Library filed under Energy Policy from Connecticut
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.
But what has changed is that the key federal incentive for wind development -- known as the production tax credit -- has expired, and that may mean even with siting regulations on the books in Connecticut, nothing may happen with large-scale wind projects. “It could be too little, too late possibly,” said Paul Michaud.
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."
Jim Finley, executive director of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, said his organization asked the siting council to withdraw its proposed regulations so a compromise can be reached. He said some of CCM's member towns and cities want the regulations to force developers to post bonds to indemnify host communities and to require a plan to decommission closed facilities.
The Connecticut legislature on Tuesday again extended the moratorium against the construction of wind turbines, with no possibility of the ban being lifted before federal tax credits that expire at the end of the year.
Other projects in the same bid were disqualified based on lack of site control, including one that made it all the way to the final stage in the process and was recommended, like the EDP Renewable project. The two companies, which submitted bids that weren't chosen by the state, first raised the concerns about EDP Renewable's apparent lack of site control in filings with state utility regulators in the past two weeks.
The prospect of a new construction boom isn’t being welcomed by Gov. Paul LePage, who has been a vocal critic of the cost of wind energy. For one thing, the negotiated rates aren’t as low as they seem, according to Patrick Woodcock, the governor’s energy director, because of the added cost of upgrading transmission lines. Beyond that, he said, out-of-state power agreements don’t help Mainers with their high energy bills, which could be lower if wind had more competition from Canadian hydro and new biomass plants. “Wind is not the only option for renewable energy generation in New England,” he said.
It has been reported that Massachusetts’ utilities National Grid, Northeast Utilities and Unitil have negotiated power purchase agreements (PPAs) for 565 megawatts of electricity capacity from existing and proposed wind farms in New Hampshire and Maine that would provide electricity at wholesale rates of approximately 8 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Lawmakers on the Regulations Review Committee on Tuesday rejected the most recent proposal from the Connecticut Siting Council, saying the regulations fail to address town officials’ concerns and would make it too easy for developers to get around the regulations with waivers. Without regulations to govern wind projects, the 2011 ban on turbines will continue for at least another month — delaying projects in Ashford, Union, Colebrook, and Prospect.
For the third time in a year, a legislative committee has rejected proposed regulations for wind turbines in Connecticut, continuing the two-year moratorium on the clean energy projects. The vote to reject the rules without prejudice passed 10-3, including one abstention, sending them back to the Connecticut Siting Council, which introduced the regulations earlier this month.
The two projects announced Friday will provide 3.5 percent of Connecticut's total energy load and one-fifth of the state's renewable energy goals By law, the state must obtain 20 percent of its electric needs from renewable sources by 2020. The final choices were Esty's, based on recommendations from a procurement team from DEEP's Bureau of Energy and Technology Policy, and the offices of the Consumer Counsel and Attorney General.
These six are among 45 proposals being considered by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection ..."We would tell the utilities to buy the power," DEEP Commissioner Daniel Esty said in an interview with The Day's editorial board on Thursday, adding that this is the first round of a long-term strategy to increase the amount of renewable energy available in Connecticut to 20 percent of the total by 2020.
The line between politics and commerce blurred here Monday as the mayor and state legislators backed NRG Energy's bid to be chosen by the state for a valuable prize: a long-term contract to provide renewable energy. A coalition of political, labor and business leaders are touting NRG's plan to the administration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy as an economic spark for a corner of eastern Connecticut where the recession hit harder and lasted longer.
Connecticut's request for proposals is open to Class I energy projects in New England built this year. The state is seeking contracts for about 174 megawatts of clean energy projects, like solar panels, wind turbines, hydropower dams or geothermal systems, which will amount to about 4 percent of the state's energy use. And the contracts could last up to 20 years.
Clean energy advocates looked skeptically at a complicated budget fix that appears to make whole the state's clean energy fund after legislators raided tens of millions from it to fill a budget gap. Next year, the budget transfers to the General Fund $6 million of what would have been allocated to the state's Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority. For the 2015 fiscal year, it takes $19 million.
The amendment will now go to the Senate for approval. The Senate passed the bill without the House amendment earlier this month. This is the second time in less than a week that the House has amended a bill previously passed by the Senate. The Senate will have to take up the bill again in the last seven days of the legislative session in order to send it to the governor's desk.
"While I understand the concerns that this bill could take funding away from other sources of renewable energy, I believe that lower electricity rates will provide families much needed relief in their household budgets and improve the prospect of jobs going forward," Kelly said after the vote.
The state's energy department released a final version of its study recommending changes to how Connecticut supports clean energy Friday after weeks of public debate on the plan that initially blazed a wide path for large-scale hydropower to be included in the state's portfolio of renewables.
That means large-scale hydropower could fulfill the requirement currently reserved for renewable energy resources like wind and solar. Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy already made it clear that wind power would not play a large role in efforts to meet the state's RPS. ...role in efforts to meet the state's RPS. "In Connecticut, where we have limited in-state wind potential, and the New England region as a whole, high transmission costs are barriers to capturing the full potential of wind resources."