Transportation & Climate Initiative would be a win for Vermont

TCI is a cap-and-invest program similar to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) that Vermont participates in to reduce carbon pollution from electricity generation. In 2005, Republican Gov. Jim Douglas signed on together with six other Northeast states. Vermont is still a part of it today, and it has been successful in multiple ways. Analysis from Acadia Center shows that since 2008:

  • GDP of the RGGI states has grown by 47%, outpacing growth in the rest of the country by 31%;
  • Electricity prices in RGGI states have fallen by 5.7%, while prices have increased in the rest of the country by 8.6%;
  • RGGI states have generated $3.4 billion in allowance auction proceeds, the majority of which have been invested in energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, including incentives for advanced wood heat and solar panels;
  • CO2 emissions from RGGI power plants have fallen by 47%, outpacing the rest of the country by 90%.

Read the full article from VTDigger here.

Solar and wind power are pushing down electricity prices in New England, but carbon fuels still dominate

The capacity market is separate from the larger energy market in which generators and others compete daily to provide power. To Deborah Donovan, senior policy advocate at the Acadia Center, a clean energy advocacy group, the prices in the most recent auction are a “leading indicator” of trends to come.

Read the full article from the Hartford Courant here.

Public Comments Show “Overwhelming Support” for Program to Cut Pollution and Modernize Transportation in Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States

Speaking on behalf of OTF, Jordan Stutt, carbon program director, Acadia Center said: “For elected officials who have been waiting on the close of the comment period to gauge public sentiment, the outcome could not be clearer:  Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Americans want to fix our dirty and broken transportation system.  No amount of oil industry-funded propaganda will change the fact that there is overwhelming public support for the important goals of the Transportation & Climate Initiative. It’s a big hit.”

Read the full press release from Our Transportation Future here.

Northeast States Claim Top Spots in the 2019 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard

BOSTON – Northeast states performed well in the 2019 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, with Massachusetts taking the top spot for the 9th consecutive yearaccording to rankings released by the nonpartisan American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). Rhode Island and Vermont tied for #3. New York and Connecticut ranked #5 and #6, respectively. 

Maine was ranked #15, and New Hampshire improved a spot to #20. 

The region’s strong showing is largely due to state policies requiring programs to pursue all energy efficiency that is cost-effective, rather than defining a proscribed level of funding. In addition, several states across the region have begun to implement policies that address new opportunities and challenges in energy efficiency, such as using additional efficiency investments to lower costs associated with peak times of demand for energy and a fuel-neutral approach that gives consumers access to incentives and savingsno matter whether they use electricity, heating oil, or gas in their homes. 

“Energy efficiency is a cornerstone of the clean energy economy in the Northeast and beyond. Efficiency has reduced the cost of doing businesslowered consumer energy billslimited the need to build costly new energy infrastructure, and provided healthier, more comfortable spaces to live and work,” said Daniel Sosland, Acadia Center president. “But there’s much more efficiency to be captured in the region, including for traditionally underserved sectors like low-income customers. States need to continue to support strong efficiency policies – and the next generation of energy efficiency – so the Northeast can capture these substantial benefits for consumers and the environment.” 

Energy efficiency is the most cost-effective way to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the energy sector. Over the last decade, strong efficiency policies and programs have helped the Northeast lower carbon pollution while providing a range of economic and public health benefits.  

The ACEEE rankings, released annually, are based on scoring in categories including state government initiatives, building efficiency policies, utility and public benefits programs, transportation policies, and appliance standards. ACEEE awarded Massachusetts a perfect score in the utility program category, particularly praising the programs’ contribution as the largest contributor to achieving the state greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals. 

“Over the last nine years, Massachusetts’ strong customer-funded efficiency programs have grown the economy while saving ratepayers money and cutting emissions – and they’ll continue to do so. But Massachusetts could do more to take full advantage of other policies to ensure that our buildings, homes, and transportation are as efficient as possible,” said Amy Boyd, senior attorney at Acadia Center and a member of the Massachusetts Energy Efficiency Advisory Council. “One of the most effective ways to achieve efficiency savings – and more greenhouse gas reductions – is through improved appliance standards. Particularly with the Trump Administration’s freeze on updating the federal standards, it is even more important to push for higher efficiency in the standards that states control.” 

