EPA Relaxes Tough Fuel-Economy Standards for Cars, Light Trucks

“Clean car standards protect all Americans from unnecessarily high fuel costs and from pollution that is dangerous to public health,’’ said Daniel Sosland, president of the Acadia Center, an advocacy group for a clean-energy future. “Rolling back these standards will damage the country’s economy and its competitive position, contrary to erroneous assertions by EPA.’’

Read the full article from NJ Spotlight here.

Public Scrutiny Needed for Eversource Northern Pass Project

BOSTON—Acadia Center is calling for a public review and full transparency following yesterday’s announcement that Northern Pass Transmission’s hydro-only bid, a partnership between Eversource and Hydro Quebec, was selected as the sole winner of the Massachusetts Clean Energy RFP.

The RFP, called for by a 2016 energy law, sought clean energy for about 17% of Massachusetts’ annual electricity needs.  Although more than 40 bids were submitted in the summer of 2017—including several with a blend of on-shore wind and hydroelectricity, the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) and a group of Massachusetts utilities, which included Eversource, chose one controversial project, owned in large part by a subsidiary of Eversource. As the winning bid, Eversource and Hydro-Quebec will begin the process of negotiating long-term, multi-billion-dollar contracts with Eversource, National Grid and Unitil, the other distribution companies.

“Acadia Center is disappointed but not surprised that the process has resulted in the recommendation of the Northern Pass project,” said Daniel Sosland, president of Acadia Center. “Acadia Center has long asserted that clean energy bids should include the region’s wind resources and not only hydropower imports and has further been concerned that having utilities review bids in which they have a financial interest creates a clear conflict of interest that undermines public confidence in the process.”

Acadia Center supported the 2016 energy law and the Commonwealth’s pursuing a large-scale procurement of clean energy, particularly arguing for environmental protections, a preference for a blend of new renewables and hydro, and guaranteed winter energy delivery to control price spikes, all of which the statute and RFP specified. One provision that Acadia Center argued against—but was still allowed in the 2016 energy law—was allowing the utilities to bid for the contract and serve on the selection committee.

“Under the terms of the RFP, the selected project was to provide the greatest benefit with limited risk to Massachusetts ratepayers.  We don’t know the relative benefit-cost ratios because the price terms are confidential, but choosing only one project from an existing importer of electricity has major risks,” said Amy Boyd, Senior Attorney at Acadia Center. “Hydro-Quebec has previously curtailed power to New England in winter months, when demand in Quebec is highest. Similarly, reliance on a single project has its own risks. Northern Pass Transmission faces serious opposition due to its land use impacts and its projected in-service date has been delayed previously.”

After the contract is negotiated it will be reviewed by the Department of Public Utilities (DPU), and the review must include a report from an independent evaluator and the participation of the Attorney General’s office. Under the statute, Eversource is also eligible for an additional incentive of up to 2.75% of the contract price for its share of the energy, as one of the contracting distribution companies. The public must be privy to any evaluation of the fairness of this and other aspects of the contract.

“Acadia Center believes that a full public report from the statutorily required independent evaluator and scrutiny by the Attorney General are important next steps. The public needs to have full confidence that this was a fair process and the benefits of other bidders were evaluated reasonably. The current ongoing procurements for offshore wind and future procurements are even more crucial to progress towards a clean energy future,” said Mark LeBel, Staff Attorney for Acadia Center. “If this contract is approved, the DPU should deny Eversource an additional incentive as a distribution company. Ratepayers don’t need to give Eversource additional money as a backstop for a contract where they are also on the other side.”


Media Contacts:

Amy Boyd, Senior Attorney
aboyd@acadiacenter.org, 617-742-0054 x102

Mark LeBel, Staff Attorney
mlebel@acadiacenter.org, 617-742-0054 x104

Krysia Wazny, Communications Director
kwazny@acadiacenter.org, 617-742-0054 x107

Massachusetts approves new demand charge for Eversource’s net metering customers

Demand charges are very controversial among renewables and clean energy advocates, and Massachusetts’ decision has set the stage for intense debate over rate design. “Massachusetts needs to step up its game and embrace smarter electricity rates and more customer control,” Daniel Sosland, president of Acadia Center, said in a statement. He said eliminating optional residential time-of-use rates and approving demand charges shows the state “is moving backwards instead of forward.”

Read the full article from Utility Dive here.

New Regional Initiative — RGGI for Transportation Sector

“Working together across state and party lines, states can improve their transportation systems, reduce pollution, and improve mobility and transportation choice for consumers,’’ said Daniel Sosland, president of the Acadia Center, a nonprofit working for clean energy.

Read the full article from NJ Spotlight here.

