A New Approach to Transportation in Connecticut Could Cut Pollution, Boost the Economy and Deliver 23,000 Jobs
HARTFORD, Conn. – Today, Acadia Center released an analysis illustrating the benefits of a new approach for Connecticut to reduce transportation pollution while improving the system to better meet its residents’ needs. The analysis shows that, if designed well, a regional cap-and-invest policy developed through the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI) could enable the state to make over $2.7 billion in crucial transportation investments by 2030, which would generate over 23,000 long-term jobs and $7 billion in economic activity.
“Connecticut can be a leader in developing a bold, equitable program to invest in needed transportation modernization while capping pollution in the state,” said Amy McLean Salls, Connecticut Director and Senior Policy Advocate at Acadia Center. “By capping transportation emissions and auctioning pollution allowances, all residents in the state will benefit through investments in transportation infrastructure and improved mobility options. The state’s overburdened and underserved communities are disproportionately bearing the brunt of non-accessible transportation options and harmful impacts of local air pollution. A modernized clean transportation system would be transformative for Connecticut’s people and economy.”
Acadia Center’s analysis demonstrates that new transportation investments funded through a regional cap-and-invest program would deliver substantial economic, environmental, and mobility benefits in Connecticut. As Connecticut works with other states to develop this program, advocates, community groups and other stakeholders are joining forces to determine what that program – and Connecticut’s transportation future – should look like.
On Tuesday evening, Acadia Center, the Center for Latino Progress, the CT Roundtable for Climate and Jobs, Sierra Club and Transport Hartford Academy gathered, joined by 55 stakeholders including transportation and environmental advocates, environmental justice activists, health professionals, business leaders, Commissioner Dykes from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and Tom Maziarz from the Department of Transportation, for an important Connecticut-focused meeting to discuss efforts to deliver a more equitable, modern low-carbon transportation future.
“It is far past time for the State of Connecticut to act. As we act to quickly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants, we have the opportunity to invest in our communities, quality of life, and local employment,” said Gannon Long, Assistant Coordinator for Transport Hartford Academy at the Center for Latino Progress. “A transportation focused cap-and-trade system, implemented in 2021, could be a useful tool in achieving the state’s critically important emission reduction targets.”
To estimate the economic opportunity for a market-based transportation climate policy, Acadia Center’s report examined a sample investment portfolio including bus fleet electrification and transit system improvements, commuter rail updates and expansion, electric vehicle rebates and charging infrastructure, and walking and biking infrastructure. To determine how funds from this type of program are ultimately invested, participating states will need to develop a process that includes input from the most impacted parties, in particular low-income and disadvantaged communities.
“Cap-and-invest programs do not operate in a vacuum – they work best when they are designed to complement other policies and accelerate the transition to less-polluting options,” said Jordan Stutt, Carbon Programs Director at Acadia Center. “This analysis illustrates how cap-and-invest proceeds could bolster Connecticut’s existing efforts to deliver modern, accessible, low-carbon transportation options while spurring local job creation.”
Read the full report here: https://acadiacenter.staging.wpengine.com/document/investing-in-connecticuts-transportation-future/
Amy McLean Salls, Connecticut Director
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Jordan Stutt, Carbon Programs Director
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Connecticut efficiency program turns focus to smaller commercial buildings
Poor energy performance is not unique to Stamford; the whole state is grappling with energy efficiency. Connecticut continues to have some of the highest energy costs in the country. Though Connecticut has made progress over the last two decades — primarily through its Conservation and Load Management energy efficiency program — it now risks falling behind other states in New England. According to the Acadia Center, a nonprofit advocating for a clean energy future, Connecticut invests in cost-effective electric efficiency at “roughly half the levels pursued in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.”
Read the full article from Energy News Network here.
Labor and Clean Energy Advocates Applaud Connecticut’s Selection of Bid for 200 MW Offshore Wind
HARTFORD – Today, Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) selected Deepwater Wind’s proposal for 200 MW of offshore wind as one of the winning bids in an open request for proposals to support nascent energy technologies, including fuel cells and anaerobic digestors in addition to offshore wind. The selection builds on the regional momentum for offshore wind, following the selection of two projects totaling 1200 MW by Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Deepwater Wind’s winning project is estimated to power about 91,000 homes.
“Connecticut today is showing the region that it wants to participate in the budding offshore wind market and will share in the benefits of being an early mover in adopting this technology,” said Emily Lewis, a policy analyst at Acadia Center. “Acadia Center commends DEEP on taking this important step to procure offshore wind for the state. We hope Connecticut continues to build on this commitment by setting an ambitious offshore wind mandate that creates a sustainable offshore wind industry and continued economic growth.”