Rhode Island maintained the #3 spot for the third year. With strong state policy that prioritizes investments in energy efficiency over traditional energy supply, Rhode Island last year achieved electric savings of 2.75%, relative to total electricity salesone of the highest levels in the country. Efficiency programs have saved Rhode Islanders $1.32 billion in energy costs since 2008. Like Massachusetts, Rhode Island earned no points in the appliance standards category, as appliance standards legislation has repeatedly stalled at the statehouse. 

Vermont, meanwhile, moved up one spot, to tie Rhode Island at third, rounding out the top tier of states aggressively pursuing all cost-effective energy efficiency.  

Much More to be Done Across the Region 

As in recent years, there was a sizable gap between the top efficiency performers and the second tier of states, underscoring that other states in the region must do much more to reduce energy use and minimize consumers costs. 

New York moved into the #5 spot, scoring relatively well on transportation and building efficiency policy and in state government initiatives. But the state has significant room for improvement in maximizing and procuring new cost-effective energy efficiency through utility and public programs. New York in 2018 set a new energy reduction target of 185 trillion BTUs by 2025, but critically important utility energy savings targets and other details of implementation are still being worked outLike Massachusetts, New York is using a fuel-neutral approach designed to better align efficiency program goals with state policy goals such as decarbonization.   

Connecticut, which slipped one spot to #6, continued to suffer the effects of a massive fund raid in 2017 that seriously weakened energy efficiency programs and the efficiency workforce. 

“Connecticut’s well-established energy efficiency programs are capable of delivering significant energy and utility bill savings to customers,” said Amy McLean Salls, Connecticut Director at Acadia Center and a member of the state’s Energy Efficiency Board.“Connecticut’s path forward must include robust energy efficiency investments that make homes and businesses more efficient, support the transition from dirty heating fuels to high-efficiency electric heat pumps, and expand peak demand management. Next-generation efficiency policy should include larger heat pump incentives and strong customer and vendor education programs to help overcome barriers to heat pump deployment.” 

Maine’s #15 ranking reflects in part that it can do more to expand energy efficiency access and savings for Maine homes and businesses, including setting more aggressive energy savings targets and capturing additional cost-effective efficiencyMaine has led the nation in deployment of clean, efficient electric heat pumps and has a new goal of installing 100,000 heat pumps by 2025. Maine could also improve its programs – and rank  by adopting the most recent building energy code and passing appliance standards. 

New Hampshire implemented the first year of its Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) in 2018, putting it on a path to reduce energy waste. But at #20, the state still ranked relatively low this year due to several factors, including a lack of commitment to transportation efficiency and appliance standardsNew Hampshire has seen a modest increase in efficiency gains from utility programs but spending on energy efficiency has only begun to ramp up. The legislature failed to overturn a requirement that it approve any increase in the efficiency charge, creating an additional hurdle to achieve all cost-effective efficiency.   

 

The Scorecard is available at: https://aceee.org/state-policy/scorecard. 

 


Media Contacts: 

 Erika Niedowski, RI Director and Energy Efficiency Lead
eniedowski@acadiacenter.org, 401.276.0600 ext. 401 

 Krysia Wazny McClain, Communications Director
kwazny@acadiacenter.org, 617.742.0054 ext. 107 

The Northeast is poised to regain momentum on clean energy

A bloc of states from Maine to New Jersey are stitched together by shared power sources and an interdependent set of economies, highways, and waterways. They moved in unison in the earliest throes of clean energy policy. But in recent years, politics has peeled off some while others have surged ahead.

Now some of the smallest and most unlikely players are helping to get everyone moving together again.

Read the full article from Yale Climate Connections here.

