Massachusetts Senate Bill to Lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions Will Lead to the Development of Affordable, Renewable Energy and Add Jobs to the Clean Economy

RENEW Northeast praises Chairman Pacheco, Vice-Chairman Eldridge and the Massachusetts Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change for releasing today visionary legislation to advance a significant deployment of new renewable energy sources. The bill’s acceleration of the annual growth rate in the Massachusetts Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS)- the amount of renewable energy utilities and retail suppliers must provide to their customers- from the current 1 percent per year to 3 percent per year will spark a revolution in displacing the region’s greenhouse gas emitting generation with emissions-free resources.

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Massachusetts Poised to Adopt Clean Energy Legislation

The Massachusetts state legislature is considering a forward–looking bill to further reduce carbon emissions and clean up our air—something all residents deserve. A bi-partisan committee of three representatives and three senators has begun working on a compromise energy bill to send to Gov. Charlie Baker.

The bill as amended by the state senate will benefit consumers by creating greater competition between electricity sources and allowing all forms of renewable energy to meet more of the state’s clean energy needs. Throughout New England, large-scale renewable energy projects are the most cost-competitive way to generate clean electricity, and larger wind farms deliver the lowest prices.

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Massachusetts Urged to Boost Renewable Energy Targets

By Emily Norton and Francis Pullaro

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.

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RENEW Urges Support for Existing Maine Renewable Energy Standard

RENEW submitted testimony on March 19, 2015, to the Maine Energy, Utilities & Technology Committee opposing changes to Maine’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (“RPS”) that will allow large Canadian hydropower to qualify.  This proposed change effectively overlooks the sound reasoning behind the numerous prior decisions by state legislatures in New England to do just the opposite and set RPS requirements without eligibility for large hydropower. RPS requirements are intended to facilitate deployment of new, sustainable technologies that need financial incentives to be deployed at utility scale. Providing ratepayer incentives to large hydropower would amount to sending ratepayer funding out of the country for a resource that is already economically viable and with questionable sustainability and clean energy attributes.

Weakening the RPS requirements in New England could send inventors looking for less risky markets to develop renewable energy resources. If that happens, Maine’s economy will suffer. London Economics International projected New England’s RPS requirements are projected to create 11,700 Maine jobs and increase the state’s Gross State Product by $1.14 billion. The state’s wind industry, if deprived of support for projects in New England, cannot look to compete for opportunities in Quebec as its planned wind projects, totaling over 4000 MW, require significant (at least 60 percent) Quebec-sourced manufacturing and labor.

RENEW Testifies in Favor of Increasing Renewable Energy for Rhode Island

On January 29, 2015, RENEW testified before the Rhode Island House Committee on Corporations in support of extending Rhode Island’s Renewable Energy Standard beyond the current goal of 16 percent by 2019. In calling for 1.5 percent annual increases from 2020 to 2035, RENEW explained how renewable energy development outperforms fossil fuels in two important ways when it comes to driving job growth: 1) renewable energy development is relatively labor intensive, so it creates more jobs per dollar invested than fossil fuel resources; and 2) installing renewable energy facilities uses primarily local workers so investment dollars are kept in locally. A 2014 study conducted by the Brattle Group for the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources and Commerce RI reveals how adding between 164 MW and 1008 MW of renewable energy capacity to Rhode Island between 2015 and 2024 yielded net positive economic and environmental impacts. Economic output will increase between $556 million and $2.3 billion in present value terms.

Connecticut Promotes New, Affordable Renewable Energy in the State and New England

Renewable Energy New England, Inc., (RENEW) applauds Governor Dannel Malloy for supporting new statutory provisions that will expand the benefits of affordable renewable energy for Connecticut electricity customers. Those provisions, included in larger energy legislation Senate Bill 1138 and House Bill 6360, both of which recently achieved final passage in the legislature, will help encourage the development of new, affordable renewable energy in Connecticut and New England.

RENEW praises Senate President Donald Williams and House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, Energy & Technology Committee Co-Chairs Sen. Bob Duff and Rep. Lonnie Reed, Committee Ranking Members Sen. Clark Chapin and Rep. Laura Hoydick, the full membership of the House and Senate, and Department of Energy and Environment Protection (DEEP) Commissioner Daniel Esty for their leadership in expanding Connecticut’s nationally leading energy policies.

“A section of Senate Bill 1138 authorizes DEEP to enter into long-term contracts with renewable energy developers. Long-term contracting opportunities will enable the industry to make long-term investments and reduce the cost of RPS compliance for consumers. Across the country, renewable energy long-term contracts result in lower costs for consumers with the added benefit of drawing economic investments into states where the projects are located. The resulting projects stand to give the administration’s ‘cleaner, cheaper’ energy agenda a major advance.” said RENEW Executive Director Francis Pullaro.

The bill also gives the state the opportunity to coordinate its procurement of renewable energy with the other New England states following a resolution adopted at the 2012 meeting of the New England Governors’ Conference. The benefits from regional coordination will arise by capturing some of the economies of scale from larger renewable energy projects and, in the years ahead, potentially facilitating additional intra-regional transmission capacity to deliver the energy from those resources.

Utility-scale wind projects in particular have been highlighted in recent analyses for the New England States as the leading solution to meet New England’s collective renewable energy goals. Large scale wind resources are clean, cost-effective and enhance the reliability of our region’s bulk power system.

To help ensure Connecticut receives the economic development benefits of having those projects sited in the state, House Bill 6360 contains a provision to facilitate the adoption of wind siting regulations that have been drafted by the Connecticut Siting Council. Adoption of the regulations will allow wind project developers to submit new applications to build projects in the state.

RENEW Urges DEEP to Replace Retiring Fossil Fuel Plants with Renewables

RENEW and the Conservation Law Foundation jointly filed comments with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) on its draft 2012 Integrated Resource Plan. In our comments we urge DEEP in its final draft to better protect ratepayer interests and the environment by recognizing that obsolescence and the market are rendering much of the region’s coal and oil fleet uneconomic and to plan for the inevitable retirement of many of these units with replacement of their capacity through new renewable resources, energy efficiency and demand response. As the lack of adequate amounts of long term contracting for large scale renewable resources keeps needed projects on the drawing board, we recommend in our comments DEEP exercise its long term contracting authority under Section 94 of Public Act 11-80 to take control of Connecticut’s renewable energy future.

Expansion of Renewable Energy Procurements Equals Savings

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.

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