RGGI 58th Auction, 2022 in Review, and the Consequence for Climate and Clean Energy Transition

Media Contacts: 

Ben Butterworth, Director: Climate, Energy, and Equity Analysis
bbutterworth@acadiacenter.org, 617-742-0054 x111 

Paola Moncada Tamayo, Policy Analyst
ptamayo@acadiacenter.org, 860-246-7121 x204 

BOSTON, MA- On Wednesday, December 7th, the eleven states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) released the results of the 58th and final auction for 2022. Emissions allowances were sold for $12.99 each, generating $288 million for clean energy investments in participating states. The allowance price for the RGGI program is the lowest in 2022 but remains well above the historical average. The Cost Containment Reserve (“CCR”) Trigger Price of $13.91 per ton of CO2 was avoided, so no CCR allowances were sold in the auction. Both the proceeds from sales of allowances and the clearing price for this 58th auction ranked among the top five highest in the history of RGGI. 

Higher RGGI allowance price is good for climate, clean energy investment  

The clearing price represents the price that power plant operators must pay for each ton of CO2 emitted by their fossil-fuel-fired plants. The auction clearing price of $12.99 represents a modest 3% decrease from the previous auction in August, but, in total, the average 2022 auction price was 42% higher than the average 2021 auction price. The higher allowance prices seen in 2022 mean the RGGI program is sending a stronger incentive to produce electricity from carbon-free sources, like wind and solar. Recent auctions have demonstrated the growing significance of the CCR – the auctions in 2022 have all narrowly avoided the CCR trigger price, while the 54th auction in December 2021 represented the first time since 2015 that additional allowances were released because of triggering the CCR.  

Since the program launched, the vast majority of RGGI proceeds have been invested in energy efficiency and clean energy projects as detailed in the most recent report on RGGI investments in 2020, released in May of this year. The $288 million in proceeds generated in this auction brings the annual to-date total to $1.19 billion, which is 29% higher than the total proceeds of 2021’s record-setting total proceeds. Auction proceeds have increased dramatically in recent years.  

For example, the auction proceeds of 2022 so far are 128% higher than the total proceeds generated in all 2018 and 2019 auctions combined. This is great news for climate action, the economy, and the growing workforce in energy efficiency and clean energy.  

RGGI Third Program Review Offers an Opportunity to Direct Proceeds Towards Clean Energy Investments that Directly Benefit Environmental Justice Communities  

Since its establishment, RGGI’s priorities have centered around reducing pollution from fossil fuel power plants and achieving climate solutions for RGGI states. Every five years or so, RGGI undergoes a program review, giving the participating states the opportunity to consider the program’s performance and make various changes including the equitable disbursement of the program’s proceeds. RGGI’s Third Program Review is happening now. According to their recent Program Review Update, RGGI Inc. will be holding public meetings soliciting comments and engaging with Environmental Justice communities throughout Spring and Summer of 2023. 

As discussed in more detail in Acadia Center’s blog post The Third RGGI Program Review Should Advance Equitable Investments and Climate Goals. The Third Program review offers a good opportunity to ensure that environmental justice communities are heard and are actively involved in the development of strategies to ensure a smooth, equitable transition to a carbon-free economy. This ongoing program review provides a chance for states to consider the recent auctions, history of investments across the states, the need to directly address environmental justice communities, and other mechanisms associated with the cap-and-invest program.  

Acadia Center remains closely involved in RGGI policy conversations across the RGGI states and will continue to advocate for program reforms that drive equitable investment and climate action.  

 

Acadia Center is a northeast-based nonprofit research and advocacy organization advancing a safe climate and a clean energy future that benefits everyone.

Northeast States Remain Top Performers in New 2022 ACEEE Rankings

Rockport, ME – For the second year in a row, Massachusetts has lost its energy efficiency crown to California, after nearly a decade on top of the national rankings for efficiency, according to rankings released by the nonpartisan American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). As they have for over a decade, Northeast states performed well in the 2022 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, with Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, and Maine filling out the top 5 spots, respectively. Rhode Island and Maryland tied for #7, Connecticut at #9, and New Hampshire at #19. Maine was also the most improved state in the nation, having passed laws to promote electrification and decarbonization in affordable housing, continued investing in weatherization and heat pump programs, adopted energy and water saving standards for more than 15 types of products, and developing a Clean Transportation Roadmap to equitably advance electric vehicle adoption.  

