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Energy Forum Highlights Programs that Help Reduce Demand

…The program, known as DemandLink, was highlighted Friday at a forum on clean energy that was hosted by Acadia Center, a regional environmental group with expertise in energy issues, and the Rhode Island Foundation.
DemandLink is just the type of initiative that Acadia Center wants to see more of as part of a transformation of the New England power system that’s based on expanding energy efficiency, integrating more renewables and ultimately reducing the fossil fuel emissions that are driving climate change…

Envisioning the Energy Future for RI: Making the System Work for Consumers and the Environment

As consumers become more aware of the costs and impacts of energy use on health and the environment, we’re looking for ways to re-envision the energy system. With emerging technologies and approaches, a new system is possible.

Acadia Center invites you to a discussion, hosted by the Rhode Island Foundation, which will lay out a strategic plan to achieve a new system that meets our energy needs and supports a fair, healthy economy and environment.

Acadia Center staff will tell the story of how we can get there. The presentation will draw on the user-friendly visuals, recommendations and original research in our recent reports EnergyVision and UtilityVision, with background on trends from ClimateVision 2020. It will show an optimistic and achievable pathway for making deep greenhouse gas reductions and introduce specific recommendations for advancing a consumer- and environmentally-friendly clean energy future. The presentation portion will be engaging and brief, leaving plenty of time for questions and discussion. We hope you will join us.

WhenUVsnip

Friday, June 26 10 AM – 12 PM

Where 

Rhode Island Foundation
1 Union Station
Providence, RI 02903

We encourage you to use public transportation, but the Rhode Island Foundation is generously offering to validate parking.

RSVP

If you plan to come, please register on our Eventbrite page. The event is free and all are welcome to register.

Join us for Earth Day Webinar

What do you know about our energy system? Some don’t know much more beyond sending a check every month to keep their lights on. Others are working to engineer new technologies to generate energy or researching and advancing policies to promote a clean energy future.

There’s new info for all of these audiences at Acadia Center’s Earth Day Webinar, Utility Vision: Making the Energy System Work for Consumers and the Environment, which will discuss how the consumer can become an integral part of the energy system.

As it stands now the energy system is largely one-directional, with the power flowing to us from large fossil-fueled generators and our money flowing back. For decades that money has gone towards maintaining the infrastructure of those plants and the power lines that bring us that energy.

But, as consumers become more aware of how our energy use affects the environment, the supply of fossil fuels runs low, and worries about energy costs increase, consumers and leaders are increasingly looking to ways to re-envision the energy system. And now that cleaner technologies for demand-reducing efficiency and generating and distributing a renewable supply are becoming more accessible and affordable, a new energy system isn’t only necessary, it’s possible.

Acadia Center’s Utility Vision is a strategic plan to achieve a new system that meets our energy needs and supports a fair, healthy economy and environment. The webinar will outline the recommendations for policy changes that will create an energy system that will benefit and empower us all.

The webinar will take place at 1:00 pm on April 22nd , led by the director of Acadia Center’s Grid Modernization Initiative, Abigail Anthony. You can Register Here. Tuning in would be a great way to celebrate Earth Day!

Update

Thank you to everyone who attended the webinar! Abigail Anthony, Director of the Grid Modernization Initiative, took us through the development of Acadia Center’s vision for a clean energy future, from ClimateVision 2020 to EnergyVision to UtilityVision, which was published in February of this year. If you want to learn more about anything you heard or may have missed today there is more information on our website or you can email us, Happy Earth Day!

Envisioning Our Energy Future: Making It Work for Consumers and the Environment –A Strategy Retreat

On the heels of its release of UtilityVision, a framework for advancing a modern clean energy grid, Acadia Center took the next step to work through various challenges to implementation. On March 23 and 24, Acadia Center hosted Envisioning Our Energy Future: Making it Work for Consumers and the Environment—a strategy retreat at The Pocantico Center of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund* in Tarrytown, New York.  The objective was to move closer to resolving key questions regarding how the utility business model must change to achieve a clean energy future that is friendly to both consumer and the environment. The agenda was structured around two key questions:

1. What reforms are needed to maximize the utility transition to a clean, affordable distributed energy future?

2. Broad-based consumer support will be critical to achieving the reforms needed. What is needed to ensure that all consumers tangibly benefit from the future energy system?

The retreat brought together a small group of individuals who are leaders in thinking about the future of the electric power system. Attendees included representatives from utilities, clean energy businesses, academia and consulting, state energy officials, and consumer and sustainable energy voices from California, New England, and New York.
The discussions covered these three categories: a) the roles of planning and competitive markets to achieve a sustainable power grid; b) how to align utility financial incentives with public policy objectives; and c) ways to design revenue recovery to both empower consumers and provide utilities with the appropriate level of certainty. Some of the key questions discussed included the following:

The group at The Pocantico Center of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund* came much closer to agreement than expected on key questions concerning the utility business model, the role of markets and regulation, strategic grid planning, and utility rate design and compensation for distributed generation. The next steps discussed include drafting and refining a straw proposal for grid reforms, providing lessons learned from utility pilot experiments, and possibly reconvening in the future. Acadia Center will be developing a proposal for facilitating these next steps.

