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In Northeast, net metering in flux as states look to reform solar policy

“I’m willing to say it’s OK if you get out in front of it a little bit. It’s not the end of the world,” said Mark LeBel, a staff attorney with the regional environmental advocacy group Acadia Center. But self-consumption of electricity — owning, storing and using your own generation — needs to be protected. “That’s the future,” LeBel said.

Read the full article from Energy News here.

After near derailment, energy bill heads to governor as fence-mending begins

This legislation effectively gets rid of net-metering, making Connecticut one of the first states to do that. For commercial projects, that would come in about a year and a half. For residential customers it will be in a few years. Existing customers would be grandfathered for about 20 years.

In place of net-metering consumers would have a choice. One would be rates – known as tariffs – and formulas for applying them that would be determined by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority. Some argue those unknown factors might be disruptive, if not downright stagnating for the solar industry in the state.

Along with many allies, Acadia Center has worked for months to fix this critically flawed bill, which will imperil the future of distributed solar in Connecticut,” Amy McLean Salls, Acadia Connecticut director, said in a statement. “Several improvements were made, but it is unfortunate that important progress on grid-scale renewables was paired in S.B. 9 with a severe setback on distributed solar.”

Read the full article from the CT Mirror here.

Energy bill still embroiled in controversy but probably heading to the floor

A coalition that includes the environmental groups Acadia Center, Vote Solar, Environment Connecticut, Citizen’s Campaign for the Environment and Connecticut Citizen Action Group, as well as the solar companies Vivint and Sunrun, announced their opposition to the bill in a statement: “We favor smart, simple, and gradual net metering reform for rooftop solar, and not the complex and drastic reforms that exist in the present bill language,” it said in part.

Read the full article from the CT Mirror here.

EnergyVision 2030 FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about EnergyVision 2030

What is EnergyVision 2030?

EnergyVision 2030 is a data-based analysis of options to expand clean energy resources in New York and the six New England states. It examines where current efforts can lead, how consumer adoption and market penetration rates can grow, and what increases in clean energy efforts are needed to attain emissions goals.

EnergyVision 2030 shows that advances in technologies that are now readily available, from heat pumps to electric cars to solar panels, create the means for states to advance a consumer-friendly energy system by increasing adoption in four key areas—grid modernization, electric generation, buildings, and transportation.

Why did Acadia Center prepare it?

Acadia Center prepared EnergyVision 2030 to provide a pathway for policymakers and others in the Northeast to show how market-ready clean energy technologies can modernize the energy systems, give consumers better options to control energy costs, and advance economic growth, while dramatically reducing climate pollution.

What are the key takeaways from the study?

States can achieve a modern clean energy system using available technologies, achieving a 45% emissions reduction by 2030, if policies are enacted now to foster and expand adoption of clean energy resources.

How does EnergyVision 2030 present the data?

EnergyVision 2030 uses the results from Acadia Center’s modeling to describe how much states should increase each clean energy technologies to shift the energy system. EnergyVision 2030 then offers detailed policy recommendations with policy options that states can use to achieve these results.

How can the information be used?

Information presented in EnergyVision 2030 shows the incremental gains needed in key clean energy areas for the region to achieve reductions in climate pollution and build robust clean energy economies. Advocates, stakeholders, and policymakers can use the information presented in EnergyVision 2030 to focus on where to expand current policies that will have the most impact or oppose policies that will move the region off this path. 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.

What was the methodology?

EnergyVision 2030 uses the Long-range Energy Alternatives Planning System (LEAP) model from Stockholm Environment Institute to project a detailed forecast of energy consumption in all sectors and an emissions trajectory. Acadia Center incorporated the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) forecast, the ISO New England and New York ISO electric ’s Capacity, Energy, Loads, and Transmission (CELT) forecasts, and other data sources as appropriate. The LEAP model contains an electric dispatch model to simulate the electric system, determine the generation mix and ensure that there are sufficient resources to satisfy peak demand for power in summer and winter.