“Investing in energy efficiency is the best way to reduce the energy burdens faced by consumers in the Northeast,” said Daniel Sosland, Acadia Center’s President. “The region’s continued strong showing in the national rankings is due to the last decade of successful efficiency policies and programs in these states – helping the Northeast lower carbon pollution while providing billions in economic and public health benefits, region-wide.”  

For the first time, the Scorecard’s metrics included 10 scoring categories evaluating the states’ focus and impact on equity within the policies and programs. None of the Northeastern states (in fact no state in the nation) reached a perfect score on the equity metrics in the buildings sector, indicating that much more needs to be done to advance affordable, healthy, and decarbonized housing.  

“The Northeast is a national leader in energy efficiency, but states can and must do more, especially on equity” said Amy Boyd, Vice President for Climate & Clean Energy Policy, and a member of the Massachusetts Energy Efficiency Advisory Council. “Acadia Center is working with states in the Northeast to keep energy efficiency funding high, serve low- and moderate-income communities better, and align energy efficiency programs more closely with climate targets. We need to ensure that all communities and customers can access the efficiency programs to improve their housing.”     

Importantly, many households in the Northeast—particularly those living in older buildings in environmental justice communities—suffer from excessive indoor air pollution, unhealthy temperature swings, and other inadequate living conditions. The communities most impacted by this substandard housing disproportionately consist of people of color. These buildings also emit more climate pollutants than better-weatherized housing. Existing efficiency programs must embrace this chance to marry traditional energy savings with crucially important equity and climate goals. Acadia Center is working with a wide range of partner organizations on policy changes that will enable efficiency programs to seize this opportunity.  

The ACEEE rankings, released annually, are based on scoring in categories including state government initiatives, building efficiency policies, utility and public benefits programs, transportation policies, and appliance standards. The Northeast’s success in the rankings is largely the result of a policy championed by Acadia Center that requires programs to pursue all energy efficiency that is cost-effective, rather than defining a prescribed level of funding, and to involve stakeholders in developing efficiency plans. Connecticut is unique among the other all-cost-effective states in that it sets its budget first, then designs its programs to achieve a lower level of savings than possible. Despite Connecticut’s earning additional points due to being one of only two states in the nation (the other being Montana) to adopt the 2021 version of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), it fell overall in the rankings due to these budget-constrained savings goals and lack of appliance standards. 

 

 

Acadia Center is regionally focused, non-profit organization headquartered in Rockport, Maine, working to advance a clean energy future that benefits all.  

 

For more information: 

Amy Boyd, VP Climate & Clean Energy Policy, aboyd@acadiacenter.org, 617.742.0054. Ext 102 

 

Acadia Center Urges Energy Leaders to Ramp Up Demand Response to Help Avoid Winter Blackouts and Lower Costs

Boston, MA – Yesterday, Acadia Center urged federal and regional energy leaders to launch an initiative focused on ramping up demand response to help with winter reliability and spiking consumer costs through comments at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). 

In response to a request for comments by FERC related to the risk of winter blackouts in New England, Acadia Center requested that FERC require ISO-New England immediately to launch an initiative to substantially ramp up clean, low-cost demand response programs to help avoid the risk of winter blackouts. 

In her comments, Melissa Birchard, Acadia Center’s Director for Clean Energy and Grid Transition, said that ISO-New England’s plan to enact rolling blackouts in case of prolonged extreme cold weather is like throwing an axe in the dark – poorly planned and likely to inflict substantial harm.  In contrast, strategic demand response is like a well-targeted scalpel helping to fine-tune consumer demand to meet electricity supply so that blackouts are either avoided or shortened.  “Demand response is the easiest, quickest, and cheapest solution to help avoid winter blackouts—and it’s a clean, low-carbon grid resource that pays consumers across the region to help out when needed,” says Birchard.  “ISO-New England is looking at the solutions to this problem far too narrowly.  FERC needs to direct ISO-New England to work with the states to implement proven solutions now including ramped up demand response.” 

