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New England business groups make case to suspend energy efficiency surcharges

Clean energy advocates are pushing back against the proposal. Hank Webster, Rhode Island director at Acadia Center, said halting the programs would cause further harm to a sector that is already struggling as a result of a drop-off in home and business energy audits and efficiency improvements.

Efficiency programs help drive down energy bills for all customers, regardless of whether they participate, by reducing demand and avoiding the costs of procuring additional supply, he said.

Webster said he suspects the business groups are appealing to lawmakers, rather than the state entities that oversee the programs and set the rates, because “even in the midst of the pandemic, each of those bodies has been resolute in its support for the energy efficiency programs generally and would likely have rejected such a proposal on its face.”

He cited as an example a 6-1 vote by the Energy Efficiency and Resource Management Council in March in favor of more ambitious three-year targets for statewide energy savings. (Roberts cast the sole dissenting vote.) Those targets were subsequently approved by the state Public Utilities Commission.

Read the full article from Energy News Network here.

Rhode Island charts a course for a cleaner grid

The agencies spent eight months engaging with more than 200 people and 65 organizations in the process, including local residents, national experts, clean energy companies, nonprofits, and Rhode Island’s utility, National Grid. The aim was a blueprint outlining how the state can achieve a cleaner, more affordable, and more reliable energy system—one that adapts and evolves as consumer demand and technology does.

[…]

The decision received overwhelming support from stakeholders, including customer advocates and environmental advocacy organizations.

“It’s a big first step,” said Mark LeBel, a staff attorney with the clean energy nonprofit Acadia Center, which was a stakeholder in the project. “We can’t do it all at once, and I think Rhode Island has taken a big first step here.”

Read the full article from Energy News Network here.

Massachusetts bill would compel utilities to consider non-wires alternatives

Peter Shattuck, Massachusetts director for the Acadia Center and the Alliance for Clean Energy Solutions, which is supporting the bill, told Microgrid Knowledge that declining cost of solar and efficiency, and the state’s growing interesting battery storage, are fueling an interest in modernization.

“We’re glad to see utilities entering the energy storage market. Eversource, in their rate case, has a significant $100 million of storage proposed across four projects. But there is a clearly a big market for behind-the-meter storage as well,” Shattuck said.

Read the full article from Utility Dive here.

The last large coal plant in New England has shut down

The coal plant was the state’s number one emitter of toxins into the environment, and hot water discharged into the bay was killing fish. A decade ago, plant owner Dominion Energy spent a $1 billion to clean up its act and comply with court rulings, but it was too little too late.

Peter Shattuck, director of the Acadia Center’s Clean Energy Initiative, says Dominion didn’t realize there was a revolution going on in energy production — away from coal to natural gas, renewable resources and efficiency.

Read the full article from Daily Kos here.

Cap and trade today for a better tomorrow

According to Acadia Center, from 2008 to 2015 Co2 emissions dropped 30 percent in RGGI states compared to 14 percent in the rest of the country, excluding California, which has its own cap and trade program. During the same period, economic growth totaled 24.9 percent in RGGI states, compared to 21.3 percent in other states. According to a 2015 study, Co2 emissions would be 24 percent higher in RGGI states without the program. In addition, the auction proceeds have generated over $2.58 billion used to support investments in energy efficiency, renewables, greenhouse gas abatement and direct bill assistance. These reinvestments have contributed to lower utility bills and job creation.

Read the full blog post from The Hill here.