New Rates, Energy Plan Approved for R.I. Electricity

After months of hearings and negotiations, an energy initiative called grid modernization is moving forward in Rhode Island, along with new gas and electricity rates. On Aug. 24 the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved a new model for compensating National Grid for operating and maintaining utility poles, transmission lines, and substations. For the next three years a portion of National Grid’s revenue will also go to making the power grid more cost-efficient and accommodating to renewable power, electric vehicles, and energy storage. Read the full article from ecoRI News here.

Rhode Island approves National Grid modernization plan, rate increase

States are increasingly focused on efforts to transform the power sector, but regulators need to strike a delicate balance to ensure that customers are not over-burdened by costly grid modernization investments. The agreement puts Rhode Island “into a leadership role among New England states seeking to reform utility regulations,” according to a statement from Daniel Sosland, president of the Acadia Center. The final settlement represents a win for low-income customer advocates, most of whom will see a significant rate reduction. The current discount for income-eligible customers will be doubled to 25% of the total bill, with another 5% for customers who
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R.I regulators OK changes to electricity, gas rates

The settlement, approved unanimously by the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission in an open meeting, gives the state’s dominant utility about one-third of its original $214.8 million request made last November and less than two-thirds of a revised request of $137.5 million that factored in changes to federal taxes by the Trump administration. The version of the settlement amended by the commission is also about $4.5 million lower than the initial iteration that was filed in June and resulted from negotiations between the Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers, National Grid, the state Office of Energy Resources and
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Settlement Puts Rhode Island in a Leading Role on Utility Reform

PROVIDENCE — Acadia Center applauds the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) approval today of an amended comprehensive settlement in National Grid’s distribution rate case and Power Sector Transformation proceeding. The PUC’s order represents the first steps toward utility business model reforms and power sector transformation activities that will further Rhode Island’s ability to achieve a clean energy future. “Approval of the revised National Grid settlement will greatly benefit ratepayers and the state by putting Rhode Island firmly on a path toward expanding local clean energy resources and bolstering energy system reliability,” said Daniel Sosland, Acadia Center President. “Rhode Island has jumped into a leadership
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Connecticut Finally Makes a Commitment to Offshore Wind

The 200-megawatt project that DEEP officials selected in June represents only 3 percent of Connecticut’s electric load, according to Emily Lewis, a policy analyst with Acadia Center, a New England-based environmental group with offices in Hartford. The output is expected to power about 100,000 homes. Connecticut’s neighbors have far more ambitious offshore wind plans moving forward. New Jersey’s goal is to have 3,500 megawatts of power in its portfolio by 2032, for example. Massachusetts has been a trailblazer in the wind power movement. Even tiny Rhode Island — with less than a third of Connecticut’s population — is procuring 400
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Power over solar: R.I. seeks to strike a development balance

Among the other efforts are new incentives released last month by the Office of Energy Resources that include increasing funding for solar projects on former industrial sites, raising the cap in a key state renewable energy program for rooftop solar, and creating a class in the same program for solar carports installed in parking lots. Nearly everyone involved in the issue agrees that changes need to be made. “There absolutely is an urgency, and I think that it would be great if we had all of the solutions immediately,” said Erika Niedowski, policy advocate for the Acadia Center, an environmental
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How Big a Deal Is Trump’s Fuel Economy Rollback? For the Climate, Maybe the Biggest Yet

But pollution from cars and trucks has proved much trickier for states to take on. Transportation now accounts for one-third of America’s carbon-dioxide emissions, surpassing power plants as the largest source, and vehicle emissions have been steadily rising over the past few years. Federal fuel-economy standards were widely seen as a vital tool for curbing gasoline use. “We’ve seen nowhere near the same progress in transportation as we’ve seen in electricity,” said Jordan Stutt, a policy analyst at the Acadia Center, a group in New England that is pushing for cleaner energy. Read the full article from the New York Times
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White House Pollution Proposal Puts Big Government Ahead Of States’ Rights

“It’s gutting these foundational environmental laws,” said Emily Lewis, a policy analyst at the Acadia Center, an environmental advocacy group. “Transportation is the biggest chunk of emissions that we’re trying to deal with right now. We’ve brought down emissions significantly in the electricity generating sector. We really need to be addressing transportation. So this is just a complete 180-reversal from where we need to be going.”

CT poised to catch brunt of Trump’s auto standard rollbacks

Area environmental groups wasted no time expressing their displeasure with the EPA proposal, warning of the dire consequences on Connecticut but also pointing out that the proposals now face a 60-day comment period and could change. “It certainly would be awful if it went through,” said Emily Lewis, a policy analyst at Acadia Center. “It would have a big impact on Connecticut emissions, but there are a lot of steps before we get to that point.” Read the full article from the CT Mirror here.

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
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