Both ISO-New England and each of the six New England states already have demand response programs, which can incrementally adjust consumer demand by, for example, turning up or down water heaters a couple of degrees, adjusting large banks of lighting, or switching on batteries located in homes and businesses.  But current demand response programs are almost all operated to lower demand on the electric grid in the summer, not the winter.  Given that the biggest stressors on the electric system in New England now take place in the winter, ISO-New England needs to work with the states to ramp up wintertime demand response immediately.  

Acadia Center also participated with partners in urging that FERC direct ISO-New England to work with stakeholders to scope out with specificity the level and nature of winter reliability risks, and to implement market reforms to help alleviate those risks.  Previously, Acadia Center filed comments that included an explainer outlining the clean energy solutions that can help to address New England’s winter reliability concerns, now and in the future. 

 

Media Contact 
Melissa Birchard 
Director, Clean Energy & Grid Transition 
mbirchard@acadiacenter.org 
857-276-6883 

 

 

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) Releases 57th Auction Results

Media Contacts: 

Ben Butterworth, Director: Climate, Energy, and Equity Analysis
bbutterworth@acadiacenter.org, 617-742-0054 x111

Paola Moncada Tamayo, Policy Analyst
ptamayo@acadiacenter.org, 860-246-7121 x204

BOSTON, MA- On Friday, September 9, 2022, the eleven states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) released the results of the 57th auction. Emissions allowances were sold for $13.45 each, generating $301 million for clean energy investments in participating states. The allowance price for the RGGI program has declined for the first time since June of 2019. The Cost Containment Reserve (“CCR”) Trigger Price of $13.91 per ton was avoided, so no CCR allowances were sold in the auction. The proceeds from sales of allowances in the 57th auction was the third highest of all time, lower than only the proceeds from the 54th and 56th auction held in December of 2021 and June 2022.  

 

Higher RGGI allowance price is good for climate, clean energy investment  

The auction clearing price of $13.45 represents a modest 3% decrease from the previous auction in June, but a significant 45% increase from the auction price from one year ago. The clearing price represents the price that power plant operators must pay for each ton of CO2 emitted by their fossil-fuel-fired plants. The higher allowance prices seen in 2022 mean the RGGI program is sending a stronger incentive to produce electricity from carbon-free sources, like wind and solar. Recent auctions have demonstrated the growing significance of the CCR – the two most recent auctions narrowly avoided the CCR trigger price, while the 54th auction in December 2021 represented the first time since 2015 that additional allowances were released because of triggering the CCR.  

Since the program launched, the vast majority of RGGI proceeds have been invested in energy efficiency and clean energy projects as detailed in the report on RGGI investments in 2020, released in May of this year. The $301 million in proceeds generated in this auction brings the annual to-date total to $904.8 million, already 98% of the previous year’s record-setting total proceeds with one more remaining auction in 2022. Auction proceeds have increased dramatically in recent years. For example, the auction proceeds of 2022 so far are 73% higher than the total proceeds generated in all 2018 and 2019 auctions combined. This is great news for climate action, the economy, and the growing workforce in energy efficiency and clean energy.  

RGGI Third Program Review Offers an Opportunity to Direct Proceeds Towards Clean Energy Investments that Directly Benefit Environmental Justice Communities  

Since its establishment, RGGI’s priorities have centered around reducing pollution from fossil fuel power plants and achieving climate solutions for RGGI states. Through the sale of CO2 allowances, the market-based program has continued to produce revenue for participating states to invest in clean and renewable energy programs, energy efficiency programs to save energy, bill assistance, and much more. While states continue to report the benefit that RGGI contributes to meeting their climate goals, it is important to ensure that these proceeds are both spent on climate and clean energy and invested in communities that suffer disproportionately from the negative consequences associated with pollution from fossil fuel power generation.  

The Third RGGI Program Review offers a golden opportunity to tailor the program to ensure that environmental justice communities are not left to bear a disproportionate burden and are actively involved in the development of strategies to ensure a smooth, equitable transition to a carbon-free economy. During the program review, it is essential that each RGGI state critically consider equitable investment into communities that face the worst effects of polluting power plants. This ongoing program review provides a chance for states to consider the recent auctions, history of investments across the states, the need to directly address environmental justice communities, and other mechanisms associated with the cap-and-invest program.  