Why a 45% emissions reduction?

The scientific consensus is that to avoid the worst impacts of global warming, the U.S. needs to reduce emissions by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050. States must reduce emissions 45% by 2030 to be on a trajectory to meet that goal, i.e. if a straight line were drawn from the present emission levels to the required 2050 levels, the region would hit a 45% reduction in 2030.

Why 2030?

Most states in the region have committed to reduce emissions 80% by the year 2050 in some form, and several have goals for emissions reductions in the interim period. Building markets takes time and has cumulative impacts, so acting now is critical. 2030 is closer than it seems but offers states sufficient time to reach the clean energy levels outlined in EnergyVision 2030 if they take action in the next two to three years.

What does EnergyVision 2030 tell us about the economy?

In developing EnergyVision 2030, Acadia Center did not model how increases in clean energy technologies and processes will impact local economies. Numerous studies, including some by Acadia Center, show the economic benefits of shifting from paying for imported fossil fuels to investing in local clean energy improvements like those presented in EnergyVision 2030. These benefits include stronger local economies, local job growth, and significant consumer savings.

Does EnergyVision 2030 address calls for more natural gas as a “bridge fuel”?

EnergyVision 2030 analysis shows that the current and planned pipeline capacity in New England will be sufficient to meet the region’s needs as expanding clean generation and energy efficiency reduce demand. Adding new pipeline capacity to the region would cost ratepayers billions of dollars and would lock the region into higher-emission gas generation for decades.

Video: Energy policy a top issue in campaign

“Obviously, we still have a ways to go,” said Jordan Stutt, policy analyst for the Acadia Center. “We’re still pretty dependent on some fossil fuels, but as we continue to invest in new energy technologies — as those costs come down, as we build out the infrastructure for distributed energy generation — I think we will be able to achieve that goal.”

Watch the news report and read the full article from WMUR here.

Mass. Regulators Reject DER Surcharge in Rate Case

Several intervenors contended that the proposal ran contrary to Massachusetts’ efforts to have its rate design more accurately reflect market conditions.

“Reforms to electricity rate design must strike a careful balance between economic efficiency, equity for all customers, protection of low-income ratepayers and access to community distributed generation,” Mark LeBel, staff attorney at Acadia Center, said in a statement.

Read the full article from RTO Insider here.

Interconnection Reform: Good for the Grid and the Climate

New York State is currently working to dramatically ramp up the deployment of solar and other distributed generation (DG) technologies in an effort to improve the resiliency and reliability of its electric system as well as to help combat climate change. In these efforts, interconnection reform plays a key role.

Interconnection refers to a state-established procedure that new distributed generation units must follow to connect in parallel with the utility’s distribution system. The interconnection process involves numerous steps and may take several months depending on the technical specifications of the project and the point of interconnection. Projects awaiting interconnection are put into an interconnection queue in the order of application.

In New York, the interconnection queue has been growing steadily, with 4,007 MW of projects in queue as of June 2016, a 38% increase from April 2016. Spurred primarily by a growing interest in community distributed generation (CDG), this unprecedented surge in project applications highlights the importance of proactive queue management to support the proliferation of DG throughout the state.

Interconnection procedure in New York State is governed by statewide rules known as the Standard Interconnection Requirements (SIR). SIR provide a general framework for interconnection application processing, including fees, timelines, and technical criteria.

For many years, SIR incentivized developers to file an application and reserve a place in the queue even if they had no intention of moving forward with their project; and further, SIR provided no process for removing the project from the queue without a customer’s permission. Thus, hundreds of these abandoned projects continue to clog the interconnection queue today.

On April 29, 2016, an update to SIR for systems between 50 kW to 5 MW went into effect, addressing some of the interconnection challenges raised by those involved in recent SIR proceedings. This update:

However, the new rules are applicable only to project applications submitted after the effective date, and so have done little to resolve the existing queue backlog. Further updates to SIR are expected to address this backlog.

