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Category — New England energy policy

Letter to New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers: Seven Reasons to Reject Big Wind (Part II)

“Revise or withdraw your plans that support the expansion of wind and a wind build-out in rural areas to support the urban areas. Start evaluating and fixing the problems that have been created by your policies.”

Dear New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers:

As you gather for your invitation-only, 37th Annual Conference in La Malbaie this weekend, we, the undersigned groups, individuals and victims, appeal to you to take clear, compelling, and compassionate steps to solve the problems you have created by supporting the deployment of “big wind” in our region.

These generation projects create serious, often intractable problems. Those of us who have been forced to live near the utility-scale wind projects you have promoted, and the individuals and groups we are working with, have learned through direct experience the consequences of these projects which include:

Stressing Grid Interconnections and Transmission Lines

New England’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) obligations for 2010 were about 14% of demand – an amount satisfied through a combination of existing, qualified resources in New England and renewable energy imported from neighboring New York and Canada. These percentages are slated to reach over 20% by 2020 with most of the energy coming from projects not yet built. Since wind energy is the primary resource proposed to be built in the region, and the resource most favored by you, future RPS obligations will likely be met through the deployment of thousands of new turbines. [Read more →]

September 10, 2013   No Comments

Dear New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers: Back Off Windpower for a Better Environment! (Part I)

“We don’t have ramping plants, so these [wind power] projects can increase, not decrease, our region’s greenhouse gas emissions. Why aren’t we talking about that? … Let’s have a conversation that addresses what is happening now.”

The press release and testimonials below were sent to the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers who are currently meeting in Quebec to discuss energy issues. At last year’s conference, a commitment was made for more renewables in New England. This year, the grass roots is urging them to back off. Part I today reprints the press release; the letter will follow tomorrow as Part II of this series.

The press release follows:

Hundreds of individuals, victims and groups sent a letter [tomorrow's post] to the Northeast region’s governor and premiers asking for an end to utility-scale wind development until those projects’ impacts have been addressed.

The letter comes as the officials gather this weekend in La Malbaie for the 37th Annual Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers.

“We are asking them to take clear, compelling, and compassionate steps to solve the problems they have created by supporting the deployment of ‘big wind’ in our region,” said Windwise Massachusetts president Virginia Irvine. “These projects are happening in no small part because of the legislative requirements and generous subsidies for developers pushed by Governors and supported by elected officials. Those officials need to take responsibility for what has happened to individuals and communities as a result.” [Read more →]

September 9, 2013   No Comments

Wind Forcing: New England’s Coming Energy War

“Feel-good politics and a desperate wind industry are driving Massachusetts and Connecticut policies, but at some point energy policies have to be grounded in reality. Opposition to wind energy in the northern New England states has settled in, and the residents are beginning to argue enough-is-enough. … As is typical in areas around the world, wind energy will once again bring division.”

New England state Renewable Portfolio Standard (‘RPS’) policies represent some of the most aggressive and costly programs in the country. By 2021, over 20% of the electricity sold retail in the region must come from renewables. Given a robust mix of natural resources, particularly wood biomass, and some hydroelectric, meeting the state mandates, while tough, is possible. But recent legislative and regulatory proposals altering the Massachusetts and Connecticut RPS programs now threaten the balance in favor of building new wind power facilities which could lead to an energy policy war between the states.

Background: Meeting RPS Policies

Sixteen different RPS programs are on the books in New England, each representing different technology classes for new and existing resources and each with different annual compliance requirements. Since the policies are designed to encourage deployment of new renewable generation — RPS ‘Class I’ technologies — the mandates for Class I resources are accelerated. Renewables designated as new resources are state specific but typically include wind, solar, some small hydro, low-emission biomass, landfill gas, and ocean thermal.

The ISO-New England estimates that 30,420 GWh, or 20.2% of the region’s projected electric energy use in 2021 will come from renewables of which two-thirds represent new resources built to meet the RPS targets. Electricity suppliers can satisfy their RPS obligations by purchasing generation or Renewable Energy Credits (RECs)[1] from a variety of technologies located either within New England or from eligible resources operating in New York and Canada.

Competitive markets have generally met the RPS demand with the help of existing facilities that were recognized as new renewables by the states, but since 2010, New England has had a shortage of available RECs for most technologies.

Paving the Way for Big Wind [Read more →]

June 5, 2013   7 Comments

New England’s Renewable Energy Mandate: Reality Anyone?

“Onshore wind in New England currently demands between 9-11 cents per KWh, more than twice the wholesale price of natural gas. Offshore wind is even more expensive starting at over 18 cents a KWh. More wind energy in the fuel mix will cause upward pressure on energy prices for the life of the power purchase agreements.”

- Lisa Linowes (below)

Last week, the New England Energy Alliance of Boston released its annual survey of New England energy consumers. Paul Afonso, executive director of the Alliance and a former Massachusetts utility regulator, summed the results:

Overall, the main concern of New Englanders continues to be the economy and pocketbook issues. If voters think any policy – private or public – will bring down the cost of energy, they will support it.

But if this is the case, the survey’s findings reflect a sentiment that’s entirely contrary to New England’s current energy policies. In particular, the region’s renewable energy mandate should receive public scrutiny with public-policy reform in mind.

Background

The six New England states have aggressively pushed for renewable energy development, with particular emphasis on wind power. All but Vermont have adopted a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) mandating that a percentage of the electricity sold retail into the region come from renewables.

RPS obligations for 2010 were about 14% of demand — an amount satisfied through a combination of existing, qualified resources in New England, and renewable energy imported from neighboring New York and Canada (mostly hydro). Reaching 20% by 2020, however, will require new wind capacity–very expensive and unreliable capacity.  Critical adjustments in RPS policies are thus necessary to avoid ballooning energy costs that would severely compromise New England’s economy.

The cautionary tale for New England is provided by California as documented in Robert Peltier’s post yesterday, Energy Policy in California: Turning Gold into Lead.

Wind in New England: Today vs. 2020

New England currently claims 48 wind energy projects totaling 318 megawatts. Maine has the most wind installed at 266 megawatts; Connecticut the least at 0.1 megawatts.

Assuming a generous 30% annual capacity factor, wind in New England produced around 836,000 megawatts hours (MWh) in 2010, substantially below other fuel options, including natural gas that produced over 50 million MWh (that is, 60x that of wind).

New England would need to add 23 million megawatt hours (MWh) of new renewable energy in order to satisfy state mandates by 2020. Since wind energy is the primary resource proposed to be built in the region, and the resource most favored by New England’s ‘ruling class’, future RPS obligations will likely be met by in-region wind power.

But what will this look like? [Read more →]

June 24, 2011   12 Comments