*Please Note: As is the case with all materials resulting from meetings held at The Pocantico Center, the views expressed in this report are not necessarily those of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, its trustees, or its staff.

Why We Need to Cap Fixed Charges in Connecticut: To Protect Consumers and Support Energy Efficiency & Local Clean Power

Vision

To advance a clean energy future, we need a modern power grid with full consumer control over energy generation, consumption, and costs. This modern power grid should enable consumers to make beneficial energy decisions. This can mean many things:  installing rooftop solar; participating in demand response; weatherizing and investing in high-efficiency appliances; comparing apartments based on energy cost data; or, choosing to make no changes at all. Yet, Connecticut utilities continue to increase already high fixed charges, which hurt consumers by increasing the amount that must be paid regardless of energy use and, in so doing, interfering with the objectives of a modern power grid.

Problem

A fixed charge is an automatic monthly fee that applies regardless of how much electricity the consumer actually uses. Consumers must pay it to obtain access to electricity.  High fixed charges discourage consumers from investing in energy efficiency and local clean power, such as residential solar. These charges also fall hardest on those consumers who use the least amount of electricity – typically, those on low incomes, seniors, efficient users, or households with solar PV arrays.
Historically, a reasonable fixed charge for residential customers has been in the $5 to $10 range. Yet, the residential fixed charges of Eversource Energy (in Connecticut) and United Illuminating are, respectively, the highest and the second highest in New England for any major electric utility. Eversource’s is now $19.25 per month, a twenty percent increase over the previous amount. UI’s is now $17.25 per month. Further, both utilities can be expected to seek additional increases in their next rate cases (2016 or 2017). In its most recent rate case, Eversource proposed a residential fixed charge of $25.50, while asserting that its analysis showed it was actually entitled to a $34.96 charge.

Solution

Connecticut’s General Assembly can solve the problem of ever-increasing and excessive fixed charges by placing a reasonable cap on fixed charge amounts for residential and small business customers. California successfully capped residential fixed charges at $10 in 2013. By lowering and capping fixed charges right now, we can give all consumers, including the most vulnerable, a real chance to benefit economically from the rapid advances in technology that are already modernizing the power grid. Connecticut needs a permanent solution to both protect consumers and to steer regulators towards electricity rate designs better aligned with key public policy goals.

Highlights: Envisioning Our Energy Future Forum

Acadia Center held a forum on Envisioning Our Energy Future in Boston on February 24th. The event was 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.

A highlight of the day was the keynote presentation by Klaus Vesløv, developer of a smart grid pilot program on the Danish island of Bornholm, the first pilot in the EU to focus on how customer behavior impacts grid modernization efforts. The ECOGRID pilot is one of the foundations for fulfilling the Bornholm strategy of being 100% fossil free by 2025, and becoming a Bright Green Island. With Denmark as a whole setting the goal to be fossil free by 2050, reforms are underway to use wind turbines as the foundation of the grid and electrify heating and transportation.  Mr. Vesløv shared inspiring ideas and lessons from his work on this project.

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Klaus Vesløv, Keynote Speaker, Envisioning Our Energy Future Forum

The three panels of the day featured presentations from stakeholders with a wide range of expertise in the energy fields, and discussions of:

 

Full agenda and presentations available here.

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Acadia Center’s Abigail Anthony and “Utility of the Future” panelists

The event was also a public debut for Acadia Center’s UtilityVision, which provides comprehensive recommendations for decision-makers to advance a modern, consumer-friendly and environmentally-friendly electric grid. These recommendations contributed to the conversation at the event.

Acadia Center is grateful to the panelists and attendees who made this day a success and looks forward to more events in the future.

EOEF 022415

Attendees engaged in Q&A with panelists at the forum

Relationship between utilities, government needs to change, experts say

As Connecticut lawmakers begin to consider a slew of energy-related bills, they spent time Monday listening to advice from New York State’s “energy czar” and other experts about how the relationship between the utility industry and government needs to be overhauled…

…Amid discussion of increased utility infrastructure spending and use of technology, Abigail Anthony, director of the grid modernization initiative for the Acadia Center as well as the regional environmental group’s Rhode Island director, urged lawmakers not to lose sight of the consumer in the process.

“Our grid is not advanced if it does not protect consumers.” Anthony said. “It should be about creating healthier and better communities.”

Announcing UtilityVision: Empowering Consumers for a Clean Energy Future

UtilityVision is here! This publication frames an ambitious but realistic energy future that puts the consumer firmly in the center to allow them greater freedom and control over energy costs. UtilityVision presents a comprehensive regulatory framework for a modern energy system that revolves around the consumer and propels us toward our climate and economic goals.