The full details of the bid are still hidden until the contracts are completed, but information released to the public indicates that Deepwater Wind’s bid includes:
- A commitment of at least $15 million for the New London State Pier;
- Plans for significant in-state construction and assembly operations, leading to 1400 direct, indirect, and induced jobs in Connecticut;
- Collaboration with local entities to support workforce development, research and economic growth.
“This announcement, combined with the state’s recent commitment of bond funding to revitalize the State Pier, demonstrates that Connecticut is serious about securing its share of the highly-paid offshore wind jobs coming to the Northeast,” said John Humphries, lead organizer for the CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs. “Whether it’s on the docks, in the water or on the factory floor, Connecticut has the skilled labor needed to jumpstart this new industry bringing clean energy to the region.”
“The building trades workforce of Eastern Connecticut is eager to do whatever is needed to support this growing industry,” said Keith Brothers, president of the New London-Norwich Building and Construction Trades Council. “We urge the Administration and developers to ensure the highest quality construction and timely completion by negotiating project labor agreements for both the port infrastructure and offshore wind projects. Connecticut’s workers are ready to build and maintain the turbines and all the onshore facilities.”
That message was echoed by Sean Daly, Business Manager and member of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 90. “IBEW’s skilled electricians have already installed grid-scale solar projects and onshore wind turbines here in Connecticut. Now we’re eager to help bring this new source of clean energy to the state. And if the legislature authorizes more offshore wind purchases, we look forward to hiring and training new workers. This new industry will be good for our workers and their families, and it will be good for our communities.”
Tony Walter, President of the CT State Council of Machinists, also urged state leaders to encourage Deepwater Wind to invest in local supply-chain development. “From aerospace to submarines, Connecticut’s Machinists provide precision manufacturing outcomes every day. The offshore wind industry will need high-quality parts and equipment, and we should be building them here in Connecticut.”
Emily Lewis, Policy Analyst
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John Humphries, Organizer, CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs
Connecticut’s Emissions Reduction Opportunity
Connecticut’s transportation system – the network of highways, trains, public transit, and walking and biking corridors – is vital to the state’s economy as it facilitates movement of goods and connects people to jobs and opportunities. However, the system needs critical updates to continue to support the state.
At the same time, the transportation system is the largest source (41%) of Connecticut’s greenhouse gas emissions (“GHGs”), which must be reduced for the state to meet its climate commitments.
These two challenges of improving the transportation system and reducing GHGs can be addressed by applying a policy model that has been successfully used to clean up electricity generation and raise funds through emissions reductions.
The Cap and Invest Model
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (“RGGI”) established in 2009 put a price on carbon emissions from electricity generation and used the proceeds to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency. Since the program began:
- CO2 emissions in the region have dropped by 50%
- $4 billion of economic activity has been generated
- Tens of thousands of jobs have been created.1
Connecticut was a founding member of this regional cap-and-invest program, and as of 2017 had spent about $201 million of RGGI proceeds on clean energy projects. As of 2014, the latest figures available, RGGI expenditures added about $245 million to Connecticut’s economy, created 2,200 job-years, and helped avoid $13 million in health impacts.2
A similar regional cap-and-invest program could be applied to transportation to raise revenues, reduce emissions, and stimulate the economy. To better understand this opportunity, Acadia Center looked at a scenario that reduced Connecticut’s transportation GHGs 4%, or nearly 4 million metric tons of CO2, by 2030 compared to the baseline scenario from EnergyVision 2030.3 This level of emissions reductions is aligned with Georgetown Climate Center’s estimate for market-based policy compared to existing Federal policies.4
Revenue and Reinvestment Strategies
Based on a $15/ton carbon price,5 the state could generate about $2.5 billion in revenue between 2019-2030 by capping emissions. Connecticut could allocate these funds in many ways to improve transportation and reduce GHGs. For example:
- Maximizing transportation GHG reductions by designating 100% of the program proceeds to emissions reduction measures, such as transit expansion, consumer electric vehicle and charging infrastructure rebates, and electrification of medium and heavy-duty vehicles like transit or school buses.
- Designating funding for infrastructure maintenance and transit operations, which could also reduce GHGs (by reducing traffic congestion, for example) as an ancillary benefit.
To provide an example of the revenue that could be generated by a cap-and-invest program, Acadia Center examined a 50/50 portfolio, with half of the program proceeds going to maintenance of infrastructure and half going to specific GHG reduction measures (Table 1). This portfolio is only provided as a point of reference, not a recommendation, and it does not include the full suite of activities that could be funded with proceeds.
