Virginia is out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Virginia’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is officially over. At least for now. Gov. Glenn Youngkin pulled us from the partnership Dec. 31, and the program did not appear in the state budget passed earlier this month.

Democrats were largely in favor of the plan. It funded multiple local programs. Locally, Charlottesville and Albemarle County received nearly $650,000 to address flooding and nearly $10 million for housing projects. In the first 10 years of its existence, the initial nine states that joined RGGI decreased their carbon emissions from power plants by nearly half, according to a study by the environmental advocacy group Acadia Center. Virginia appeared to be on that trajectory, dropping its emissions by 16.8% in two years, according to a lawsuit filed by conservation groups suing to force Virginia back into the RGGI partnership.

To read the full article from Charlottesville Tomorrow, click here.

Massachusetts DPU Approves Everett LNG Contracts

The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities has approved agreements between Constellation Energy and the state’s investor-owned gas utilities to keep the Everett LNG import facility operating through May 2030. 

The Everett Marine Terminal (EMT) is the only facility in the state that can import and directly inject LNG into the gas network, but it has faced an uncertain future, with Constellation’s cost-of-service agreement with ISO-NE expiring at the end of this month. Constellation owns both Everett and the Mystic Generating Station, Everett’s anchor customer, which is set to retire at the same time. 

Joe LaRusso, senior advocate at the Acadia Center, said the DPU’s approval of the contracts is “potentially in conflict with Order 20-80,” particularly if the contract timelines are intended to align with Enbridge’s pipeline expansion effort. 

He said the reporting requirements should give the DPU ample information on the utilities’ gas demand trajectories, with the “open question” being whether the DPU allows the companies to reduce their reliance on Everett by securing additional pipeline capacity. 

To read the full article from RTO Insider, click here.

No new gas hookups on Aquidneck Island? Idea floated to curb need for Portsmouth LNG plant.

PORTSMOUTH – State energy regulators are in an unusual position as they consider whether to extend the life of what was supposed to be a temporary liquefied natural gas facility in Portsmouth that has attracted the ire of neighbors.

While the Energy Facility Siting Board heard evidence that there’s a need, at least for now, for the use of LNG to back up Rhode Island Energy’s natural gas system on Aquidneck Island, stakeholders in the approval proceedings also said they want to company to do everything it can to quickly make the plant obsolete.

A moratorium would also undoubtedly force change. The idea was first put forward in 2021 by the Conservation Law Foundation and the Acadia Center, environmental groups that argued a ban was justified after the passage of the Act on Climate, the state law that requires Rhode Island to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

To read the full article from the Providence Journal, click here.

EVs, heat pumps seen creating Northeast grid crunch

Electrifying New England’s transportation and heating sectors will lead to a potential 17 percent increase in power demand by 2033, the region’s grid operator said.

The upward trend is putting pressure on developers and regulators to accelerate new generation and transmission projects.

“Our current policies regarding energy efficiency and distributed generation — particularly solar — are already putting us on a different path for the future,” said Kyle Murray, Massachusetts program director at the environmental nonprofit Acadia Center, in a statement.

To read the full article from E&E News, click here.

New Initiative Focuses on Interregional Tx Coordination in the Northeast

An early-stage collaboration between the Acadia Center and Nergica is intended to bring together communities, tribes, nonprofits, companies, RTOs and government officials from the northeastern U.S. and Canada to increase coordination around interregional transmission.

Dubbed the Northeast Grid Planning Forum (NGPF), the effort is aimed at changing the conversation around transmission planning throughout the broader region to help unlock infrastructure investments, improved planning processes and market changes to help facilitate the clean energy transition.

“If you look out at what states and provinces are trying to achieve with meeting climate goals,” Dan Sosland, president of the Acadia Center, told RTO Insider, “there is a tremendous amount of potential complementary benefits that could be obtained if we step back and look at how the grids might coordinate in a more intentional way.”

“We need to think about the grid in a different way,” Sosland said, adding that transmission infrastructure throughout the Northeast has been developed largely project by project, leading to projects scattered across the map like “a game of pick-up sticks.”

Meanwhile, several studies have found that increased interregional transmission capacity throughout the Northeast could bring cost, reliability and decarbonization benefits to ratepayers.

Notably, the nonprofits behind the effort represent both sides of the border; the Acadia Center is based in New England, while Nergica is based in Québec.

The forum’s organizers say they hope to hold in-person roundtables over the coming fall or winter and have met with different stakeholder groups to plan and gauge interest.

“We’re in Phase 1 of really testing ideas and getting input,” Sosland said. “We will then do an internal assessment in early May about whether there’s enough interest and support to expand this into a larger phase.”

While nothing is set in stone, Sosland and Côté said they’re encouraged by the feedback they’ve received.

“We’re getting really exciting responses to this,” Sosland said. “If things proceed, we want to be very optimistic about the interest in moving this into an actual forum, actual roundtables and actual discussions.”

To read the full article from RTO Insider, click here.

New Jersey homeowners could do more to reduce pollution. They must embrace heat pumps

Last summer, many of us in New Jersey found ourselves retreating indoors as the skies filled with smoke from the Canadian wildfires. This smoke carried particulate matter (PM 2.5), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and a whole host of other pollutants that are harmful to our health. Even though the smoke dissipated, millions of New Jersey residents continue to breathe in unhealthy outdoor air.

