The Northeastern states and neighboring Canadian Eastern Provinces have set ambitious targets to reduce climate emissions by 2050. Fossil fuel power generation must be replaced with low and no-carbon electricity sources and electrified building heating and transportation to meet these goals. Studies show that a 4-fold or greater increase in clean energy generation is necessary to achieve these targets. Transitioning the electric power grid is central to success in our region and North America.
An essential tool the region can add to the climate toolbox would spur greater cooperation and coordination between the electric power grids on both sides of the U.S./Canada border. Acadia Center and the Quebec-based clean energy organization Nergica, with experts from both sides of the border, are convening the Northeast Grid Planning Forum for these discussions. The Northeast Grid Planning Forum will spur conversations to imagine a power grid that conducts itself according to the following public interest values:
- Reliable, efficient service.
- Attaining climate decarbonization and clean energy goals.
- Providing a respectful process for community and indigenous concerns.
- Prioritizing consumer and justice needs.
The Northeast Grid Planning Forum will bring voices to the table to address planning, investment, market design, and operational approaches that optimize clean energy supply, infrastructure, and complementary resources on both sides of the border. Currently, the region lacks a coherent planning process, resulting in uncoordinated projects that fail to align with a shared vision for the future energy system. Vulnerable communities, including low-income communities, communities of color, and non-English speaking communities, bear the brunt of these impacts.
The benefits of a better-coordinated grid include cost savings, reduced emissions, improved reliability, lower compliance costs for climate goals, expanded energy efficiency, and reduced environmental justice impacts. Coordinated grid integration would also facilitate the expansion of locally distributed clean energy, streamline opportunities presented by federal action, and provide a process for communities to be engaged in project development and siting.
The Northeast Grid Planning Forum proposes several next steps, including initiating conversations with interested entities, drafting a “bill of principles,” developing information and best practices, and outlining an outreach and messaging framework. These steps aim to build stakeholder buy-in, generate interest from decision-makers, attract investment, and ensure a socially accepted and equitable transition.
There is significant support from states, experts, regulators, and advocates in the U.S. and Canada for grid coordination. Meeting the climate goals requires an unprecedented “build-out” that demands rapid action and investment in new transmission lines and expanded distributed energy. By coordinating grid integration efforts and addressing community and stakeholder concerns, the region can leverage clean energy resources efficiently and achieve a more sustainable and equitable energy system for the future.