45 Organizations Call for New York to Lower Monthly Mandatory Electric Charges

New York, N.Y. — Today, Acadia Center, Alliance for a Green Economy, Natural Resources Defense Council, Vote Solar, and 41 other organizations joined to support a common set of principles to address one of New York’s most regressive charges for utility service: the unavoidable monthly fee that all residential customers must pay regardless of the amount of electricity consumed. “Joint Principles on Residential Fixed Charges in New York” calls on New York utility regulators to lower these inefficient and regressive rates. The 45 organizations come from many different perspectives, including low-income and consumer advocates, environmental and clean energy public interest organizations, solar advocates, and clean energy industry groups, and span national organizations as well as community organizations across New York.

“In order to achieve a cleaner, more modern and consumer friendly energy system, New York needs to reform and lower fixed charges. The current regressive approach was adopted in the 1990s and places barriers in the way of consumer adoption of modern technologies like solar and energy efficiency” said Daniel Sosland, president of Acadia Center, which has successfully advocated for lower residential fixed charges in Connecticut. “The diverse array of groups who have endorsed lowering fixed charges show that this would be a win for ratepayers, clean energy, and communities across New York.”

New York has very high fixed customer charges compared to other states. For example, National Grid has a residential fixed charge of $17 in New York, but only $5 in Rhode Island and $5.50 in Massachusetts. Central Hudson has even higher fixed charges at $24, which it is seeking to increase to $25, as well as an additional tiered “service size charge” for many customers. Acadia Center found that current average residential customer charges for major investor-owned utilities are higher in New York than all of its neighboring states. New York’s fixed charges are even higher than Wisconsin, a state that has been widely criticized for approving large fixed charge increases since 2014.

Mark LeBel, Attorney and Associate Director of Acadia Center’s Grid Modernization and Utility Reform Initiative, said: “Most states across the country use a definition for residential fixed charges that is much narrower than New York’s approach. Our testimony in the National Grid rate case demonstrated that residential fixed charges are currently far too high and that reform would benefit the majority of residential ratepayers. Large consumers would pay more, but 61% of monthly bills would go down with lower residential fixed charges.”

“We see no reason why utility customers in New York should be paying fixed charges that are three times higher than those paid to the same company by customers in other states,” said Jessica Azulay, program director of Alliance for a Green Economy. “It’s high time to reduce these charges so that low-income customers, low energy users, and people who want to invest in energy efficiency and renewables are no longer overburdened with these regressive and unfair costs.”

“High unavoidable charges on electricity bills have a disproportionate impact on lower income customers who use less energy and decrease the incentive for customers to make energy efficiency improvements or invest in clean energy through actions like participating in a community solar project or installing solar panels,” said Miles Farmer, a Clean Energy Attorney at Natural Resources Defense Council. “New York utilities should reduce fixed charges and instead focus on designing rates that empower customers.”

“Vote Solar is proud to stand with dozens of organizations working for customer rights, community health, environmental justice and clean energy progress in the call for lower fixed charges,” said Nathan Phelps, program manager of DG regulatory policy at Vote Solar. “In order for New York to succeed in its ambitious and laudable clean energy vision, it must empower families and businesses to take control of their own electric bills. Lowering fixed charges is a critical step to achieving that vision.”

Cullen Howe, Acadia Center’s New York Director, noted, “Acadia Center supports the overall vision that has been laid out by the Public Service Commission and Cuomo Administration over the last several years. Lower residential fixed charges will help enable the goals of Reforming the Energy Vision, including increased energy efficiency and vibrant markets for clean energy.”


Media Contacts:

Cullen Howe, Senior Attorney & New York Director
chowe@acadiacenter.org, 212-256-1535

Mark LeBel, Attorney & Associate Director, Grid Modernization and Utility Reform Initiative
mlebel@acadiacenter.org, 617-742-0054 x104

Krysia Wazny, Communications Director
kwazny@acadiacenter.org, 617-742-0054 x107

Public Service Commission Decision Undermines Consumer-Friendly Future for Solar Power and Clean Distributed Energy

NEW YORK — The Public Service Commission (PSC) issued an important Implementation Order on September 14, 2017, in the Value of Distributed Energy Resources (VDER) proceeding (Case 15-E-0751). Unfortunately, this order will impede the advancement of solar energy in New York and impose unnecessary barriers on the ability of consumers, businesses and communities to benefit from this clean energy resource. The structure laid out by the PSC in March of 2017 promised to reform and update New York’s approach to valuing solar energy and expanding consumer solar markets. The Order undermines the new VDER net metering structure because it undervalues distributed resources on the basis of unvetted utility studies that minimize solar’s economic value. In doing so, the Commission’s Order conflicts with the distributed energy future envisioned by New York’s historic and ambitious Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) future.

“The promise of a modern energy system that allows clean energy to flourish depends upon a fair determination of the economic value of solar and other clean energy resources,” said Daniel Sosland, president of Acadia Center, which has provided detailed comments on solar values in the PSC case. “Defining solar power’s economic future solely on information provided by electric utilities, who want to tilt the playing field towards investments that benefit the utility and its shareholders, is not a formula for short-term or long-term success.”

