Massachusetts has expanded its electric vehicle incentives to include nonprofit and business fleet vehicles, a move intended to maximize the environmental impact of the program at a time when a slumping economy has slowed vehicle sales across the state — and progress toward the state’s carbon emissions goals.
“It’s a big step forward,” said Jordan Stutt, carbon programs director at the Acadia Center, a nonprofit focused on the clean energy economy. “There’s no pathway in which we hit our climate targets without rapid electrification of vehicle fleets.”
“We really need to be working to address equity directly in every facet of our clean transportation plan,” Stutt said.
Read the full article from Energy News Network here.
Acadia Center joins the millions of Americans outraged and saddened by the unending violence directed at people of color in this country. The brutal, callous murder of George Floyd – like so many others before him — must cause us all to meaningfully confront the endemic racism and inequalities that pervade our institutions and culture.
Acadia Center is committed to fully participate and act with many partner groups and stakeholders. Our mission to build a clean energy future rises from a recognition that no solution is valid unless it contributes in a meaningful way to improving the lives of everyone, particularly those shut out and unfairly treated in our housing, employment, fiscal policy, health care, environmental protection, legal system, law enforcement and other areas.
Meaningfully tackling the climate crisis requires confronting systemic racism in this country and around the world. Acadia Center advocates for an equitable, clean energy future. That includes fully recognizing that the infrastructure our society has built – from large scale power plants, to highway routes, truck depots, refineries — overwhelmingly impact people of color and low-income communities.
As a staff dedicated to change, reform and improvement, we offer with humbleness but determination our dedication to stand with all communities and organizations advocating for racial and environmental justice to effect change. The promise of any civil society will only be realized when all have equal ability to live their lives with full human dignity.
“It’s up to all of us — Black, white, everyone — no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out.” -Michelle Obama
As a group of Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states begins to design a system to curb regional transportation emissions, planners are expected to turn to the decade-old Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative as a model. Experts say the initiative can provide a good starting point, but that important questions must be answered to translate the concept to transportation.
“We can’t simply cut and paste [the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative] and apply it to the transportation sector,” said Jordan Stutt, carbon programs director at environmental nonprofit the Acadia Center. “There are a lot of considerations that need to be made which are specific to the way we move people and goods.”
Read the full article from Energy News Network here.
BOSTON – On January 29, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) approved the 2019-2021 Energy Efficiency Plan, which will deliver more benefits than ever to Massachusetts’ electricity and natural gas customers. The three-year plan outlines goals and strategies to save energy and reduce bills for Massachusetts homes and businesses through the MassSave programs. It promises to deliver $7.6 billion in benefits, and reduce carbon emissions by 2.6 million short tons, as much as removing 500,000 cars from the road. It sets savings goals of 2.7% of sales for electric savings and 1.25% of sales for natural gas savings—the highest natural gas savings goal ever set in Massachusetts. It also introduces an active demand management program featuring energy storage and allows strategic electrification for the first time.
As groundbreaking as this efficiency plan is, it could have been even better. In its approval of the Plans, the DPU rejected three key pieces created in settlement between stakeholders and the utilities through the energy efficiency advisory council process. These pieces represented the future of expanding equitable access to the programs, appropriately valuing the carbon reductions efficiency can create, and leveraging the efficiency programs to further consumer—rather than utility—control.
“Massachusetts has consistently led the nation in its returns on investment in energy efficiency, bringing unprecedented benefits to consumers and the climate, and this plan will continue that leading trajectory,” said Deborah Donovan, director of Acadia Center’s Massachusetts office. “Unfortunately, while stakeholders, government agencies, Massachusetts’ advocates, and the utilities all agreed to build on that success with innovative approaches, the DPU undermined their efforts.”
Massachusetts’ energy efficiency programs consistently lead national rankings released by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, hitting number one overall for eight years running. Massachusetts’ commitment to invest in as much low-cost energy efficiency as possible has allowed it to reduce business costs and create more jobs. By efficiently powering homes and businesses, Massachusetts has improved its economy, public health, and carbon footprint, all while keeping more energy dollars in the state.
“Massachusetts has been very successful in meeting—and exceeding—the targets it sets for itself, but to fully achieve its goals for the climate and bring benefits to all consumers, our efficiency programs have to keep improving,” said Amy Boyd, Acadia Center senior attorney and environmental representative on Massachusetts’ Energy Efficiency Advisory Council. “The DPU could have done much more to allow the efficiency programs to take on some of the biggest obstacles to deeper savings and equitable service and set an example for other states across the country. Instead, the DPU rejected a compromise between stakeholders and the utilities that would have incentivized utilities to ensure they were serving renters, established the full value of compliance with the Global Warming Solutions Act, and let consumers on Cape Cod combine solar, electrification, and energy storage to have more control over their energy use.”