Acadia Center remains closely involved in RGGI policy conversations across the RGGI states and will continue to advocate for program reforms that drive equitable investment and climate action.  

 

New England for Offshore Wind Coalition Announces Agreement on Transmission Principles

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 6, 2022

Contact:
Jennifer Delony, New England for Offshore Wind jdelony@ne4osw.org, 603-320-7043
Melissa Birchard, Acadia Center mbirchard@acadiacenter.org, 857-276-6883

New England for Offshore Wind Coalition Announces Agreement on Transmission Principles
Coalition Urges Lawmakers, Developers to Adopt Principles

BOSTON – September 6, 2022 – The New England for Offshore Wind (@NE4OSW) coalition, in collaboration with coalition member Acadia Center, today released a set of Transmission Principles to help advance new transmission investments critically needed for offshore wind. The Transmission Principles establish a shared direction for transmission planning and development to bring offshore wind from New England’s coastal waters to its communities, providing maximum benefit with minimum impact.

The New England for Offshore Wind coalition finds that new electric power infrastructure is essential for decarbonization. To reach the goal of net zero by 2050, some studies have found the U.S. must double if not triple its transmission infrastructure. While the impacts are much less formidable than those of climate change, they must be minimized through effective planning and community engagement that prioritizes environmental justice populations.

The coalition’s Transmission Working Group, led by Melissa Birchard, Director of Clean Energy and Grid Reform at Acadia Center, developed the Transmission Principles to establish shared goals for transmission among diverse coalition members and to advance six core principles that should become the “B.A.S.I.C.S.” for transmission planning and development in the region. The shared goals include building the transmission we need without delay, encouraging coordination between state and regional decision makers, and ensuring holistic and transparent planning processes that further important goals, including environmental justice, environmental protection, and labor standards.

The coalition’s six Transmission Principles are:

  • Benefit impacted communities – Target benefits to affected communities to help offset impacts, such as setting aside protected green space, cleaning up brownfields and investing in the local workforce and economy, in accordance with community input (see further below).
  • Avoid, minimize and mitigate environmental impacts – Minimize the overall amount of new infrastructure needed through optimized, well-planned systems while avoiding or minimizing impacts on ecosystem services, considering cumulative environmental impacts and mitigating unavoidable impacts.
  • Secure environmental justice – Avoid and minimize new impacts on already overburdened and historically disadvantaged communities whenever possible, while strengthening equity in planning processes and weighing the cumulative environmental, economic and health impacts of any new infrastructure proposed in or near environmental justice communities.
  • Inclusive and early stakeholder engagement – Consult stakeholders, including communities in potentially impacted areas, in the early stages of planning when alternatives are still being considered and new alternatives can still be identified.
  • Coordinate on transmission investments – Serve as many needs across the region as possible with each transmission investment in order to increase consensus and reduce overall impacts and costs.
  • Supply local jobs and economic development – Lift up workers and communities by providing high-quality, local union jobs and training via registered apprenticeships and project labor agreements, while driving workforce and supplier diversity and encouraging a domestic supply chain for the expansion and maintenance of our region’s electric grid.

Widespread observance of these fundamental principles will help to ensure the electricity generated from offshore wind can be delivered to New England’s homes and businesses soon and that transmission is developed responsibly to benefit communities.

We urge government agencies and transmission developers to integrate the B.A.S.I.C.S. principles into their planning and decision-making for the common good of the region and its progress to decarbonization.

Susannah Hatch, Environmental League of Massachusetts Director of Clean Energy Policy and New England for Offshore Wind Regional Lead, said: “Expanding our electric transmission system will be critical to our ability to unlock the full potential of offshore wind and combat climate change. These principles demonstrate a vision for transmission development reached by a broad base of organizations that government and developers can adopt to ensure successful and beneficial outcomes. We are proud to demonstrate this consensus on these key principles, particularly in a region where transmission has very recently been a contentious issue. We are thrilled that the states have moved forward with a joint request for information (RFI) for transmission and urge them to ensure these BASICS guide the solicitation process as it unfolds.”