Table 1: Simplified Reinvestment Portfolio for Connecticut’s Proceeds from Transportation Climate Policy
Benefits from Reinvestment
By examining the benefits of similar transportation expenditures in Connecticut and the U.S., Acadia Center has estimated some of the economic activity and other monetary benefits a 50/50 portfolio could generate (Figure 1). The total benefits from both tracks of spending are estimated at:
- $10.3 billion in economic output.
- $4.3 billion in added personal income.
- $11.6 billion in other benefits including fewer hours spent in traffic (not including the value of reduced GHG emissions).
- Over 3,000 long-term jobs created (i.e. not temporary construction jobs).
- $86 million in savings from avoided GHG emissions7 avoided costs.
Figure 1: Increased Economic Activity and Other Benefits from Reinvesting Transportation Climate Policy Revenues8
For more information:
Emily Lewis, Policy Analyst
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2See: Acadia Center’s Clean Energy Investments at Stake in Connecticut
3See Acadia Center’s EnergyVision 2030 Technical Appendix for modeling details. The Baseline scenario includes existing EPA/DOT fuel efficiency standards for medium and heavy-duty vehicles, as well as the existing Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards through 2025.
4See: Georgetown Climate Center’s Technical Appendix Emission Reduction Strategy Analysis from “Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Transportation: Opportunities in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic”
5Georgetown Climate Center’s analysis estimates a carbon price for market-based transportation climate policy between $5-$30/ton CO2.
6See: Economic Analysis Reports for the 1-84 Viaduct, the I-84/Route 8 Mixmaster in Waterbury, and the New Haven Rail Line, available in the November 2015 Briefing for the Transportation Finance Panel, and NREL’s National Economic Value Assessment of Plug-In Electric Vehicles.
7See: EPA’s Social Cost of Carbon methodology
8Other benefits calculated as present value. Output and income are cumulative totals over the project lifespans.
How big can New England’s regional cap-and-trade program get?
Acadia Center, an environmental and renewable energy advocacy group, has been part of RGGI’s development since its inception. Its assessment, based in part on work by the Duke Nicholas Institute, found 2017 emissions were 51% below levels in 2008, at the beginning of RGGI auctions, Stutt told Utility Dive.
That includes an 18% year-on-year drop from 2016 to 2017, the biggest drop-off in emissions since the region’s use of coal leveled off, Stutt added. The newest cuts in emissions come from the accumulating potency of the energy efficiency and clean technology investments made with auction proceeds.
The RGGI states have also seen significant cumulative economic benefits, according to the Analysis Group’s review of RGGI’s 2015 to 2017 compliance period, released April 17.
Read the full article from Utility Dive here.
Offshore Wind Could Be A Boon To New London’s Port
Emily Lewis with the environmental advocacy group Acadia Center, said it’s good the state is trying to get power from offshore wind. But she and Bates both said Connecticut needs to act fast. That’s because Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey all have more aggressive offshore wind goals.
“If Connecticut comes in strong with a big commitment to offshore wind, they’re more likely to get those economic development benefits,” Lewis said. “Whereas, if they don’t, the other states will get it and then Connecticut will just be using those ports for their own construction.”
Read or listen to the full report from WSHU here.
RGGI States Leading the Way Toward Economic and Environmental Success
BOSTON — A new report from Acadia Center shows that the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states’ Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) continues to deliver for the economy, for the environment, and for public health. The program is driving down CO2 emissions, which have declined in each of the last 6 years and are down 40% since the program launched. The RGGI states have outperformed the rest of the country in emissions reductions and economic growth over this period, and the region has seen average electricity prices fall while prices have increased in the rest of the country. On top of all this, the program has driven substantial reductions in harmful co-pollutants, making the region’s air cleaner and its people healthier.
The report, Outpacing the Nation: RGGI’s Environmental and Economic Success, describes key trends and drivers, including the following:
- Emissions of CO2 fell 8.4% below the RGGI cap in 2016, and emissions have declined 40% since RGGI launched.
- Average electricity prices across the region have decreased by 6.4% since RGGI took effect, while electricity prices in other states have increased by 6.2%.
- RGGI states have reduced emissions 15% faster than other states and have seen 4.3% more economic growth since RGGI launched.
- Proposed RGGI reforms will result in 130 million fewer tons of CO2 and $1.28 billion in avoided health impacts through 2031.
