode Island’s residents.

At the listening sessions, policymakers, business leaders and others will discuss solutions to the challenges that lay ahead, including: new infrastructure for electric vehicles; better public transportation, including zero-emission bus service; and programs to ensure low-income and underserved communities have access to transportation options that are affordable, convenient, and non-polluting.

Similar listening sessions were held in Massachusetts last fall, and additional state and regional sessions will follow.

Leading environmental, scientific and business organizations, including Acadia Center, Ceres, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and Union of Concerned Scientists are working together to advance modern, efficient, and clean low-carbon transportation solutions in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. The groups are 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.


Pat Mitchell, (703) 276-3266 or pmitchell@hastingsgroup.com

Viewpoint: Need for Mass. clean transportation policy

When the world convened recently in Bonn, Germany, for the annual United Nations climate-change negotiations, there was a particular focus on the role of U.S. states, cities and businesses in reducing carbon pollution. Massachusetts, along with six other states and the District of Columbia, announced a regional pledge to work together with stakeholders to “create the clean transportation system that the region needs to meet today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.”

Cleaning up and modernizing the transportation system will be a major undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be a painful one. Massachusetts has demonstrated the ability to address similar challenges through innovative policies and regional collaboration that reduce emissions while improving the economy. The commonwealth played a key role in launching the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the nation’s first multi-state program to reduce carbon pollution from power plants.

While RGGI has helped Massachusetts make great strides in reducing electric sector pollution, the transportation sector still emits around the same amount of carbon as it did in 1990. Every year, pollution from the transportation sector causes asthma attacks and leads to preventable deaths, taking a massive financial and human toll on Bay State residents. Making matters worse, low-income communities and communities of color face a disproportionate share of the impacts from this pollution.

We can’t transform our transportation system overnight, but we can do more to invest and plan for a better future. From electric vehicle infrastructure to smart growth and improved public transit, we have an array of options to reduce pollution and increase transportation access while benefiting the economy. A RGGI-like program could go a long way to accelerate the adoption of these transportation solutions.

The RGGI cap-and-invest model has helped cut emissions from power plants in the region by 40 percent since 2008, while driving $2.8 billion in regional economic growth and creating nearly 30,000 jobs. Acadia Center analysis shows that RGGI has helped the region outpace the rest of the country in both emissions reductions and economic growth. In Massachusetts alone, these RGGI-driven emissions reductions have resulted in $798 million in avoided health costs.

Recent analysis conducted for the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) shows that regional carbon policy — like a cap-and-invest program — would add billions of dollars to the regional economy, reduce harmful pollution and generate revenue for reinvestment in transportation improvements, accelerating the transition to a cleaner, more efficient, more accessible system. A recent report from Ceres and M.J. Bradley and Associates found that the benefits of investments in electric vehicle infrastructure outweigh the costs by a margin of three to one.

Expanding clean transportation options should be a top priority for our economy. Businesses want 21st century cities with transportation systems to match, and they’ve proven to invest resources and create jobs in areas that have them. To keep Massachusetts’ economy thriving, we must embrace clean transportation. Market-based solutions like the RGGI model offer a promising path forward, and we urge Governor Baker and his peers across the region to act swiftly in establishing such a program.

Mindy Lubber is president and CEO of Ceres, a sustainability nonprofit organization. Daniel L. Sosland is president and executive director of Acadia Center, a nonprofit, research and advocacy organization.

Solar is again the flashpoint in CT’s new energy strategy

“This is radically anti-consumer and, ironically, at odds with the grid modernization recommendations of the CES that want to explore integrating smart meters, efficiency and demand response, storage, solar, and other customer-sited resources for numerous grid benefits, including peak-demand management,” said Bill Dornbos, advocacy director and senior attorney for the regional environmental group Acadia Center, which in December spearheaded a statement of principles by energy and environmental activists.

Read the full article from the CT Mirror here.