Melissa Birchard, Director for Clean Energy & Grid Reform, Acadia Center, said: “The agreement of dozens of groups on the BASICS principles for transmission planning reflects a growing movement to get serious about transmission. We can’t decarbonize our communities without new transmission lines to carry clean energy to our homes. At the same time, transmission lines need to be planned with more input and more community benefits or they won’t get built. These principles are a step forward – developers and planners should listen up.”

Cindy Luppi, New England Director, Clean Water Action, said: “These principles appropriately assert the need for environmental justice communities to be protected from further harm as the transmission system expands. Low-income communities and communities of color have borne the brunt of health damage from the fossil fuel economy for decades and deserve relief as the offshore wind power era launches.”

Tim Burgess, Assistant Business Manager, IBEW Local 104, said: “IBEW Local 104 constructs and maintains high-voltage electrical infrastructure. Offshore wind as well as any other type of new electrical generating source creates the need for maintenance, improvements and new construction of electrical infrastructure. The new green energy opportunities will help advance our goals of creating long-term careers with great wages and benefits for both current and future members. We are looking forward to being part of this new energy market, showcasing our skills and 120 years of experience building and maintaining the power grid.”

Rebecca Schultz, Senior Advocate for Climate and Clean Energy, Natural Resources Council of Maine, said: “According to Maine statute, electricity is a ‘basic human necessity,’ and as we work to reduce emissions and lower energy costs by electrifying transportation and heating, that fact will be even more palpable. These consensus principles can help set a course for a future in which we design, build and operate this vital public resource transparently and holistically to rationalize costs and benefits, instill public trust and expedite the clean energy transition for our region.”

Charles Rothenberger, Climate and Energy Attorney, Save the Sound, said: “Improving our regional transmission grid is essential for ensuring that we have the infrastructure to support increased renewable energy resources that will be necessary to power an increasingly electrified future, and to move that energy to where it is needed. This effort can only be successful if undertaken in a deliberate, coordinated and collaborative manner by the New England states.”

Sherrie Trefry, Energy Market Leader at VHB, said: “The speed the offshore wind industry can develop is connected, literally and figuratively, to required grid upgrades. Near-term, regionally approved transmission solutions are essential.”

Regional Planning
On Sept. 1, five New England states jointly released a request for information to inform an initiative to integrate offshore wind and other clean resources onto the regional power grid in a cost-effective, reliable and efficient manner.

“New England for Offshore Wind is thrilled that five of the six New England states have come together to issue this request for information and explore investment options for the transmission infrastructure needed to integrate clean resources, including offshore wind, onto the regional power grid,” Hatch said. “The coalition is looking forward to participating in the RFI process. Transmission is a critical challenge that needs to be addressed for us to seize the opportunity offshore wind presents the region.”

In June, 38 organizations from across New England sent a letter to the New England governors urging them to issue the joint RFI for electric transmission solutions for offshore wind. The letter represents the first time this diverse group of organizations has come together to advocate for transmission infrastructure.

 

About

New England for Offshore Wind

New England for Offshore Wind is a broad-based coalition of businesses and associations, environmental and justice organizations, academic institutions, and labor unions committed to combatting climate change by increasing the supply of clean energy to our regional grid through more procurements of responsibly developed offshore wind. We believe that responsibly developed offshore wind is the single biggest lever we can pull to address the climate crisis while also strengthening our regional economy, protecting ratepayers, creating high quality jobs and improving public health by reducing pollution.

Acadia Center

Acadia Center is a non-profit organization with offices across New England that works to advance bold, effective, and equitable clean energy solutions for a livable climate and a stronger, more equitable economy. Acadia Center accomplishes this through technical research, policy advocacy, and partnerships with diverse organizations and communities.

To Avoid Winter Blackouts, New England Must Reduce Dependence on Methane Gas, Ramp Up Clean Energy, Says New Explainer

September 1, 2022

Contact:
Melissa Birchard, mbirchard@acadiacenter.org
Shannon Van Hoesen, shannon.vanhoesen@sierraclub.org

BURLINGTON, VT – A coalition of advocates and energy experts released a new explainer today, titled New England’s Winter Electricity Challenges Call for a Clean Energy Solution, that details how New England’s overreliance on gas creates a risk of blackouts on the electricity system in severe winters. The explainer identifies clean energy solutions as the best way to help reduce the chance of blackouts in upcoming winters and ultimately to solve the problem for good.