“States in RGGI are demonstrating the power of bipartisan climate leadership,” said Daniel L. Sosland, Acadia Center President. “RGGI is a powerful example of an effective policy that drives economic, consumer, health and climate benefits while tackling a major challenge. Responsible leaders know we need to address climate change, and RGGI provides a readily available blueprint for success.”
“Launching RGGI took bold action from the region’s Governors, and thanks to that leadership the participating states have been reaping the rewards ever since,” said Peter Shattuck, Director of Acadia Center’s Clean Energy Initiative. “The current RGGI Governors have built on that success by strengthening the program for the future, ensuring that RGGI will continue to deliver benefits for years to come.”
“The RGGI states have shown that we don’t have to choose between ambitious climate policy and economic prosperity. In fact, RGGI’s track record has proven that ambitious climate policy can drive economic prosperity,” said Jordan Stutt, Policy Analyst at Acadia Center. “Now that the program for the electric sector has been strengthened and extended, we hope this proven model will be expanded to cover more states and applied to the region’s largest source of climate pollution: transportation.”
For more information, see: acadiacenter.staging.wpengine.com/document/outpacing-the-nation-rggi
Jordan Stutt, Policy Analyst
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Peter Shattuck, Director, Clean Energy Initiative
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Krysia Wazny, Communications Director
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Massachusetts takes on leadership role with new greenhouse gas-cutting regulations
This new state program would set more aggressive emissions-reducing targets than RGGI uses. Since RGGI was created in 2009 to cut utility-sector carbon emissions, the states in the regional compact have cut their carbon emissions from electric generation by 37 percent and reduced electricity prices by 3.4 percent. At the same time, the state’s economies have grown 3.6 percent faster than states outside the compact, according to a study by the clean energy nonprofit Acadia Center.
Read the full article from ThinkProgress here.
Why raiding Connecticut’s Energy Efficiency Fund is a bad idea
Op-ed by Bill Dornbos and Taren O’Connor in the CT Mirror.
As we try to address our state budget crisis, one option proposed by the Senate Republicans should be off the table: sweeping $136 million over the next two fiscal years from the utility ratepayer-funded Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund to the state’s General Fund.
The Energy Efficiency Fund generates immense economic value for Connecticut. It brings billions of dollars in electricity and natural gas bill savings to residents and businesses, drives our growing clean energy economy, helps families reduce the difficult burden of high energy costs, and supplies significant state tax revenue by fueling private sector growth. This Fund is a good deal for Connecticut’s consumers.
Fund raid proponents say their proposal is a simple movement of taxpayer funds from a state program to the General Fund, i.e., moving money from one state pocket to another. In reality, this proposal would impose a new energy tax on consumers.
Energy efficiency programs are funded primarily through a small charge on electric and natural gas bills, not by any state taxes. These funds are an investment by utility consumers in energy efficiency programs, a wise investment as these programs save consumers money on electric bills multiple times over the cost of the investment. Redirecting these funds to the General Fund would take money collected from ratepayers for energy efficiency programs and give it to the state — creating an energy tax on ratepayers at the expense of cost-saving, job-boosting programs.
And, if that wasn’t bad enough, the proposed cut is also severe – equal on an annual basis to about one-third of the Fund’s current budget for electric efficiency. A cut of this magnitude would undermine Connecticut’s nationally-acclaimed energy efficiency programs. Since 2010, these programs have generated about 27 billion kilowatt hours in lifetime energy savings—more than the annual generation of the Millstone nuclear power plant. These energy savings equal over $5.5 billion in savings on customers’ energy bills. This is help consumers need.
The Fund raid would rob consumers of energy efficiency’s tangible benefits. The lost bill savings alone would ultimately cost Connecticut’s residents and businesses at least $640 million in lifetime bill savings, and perhaps more, since the proposed sweep would require deep cuts to statewide program services like energy audits for households and businesses, technical assistance to commercial and industrial customers, insulation upgrades, strategic energy management for large energy consumers, and efficient heating and cooling equipment installations.
The impact would fall hardest on the neediest households, which often struggle to manage Connecticut’s high energy costs. Currently, income-eligible residents can qualify for free energy audits and other energy efficiency upgrades. About 12,000 low-income households received program help with weatherizing their homes and reducing their energy costs in 2016. A $136 million cut would put as many as 8,000 low-income households at risk of falling behind on their energy bills, while at the same time imposing a new regressive energy tax that would disproportionately burden this vulnerable population.
