The Connecticut Climate Change Roadmap was the first of its kind—mapping and measuring the impact of policies across multiple sectors, with the goal of significantly cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
Acadia Center pioneered an energy efficiency stakeholder council model in Connecticut that is now in place in several states and recognized nationally as a model, with those states reaching the highest levels of cost-effective efficiency investment in the U.S. The stakeholder council represents an innovative approach that brings all interested parties to the table and institutionalizes a commitment to cleaner, more affordable energy resources.
Priorities in Connecticut include increasing investments in energy efficiency and other local clean resources, improving low-carbon transportation options, and meeting greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. Recent Acadia Center achievements include a near doubling of energy efficiency investment, improved electricity rate design to better support efficiency and distributed solar PV, higher energy savings targets in the current three-year efficiency plan, and new policy reforms to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles.
Connecticut’s last five years of efficiency investments will save its residents and businesses over $3.8 billion on their energy bills.
Acadia Center remains a leading voice in CT for more progress on efficiency through its position as an appointed member of the state’s Energy Efficiency Board and through its active participation in all major regulatory dockets, such as recent rate cases for the state’s utilities, Eversource and United Illuminating.
Acadia Center also continues to lead through its analytical work in CT. New research resources like the first value-of-solar study in CT and a recent update on CT’s greenhouse gas emissions trends and drivers received strong interest from policymakers and the media.
In 2014, New Hampshire undertook a comprehensive assessment of its energy policy, beginning with the NH State Energy Strategy, and Acadia Center focused its extensive expertise in energy and climate policy and economics on that effort. Through official public comment and collaboration with local advocates and stakeholders, Acadia Center offered analysis and best practices recommendations on energy efficiency procurement, renewable energy development, and energy system planning—based on years of policy experience in neighboring states and adapted to the specific needs of New Hampshire.
In the two years since the strategy was finalized, Acadia Center successfully worked with utilities and other stakeholders to design the recently approved Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS), bringing New Hampshire in line with other leading states in the region. For the first time, New Hampshire will have mandated savings targets. Acadia Center continues to focus on implementation details so that the EERS will most effectively ramp up efficiency savings and boost the local economy.
Acadia Center’s priorities also include contributing analysis and recommendations on modernizing the way the state plans and manages the power grid so that residents and businesses benefit from a more diverse, reliable, resilient, and lower carbon energy system. Acadia Center staff was appointed to the working group to develop recommendations to the Public Utilities Commission on what New Hampshire grid modernization priorities should be. Increased deployment of smart meters and improved integration of distributed generation will enable more consumer control over the energy system.
Acadia Center’s work in NH also focuses on designing optimal structures to compensate customers and businesses that generate solar and other forms of clean energy on site—a key to driving further greenhouse gas emissions reductions and creating a consumer-centered system. In particular, Acadia Center is focused on ensured reforms to net metering for residents with solar PV and other distributed generation to receive credits for the full range of environmental and economic benefits they provide to the grid.
Acadia Center has a long tradition of providing targeted climate and energy information and policy recommendations in New Hampshire, including an assessment of the state’s progress towards meeting climate goals; a macroeconomic study of the benefits to the state’s economy and consumers of investing in energy efficiency; and design approaches in RGGI to benefit state businesses.
The New England states and Eastern Canadian provinces resolved to reduce emissions 80% by 2050. Many policies that govern the use and distribution of energy, like clean fuels standards or appliance efficiency standards, work best when rules are coordinated across state or provincial lines. With initiatives like the Multi-State Zero Emissions Vehicles Action Plan, states can work together to surmount market and other policy barriers.
Important decisions regarding planning and procurement of energy are often made at the regional level. ISO New England determines policies for assessing and meeting energy needs in the northeast states. Acadia Center is working in regional forums to change the way energy planning happens to take into account demand reductions through efficiency and clean, local alternatives to fossil fuels.
Acadia Center’s work in Maine has had local, regional and national impact. With state partners, Acadia Center led original research on the biological potential for carbon sequestration and the potential for markets to support silvicultural practices to reduce GHG levels, increase yields and quality of timber and provide enhanced and diversified revenue streams to landowners while improving forest health. This study was central to developing offsets policies for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and other proposed carbon market policies. Acadia Center’s testimony in hearings around the proposed Plum Creek Development quantified the carbon impacts of land development approaches.