Key findings of the explainer are that the region already has clean energy at hand that can help solve electric system reliability problems now, including distributed energy like rooftop solar paired with battery storage, energy efficiency, and the smart management of consumer demand. The explainer also lays out how more wind and solar, together with energy storage and the strategic management of electrification, can create a reliable, lower cost electric system long term. It finds that offshore wind in particular can help substantially reduce reliance on gas during cold winters.

“By deploying clean energy tools we already have on hand to help reduce the chance of blackouts, we can provide more security right now for New England families and lower costs. Our energy leaders need to sit down and make a plan to mobilize clean energy solutions to help keep the lights on,” said Melissa Birchard, one of the lead authors and Acadia Center’s Director of Clean Energy and Grid Reform. “Everyone wants to avoid the small but real chance that the lights could go out during prolonged cold weather – and clean energy can help solve that problem quicker and more cheaply than anything else.”

In recent years New England has drastically increased the amount of gas used to generate electricity – from 15% of the region’s electricity in 2000 to 53% in 2021. Gas is also used to heat many homes. This heavy overreliance on gas creates a risk of blackouts on the electric system when there is not enough gas for all heating and electricity generation at the same time, or when gas power plants or gas supply facilities go offline for other reasons. New England’s overreliance on gas also results in major price risks for New England families and businesses, who are facing unprecedented utility bills due to this overreliance on gas combined with price spikes connected to international instability.

“Energy consumers in New England are paying more for their energy bills despite the fact that there are serious concerns about whether their lights and heat will stay on when winter weather turns extreme,” said Casey Roberts, the other lead author and Sierra Club’s Senior Attorney for the Environmental Law Program. “It doesn’t need to be this way, and there are clear steps that grid operators and state and federal decision makers can take to transition to clean energy sources to ensure New England energy consumers can stay warm during cold, harsh winters and also tackle climate change, which is driving the increase in extreme weather.”

The explainer recommends concrete actions energy leaders can take today and over coming years to make the energy system both clean and reliable, including tailoring clean energy programs that already reduce stress on the electric system in the summer to help meet grid needs in the winter too. The authors recommend swift action to deploy more clean energy to help keep the lights on all winter even during extreme cold spells, and to set the region on a sustainable and cost-effective long-term path.

“Now is the time to roll out near-term and long-term clean energy solutions that benefit our communities, including disadvantaged families who are hurt worst by blackouts, price spikes, and the climate crisis,” Birchard concluded.

The organizations that jointly released today’s energy explainer are Acadia Center, Sierra Club, the Sustainable FERC Project, Conservation Law Foundation, Environmental Defense Fund, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Natural Resources Defense Council. It is being released ahead of a New England Winter Gas-Electric Forum convening next week by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in Burlington, Vermont to discuss electric system reliability in the region with state and regional energy leaders.

 

38 Groups Across New England Issue Letter to Support Joint State RFI for Transmission for Offshore Wind

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 16, 2022

Boston, MA – Today, over three dozen New England organizations including environmental and community groups, labor unions, and businesses and associations from across each of the six New England states sent a letter to the New England Governors urging them to issue a joint Request for Information (RFI) for electric transmission solutions for offshore wind. The letter, signed by a large diversity of groups that has never before come together to collectively advocate for transmission infrastructure, urges the New England states to jointly issue an RFI for transmission to connect offshore wind to consumers, and requests that the RFI include a solicitation for planned, offshore grid solutions.

New England boasts some of the best offshore wind resources in the country. Harnessing the economic potential of offshore wind can drive growth in the region, help build an equitable clean economy with high-quality jobs, and save billions of dollars for electric ratepayers.

