Energy production is one of the leading contributors to climate change. Meanwhile, the potential for additional renewable energy in the region is enormous – both for larger generating stations like wind farms to small, distributed systems like rooftop solar. The costs of renewable energy are dropping rapidly, making renewables more affordable and viable for the consumer market.

Acadia Center advances policies that level the playing field so renewable power can fairly compete and flourish. Distributed energy resources such as rooftop solar produce clean energy while enhancing customer control over energy bills and reducing the need for polluting power plants and grid infrastructure. Acadia Center’s Next Generation Solar Framework provides a sustainable policy approach that compensates solar based on demonstrated value, while ensure equitable payment for maintenance of the grid.

More broadly, policies like renewable portfolio standards (RPS) provide incentives for clean energy options, allowing competition with fossil fuel-based energy that has the incumbent market advantage. Large-scale purchases can also help to promote deployment of renewable energy by achieving economies of scale and facilitating project financing and construction of transmission needed to transport renewable energy from remote locations to consumers.

Acadia Center also advocates market-based solutions that account for the climate impacts of burning fuels by charging a fee for releasing CO2 into the atmosphere. In the Northeast, this model has been successfully applied in the power sector through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). RGGI has helped Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states reduce power plant emissions significantly while generating economic and health benefits in the region, and this effective model can and should be exported to other states, and to cover additional sectors such as transportation and heating fuels. Emissions reductions can also be achieved by placing a direct price on pollution through a carbon fee that promotes changes in behavior and levels the playing field for cleaner energy supplies.

Throughout the energy system, from large-scale generating facilities to small-scale, customer-sited power sources, policies need to account for the full value of different types of energy resources. Using this information, leaders need to commit to using the cleanest affordable options. That means considering all of our energy options rather than defaulting to large, supply-side infrastructure. It also means fully accounting for lifecycle emissions, and assessing how efficiency can reduce demand. In homes and businesses, increasing access to advanced renewable thermal technologies through energy efficiency retrofits and building codes will make it easier for consumers to adopt clean fuels and save on their energy bills. Advanced cold-climate heat pumps, solar thermal, and low-emission, sustainably sourced biomass can reduce GHG emissions and decrease our reliance on imported fossil fuels.

Cutting emissions from vehicles, travel, and freight is closely related to clean energy supply strategies. See our Transportation initiative for more.


  • Electric Vehicles and State Funds

    Policymakers in Massachusetts have directed a study of transportation funding from electric vehicles and whether additional contributions are necessary to offset a loss of revenue from the gasoline tax. Acadia Center’s analysis demonstrates that additional fees are not necessary or fair in the short run, but in the longer term, an energy-equivalent surcharge per kWh of electricity consumed would be a fair way to ensure equitable contributions from all alternative fuels.

  • Grid Modernization and Utility Reform in MA Series

    Massachusetts has fallen behind its neighbors in exploring and enacting policies that will help the Commonwealth keep pace with clean energy technologies that offer enormous promise to make the electricity grid more responsive to consumers, improve economic competitiveness, and produce substantial reductions in climate pollution. Acadia Center comments on this trend in a three-part opinion series for CommonWealth Magazine. Part One of the series reviews the recent history of grid modernization and utility reform in Massachusetts, its uncertain future, and the need for legislative reforms and oversight. Part Two describes how the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) decision on revenue, return on equity, and utility business model reform fails to benefit consumers and ultimately approves approximately $460 million in additional ratepayer costs. Part Three discusses the DPU decision issued on January 5, 2018, covering rate design.

  • Eversource Rate Case in MA

    Just over a year ago, on January 17, 2017, Eversource filed a comprehensive electric rate case in Massachusetts, requesting significant revenue increases, new rate structures, and an array of investments. On November 30, 2017 and January 5, 2018, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities issued its Orders in the case approving nearly all Eversource’s requests. This document describes Acadia Center’s principles for reform and key components of the recent Orders on Eversource’s rate case proposals, followed by next steps and further recommended reforms.

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