NE Stakeholders Support Developing Time-varying Rates
STOWE, Vt. — As New England plans how to cope with peak winter electricity demand with a growing reliance on renewables, energy leaders in the region are calling on the states to look at developing time-varying rates to reduce costs and environmental burdens.
Speakers at the 75th New England Conference of Public Utilities Commissioners Symposium generally agreed on the need to develop rate structures that would better allow customers to respond to market signals, incentivizing them to reduce energy consumption during periods of limited energy supply. The vast majority of customers in the region currently pay flat rates, regardless of the amount of stress on the grid.
In order to accommodate customers with special needs or limited energy-use flexibility, the speakers agreed that if time-varying rates do become the default, customers need to have other options.
“We absolutely have to have an opt-out program where people can opt out if the rates are not working for them,” said Amy Boyd, vice president of climate and clean energy policy at Acadia Center.
To read the full article, click here.
Utility Bills: New Proposal To ‘Eliminate Price Surging’ Gains Momentum — How Much Could You Save?
Utility bills could soon be easier to pay for many New Yorkers. State lawmakers pushed a package of bills through the Senate to address increased costs for ratepayers. Spectrum News NY1 reported that this new measure came from a legislative review by the Senate Investigations Committee into utility price increases over the last year.
State legislatures also want to create minimum standards for payment plans for eligible customers and lower fixed charges from utility companies in New York. According to a report by Acadia Center, New Yorkers pay three times as much in fixed charges as they charge residents in nearby states, per Senate Bill S1303. Fixed charges are flat monthly fees that people pay on their utility bills regardless of the energy they use.
To read the full article, read here.
Lawmakers Eye Raising Offshore Wind Target to Achieve Climate Goals
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, MAY 18, 2023…..With the ball starting to roll on offshore wind development, lawmakers are looking this session to accelerate additional renewable energy capacity and environmental advocates warn they’ll need to pick up the pace to meet the state’s ambitious climate goals.
A handful of bills before the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy would allow the state to increase its capacity to bring thousands of megawatts of offshore wind energy onto the grid, coming at a time when Gov. Maura Healey has shown an appetite for significant new development.
The Healey administration announced earlier this month that they want to add up to 3,600 more megawatts to the collection of in-development or under-contract offshore wind projects in the pipeline. That maximum amount would be more than twice as large as the 1,600 megawatts selected in the last procurement round two years ago, according to the Healey administration, on its own would meet about a quarter of the state’s annual electricity demand. However, the upcoming round might backfill some prior wind capacity if some previously approved projects fall through now that developers are warning about changing economic conditions.
“If all goes according to plan with our current set of procurement commitments, which is an open question, Massachusetts will have 3.2 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by around 2030. That means we will have around 20 years to develop and bring online 19.8 gigawatts of offshore wind power,” said Kyle Murray, senior advocate and Massachusetts program director at environmental nonprofit Acadia Center, during a Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy public hearing on Thursday.
“Therefore, it is crucial for our commonwealth to display a commitment to large and long-term clean energy requirements to continue to send a signal to developers that Massachusetts will be a leader in offshore wind,” Murray said.
The offshore wind bill would also remove remuneration to utility companies such as National Grid, which receive up to 2.25 percent of an offshore wind project bid. The payments are intended to offset the risk that utility companies take working with a nascent industry.
“Offshore wind is no longer a far-off proposition here in Massachusetts. Our first wind farm should be operational by the end of this year. Offshore wind will be a large reality in our energy mix going forward,” Murray said. “Therefore, the utilities no longer need this incentive, which is around $168 million for the Vineyard Wind project, simply to bring these contracts onto the books.”
To read the full article from the State House News Service, click here.
Massachusetts prepares to launch new electric vehicle rebates early this summer
New electric vehicle rebates are expected to become available in Massachusetts in early summer, some nine months after lawmakers passed a bill calling for the incentives’ immediate implementation.
The state has said funding and logistical obstacles have delayed the launch of the new provisions, which will add higher incentives for low-income car buyers, create a rebate for the purchase of used electric vehicles, and establish a system for providing rebates at the point of sale, lowering the upfront cost of the vehicle.
