Library filed under Energy Policy from Connecticut
Halfway into a 20-year program to increase the use of renewable energy in Connecticut, leaders of the legislature's energy committee want to drastically alter the program's goals, saying it is not promoting investment in the state. "The bottom line is, (renewable energy) projects aren't being built," said Rep. Vickie O. Nardello, D-Bethany, co-chairman of the Energy and Technology Committee. "It hasn't worked up to this point and it's been there for a number of years."
Last week, the New England Governors' Conference raised green fantasy to new heights with the release of its Renewable Energy Blueprint, which said the region "has a significant quantity of untapped renewable resources, on the order of over 10,000 MW combined of on-shore and off-shore wind power potential." Neither the report nor the news articles about it bothered to do the math. At 7 MW, New England would need 1,429 E-126s to tap that potential. Though the turbines likely would be clustered in "farms," that's an average of 238 per state, or more than one for each town in Connecticut. The cost would be $221 billion that the states don't have, though they might get a bulk-purchase discount of a billion or two.
Because of a loophole that allows zoning boards to approve test towers for wind turbines without notifying neighbors, residents near terrain favorable for wind energy could face the prospect of a major wind energy project being built in their community with limited ability to challenge it. ...That decision - affirmed at a contentious zoning board of appeals hearing in Colebrook in February - is now being challenged by King and other neighbors in a case scheduled to reach Superior Court in Litchfield in August.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Under the agreement, ISO New England will project regional power needs three years in advance and hold annual auctions to buy power resources, including new and existing power plants. Incentives would encourage private operators to respond to power system emergencies, and operators that don't make extra capacity available would face penalties.
``The problem we're having with all these wind farms is . . . they're proposing to put them in all the worst places," said Thomas W. French , assistant director of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. ``If they could do what the Russell Biomass plant did, which is to find a preexisting, historical industrial district, we'd be applauding them." As part of the ongoing state permitting process for the plant, French's division worked with its developers to reroute proposed power lines to reduce their impact on wildlife.
WORCESTER— Absent interest in lower-priced fuels, New Englanders should brace for continued high electricity prices, the byproduct of a regional system heavily dependent on oil, natural gas and coal, the head of the region’s power grid said yesterday.
Energy efficiency is by no means a permanent solution, but it should be a permanent part of the solution. Sensible energy use, combined with new power resources, is the only workable answer for New England.
Lee also warned that renewable energy sources, though desirable, were not a "silver bullet" solution. "It does leave an environmental footprint," Lee said, noting that wind energy and solar energy take up large areas of land, making it difficult to find a place to put them, especially in densely populated parts of the world.
If New England's nuclear energy plants had to be replaced by other non-emitting sources of electricity to meet the RGGI goals, the region would be looking at large-scale wind projects, with weather-dependent output, spread over some 650,000 acres of land or water at a cost of more than $10 billion.
Renewable energy sources have disadvantages as well as advantages, however. Although their costs have decreased in recent years, many renewables are still more costly than traditional sources. Some are also available only intermittently; for example, wind can be variable and hydroelectric is seasonal. And while many people are in favor of renewables in principle, many are also unhappy when faced with the prospect of a windmill or a trash-burning power plant in their neighborhood. These facilities face the same siting and investment difficulties that any electrical facility would, as the developers of a proposed wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod have discovered in recent years.
...the MEA Report can be used to estimate the value (avoided emissions) of Renewable Energy Certificates (REC) by providing both REC suppliers and stakeholders with information that can be used to communicate the environmental benefits of RECs and works to enhance the overall REC marketplace. Editor's Note: As noted below under Methodology [emphasis added], this report appears to substantiate the point that wind energy would not backdown "baseload" generation.
NEW HAVEN -- The head of Cape Wind Associates, the company that wants to plant the first offshore wind farm in the United States in Nantucket Sound, hopes his project will get a boost from President Bush's remarks promoting alternative energy in his State of the Union speech this week.