AcadiaCenter_YourEnergyFuture

Copyright Acadia Center, 2015 (click to enlarge)

There are five key areas for reform:

 

UtilityVision addresses one core part of Acadia Center’s vision a clean energy system that will drive down carbon emissions.  It outlines a pathway and detailed policy recommendations for stakeholders and regulators to modernize the way we plan, manage and invest in the power grid. This approach addresses utility business models, rate-making and customer-side energy resources together. UtilityVision follows on Acadia Center’s EnergyVision (2014) which charts out reforms in four interconnected areas to produce a cleaner, lower cost energy system and reach 80 percent carbon emission reductions by 2050.

Press release announcing UtilityVision  here.

UtilityVision: Empowering Consumers to for a Clean Energy Future

Today, Acadia Center, a leading non-profit organization that researches and advocates innovative approaches to advance the clean energy future, released, “UtilityVision: Reforming the Energy System to Work for Consumers and the Environment.” The publication presents an ambitious but realistic energy future that puts the consumer firmly in the center. UtilityVision outlines the specific steps needed to create a new energy system that both meets our needs and supports a fair, healthy economy and environment.

“The interests of consumers and a sustainable energy system are merged now more than ever before,” said Daniel Sosland, Acadia Center President. “UtilityVision offers a comprehensive pathway to a smart and dynamic electric system focused on giving consumers and communities greater freedom and control over their energy costs. This new system would be managed with the cooperation of utilities, governed by updated regulations that honor energy technology change, and provide a fair and safe system to protect consumers.”

The need for a comprehensive, new look at the energy system is urgent. “Decisions are being made today in state proceedings that will influence whether we steer towards a cleaner, more efficient and consumer friendly system,” Sosland said. “UtilityVision shows how we can embrace that future.”

UtilityVision is a comprehensive regulatory framework which shows how the parts of a modern energy system can be aligned to put the consumer at the system’s center.  This integrated vision enables us to attain our climate, economic, and consumer goals. UtilityVision is organized around five key areas for reform:

“Acadia Center’s UtilityVision demonstrates that consumer interests today include a broad span of energy-related issues, from the bedrock consumer concern of affordability to newer considerations like improved energy control, more sustainable energy, clear and accessible energy information, and the opportunity to generate their own local energy and sell it back to the grid,” said Abigail Anthony, Director of Acadia Center’s Grid Modernization and Utility Reform Initiative.

“UtilityVision provides an opportunity for regulators and key stakeholders to view consumer interests in this broader context far beyond the outdated lens of the centralized, one-way power grid of the past,” Anthony said.

Background: UtilityVision addresses one core part of a vision for how to move to a clean energy system and drive down carbon emissions.  It outlines a pathway for stakeholders and regulators to modernize the way we plan, manage and invest in the power grid and ties utility business models, rate-making and customer-side energy resources all together. The illustrated publication outlines the full range of relevant issues and includes detailed policy recommendations. It will serve as a starting point for conversations with policy makers, constituent groups, media and other public forums.

UtilityVision builds on Acadia Center’s EnergyVision (https://acadiacenter.org/document/energyvision/) —released in 2014—which charts out reforms in four interconnected areas to produce a cleaner, lower cost energy system and reach the necessary 80 percent carbon emission reductions by 2050.

UtilityVision is available online: https://acadiacenter.org/document/utilityvision

 

Contacts

Abigail Anthony, Director, Grid Modernization and Utility Reform Initiative, 401-276-0600, aanthony@acadiacenter.org
Emily Avery-Miller, Director External Relations, Acadia Center, 617-742-0054 x100, eavery-miller@acadiacenter.org

Looking Forward -Goals for 2015 and Beyond

Planning ahead in the new year, Acadia Center continues our quest for new solutions to propel us toward a clean energy future, one that can drastically reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change. Looking Forward presents our long-term vision and the current initiatives underway to make that vision a reality.

It all starts with EnergyVision : the framework for a clean energy, low-carbon future focused on using advances in clean electricity – phasing out fossil fuels –to heat buildings and power cars. This clean energy future empowers consumers, lowers greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and increases economic productivity. EnergyVision demonstrates that reforms achieved simultaneously in four key sectors will help states reach 80% GHG emissions reductions by 2050 – a crucial target for addressing climate change.

To get there, Acadia Center researches, analyzes data and advocates—together with partners and stakeholders—in order to craft and implement needed policy reforms in four areas: electrification of vehicles and buildings; clean renewable energy; power grid modernization; and energy efficiency. We’re forging ahead and working on the ground to reach these specific goals:

 

The transition to new, broadly electrified energy system that is low-carbon, efficient, and consumer-friendly is already moving forward. That future will be achieved more quickly as we adopt forward-looking policies, uproot outdated technologies and apply new ways of thinking about energy options throughout the year.