Today’s letter breaks new ground by including organizations and interests from across each of the six New England states to advocate for transmission for offshore wind. “Offshore wind is the single biggest lever we can pull to address the climate crisis, meet our energy needs, and grow our economy all simultaneously,” said Susannah Hatch, of the Environmental League of Massachusetts, speaking on behalf of the New England for Offshore Wind coalition. “Transmission is a critical challenge that needs to be addressed in order for us to seize this opportunity and unlock the next generation of offshore wind projects in the region. Given the astounding benefits that the responsible development of offshore wind would offer our region – from high-quality jobs and economic opportunity to reducing pollution and carbon emissions, it’s no wonder that diverse interests across all six states want to see it get built. We are eager to see the six states move ahead on transmission solutions for offshore wind now.”

“A broad diversity of groups is excited to bring more clean offshore wind to New England communities and we all recognize that can’t be done without cables to deliver the power,” said Melissa Birchard, Director for Clean Energy & Grid Reform at Acadia Center, a clean energy advocacy and research organization that participated in the group letter. “It’s critical to get to work now on the transmission solutions to connect New England with more offshore wind, and a joint request for information about well-planned, offshore grid solutions would jumpstart that work. A well-planned offshore grid that channels more wind to communities using fewer cables could slash costs and impacts.”

Both groups said they hope the strong showing of support across New England for transmission solutions will convince the New England governors to move ahead now with an RFI for transmission for offshore wind.

Read the Letter to New England Governors on Offshore Wind Transmission

Press Contacts:
Susannah Hatch, shatch@environmentalleague.org, 978-852-3629
Melissa Birchard, mbirchard@acadiacenter.org, 857-276-6883

 

New England for Offshore Wind (NE4OSW) is a collaborative, broad-based coalition that includes partners from a diverse array of organizations and communities across New England. We are committed to combatting climate change by increasing the supply of clean energy to our regional grid through more procurements of responsibly developed offshore wind.

Acadia Center is a northeast-based nonprofit research and advocacy organization advancing a safe climate and a clean energy future that benefits everyone.

RGGI 56th Auction and the Consequence for Climate and Clean Energy Transition

BOSTON, MA-  On Friday, the eleven states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) released the results of the 56th auction. Emissions allowances were sold for $13.90 each, generating $310 million for clean energy investments in participating states. The allowance price established a new record high for the RGGI program, which has now been in operation for over 13 years. The proceeds from sales of allowances in the 56th auction were the second-highest of all time, lower than only the proceeds from the 54th auction held in December of 2021. The auction narrowly avoided the release of additional allowances from the Cost Containment Reserve (CCR), with the clearing price ($13.90) falling just one cent under the CCR trigger price ($13.91).

 

Higher RGGI allowance price is good for climate, clean energy investment

The auction clearing price of $13.90 represents a modest 3% increase from the previous auction in March, but a significant 74% increase from the auction price from one year ago. The clearing price represents the price that power plant operators must pay for each ton of CO2 emitted by their fossil-fuel-fired plants. The recent increase in allowance prices means the RGGI program is sending a stronger incentive to produce electricity from carbon-free sources, like wind and solar. Recent auctions have demonstrated the growing significance of the CCR – the two most recent auctions narrowly avoided the CCR trigger price, while the 54th auction in December 2021 represented the first time since 2015 that additional allowances were released as a result of triggering the CCR.

The $310 million in proceeds generated from the 56th auction represent a 5% increase from proceeds generated at the previous auction and a boon for the clean energy economy. Since the program launched, the vast majority of RGGI proceeds have been invested in energy efficiency and clean energy projects as detailed in the recently released report on RGGI investments in 2020. The $310 million in proceeds generated last Friday brings the annual to-date total to $603 million, already 65% of the previous year’s record-setting total proceeds with two more auctions remaining in 2022. Auction proceeds have increased dramatically in recent years. For example, the proceeds in the first half of 2022 alone are 15% higher than the total proceeds generated in all 2018 and 2019 auctions combined.  This is great news for climate action, the economy, and the growing workforce in energy efficiency and clean energy.

RGGI Third Program Review Offers an Opportunity to Direct Proceeds Towards Clean Energy Investments that Directly Benefit Environmental Justice Communities

Since its establishment, RGGI’s priorities have centered around reducing pollution from fossil fuel power plants and achieving climate solutions for RGGI states. Through the sale of CO2 allowances, the market-based program has continued to produce revenue for participating states to invest in clean and renewable energy programs, energy efficiency programs to save energy, bill assistance, and much more. While states continue to report the benefit that RGGI contributes to meeting their climate goals, it is important to ensure that these proceeds are both spent on climate and clean energy and invested in communities that suffer disproportionately from the negative consequences associated with pollution from fossil fuel power generation.