Cap-and-Trade for Cars Is Coming to the Northeast

“This is a great step forward for a region that desperately needs a more modern transportation system,” said Jordan Stutt, the director of carbon programs at the Acadia Center, a Boston-based environmental group. “I think this is a reflection of the kind of process we want to see more of when it comes to climate and economic policy.”

Others pointed to the additional benefits associated with cutting carbon emissions from cars and trucks, including cuts to other pollutants that are harmful to public health.

Read the full article from Scientific American here.

In landmark agreement, Mass., eight other states vow to cut transportation emissions

One group that has long called for a regional agreement on transportation emissions estimated it could raise more than $5.5 billion over a decade and generate more than 50,000 jobs in Massachusetts.

“A cap-and-invest program could unleash billions of dollars to deliver the overdue improvements this region needs,” said Jordan Stutt, carbon programs director for the Acadia Center, an environmental advocacy group in Boston.

Read the full article from the Boston Globe here.

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.

Viewpoint: Need for Mass. clean transportation policy

When the world convened recently in Bonn, Germany, for the annual United Nations climate-change negotiations, there was a particular focus on the role of U.S. states, cities and businesses in reducing carbon pollution. Massachusetts, along with six other states and the District of Columbia, announced a regional pledge to work together with stakeholders to “create the clean transportation system that the region needs to meet today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.”

Cleaning up and modernizing the transportation system will be a major undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be a painful one. Massachusetts has demonstrated the ability to address similar challenges through innovative policies and regional collaboration that reduce emissions while improving the economy. The commonwealth played a key role in launching the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the nation’s first multi-state program to reduce carbon pollution from power plants.

While RGGI has helped Massachusetts make great strides in reducing electric sector pollution, the transportation sector still emits around the same amount of carbon as it did in 1990. Every year, pollution from the transportation sector causes asthma attacks and leads to preventable deaths, taking a massive financial and human toll on Bay State residents. Making matters worse, low-income communities and communities of color face a disproportionate share of the impacts from this pollution.

We can’t transform our transportation system overnight, but we can do more to invest and plan for a better future. From electric vehicle infrastructure to smart growth and improved public transit, we have an array of options to reduce pollution and increase transportation access while benefiting the economy. A RGGI-like program could go a long way to accelerate the adoption of these transportation solutions.

The RGGI cap-and-invest model has helped cut emissions from power plants in the region by 40 percent since 2008, while driving $2.8 billion in regional economic growth and creating nearly 30,000 jobs. Acadia Center analysis shows that RGGI has helped the region outpace the rest of the country in both emissions reductions and economic growth. In Massachusetts alone, these RGGI-driven emissions reductions have resulted in $798 million in avoided health costs.

Recent analysis conducted for the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) shows that regional carbon policy — like a cap-and-invest program — would add billions of dollars to the regional economy, reduce harmful pollution and generate revenue for reinvestment in transportation improvements, accelerating the transition to a cleaner, more efficient, more accessible system. A recent report from Ceres and M.J. Bradley and Associates found that the benefits of investments in electric vehicle infrastructure outweigh the costs by a margin of three to one.

Expanding clean transportation options should be a top priority for our economy. Businesses want 21st century cities with transportation systems to match, and they’ve proven to invest resources and create jobs in areas that have them. To keep Massachusetts’ economy thriving, we must embrace clean transportation. Market-based solutions like the RGGI model offer a promising path forward, and we urge Governor Baker and his peers across the region to act swiftly in establishing such a program.

Mindy Lubber is president and CEO of Ceres, a sustainability nonprofit organization. Daniel L. Sosland is president and executive director of Acadia Center, a nonprofit, research and advocacy organization.

The Climate Post: Harvey Shines Light on Issue of Climate Change

Program advocates point to several studies suggesting the program’s success, reported the Boston Globe. One by the Acadia Center in 2016 found that RGGI states reduced emissions by 16 percent more than other states, while growing the region’s economy 3.6 percent more than the rest of the country. At the same time, energy prices in RGGI states fell by an average of 3.4 percent, while electricity rates in other states rose by 7.2 percent.