Advocates have been understanding of the complications with rolling out these provisions but are eager for the new components to take effect.
“I am sympathetic, but if we want to hit not our climate goals — our climate requirements — we really need these coming online as soon as possible,” said Kyle Murray, Massachusetts program director at climate nonprofit the Acadia Center.
Though the law authorizing the program was passed in August 2022, the legislature didn’t provide any additional funding until November.
“The administration was a bit handcuffed in that they couldn’t set up a program they weren’t sure they’d have the money for,” Murray said.
Still, Murray is confident that the combination of public sentiment, state incentives, and federal tax credits will soon make a measurable difference.
“We’re definitely going to see it really start to tick up,” he said.
To read the full article from Energy News Network, click here.
OP-ED | We Don’t Talk About E-Bikes
April, when the world emerges from hibernation, is the top month for bike sales, according to BiCi Co., a bicycle shop in Hartford. May is National Bike Month. We are approaching the one-year anniversary of Gov. Ned Lamont signing the Connecticut Clean Air Act. Our state’s e-bike rebate program has yet to roll out.
Last week, DEEP published its 1990-2021 Connecticut Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory, with Commissioner Dykes saying how the “transportation sector continues to be by far the largest source of our emissions.”
If only DEEP, the agency tasked with creating and administering the program providing rebates to state residents who buy e-bikes could do something about that.
The program could have begun as early as last July, but we have seen a series of adjusted deadlines. I had questions about this; DEEP did not respond ahead of a generous deadline for comment.
“Targeting rebates to people in more urban settings who don’t have a car, don’t want a car, don’t have a place to put a car,” is a strategic approach to ensuring that green transportation is equitable says the Acadia Center’s Amy Boyd, Vice President, Climate and Clean Energy Policy.
We are in a time to rethink how we want our world to be, how we want our society to operate. Boyd explains that “in decarbonizing transportation we’re hoping to not just shift vehicles from being fossil fuel-powered to being electrified, but also shift how people move around.”
To read the full op-ed, click here.
Maine jury clears Avangrid’s 145-mile transmission line, reversing ballot vote that blocked project
- A Maine jury ruled Thursday that Avangrid had the right to build a 145-mile transmission line when state voters in 2021 approved a ballot measure that interrupted construction of the New England Clean Energy Connect, NECEC, project.
- The 9-0 decision in the Maine Business and Consumer Court in Portland turns aside the referendum and allows work to resume on the $1 billion project to deliver Canadian hydropower to the New England grid. Massachusetts ratepayers would be the primary beneficiaries and bear the costs.
- Backers of the project say the transmission line through western Maine will combat climate change by supplying up to 1,200 MW of hydropower, or enough electricity for about 1 million homes. Critics say it will damage woodlands along a portion of the route, but NECEC said the area has been logged for years.
Amy Boyd, vice president for climate and clean energy policy at the Acadia Center, said the transmission line is a “big deal” because hydropower-generated energy will help Massachusetts meet its 2030 climate goals. The state has set in law a 33% limit of greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels by 2025 and 50% below 1990 levels by 2030.
Sources of clean energy, such as hydropower from Quebec, are often distant from population centers and require transmission, she said in an interview Thursday. Costly legal battles with “too much drama” make it difficult to move forward on projects delivering clean energy, Boyd said.
“If there’s this much of a fight for all involved, it’s not going to be possible,” she said.
To read the full article from Utility Dive, click here.
Maine jury rules $1 billion clean energy transmission line from Canada to New England can proceed
A Maine jury ruled Thursday that construction can proceed on a transmission line that will carry clean, hydropower from Quebec to Massachusetts through the region’s power grid — bolstering efforts to shift the state’s electricity consumption away from carbon-emitting fossil fuels.
The decision in favor of Avangrid, the Connecticut company building the transmission line, overturns the result of a 2021 ballot initiative in Maine, which sought to terminate the $1 billion project and passed with the support of nearly 60 percent of voters.
The ballot initiative’s backers included environmental groups that argued the project would damage the forests of Western Maine and energy companies with substantial natural gas interests that will face increased competition if the transmission line is completed.