A new piece of legislation introduced by state Sens. Bob Smith and Andrew Zwicker would finally make a dent in this health-harming pollution by helping our most vulnerable community members receive a relatively new yet proven home upgrade: heat pumps.

The fossil fuel HVAC systems we use to heat our homes are also driving up energy bills across New Jersey. According to a recent report by the Acadia Center, year after year, New Jerseyans who switch from gas to highly efficient heat pumps can save money in every utility territory. If households couple this investment with weatherization and improved energy efficiency, customers save as much as 69% on their annual energy bills. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory released similar findings earlier this year, concluding that between 62% and 95% of households nationwide would see a drop in their energy bills by using a heat pump.

To read the full article on, click here.

Everett LNG Contracts Face Skepticism in DPU Proceedings

Proposed gas supply agreements between Constellation Energy and Massachusetts gas utilities that would keep the Everett Marine Terminal operating through 2030 are facing significant pushback from environmental organizations and the state Attorney General’s Office in time-constrained proceedings at the Department of Public Utilities. 

Everett is an LNG import facility located just outside of Boston and is the only facility in the region that can directly import and inject LNG into the gas system. The main customer of Everett, the Mystic Generating Station, is set to retire at the end of May at the conclusion of a two-year cost-of-service agreement with ISO-NE, threatening the future of the import facility. 

A CLF appeal had the potential to threaten the contracts only if the state Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) thought the issues stated in the appeal merited a hearing by the full court, said Joe LaRusso, senior advocate at the Acadia Center.

“What the DPU denial of CLF’s intervenor status prevents, then, is CLF filing a meritorious appeal to the SJC and a potential direct challenge to DPU approval of the contracts.”

To read the full article from RTO Insider, click here.

Amid progress on electric vehicles, political setbacks frustrate advocates in Maine, Connecticut

After setbacks to adopting electric vehicle sales targets in Maine and Connecticut, New England clean transportation advocates are regrouping with a focus on charging infrastructure and consumer education.

Maine’s Board of Environmental Protection voted 4-2 on March 20 against adopting California’s Advanced Clean Cars II rules, which would have required electric or plug-in hybrids to make up 82% of new vehicle sales in the state by model year 2032.

Peter LaFond, the Maine program director for the Acadia Center, a regional nonprofit, said the delay in adopting California’s rules provides time for combating misconceptions and for utilizing increasing state and federal funds for charging infrastructure.

“Every month that goes by, I think there’ll be more and more chargers, and once there are, I think people will see the clear advantages,” LaFond said. “(EVs and plug-in hybrids) lower the carbon footprint and they’re less expensive to operate, and the cold doesn’t present as much of a challenge as the misinformation would have you believe. I think education is going to be a big part of this.”

Jayson Velazquez, the Acadia Center’s Hartford-based climate and energy justice policy associate, used the term “through-emissions” to describe pollution from diesel trucks and other vehicles that traverse low-income neighborhoods and communities of color in Connecticut’s cities en route to nearby highways.

Unlike those vehicles and their non-local drivers, Velazquez said, “the lasting health effects that come from that pollution don’t just get up and go.”

To read the full article from Energy News Network, click here.

New England Electricity Restructuring Roundtable Meeting Summary: Wholesale Markets and the Clean-Energy Transition

On March 22, 2024, Foley Hoag hosted the latest gathering of the New England Electricity Restructuring Roundtable. The Roundtable, which has been meeting regularly since 1995, was originally organized to contemplate the changes wrought by the restructuring of the electric power industry. Nearly three decades later, the Roundtable continues to feature leading industry thinkers, regulators, policymakers, and businesspeople from across the Northeast and across the country. The March 22, 2024 meeting of the Roundtable, entitled “Preparing the Electricity System and Wholesale Markets for a Reliable, Affordable, and Decarbonized Future,” addressed one of the most pressing issues facing the industry during the clean-energy transition: the proper role and design of wholesale markets.

Further, improvements to existing transmission infrastructure, and to regulatory incentives around transmission management and development, can draw value out of the grid assets we already have, pointed out Liz Anderson, Chief of the Energy & Ratepayer Advocacy Division of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, and Dan Sosland, President of the Acadia Center. 

The challenge of creating markets capable of maintaining system reliability while decarbonizing and growing the electric power sector is great, but the revolution now underway also offers tremendous opportunities. As Mr. Sosland noted near the end of the Roundtable:

“Look at what we’re trying to accomplish together—it’s historic.”

To read the full article from Foley Hoag, click here.

CEO outlines ISO-NE initiatives at power system forum

New England must balance multiple objectives as it navigates the clean energy transition. Collaboration and innovation will be required to maintain robust wholesale markets that ensure reliability while the states promote rapid development of renewable resources.

That was the message ISO-NE President and CEO Gordon van Welie brought to the New England Electricity Restructuring Roundtable on March 22. Hosted by Raab Associates and Foley Hoag in Boston, the quarterly forum on energy issues brings together industry leaders, state officials, and advocates.

A “Stakeholder Perspectives” panel followed, with insights from Alicia Barton, CEO, Vineyard Offshore; Nathan Hanson, president, LS Power; Liz Anderson, chief, Energy & Ratepayer Advocacy Division, Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office; and Dan Sosland, president, Acadia Center.

To read the full article from ISO Newswire, click here.