Library filed under Energy Policy from Massachusetts
An Associated Press review of state lobbying records found that in 2016, energy interests reported spending a combined $6.7 million lobbying Beacon Hill. Six out of every 10 of those dollars — or about $4.1 million — came from groups pushing renewable energy initiatives or fighting against fossil fuel-related projects, like the construction of natural gas pipelines.
Massachusetts regulators have issued new, stricter limits on greenhouse gas emissions from the state’s fossil fuel power plants and ordered utilities to buy at least 16% of their electricity from clean energy sources in 2018.
Evans-Brown says opponents want to know why their scenery should become the pass-through for Massachusetts' electricity needs, "people who have businesses that would be impacted by the construction, and who believe they're business depends on tourists coming up to visit. There's a very famous pancake parlor that the owner came and gave very impassioned testimony."
In smaller print, CleanChoice Energy said the current fixed rate for the company’s clean energy was 14.8 cents per kilowatt hour, which compared to 8.2 cents a kilowatt hour for the electricity procured for customers by Eversource through competitive bidding.
Officials recently announced they needed more time for the evaluation process "given the complexity of the analysis and the volume of bids." Regulatory approvals of the selected projects are expected later this year.
BOSTON — A future in which Massachusetts homes and businesses are powered by energy from ocean- and land-based wind farms, solar rays, and hydroelectricity flowing from Quebec is envisioned under a state law overwhelmingly approved by the Democrat-controlled Legislature and signed this past week by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker.
One of the biggest disappointments for some senators was that the bill failed to increase the amount of energy that the state requires utilities to buy from renewable sources, the so-called renewable portfolio standards. "That was the final give on the Senate's part.
Action on a long-awaited energy bill with broad implications for SouthCoast, where offshore wind power is widely viewed as a key future industry, could occur amid a flurry of 11th-hour lawmaking with about two weeks left for legislators on Beacon Hill.
The two sides face a July 31 deadline. ...The goals include ensuring the reliable transmission of electricity as older plants close and meeting the state’s aggressive greenhouse gas emissions standards.
Under the bill, energy distribution companies would also be required to purchase a minimum of 12,450,000 megawatt-hours of clean energy from hydropower and other clean-energy resources including onshore wind, solar, anaerobic digestion and energy storage. And the bill doubles the annual rate of increase in the state's Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard.
The long-term contracts also burden electric ratepayers with more risk, according to the study. One of the reasons Massachusetts deregulated the electric industry was to shift the risk of building power plants from consumers to energy developers. Fixed-price, long-term contracts negotiated by utilities under the direction of the state would shift the risk needle back in the direction of electric ratepayers.
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.