A raid of the Energy Efficiency Fund would also cripple Connecticut’s clean energy economy. A 2017 U.S. Department of Energy report found that Connecticut’s efficiency programs created nearly 34,000 jobs. We would see immediate job losses if proposed cuts were enacted. These job losses, combined with lost bill savings, would be felt statewide, as about $930 million in Gross State Product would be lost. That’s new economic growth Connecticut sorely needs.
The proposed raid would also worsen the problem it’s trying to solve, ironically enough. The proposed cuts, and associated job losses, would reduce revenue from state income and sales taxes by about $30 million dollars through FY 2019. And if energy efficiency activity collapses, which is possible due to the cut’s severity, the total tax revenue lost over the next two fiscal years could be significantly more. Turns out, raiding the Energy Efficiency Fund just creates another budget hole.
In the end, a $136 million cut to our energy efficiency programs to help fill an unrelated state deficit will set Connecticut’s clean energy economy back for years and transform a prudent investment with a strong return on investment for ratepayers into a harmful energy tax. We urge the General Assembly to reject this transparent budget gimmick. Connecticut’s consumers deserve better.
Taren O’Connor is an Associate Rate Specialist with the Connecticut Office of Consumer Counsel. Bill Dornbos is the Connecticut Director and Senior Attorney for Acadia Center. Together, they serve as Chair and Vice Chair of the state’s Energy Efficiency Board, but do not represent the Board in this piece.
$12.5 Million Raid to Energy Efficiency Fund Threatens to Hurt Rhode Island Consumers and Economy
Joint release with People’s Power & Light
Providence, RI – Since the House Finance Committee released its proposed state budget, energy and environmental organizations have expressed serious concerns about the dangerous precedent that the House will set if their budget is enacted. The proposed plan would raid $12.5 million from ratepayer funded, cost-effective energy efficiency programs. Groups emphasize that these are not state funds, they are rate-payer funds collected specifically to bring much-needed energy savings to all Rhode Islanders. Diverting the funds from the efficiency programs will cost Rhode Island ratepayers more money.
Nonprofit organizations Acadia Center and People’s Power & Light (PP&L) are urging state representatives to support an amendment deleting Budget Article I, Section 16, in the Fiscal Year 2018 budget now before the General Assembly. Over thirty organizations and individuals – representing business, community, consumer, low-income, public health, environmental, and clean energy interests – signed a letter to the General Assembly vigorously opposing the raid. This letter highlights that by diverting ratepayer funds, the proposed budget is in effect taxing consumers for the use of their energy instead of using those funds to secure consumer savings.
“Imposing a new energy tax would be extremely unfair to Rhode Island’s already burdened ratepayers, who have been promised tangible benefits in return for their efficiency funding,” said the letter.
The letter goes on, “Rhode Island’s energy efficiency programs generate immense economic value for the state. They bring millions of dollars in electricity and natural gas bill savings to all our residents and businesses, drive our growing clean energy economy, help low-income families reduce the difficult burden of high energy costs, and protect the health and prosperity of our local communities. Rhode Island’s Least Cost Procurement law – first implemented a decade ago and extended another five years in 2015 – is primarily responsible for the state’s continued leadership on economic efficiency. The General Assembly has unanimously recognized that the electric and natural gas distribution utility must invest in the lowest cost energy resource, energy efficiency, before more expensive energy supplies from outside Rhode Island. This is an economic strategy, not a social benefits program.”
“Given that saving energy costs less than buying it and it creates far more jobs than making energy from imported gas and oil, it seems weird to tax energy consumers. There must be better ways,” says Larry Chretien, Executive Director of People’s Power & Light.
Recently the Office of Energy Resources released a report showing the importance of efficiency to the state’s economy. The report shows that clean energy jobs have grown 66% since 2014. In addition, according to the Energy Efficiency & Resource Management Council’s 2016 annual report, “Every $1 million invested in this sector leads to the creation of 45 job-years of employment, and every $1 invested boosts Gross State Product by $4.20.”
“Rhode Island’s ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs have provided $2.3 billion in economic benefits to residents and businesses since 2008, a fourfold return on investment,” said Erika Niedowski, Policy Advocate at Acadia Center. “Rhode Island has worked hard over the last decade to become a national leader on energy efficiency, and diverting these funds would cost ratepayers money and represent a big step backwards for our economy.”
As the House members prepare to vote today, Acadia Center, People’s Power & Light, and numerous local organizations and constituents are urging state representatives to delete Budget Article I, Section 16 to do right by ratepayers and all Rhode Islanders.
Erika Niedowski, Acadia Center
Larry Chretien, People’s Power & Light