Misses Opportunity to Invest in New, Clean Energy –
RENEW is disappointed today that Massachusetts chose to affirm its decision to sign a long-term contract for existing provincially owned power in Quebec. The failure of Northern Pass provided a chance to revisit that first choice by considering whether it would have been better to have purchased energy from all-new wind and solar resources. Instead, Massachusetts has chosen to keep the Northern Pass Project bid alive and add a back-up proposal for transmission to Quebec in case negotiations with the Northern Pass Project are unsuccessful.
RENEW Northeast commends today’s decision of the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee to deny the application of the Northern Pass transmission line. This project and the associated energy from Hydro-Quebec, as the winning bidders out of last week’s Massachusetts Clean Energy RFP, would have cost Massachusetts ratepayers $500 million annually for 20 years. Despite this high cost, it would only bring energy from old generation rather than from new renewable resources that can enable Massachusetts to achieve its required greenhouse gas emissions reductions.
On April 8, 2014, RENEW testified on House Bill No. 3968,An Act relative to clean energy resources, before the Massachusetts General Court’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy.
The legislation enables Massachusetts to participate in the effort of the New England States being developed at this moment to achieve a historic transformation of the region’s energy infrastructure. With New England’s governors aiming this year to run coordinated clean energy procurements and select transmission proposals to deliver clean energy to the grid, RENEW urged the Committee to adopt the legislation, with some modifications, this spring to ensure Massachusetts can participate.
In its testimony, RENEW encouraged Massachusetts and all the states of New England to consider clean energy procurements and electric transmission upgrades be designed to maximize the development of the region’s own renewable resources while minimizing the need for ratepayers to support new or upgraded natural gas pipeline capacity and hydropower imports.
A “renewables first” strategy can reduce carbon emissions on the time-scale needed and further the objectives of renewable energy, reliability and economic development policies.
The New England states are considering whether to expand large hydropower imports into New England with the New England States Committee on Electricity (NESCOE) anticipating submitting a report on possible options to New England’s governors by the end of the year.
According to NESCOE, land-based and offshore wind resources will be largely responsible for meeting the region’s renewable energy goals and transmission upgrades will be needed to make larger quantities of wind energy deliverable in the years ahead.
Transmission lines to bring large hydropower into New England should be planned to allow wind power to tap into those lines to bring clean energy from remote regions to population centers. This will allow for the most economic use of the lines as wind and hydropower can complement each other to achieve a higher utilization rate on the transmission lines
“Renewable energy like wind and solar can work together with hydropower and, if done in a smart way, that combination can help move the New England States towards a clean energy future,” said Francis Pullaro, Executive Director of Renewable Energy New England, Inc., (RENEW). Large-scale hydropower may play a role in making long distance transmission upgrades more economic allowing additional wind energy to be brought online. Wind and hydropower can work together to keep consumer electric rates down, reduce pollution, and improve electric reliability by diversifying our energy mix.
RENEW encourages the states to consider that hydropower contracts should reduce emissions beyond what would otherwise happen in a business as usual case. “To count towards climate change goals, it is essential that any hydropower contract actually reduce emissions and not simply shift emissions around the region. This could happen if states are simply importing hydroelectricity that would have otherwise served Canadian load or the load of another U.S. state. States should ensure that their hydro contracts have strong safeguards to measure and verify legitimate, new emissions reductions,” said Pullaro.
RENEW welcomes the opportunity to work with the states to find ways to lower the cost of new transmission, possibly using large-scale hydropower, to support increasing the amount of variable renewable resources like wind energy and/or provide cleaner and more reliable balancing power.
At a program sponsored by the Environment Council of Rhode Island (ECRI), RENEW’s Executive Director, Francis Pullaro, explained how increasing wind energy production in Rhode Island on land and in its ocean waters can benefit the state’s environment and economy. Addressing ECRI members at the event in the rotunda of the Rhode Island State House were Gov. Lincoln Chafee, Chair of the House Environment and Agriculture Committee Rep. Art Handy, ECRI President Tricia Jedele, ECRI Vice-president Mike Roles, and Department of Environmental Management legislative liaison Nicole Pollock.
Mr. Pullaro also spoke to the current interest policymakers in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Maine have in finding an appropriate role for large Canadian hydropower in their energy portfolios. He outlined RENEW’s vision for large Canadian hydropower in New England in which it provides cleaner balancing power for variable resources like wind and solar as opposed to being a substitute for them.