Massachusetts House leaders are currently drafting an omnibus energy bill to secure new supplies of electricity as much of the region’s fleet of aging nuclear, coal, and oil power plants are now set to retire. Any proposed energy legislation should achieve three key goals. First, the bill must provide reliable and affordable clean energy to all residents, especially those that have been overburdened by pollution or energy costs and underserved by regional economic growth and opportunities. Second, it must act as an engine for regional economic growth by keeping more of our energy dollars and jobs in New England. Finally, it should maintain Massachusetts’s leadership on clean energy policy and ensure we meet our targets for reducing climate-disrupting carbon pollution.
Leading Regional Organizations Combine Forces to Support Long-Term Policies that Will
Create Clean, Affordable and Reliable Energy.
Boston, April 26, 2016. Nearly 20 environmental, clean energy industry, business, consumer,
and health groups announced the creation of a coalition named the Alliance for Clean Energy
Solutions (ACES acesma.org). The alliance consists of a wide variety of organizations seeking
to ensure that Massachusetts enacts long-term policies that will drive clean, affordable &
A recently issued report by RENEW board member the Union of Concerned Scientists analyzed electricity proposals now being debated in the Massachusetts legislature on the increased use of wind (both land- based and offshore) and hydroelectric power.
Speakers at the EUCI US/Canada Cross-Border Power Summit on March 15, 2016, debated New England energy policies including pending legislation in Massachusetts on the procurement of clean energy resources, as reported by RTO Insider, “Market Policies, Emissions Goals on Collision Course in New England.”
Francis Pullaro, executive director of RENEW Northeast, which represents renewable energy developers and environmental organizations, said current market rules skew toward natural gas and disadvantage clean energy resources. Natural gas “resources are going to be built over the next couple years with generous capacity payments” that make financing easier to obtain, he said.
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 American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and its regional partner, Renewable Energy New England (RENEW), applauded the New England Governors’ Conference for unanimously passing a resolution to coordinate regional renewable energy procurement and directing the release of a request for proposal (RFP) for renewable energy next year.
Specifically, the resolution charges the New England States Committee on Electricity (NESCOE) with developing and implementing a work plan on behalf of the New England Governors that will result in the release of an RFP for renewable energy in 2013—allowing six states to capture economies of scale by joining together to secure power contracts. The resolution, proposed by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, is the culmination of years of work led by NESCOE on behalf of the New England Governors.
The news came during what has turned out to be a great week for New England renewable energy. In Massachusetts, the state legislature approved an expansion of the Green Communities Act, which currently requires that 3 percent of the state’s electricity be procured by the utilities using long-term renewable energy contracts. The new legislation raises that target to 7 percent by 2016.
“This is an historic week for renewable energy in New England,” said RENEW Executive Director Francis Pullaro. “The New England Governors’ unanimous vote was a resounding ‘yes’ to more renewable energy, more jobs, and lower-cost electricity for New England. We thank the governors, along with Massachusetts leadership, for their hard work and vision on this key issue for our region.”
“Congratulations to the New England Governors and all six New England states for embracing the multiple economic and other benefits of renewable energy,” said Christy Omohundro, regional representative for the East at AWEA. “Wind power gives regions all across America affordable, stably priced power, and so we thank New England’s governors and legislators for their leadership and vision in helping to implement strong policy that creates jobs and generates affordable electricity.”
Fittingly, in little over a month, AWEA will be holding its Regional Wind Energy Summit – New England, which will take place Sept. 5-6, 2012 in Portland, Maine. The implications of the newly minted state and regional policies are sure to be major topics of discussion at the event. AWEA recently saw a need for regional events as a way for participants to focus on topics affecting their particular region while saving time and travel costs. The concept has taken off, and the Portland event will be the first Summit to focus on the New England region.
Following the release of a report by an independent expert panel that was tasked by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) to review potential health concerns related to wind turbines, Renewable Energy New England’s Executive Director, Francis Pullaro, remarked, “The report discredits common criticism about wind turbine produced sound that is brought by opponents of wind generation development. With wind projects held to a higher standard for siting in Massachusetts than traditional fossil fuel generators, RENEW hopes this study will inform policymakers that more efficient regulations on wind energy projects are appropriate. Wind power is a source of energy that will enable New England to its meet renewable energy goals cost effectively and reduce its reliance on air polluting power plants. RENEW will be reviewing the report more closely and will submit detailed comments during the public comment period.”
Last year, the DEP and DPH convened a panel of independent academic experts with backgrounds in public health, epidemiology, toxicology, neurology and sleep medicine, neuroscience, and mechanical engineering to analyze “the biological plausibility or basis for health effects of turbines (noise, vibration, and flicker).” The review of existing studies included both peer-reviewed and non-peer reviewed literature.
Among the key findings of the panel are:
• There is no evidence for a set of health effects, from exposure to wind turbines that could be characterized as “Wind Turbine Syndrome.”
• Claims that infrasound from wind turbines directly impacts the vestibular system have not been demonstrated scientifically. Available evidence shows that the infrasound levels near wind turbines cannot impact the vestibular system.
• The strongest epidemiological study suggests that there is not an association between noise from wind turbines and measures of psychological distress or mental health.
• None of the limited epidemiological evidence reviewed suggests an association between noise from wind turbines and pain and stiffness, diabetes, high blood pressure, tinnitus, hearing impairment, cardiovascular disease, and headache/migraine.
• Scientific evidence suggests that shadow flicker does not pose a risk for eliciting seizures as a result of photic stimulation.
RENEW urged the Massachusetts General Court’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy to raise utility procurements of renewable energy pursuant to the Green Communities Act of 2008 from a minimum of 3 percent to at least 9 percent of utility demand by 2016 in order to meet the requirements of Massachusetts’ Renewable Portfolio Standard in the most cost-effective manner. By doing so Massachusetts consumers will, based on the recent analysis of the Department of Public Utilities using three recent procurements conducted by utility NSTAR, save $1 million per megawatt of installed renewable capacity or approximately $1 billion to meet the incremental 1,000 megawatts needed to fulfill the 2016 requirements.
Significant barriers to the siting of wind turbines are holding back Massachusetts’ ability to capitalize on economic development opportunities explain the New England Clean Energy Council and RENEW in an opinion piece in the Cape Cod Times. The Massachusetts legislature has before it bills to improve Massachusetts’ wind permitting process to allow the Commonwealth to meet its potential in wind energy.
Read it here.
RENEW’s Executive Director testified in Barnstable before the Massachusetts legislature’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy in favor of the wind siting reform bills (H1775 and S1666 and H1759). The legislation will set permitting standards for wind generators that come as close as possible in efficiency as those for large conventional power plants while striking the right balance on local control. Local permitting authorities will continue to apply local ordinances under a new streamlined approval processes.