Library filed under Energy Policy from Massachusetts
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.
NStar parent company Northeast Utilities is already opposing the new rules ...saying the proposal would lead to a substantial increase in electricity bills. The new clean-energy standard duplicates several existing programs — the renewable energy credits and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, among others — that are adding $573 million to ratepayers’ energy costs in the state this year. In 2018, the extra costs could rise to as much as $1.1 billion.
One goal of the energy legislation would be to reserve a substantial amount of market share for offshore wind, Haddad said. She said that a framework for a bill could be fashioned by late November, in advance of a filing in early January, leaving plenty of time for the committee process to run its course.
But even fully integrating renewable resources into the grid won’t eliminate demand for natural gas; it’s not always windy or sunny. So while connecting to renewables ...the region simultaneously has to tackle a second task: upgrading the natural gas network. Yet pipelines are an even harder sell than transmission lines.
“What were they thinking?” when New England’s state energy planners backed building 25-cent-per-kilowatt-hour wind projects while opposing reliable, existing, low-cost generators like Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.
A New England consortium of governors and energy executives has indicated it wants to slow a proposal to petition the federal government for utility customer tariffs to finance $5 billion to $10 billion in power projects like natural gas pipelines and transmission lines.
Lawmakers failed to pass a provision that mandated an increase in the amount of solar generation in Massachusetts from 400 megawatts to 1,600 megawatts by 2020, or enough to power 240,000 homes. They also failed to act on other proposals crafted during tense negotiations this spring by representatives from the solar industry, major utilities, and the governor’s office.
Time is running out for Gov. Deval Patrick’s clean energy bill, and he is starting to sound a little worried about its prospects.
Building more electricity transmission into New England isn't about an "energy crisis." It's about economics, jobs, corporate profit, failure to make the small fixes that add up, failure to do detailed analysis, failure to resist stampede crisis mentality, and lots of other things.
“The states and NESCOE are deliberately working out the details of this plan in secret, consistent with the view of one of NESCOE’s staffers that the plan should be ‘formulated behind closed doors’ because the ‘court of public opinion can be fickle and recalcitrant,’ ” Courchesne wrote, quoting an email from a NESCOE staff member to Executive Director Heather Hunt.
Developers are pitching plans, and are now offering states handsome “benefits packages” in seeking their support. In addition, states could earn millions from new property or infrastructure taxes, the leasing of existing right-of-ways and financial returns on public investment in the lines. But these assurances aren’t enough, according to Kerrick Johnson, vice president of Vermont Electric Power Co., or VELCO.
Hanover is hardly the only Massachusetts community to grapple with the unanticipated costs of wind energy. In Falmouth, residents rebelled against two turbines stating that the noise was too much ...A similar problem plagued a Kingston wind development where noise and flicker from the blades became a cause of concern.
There are 44 wind projects currently operating in Massachusetts. They generate less than 0.6 percent of the state’s electricity needs and just a fifth of the terrestrial wind energy goal set by Patrick. By Irvine’s calculations, there are 49 wind projects that never got off the ground; she calls them dead wind. And 13 projects are in limbo, or still in the permitting process.
The state has spent the last several years pushing renewables, imposing mandates on utilities to create markets for the power and offering incentives to spur the construction of wind and solar projects. Last year, more than 242 megawatts of solar generating capacity were installed in the state ...The state has 103 megawatts of wind generating capacity. Using more alternative energy, however, could raise utility bills for households and businesses. Wind power and solar power tend to be more expensive than traditional sources, while large-scale hydropower is cheaper.
The Berkshire planning board filed comments in November saying, “We are puzzled as to why the DPU is taking the lead in the development of wind energy facility guidelines, as this agency does not have jurisdiction over the siting of energy generating facilities that generate less than 100 MW and thus is very unlikely to oversee the permitting of any land-based wind energy projects in the state.
The move comes on the heels of five consecutive attempts by the Patrick administration to pass the Wind Siting Reform Act, which could have eliminated local control of the permitting process ...In the Berkshires, the act was fiercely opposed because of the perceived lack of local control and the predominance of identified sites. With higher elevations and open space, residents fears industrial wind turbines would be placed in their back yards without their input.
But the situation has prompted some soul-searching as some residents worry more wind turbines will turn the woodsy state into New England's utility closet. Opponents also question wind power's environmental merits and say turbines aren't worth spoiled views or noise. Larry Dunphy, a Republican state representative, recently posited a future when "you won't be able to climb a mountain without seeing blinking red lights and spinning turbines."
A special committee created by the assembly in 2012 supported concerns from residents — many of whom oppose land-based wind energy projects on the Cape — about transparency, finances and governance of the two organizations. "The concerns raised by the citizens of Barnstable County still need to be dealt with," said Lilli-Ann Green of Wellfleet.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Barry Finegold, D-Andover, would streamline the permitting process that now requires the state to certify an area has the wind to power a turbine before the plan goes to a town’s zoning and planning boards for permission. The state then has to sign off on the plan.
The guidelines for best practices that are expected from the DPU process are not regulations but would be offered to towns to use in existing reviews of wind-energy projects, DPU spokeswoman Mary-Leah Assad wrote in an email.