Library from Connecticut
Memo from the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities Chairman, Paul Hibbard, to the ISO New England. Chairman Hibbard expresses his concerns over the push to regionalize costs for building expensive transmission lines to service renewable projects (wind) built far from load centers. Current FERC rules are unclear on how to justify distribution of the costs across all ratepayers within the region unless it can be shown such transmission is needed to ensure the reliability and integrity of the grid.
The [New England] region's power system has had a long history of dependability, but electricity costs have been an issue for businesses and residents for decades. As the region plans ahead, New England's policymakers face a series of decisions that will have an abiding impact on our energy future. ...Economic, reliability and environmental goals are not always perfectly aligned when it comes to electricity generation and transmission. Whatever path policymakers choose to take will require trade-offs. How New England officials balance these sometimes conflicting goals will demonstrate our priorities, impact the regional economy and determine which objectives we can realistically achieve.
State and regional regulators acknowledge the hurdles - especially in northern New Hampshire - but don't have ready solutions. A bill before the New Hampshire Senate would have the state be ready to act if no regional solution is forthcoming. ISO New England, which manages power for the region, is considering changing rules so more of the costs of transmission upgrades could be shared regionally. But as things stand now, backers of projects generally must pay for upgrades needed to connect them to the system. "None of this is a real speedy process," acknowledges Michael Harrington, senior regional policy adviser for the state Public Utilities Commission.
The potential approval of a wind turbine on Kurt Karpavich's Farm Circle property again provided an impassioned debate during the Planning & Zoning public hearing on Wednesday, January 16. ...The public hearing on the matter was closed and P&Z voted to table action on Mr. Karpavich's application. Prior to the aforementioned decision, Farm Circle residents continued to plead with the members of P&Z for a resolution to the issue which will not allow Mr. Karpavich to have a wind turbine on his property. Following a sitewalk of Mr. Karpavich's property last month, members of P&Z still have yet to determine which area of Mr. Karpavich's property is best suited for the wind turbine. P&Z has tried to find a resolution to the issue which suits both parties, including surrounding neighbors, who have expressed their opposition to the wind turbine under any circumstances. The wind turbine regulations were approved last fall when details of wind turbine approval was set according to various factors including height variance and setback distance, as well as minimum acreage requirements according to the residential zone.
While paper mills close and Cabletron spins off its remnants out of state, power plants from the Seacoast to Whitefield enjoy the perks of a poorly understood, $100-million subsidy program just for energy producers. It has a bureaucratic name: the forward capacity market. ...An unidentified 600-megawatt, gas-fired power plant project somewhere in Rockingham County is blocked behind half a dozen North Country renewable energy projects in the ISO-New England regulatory queue. The waiting list policy is first-come, first-served. A plant like that would typically pay its host community $4 million or more in property taxes, with few smokestack emissions. But those wind- and wood-fired projects at the front of the line are all in limbo. The Public Service power lines in the region are too small. Most of the players can't even bid into the upcoming ISO auction, because yet-to-be-built plants have to ante millions of dollars as a sort of performance bond. And the ISO doesn't make forward capacity payments for transmission line upgrades.
New England ISO (NE ISO) control area includes the six states of New England (CT, RI, MA, ME, NH, VT).
The Planning and Zoning Commission of Watertown wants to establish a baseline when it comes to wind turbines so it doesn't have to deal with applications on a case-by-case basis. The amendment would restrict wind turbines to one per lot, cap the noise from the generator at 55 decibels and not allow them in front yards. The turbines would also only be allowed in certain residential zones.
New England's electricity rates, among the highest in the nation, will continue to depend almost entirely on the price of natural gas over the next two decades -- no matter what policies state leaders adopt for conserving energy and approving new kinds of power plants, according to a study being released today. The report, by Independent System Operator New England, which runs the six-state power grid and the region's $10 billion wholesale power market, offers no hope rates will drop significantly unless the price of natural gas plummets. That's an outcome few energy investors are banking on. Since 2000, as New England has grown more dependent on cleaner-burning natural-gas power plants, average homeowners' electric bills in Massachusetts have roughly doubled, along with an equivalent jump in the prices for wholesale natural gas. The ISO's "scenario analysis" examines 52 approaches to meeting demand for electricity through 2025, but takes no position on which are best. They include launching massive conservation efforts, building nuclear generators at existing nuclear plants, and making a huge regional push into cleaner-burning coal plants. Regardless of which scenario is pursued, 90 percent of the time in 2020-2025 the price of gas would determine the price of electricity, the report says.