Acadia Center has successfully advocated for key improvements in Maine’s energy system and climate action policies. The Omnibus Energy Bill of 2013 advanced and affirmed the state’s commitment to cleaner, more affordable energy through multiple channels. The bill clarified that Maine law requires the funding of all cost-effective energy efficiency and streamlined the process for setting investment levels. An important, forward-looking, consumer-friendly policy requires consideration of clean, affordable transmission options instead of automatically paying for traditional poles and wires. Maine also adopted RGGI reforms that will drive further emissions reductions and dedicate allowance money to clean and efficiency energy programs.
New York is undertaking one of the most comprehensive reforms of an energy system now underway in the country, recognizing that by modernizing financial regulations and supporting new energy technologies a new direction in energy systems can provide consumer and economic benefits on the path to a low carbon system. Acadia Center is working to advance reforms and apply best practices in five areas:
Increase energy efficiency resources to optimize the energy system, lower costs, and provide consumer savings
Expand investments in solar and renewable resources by properly valuing clean energy
Apply consumer and economic regulatory reforms so that the rates consumers pay are fair and provide a level playing field for clean energy
Fill information gaps in energy planning and conducting outreach and community network building with partner groups through our Community|EnergyVision framework and power grid modelling
Promote coordination of the NY grid with clean energy resources and neighboring power grids and with grids in New England and Canada
Acadia Center is undertaking an ambitious mapping exercise that will show how viable, affordable clean energy resources could look in 2030 in a vastly improved, community oriented energy system in New York.
The shift to a decentralized, community oriented energy system that integrates significant market penetration of small scale, local energy resources like roof top solar, combined with a shift in large generation to wind and hydropower, is necessary if New York and other states are going to succeed in building a more consumer friendly system that dramatically reduces carbon emissions. While the policy approach is being discussed and hammered out to achieve that future, many remain unsure about how such a vastly changed system would look, cost, and operate to maintain reliable power. The “vision” gap between familiarity with the current system and how an effectively reformed modern system with new technologies would look is large. Acadia Center is undertaking an analytic mapping exercise to help fill that “vision” gap and provide a clear, credible picture of how the system could look in 2030. EnergyVision 2030 will quantify the addition of locally based technologies — solar, targeted energy efficiency, high efficient heat pumps, and electric vehicles — on a grid that is transitioned to rely on increased deployment of wind and hydropower, away from fossil fuels. EnergyVision 2030 will incorporate electrification of vehicles and building heating — two key sectors where reductions in carbon emissions depend upon shifting from fossil fuels to low- and no-carbon electricity.
Acadia Center’s work on energy efficiency policy model won the ACEEE Champion of Energy Efficiency Award and one of the state stakeholder councils created based on that model recently won the Champion award as well. Acadia Center created a federally-funded best practices and implementation guide for energy efficiency policy for four other states and continues to partner with groups across the country to replicate this model.
Part of Acadia Center’s strategy is also working with national policies and networks to leverage advances at the state and regional levels. For example, Massachusetts and other states accelerated their timelines for cutting diesel pollution from buses, moving them ahead of the deadlines required by EPA rules. Alternative fuels policies in California have been examined as potential precedents and models for similar transportation initiatives in the Northeast.
Another milestone of national work for this organization is the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the nation’s first mandatory GHG cap and trade program. The EPA recognized RGGI as a potential model for compliance with new greenhouse gas emissions regulations, and Acadia Center is now coordinating with stakeholders across the country based on our experience with establishing RGGI in the Northeast.
Acadia Center is implementing an EnergyVision that is relevant nationwide. This framework shows four pathways to reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050.
Massachusetts has long been a leader on clean energy and climate policy. From establishing the first state-level caps on power plant pollution, to participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) reducing carbon pollution in nine northeast and mid-Atlantic states, the Commonwealth has developed innovative approaches to promoting clean energy. With over $20 billion dollars spent on fossil fuel imports each year, producing clean energy locally and reducing energy waste make sense.
On energy efficiency, Massachusetts’ first in the nation savings levels are the result of a mandate to purchase all cost-effective efficiency and the Energy Efficiency Advisory Council stakeholder structure that supports these investments. Both are policy innovations that Acadia Center helped establish in the state through the Green Communities Act. Moving that policy from concept to law involved bringing together a non-traditional and highly effective alliance that Acadia Center helped facilitate, which included green justice groups, business and industry, consumer representatives, and others.