Mark LeBel, Associate Director of Acadia Center’s Grid Modernization Initiative, said, “The Commission has made a major mistake by approving unvetted marginal cost of service studies from Central Hudson, NYSEG and RGE. These studies all improperly limited the potential values provided by distributed energy resources. In addition, Central Hudson used a new and untested methodology that has never been put forward before in an adjudicated proceeding, and the Commission failed to address several detailed critiques brought forward by Acadia Center and other parties.”

Cullen Howe, Acadia Center’s New York Director, noted, “Acadia Center supports the overall vision that has been laid out by the Commission and the Cuomo Administration over the last several years. However, implementation of this vision cannot ignore the details and the practical realities of how to animate markets for energy efficiency and clean energy.”


Media Contacts:

Cullen Howe, Senior Attorney & New York Director
212.256.1535, chowe@acadiacenter.org

Mark LeBel, Attorney & Associate Director, Grid Modernization Initiative
617.742.0054 x104, mlebel@acadiacenter.org

Krysia Wazny, Communications Director & Coordinator, Public Engagement Initiative
617.742.0054 x107, kwazny@acadiacenter.org

Here’s what some are saying about Trump’s decision to pull out of Paris Climate Agreement

Daniel Sosland, president of Acadia Center, a nonprofit: “The Northeast region has successfully proven the benefits of pursuing a clean energy, low polluting economy: states have reduced climate pollution while enjoying greater economic growth, job creation and public health benefits. This significant progress on clean energy under both Republican and Democratic leadership at the state and federal level serves as a prime example of what is possible across the nation.”

Read the full article from Mainebiz here.

New Analysis Shows New England and New York Can Achieve a Clean Energy Economy and Dramatically Reduce Carbon Pollution

Acadia Center’s EnergyVision 2030 Details How States Can Build on Clean Energy Efforts in Four Key Areas

BOSTON—In a new comprehensive analysis, Acadia Center—a non-profit, research and advocacy organization committed to advancing the clean energy future—demonstrates how seven states in the Northeast can spur use of market-ready technologies that empower consumers, control energy costs and advance economic growth while lowering carbon pollution.

Using detailed market data, EnergyVision 2030: Transitioning to a Low-Emissions Energy System shows that efforts by New York and New England to modernize their energy systems and expand clean energy resources are paying off—and by redoubling these efforts, Northeast states will be on the path to a low-carbon economic future and reduce carbon pollution emissions 45% by 2030.

“It’s never been clearer that state leadership is needed to capture the benefits of a clean energy future for residents,” noted Daniel Sosland, president of Acadia Center. “EnergyVision 2030 offers good news: Northeast states are in a position to create a truly modern, clean energy future and provide the economic, consumer and public health benefits associated with a clean energy system,” said Sosland. “The Northeast can exert national leadership in how to reduce pollution, advance consumer options and reinvest energy dollars in the local economy.”

EnergyVision 2030 shows that readily available products, from heat pumps to electric cars to solar panels, create the means for states to advance a consumer-friendly energy system by increasing adoption of clean energy technologies in four key areas—grid modernization, electric generation, buildings and transportation. In many cases, states already have the policy tools they need to increase adoption of these technologies; they must simply improve and accelerate existing mechanisms to achieve the goals set in EnergyVision 2030.

EnergyVision 2030 presents a practical, “can-do” way forward. It is one of many paths states can choose to take, and provides a vision that states can follow with achievable changes in policy and regulation to secure their place as clean energy leaders,” said Jamie Howland, Director of Acadia’s Climate and Energy Analysis (CLEAN) Center.

EnergyVision 2030 describes exactly how much of each technology needs to be used to shift the energy system. States can support development of renewables by updating their renewable energy requirements to reflect the increased potential and competitive position of clean energy. For example, electric vehicles can grow from present levels to 17% of cars on the road, an average of 41% growth per year—a level certain states are already demonstrating is feasible, like Massachusetts, where electric vehicle sales grew 40% annually from 2014 to 2016.

EnergyVision 2030 can be viewed as an interactive website and in printable formats covering each key area of the energy system and focusing on goals for New York and New England separately and as a region. Access the website at 2030.acadiacenter.staging.wpengine.com. Acadia Center will hold a 15-minute press briefing today, May 9, at 11am in which we will present a summary of the report and give additional time to respond to questions. To sign up for the press briefing click here.

To request an interview, contact Krysia Wazny at 617-742-0054 x107 or kwazny@acadiacenter.org. Visuals related to the study can be accessed here.


Media Contacts:

Jamie Howland, Director, Acadia’s Climate and Energy Analysis (CLEAN) Center
jhowland@acadiacenter.org, 860-246-7121 x201

Krysia Wazny, Communications Director
kwazny@acadiacenter.org, 617-742-0054 x107