Boyd continued, “The DPU did require utilities to report far more data on historically underserved populations. Through the Energy Efficiency Advisory Council process, Acadia Center will encourage the utilities to use this additional data to identify and better address the needs of underserved populations and increase transparency.”
“I think they will want to draw on successful precedent, including California, but they also need to work with the communities that they are trying to help in this region,” said Jordan Stutt, Carbon Programs director at the Acadia Center, an organization focused on clean energy development in the Northeast.
“Making sure that there is a spot at the table for those communities to weigh in on how this program should be structured and how those benefits can delivered will be hugely important,” Stutt said.
Read the full article from Inside Climate News here.
To reach these ambitious numbers, it is essential to implement measures to help consumers of all income levels go electric, activists said.
“We absolutely need to take new steps to improve access to electric vehicles to low-income residents,” said Mark LeBel, staff attorney at the Acadia Center, a Boston-based nonprofit that promotes the development of clean energy economies.
Offering larger rebates to lower-income buyers and expanding the program to include used vehicles could help achieve this goal, LeBel said. Financing options that offered low or no-interest loans could also be useful, he said.
Read the full article from Energy News Network here.
Further Action Will Be Required to Address New and Unresolved Issues
BOSTON – Yesterday evening, a conference committee of the Massachusetts House and Senate released a compromise clean energy bill, H.4857, which is expected to pass both chambers of the legislature today. The bill enacts several key policies for supporting clean energy in the Commonwealth and represents a significant accomplishment by the legislature, but it falls short in other areas that are equally necessary for swift progress toward clean energy goals.
“The compromise bill takes measured steps forward that will enhance Massachusetts’ ability to meet its climate commitments, but future progress will be necessary to ensure that programs are administered equitably and clean energy resources are prioritized,” said Deborah Donovan, Massachusetts Director for Acadia Center. “This bill continues to advance renewables, offshore wind, and energy storage, and these technologies are poised to revolutionize the Commonwealth’s and the region’s electricity system and eliminate the need for expensive bailouts for aging fossil plants or new fossil fuel infrastructure. However, details of the legislation also raise concerns.”
The bill includes an increase in renewable energy requirements from 25% to 35% by 2030, provides for a ramp up in energy storage, expands the scope of energy efficiency programs to promote strategic electrification and renewable energy technologies, removes unfair charges on new solar customers, allows solicitations of local clean energy resources to replace infrastructure investments, and could double the Commonwealth’s offshore wind procurements to 3,200 megawatts by 2035. However, the bill does not include significant measures previously passed by the Massachusetts Senate to advance solar equity or implement carbon pricing. In addition, the new clean peak standard could potentially incentivize burning trash to generate electricity, which damages public health.
Similarly, other provisions mark steps both forward and sideways. “Today’s bill helps address one major issue for the future of local solar generation in Massachusetts by eliminating the unfair and inefficient solar charges introduced by Eversource earlier this year, but it leaves several important questions unanswered for solar,” said Mark LeBel, staff attorney at Acadia Center. “It risks leaving out low-income residents and other groups requiring additional focus by failing to increase the net metering caps and implement a new requirement to distribute the benefits of solar incentive programs equitably. Acadia Center will closely monitor the types of projects built under the new solar incentive program and work to ensure that the program benefits all communities in the Commonwealth.”
“Acadia Center has long called for expanded use of clean technologies such as electric heat pumps in Massachusetts’ energy efficiency programs to give residents greater ability to move away from expensive oil, and with the Legislature’s action on this bill, it advances strategic electrification and renewable resources,” said Amy Boyd, senior attorney at Acadia Center and member of the Energy Efficiency Advisory Council. “Acadia Center is also very pleased to see the full legislature pass the House’s provision requiring the electric companies to identify reliability issues and solicit local, clean energy resources to fill those needs, rather than spending more and more on infrastructure.”
“Massachusetts’ continued progress in the electric sector provides a blueprint for success in the transportation sector, where we are falling behind,” said Jordan Stutt, carbon programs director at Acadia Center. “Our outdated transportation system now accounts for twice as much CO2 as any other sector, and we are in desperate need of new investments to modernize and decarbonize how we get around. A price signal to reduce transportation sector carbon emissions, as called for in a bill that the Senate passed, would set us on the right track to a cleaner, modern and more accessible network of transportation options.”