Acadia Center is continuing work to keep Massachusetts at the leading edge of climate and energy policy. The Commonwealth’s Global Warming Solutions Act requires 25% reductions in climate pollution by 2020, measured against a 1990 baseline, and an 80% reduction by 2050. In order to achieve these targets Acadia Center advocates for market-based measures to price carbon pollution, through RGGI and by extending carbon fees across the rest of the economy.
Complementary policies help advance grid-scale renewables such as wind and distributed resources like rooftop solar. Due to falling costs, onshore wind is now competitive with traditional fossil fuel power plants, but developing wind resources and transmitting clean electricity to customers requires policy support new approaches like pairing wind with hydroelectricity or energy storage to provide round-the-clock supply. Distributed solar provides not only clean energy, but can avoid the need for power from traditional power plants and expensive, rarely-used utility infrastructure overbuilt to meet peak energy demands.
Updating utility regulations and modernizing the power grid will help facilitate the adoption of renewable energy and capitalize on growth areas like energy storage and smart energy management, while keeping Massachusetts at the forefront of the transition to a clean energy economy.
Rhode Island’s mandate to purchase all cost-effective efficiency and to create the Energy Efficiency Resources Management Council (EERMC) was established through comprehensive energy legislation that Acadia Center helped to design and advance. As an appointed member of the EERMC, Acadia Center worked with other stakeholders to advance top-notch efficiency investments and programs over the last several years, with the 2016 efficiency plan reaching for the highest savings targets yet.
Since 2008, Rhode Island has invested $489 million in energy efficiency and consumers have realized $2.67 billion in economic benefits. Rhode Island will avoid 7 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from cost-effective energy efficiency investments.
Acadia Center plays a leading role in efforts in Rhode Island to increase the use of local energy resources, like rooftop solar, energy efficiency, energy storage, and combined heat and power, in order to optimize grid performance, reduce the need for expensive new infrastructure, and lower the cost of the energy system to consumers.
Acadia Center’s priorities in Rhode Island now include modernizing the way the state plans and manages the power grid so that residents and businesses benefit from a more diverse, reliable, resilient, and lower carbon energy system; removing barriers so that Rhode Island cities and towns can benefit from community energy opportunities, like municipal and low-income solar, or cost-saving LED street lighting; and advancing new, consumer-friendly electric technologies so that Rhode Islanders can benefit from cost and carbon savings from cutting-edge heating and cooling for buildings and electric vehicles. Deploying new clean energy resources is also a key to driving further greenhouse gas emissions reductions and creating a consumer-centered system.
From our office in Ottawa, Acadia Center participates in national and provincial energy and climate policy initiatives.
The 2012 study Energy Efficiency: Engine of Economic Growth in Canada attracted the attention of policy makers and stakeholders as groundbreaking analysis of macroeconomic benefits. This widely used policy resource shows the growth in GDP, jobs, and customer savings that result from investing in cost-effective efficiency.Acadia Center has since completed a Canada-wide version of the study—Energy Efficiency: Engine of Economic Growth in Canada (2014)—which is a key resource for understanding the significant economic impact potential of efficiency at the provincial and national level.
Acadia Center is part of a coalition of organizations and businesses working to advance carbon pricing in Ontario. This work builds on prior engagement in government cap-and-trade consultations in Québec and British Columbia. As one of the original stakeholders in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) cap-and-trade program, Acadia Center brings a wealth of policy and program design experience to carbon pricing discussions. Most recently Acadia Center produced a backgrounder on the RGGI experience for Canadian policymakers and other stakeholders: Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – A Successful Carbon Pricing Program.
The province of Nova Scotia is an energy efficiency leader in Canada and has emerged as an important case study for other provinces seeking to advance energy efficiency efforts. Acadia Center was involved in stakeholder discussions that established the initial utility Demand Side Management plan and Efficiency Nova Scotia. Acadia Center continues its involvement in the province through sharing best practice information, publishing op-eds on the benefits of green energy use, and recently intervened in Nova Scotia Power’s 2014 Integrated Resource Plan process.
Acadia Center’s Canada Program Director has appeared as a witness before the Parliament of Canada’s the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources and supported testimony before the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development; provided lectures as part of the University of New Brunswick’s Andrews Initiative 2013 Speakers Series (Year of Energy and the Environment); and, regularly represent Acadia Center at regional events, including the Canadian Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference and the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers annual meetings.