Amy Boyd, a vice president at Acadia Center, a Maine clean energy advocacy nonprofit, described that amount of power as “freakin’ huge” for a single project. It could account for between 2 percent and 10 percent of New England’s energy consumption at any given moment, she said.
You can read the full article in the Boston Globe here.
Report: RGGI Could Do More than Reduce Emissions
A new report aims to make the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative more effective. The Acadia Center’s report finds since the RGGI’s creation in 2009, states like Connecticut have seen a 50% reduction in carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants. States in the program saw a 91% decrease in coal-generated electricity, and a more than 800% increase in solar and wind energy.
Amy Boyd, vice president of Climate and Clean Energy Policy at the Acadia Center, said RGGI could do better in some areas – by investing 40% to 50% of its proceeds in environmental justice in communities burdened by the harmful effects of emissions.
“And allow ‘EJ’ community members to participate in such decisions – and as I said, transparently track and report actual data that shows whether those investments are delivering the results that they’ve intended,” Boyd said.
Other recommendations include having additional air-quality monitoring for nitrogen oxides or ‘NOx.’ Bridgeport’s Harbor Station Plant ranked low on a list of ‘NOx’-emitting plants – despite emitting 969 tons into the air yearly. The EPA’s new Good Neighbor Plan aims to cut smog-forming NOx in a handful of states, including Connecticut.
12 states along the East Coast are part of RGGI, and the program provides an important framework for a federal cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon emissions, Boyd noted.
“I think RGGI sets a really good example for a way that it can be done,” she said. “And I think that, even if the feds were to somehow put together such a program, I think RGGI could be a way that these 12 states can sort-of get a jump on implementing it.”
The RGGI states are in the midst of the third program review, with a series of public meetings being held to get feedback.
Click here to read the original article from Public News Service.
A greenhouse gas reduction program has improved air quality in Connecticut and New York
Connecticut and New York are among nine states that have benefited in health and finance from the Acadia Center’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Assessment (RGGI) is a cap-and-invest greenhouse gas reduction program. Twelve Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states, including New York and Connecticut, have participated since 2009.
RGGI reduces carbon dioxide pollution from electricity plants in the region by placing a limit on emissions. Plant owners have to purchase carbon dioxide allowances from states at auction. States then use that money to invest in environmental programs.
Acadia Center’s director of Climate, Energy & Equity Analysis, Ben Butterworth, said RGGI has financially benefited the states that consistently follow it.
“Consistent RGGI states have achieved a 50% increase in GDP per capita since RGGI was launched in 2008,” Butterworth said. “This is 13% more growth than the rest of the country over the same time period.”
Despite some positive findings, the report also shows a disparity among the communities who benefit. Over a third of RGGI plants that have significant carbon dioxide emissions are located near high asthma communities.
“States could significantly improve quality of life in environmental justice communities by making targeted investments of revenue generated in RGGI auction to improve the quality of housing, lower energy burdens, improve air quality and reduce associated health risk,” Butterworth said.
Twelve Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states participate in the initiative, nine states are considered “consistent.”
To read the article on WSHU, click here.
A Maine jury will decide the fate of the embattled CMP transmission line
After years of planning, false starts, and a bitterly fought campaign to kill it, the fate of one of Massachusetts’ most important clean energy projects is set to be decided in a Portland, Maine, courtroom where a trial begins Monday.
At stake is the New England Clean Energy Connect, a $1 billion, 145-mile-long transmission line that would bring hydro-electric power from Canada through the rugged Maine wilderness and into Massachusetts, providing enough electricity to power more than 1 million homes in the state.
The developer of the transmission line, Central Maine Power, is challenging an order from the state to halt construction after voters in November 2021 approved a ballot referendum that saddled the company with additional requirements and conditions.
“There’s no question that transmission has to be built and that we’re losing precious time with each individual battle having to be this hard and take this long,” said Amy Boyd, vice president of climate and clean energy policy at the clean energy advocacy organization Acadia Center.
You can read the full article on the Boston Globe site here.