Library filed under Energy Policy from Massachusetts
As Massachusetts lawmakers consider requiring the state to solicit long-term contracts for buying offshore wind energy and hydropower, a new study released by an independent consulting group is warning lawmakers to be aware of the potential risks of these long-term contracts.
“In response to retiring power plants, thousands of megawatts of new local plants are under development today to preserve reliability and continue Massachusetts’ leadership in driving lower emissions,” NEPGA President Dan Dolan said in a statement. “Locking consumers into decades-long contracts would also freeze out innovation at a time when tremendous growth and promise is evident from more efficient power generation, lower renewable energy costs and burgeoning distributed electricity supplies.”
“The proposal would carve up one-third of the Massachusetts electricity marketplace into decades-long contracts that have the potential to dramatically increase electricity costs for consumers,” NEPGA president Dan Dolan said in a statement.
“Everything I continue to hear on Cape Wind is that they have been taken out of what’s happening right now,” Golden said. “There are a lot of questions coming out of the committee [about whether] that can be competitively bid today.”
Rep. Thomas Golden, House chairman of the Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, told the News Service he is still working to determine the size and nature of proposed increases in the state’s share of renewable energy.
Still, the projects face myriad federal and state regulatory hurdles, as well as opposition from business groups and power generators who strongly oppose government carve-outs and subsidies for clean energy. Likewise, wind farm projects in New York and Maine face opposition from those unhappy that the intrusive developments are benefiting other states.
For those inclined to see the glass half full, Massachusetts has made enormous strides in reducing its carbon emissions. Coal-fired plants, the worst offenders, are dying out across the Commonwealth. Investments in energy efficiency have lowered demand. The solar panels sprouting up along the Massachusetts Turnpike are only the most visible of the new generation of green technologies feeding power into homes and businesses.
Backers of gas generation countered that renewables are benefiting from government-backed subsidies and long-term contracts that threaten to reintroduce government-mandated integrated resource planning. ...state policies are giving renewables undue advantage and undermining conventional generators’ investments in the market.
With coal and nuclear fleets shrinking, large-scale Canadian hydropower is needed to avoid an overreliance on natural gas and meet aggressive carbon reduction goals, several speakers said. Wind and solar can’t develop at scale fast enough to replace thousands of megawatts of legacy generation, they said.
"Subsidizing an overdependence on one foreign government-owned source of electricity will lead to lost jobs and soaring energy bills for decades to come," said Dan Dolan, the group's president....Hydro-Quebec would use increased U.S. exports to subsidize lower prices for its provincial customers, in turn costing New England ratepayers an estimated $20 billion over 25 years.
Dozens of submissions will need to be vetted in coming months as the three states look to sign long-term contracts for electricity from wind turbines, dams and solar projects. The states are seeking up to 600 megawatts of power.
The issue pits utilities like National Grid and Eversource Energy – who must reimburse solar system owners at the higher retail rate vs. the lower wholesale rate for their excess power – against those in the solar industry – particularly installers, manufacturers, consumers and environmental advocates – who believe solar's success is dependent on continued government programs.
Companies designing projects to bring clean electricity to southern New England say they’re grateful Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island have finally made a request for proposals to carry that power to the region. But meeting the region’s longer-term goal of expanding the use of renewable electricity from wind, solar and hydroelectricity will require more transmission capacity than the states requested, said Edward Krapels, the CEO of Anbaric Transmission, which is proposing one project in Maine and another Vermont.
Washington -- Aggressive energy efficiency efforts and new distributed generation capacity -- virtually all of it in the form of solar projects -- are combining to put a lid on growth in peak demand and electric use in New England, ISO New England said in its newly released 2015 Regional System Plan.
New England’s most populous states are looking to tap Canadian dams and rivers for more of their electricity, a change that officials say would help cut greenhouse-gas emissions and help keep some of the nation’s highest power prices in check.
Baker told the Legislature’s Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy that he has two energy priorities: meeting the state’s emission reduction targets and reducing the price of electricity. He wants lawmakers to pass a law allowing the state’s electric utilities to run a competitive solicitation for 1,200 to 2,400 megawatts of power — most likely hydroelectricity from Canada, possibly with a component of onshore wind power.
The legislation is intended to ensure that about 1,200 MWs of hydroelectric power is delivered to Massachusetts, so that the Commonwealth can meet the greenhouse gas emissions goals – a reduction of 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and a reduction of 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 – that are a pivotal part of the GWSA, passed in 2008.
With the 2016 state budget through the Legislature and Gov. Charlie Baker filing a hydropower-focused bill last week, Beacon Hill seems poised to talk about energy legislation, but wind energy proposals that could boost business at New Bedford’s Marine Commerce Terminal still might not be heard until after Labor Day, a Taunton senator said Monday.
Cape Wind was the wrong project, at the wrong time, and the wrong place. It was too big and costly. Its impacts were poorly mitigated and its benefits highly questionable. In the end, it was the regulatory arrogance of the Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and the Obama Administrations that did the most harm. A lot of people were offended and willing to stand up to the abuses. Remember, it was Massachusetts’ spirit that triggered the Revolutionary War.
Cape Wind will never be more than an unsightly trophy to the persistence of its developer and to the skills of a few players in state politics. Through political luck and skill, and thanks to a lock on National Grid and NSTAR business, Cape Wind might yet succeed in shoehorning this project into Nantucket Sound.