These best practices for queue management are currently being considered by the recently created Interconnection Policy Working Group (IPWG), comprised of utility company, state, and industry representatives. In its most recent straw proposal, the IPWG is seeking to require all pre-April 29th applicants to take action by certain dates to remain in the queue or face removal. For instance, the applicants would be required to provide a landowner consent form within 10 days of a Public Service Commission Order to demonstrate site control and prevent site shopping by the developer.

In addition to addressing the backlog, the IPWG is working to reform interconnection by addressing cost sharing for required substation or distribution-level upgrades. These upgrades can often amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars and make a project cost-prohibitive for a single developer. Under the current rules, the first developer to proceed with a project on a given circuit/substation bears the full cost of upgrades. Any subsequent projects take advantage of those upgrades and forgo the expense. Cost-sharing mechanisms could ensure that every developer benefiting from an upgrade pays their fair share.

Together these reforms could significantly facilitate DG interconnection in New York, resulting in a more reliable, resilient, and efficient system that advances the state’s environmental and climate goals.

 

Forum: Envisioning Our Energy Future, Boston, 2/24

Please join Acadia Center in Boston on February 24th for a public forum: Envisioning Our Energy Future. The event is intended to help foster thought-leadership in the energy space, bringing together stakeholders and experts for a discussion of timely topics, with three panels and a lunch speaker.

Where: Federal Reserve Plaza/600 Atlantic Avenue, Connolly Center, Harborside 4th Floor
When: February 24th, 10AM-3:30PM
Lunch provided
To attend & for more information: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/envisioning-our-energy-future-tickets-15275579670

Keynote (Lunch) Speaker
Klaus Veslov of EcoGrid EU, is the developer of a E23 million smart grid pilot program on the Danish island of Bornhom—the first pilot in the EU to focus on how customer behavior impacts grid modernization efforts.  The EcoGrid pilot program is a core strategy for the Bornholm goal of being 100% fossil fuel free by 2025. For more information: http://www.eu-ecogrid.net/eogrid-eu/the-bornholm-test-site

Panels

I.    Utility of the Future
The advancement of viable, distributed energy technologies in the marketplace is happening quickly. Technology changes in the market are occurring faster than the regulatory structures governing the utilities.  There is a vast opportunity to structure a new energy system that embraces decentralized energy technologies. This panel will be asked to describe their vision of the future and identify key steps to achieving it.

Panelists: Nathan Adams, Green Mountain Power; Tim Woolf, Synapse Energy Economics, Inc; Jonathan Schrag, Guarini Center (NY); Peter Rothstein, New England Clean Energy Council

II.    Leveling the Playing Field for Distributed Energy Resources
The current system for planning and paying for the energy system favors poles and wires expenditures over investments to reduce demand for grid-supplied power, driving transmission and distribution costs higher than they would be if “non-wires alternatives” (NWA) could compete on a level playing field. The panel will examine recent examples of utilizing NWAs and explore policy reforms that can facilitate competition and reduce transmission and distribution costs.

Panelists: Amy Boyd, Acadia Center; Fran Cummings, Peregrine Energy Group; Jim Grevatt, Energy Futures Group; Kerrick Johnson, Vermont Electric Power Company

III.    The Role for Energy Efficiency and Demand-Side Resources to Reduce Price Pressures in the Energy System
Flexibility in energy efficiency investment programs offers the potential to achieve specific objectives such as serving low-income customers or geographic targeting to defer infrastructure upgrades. This panel will explore current efforts to utilize targeted efficiency investments and consider challenges to efficiency program design and implementation.

Panelists: Jeremy Newberger, National Grid; Eric Wilkinson, ISO-NE; Michael Stoddard, Efficiency Maine Trust; Jeff Schlegel, Efficiency Expert.