Central Maine Power and Maine Public Service have asked the ISO New England to review the feasibility of a transmission line that would link northern Maine with the regional grid and create a path for wind power to flow to load centers in southern New England. Tim Brown, MPS director of corporate planning and regulatory affairs, said Thursday that the line, expected to be in excess of 100 miles, would allow transmission of more than 500 MW of wind power, most of it still in planning. While the idea of connecting northern Maine to the regional grid has been discussed for years, it has taken on a new significance given the difficulty utilities and merchant generators have encountered when they've attempted to build plants in the high-demand southern New England states. In addition to growing demand, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island have renewable portfolio standards, which create pressure for more large scale wind. But no major projects have been built in southern New England. In northern Maine, about 42 MW of wind is operating and an additional 500 MW has been proposed. If the line is not built, Brown said wind electricity in northern Maine could be routed into Canada then into southern New England. That, however, would require major upgrades to grid interface between MPS and New Brunswick Power. Brown said the utilities expect the ISO impact study to be completed by the end of 2007.
BRIDGEPORT - Planned developments around the city, such as the $1.2 billion redesign of the Steel Point peninsula, may include new energy efficient technologies. During a meeting Monday in City Hall Annex, officials - including Mayor John M. Fabrizi and state Sen. Bill Finch, D-Bridgeport - heard about energy efficient and environmentally friendly options and resources from several sources. Rina Bakalar, Bridgeport's director of central grants, said the city is planning to pursue the use of "green" technology.
Legislators in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic passed a number of bills applying to the electric power industry, with several states committing to emissions reductions through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and other states making broad organizational changes to their regulatory processes.
NEW HAVEN - Wind turbines may be headed to the Elm City, with possible locations ranging from the summits of East Rock and West Rock to Long Wharf and Lighthouse Point. The idea is just starting to get off the ground, but the first turbines could be built by fall 2008, according to Emily Byrne, a policy analyst for Mayor John DeStefano Jr.
The city is starting small, with a proposal to install four or five different kinds of wind turbines to see which work best. They will be placed in one of three locations currently under consideration, all near water. If the Board of Aldermen supports the idea, the wind turbines would be fully funded by the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund (to which all of the state's electricity ratepayers contribute through their utility bills).
A portion of the wind energy generated from newly installed wind turbines located in PEI was wheeled through PEI and New Brunswick and sold to the New England Power Pool (NEPOOL) via the international interconnection node in Keswick, N.B. The renewable energy certificates (RECs) that were generated from this transmission were sold separately to independent buyers located in the NEPOOL.
"We're never going to vote for programs like this unless we know what the economic impact is," First Selectman Jim Lash told the program's advocates Wednesday during the Board of Selectmen's monthly meeting at Town Hall.
New England Energy Alliance Survey Finds Consumer Concern about Future Electricity Supplies, Desire to Choose Electricity Supplier and Support for Addressing Global Warming
Although the approach is too late for projects that have already begun a federal review process, a dozen New England congressmen and senators have asked for help from the Department of Energy in coordinating a regional approach to siting liquefied natural gas facilities. Reps. Tom Allen and Mike Michaud have both signed on to this request, which makes sense for future energy projects.
Yet, despite the operation of New Jersey’s small wind project since January, there is uncertainty about whether wind farms, particularly gigantic turbines positioned off the region’s coastline, will be embraced here. On Long Island, a 40-turbine project being considered off the South Shore is facing stiff resistance from opponents who argue that the turbines will damage pristine ocean views, fail to deliver cost-effective electricity and create environmental problems. In New Jersey, powerful local politicians have lined up behind wind power, where up to 80 turbines — rising 380 feet or more above the water along the South Jersey coastline — have been proposed to take advantage of the near-constant breezes.
New England will need to add power plants capable of generating 4,300 megawatts, and $3.4 billion of additional transmission investment, by 2015 to avoid blackouts, the region’s grid operator says. The area will need 170 megawatts of new power before the summer of 2009 to assure adequate supplies, according to ISO New England Inc., the power grid and wholesale market operator that serves the region’s 14 million people........ If a 1,000 megawatt coal or nuclear power plant had been installed in 2005, buyers in the wholesale market would have saved $600 million in power costs, the report said.
Saying New England holds tremendous opportunity for wind energy development, Connecticut-based Noble Environmental Power today announced that it is teaming up with Vermont-based Vermont Environmental Research Associates (VERA) to explore potential windpark locations throughout the region.