The Third RGGI Program Review offers a golden opportunity to tailor the program to ensure that environmental justice communities are not left to bear a disproportionate burden and are actively involved in the development of strategies to ensure a smooth, equitable transition to a carbon-free economy. During the program review, it is essential that each RGGI state critically consider equitable investment into communities that face the worst effects of polluting power plants. This ongoing program review provides a chance for states to consider the recent auctions, history of investments across the states, the need to directly address environmental justice communities, and other mechanisms associated with the cap-and-invest program.

Acadia Center remains closely involved in RGGI policy conversations across the RGGI states and will continue to advocate for program reforms that drive equitable investment and climate action.

Media Contacts:

Ben Butterworth, Director Climate, Energy, and Equity Analysis
bbutterworth@acadiacenter.org, 617-742-0054 x111
198 Tremont Street, Suite 415, Boston, MA 02111

Joy Yakie, Environmental Justice Associate
jyakie@acadiacenter.org, 617-742-0054 x110
198 Tremont Street, Suite 415, Boston, MA 02111

ISO-New England’s Federal Regulator Fails to Require Swift Energy Reform, Clean Energy and Consumers Bear the Burden of More Delay

Boston, MA (May 27, 2022) – Today, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued an order unwisely approving ISO-New England’s controversial proposal to prolong by three more years the Minimum Offer Price Rule (“MOPR”). The MOPR blocks state-supported clean energy generators from bidding competitively in the ISO-New England capacity market. This market is intended to foster the pipeline of energy generation needed to meet the region’s future electricity needs. Instead of using ratepayer funds to promote the development of clean energy, the market has been locking in dirty fossil generation.

“FERC’s decision today fails to end once and for all the reign of this harmful rule,” said Melissa Birchard, Acadia Center’s Director for Clean Energy and Grid Reform. “The last thing we need is more delays to decarbonization and reliable clean energy. FERC and ISO-New England need to take decisive action now to show they’re behind state clean energy policy. They didn’t do that today.”

For the past decade, the MOPR has functioned as a subsidy for fossil fuel generators. By making it impossible for clean energy to get the same capacity payments that fossil fuel generators receive, it has held the region back from developing more and diverse clean energy resources.

On April 12, 2022, Acadia Center and its partners filed a protest of ISO-New England’s plan to keep the MOPR in place, asking FERC to reject the proposal and direct ISO-New England to remove the rule as quickly as possible. As a result of FERC’s action today, the MOPR will continue to provide a lifeline to the region’s most inefficient fossil fuel generators for at least three more years.

Acadia Center’s April 21 protest can be found here, along with its May 18 answer.

 

About Acadia Center:

Acadia Center is a regional clean energy research and advocacy organization based in the northeast supported by independent foundation grant and individual donors.

 

Media Contacts:

Melissa Birchard, Acadia Center
mbirchard@acadiacenter.org
857-276-6883

 

A Satisfactory Result – the Sale of Narragansett Electric by National Grid to PPL Corporation Approved

Acadia Center thanks Attorney General Neronha for negotiating these additional protections on behalf of all Rhode Islanders. Acadia Center intervened in this case because electric and gas utilities must play a critical role in addressing the climate crisis. The provisions of this settlement are an important first step to achieve the regulatory requirements of the Act on Climate. We look forward to working with National Grid and PPL during the transition to ensure Rhode Island continues to be a clean energy leader. To that end, Rhode Island must double down on energy efficiency investments, bring more renewable power online, and end its dependence on fossil fuels for heating. Acadia Center calls on Rhode Island to build upon this settlement by initiating a proceeding to wind down the fossil gas distribution system and help transition more residents to clean, healthy, zero-carbon heating technologies. Every new fossil fuel connection will be a fire that burns for decades to come—we simply can’t wait any longer to take meaningful climate action.

To learn more, download a presentation about this case here. A video recording of the press conference is also available for viewing here.