Research, reports, press statements, government communications and other important documents about energy and climate.
Policy Initiatives and Regulatory Proceedings.
Transcript: September 22, 2020 Public Utilities Commission Deliberations on Selection of Procurement Bids for Renewable Energy Resources.
Maine Public Utilities Commission
September 22, 2020
The Maine Public Utilities Commission approved contracts for 17 renewable power projects—totaling a generating capacity of 492 megawatts—in the state’s effort to reduce fossil fuel consumption and satisfy Maine’s renewable
On May 21, 2020, Tony Buxton and Benji Borowski Presented a Webinar on Behalf of IECG Titled “NECEC’s DEP Permit: Perspective from Industrial Energy Consumer Group (IECG).”
Industrial Energy Consumer Group
May 21, 2020
On May 21, 2020, Tony Buxton and Benji Borowski presented a webinar on behalf of IECG titled “NECEC’s DEP Permit: Perspective from Industrial Energy Consumer Group (IECG).” Sponsored by Mainers for Clean Energy Jobs, the webinar provided an overview of the DEP permitting process and the resulting DEP order approving NECEC with conditions. More importantly, the webinar explained how NECEC fits into IECG’s climate strategy.
In short, IECG believes the debate over in-region GHG emission reductions versus the potential for offsetting GHG emissions in other jurisdictions is futile and counterproductive. Regardless of whether GHG emission reductions in New England may cause or contribute to GHG emissions increases in New York (a laughable assertion given New York’s climate laws and policies), NECEC is a climate solution because it will lower electricity costs and increase electric reliability---the foundation for beneficial electrification and strategically decarbonizing the economy by 2050. To overcome inertia and convert from oil heat and gasoline cars to heat pumps and EVs powered by increasingly cleaner electricity, Mainers must have access to affordable power that they can count on.
What remains to be seen from IECG’s perspective is how climate solutions, which will increasing involve transmission lines under beneficial electrification, will be permitted in the future. Despite finding NECEC will reduce emissions and mitigate “the single greatest threat to Maine’s natural environment,” DEP placed an “unprecedented level” of conditions on NECEC. Beyond costly conditions, permitted climate solutions in Maine face the risk that their science-based regulatory permits may be overturned by citizen initiatives based on political campaigns.
IECG is committed to ensuring the regulatory process properly accounts for climate benefits and is not undermined by citizen initiatives funded by “dark money” fossil fuels.
Department of Environmental Protection Issues a Final Order on
the North East Clean Energy Council Transmission Line
Department of Environmental Protection
May 11, 2020
On May 11, 2020, the DEP issued a final order on the NECEC transmission line. After over 29 months of regulatory review, the DEP permitted NECEC with extensive conditions. The conditions include shrinking the project’s footprint substantially in Segment 1 (the 53.1-mile stretch from Canadian border to the Forks) from a 150-foot clearing with 10-foot scrub/shrub and a few areas of tapering and taller vegetation to a roughly 54-foot clearing with 10-foot scrub/shrub and tapering, taller vegetation, or full-height vegetation throughout. The DEP also required an additional 40,000 acres of conservation in the area of Segment 1.
The DEP found NECEC to provide a climate benefit by reducing GHG emissions, thereby mitigating “the single greatest threat to Maine’s natural environment.” Despite the nature of this benefit, the conditions placed on NECEC “provide an unprecedented level of natural resource protection for transmission line construction in the State of Maine.”
Maine Public Utilities Commission Ruling Prevents “Gaming” of Small Solar Programs
Maine Public Utilities Commission
March 23, 2020
The Maine Public Utilities Commission (“PUC”) issued an Advisory Ruling on March 23 that rejected the hypothetical proposal of an anonymous developer to effectively divide one very large solar project into a large solar project and an adjacent small solar project, so that the small solar project could qualify for more lucrative state incentives. The PUC concluded that it “seeks to discourage such an approach, which would qualify as “gaming” the statutory size limitation.”
The Advisory Ruling makes several important findings and provides a list of factors to guide project qualification under the Distributed Generation and Net Metering programs implemented by the PUC. Importantly for Getting Climate Right, the PUC clearly recognized that large solar is cost-effective, whereas small solar requires expensive subsidies. The Advisory Ruling states that in determining eligibility, the PUC must consider:
the context of the statutory purpose of providing financial incentive for the development of net energy billing and distributed generation projects that are small in scale and not able to capitalize on the same economies of scale as larger projects. As the Commission is aware from solar projects proposed in response to section 3210-C long-term contract solicitations, larger projects appear to be economic at prices that are substantially below those available through the net energy billing programs, which, for commercial and institutional tariff rate projects are in the range of $0.12/kWh to $0.15kWh, while the prices for larger solar projects are in the range of $0.035/kWh in Contract Year 1, escalating at 2.5% per year during the contract term. On the facts presented, if the Solar Company is able to put its Project A into the net energy billing or distributed generation programs, it is likely to obtain a much higher contract rate for the generation on this smaller portion of the facility – while the larger portion, Project B, which is directly adjacent, is likely to obtain a contract price far more in keeping with what the market will bear.
Unfortunately, the PUC is statutorily required to pay a cost premium of 4 to 5 times for small solar, but at least it will not allow large solar projects to needlessly take that subsidy.
IECG supports solar as tool to Get Climate Right, which is why IECG argued to the Maine Legislature in 2019 that state solar procurements should be open to projects of any size and not limited to projects less than 5 megawatts. IECG pointed out that removal of the size limitation would likely result in double or triple the amount of solar for the same expenditure of consumer dollars. The PUC’s Advisory Ruling confirms the price differential between large and small projects and demonstrates how easily ill-advised climate policy can be transformed into effective climate policy with careful thought, at no increased cost to consumers.
Eighth Biennial Report on Progress Toward Greenhouse Gas
Report to the Joint Standing Committee on Environment and Natural Resources
129th Legislature, Second Session
Jeff Crawford, Director, Bureau of Air Quality
Maine Department of Environmental Protection
“Maine should focus on policies and programs that support the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from all sectors; however, reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels in the transportation and residential sectors could have the biggest effect as these are sectors with both the highest carbon emissions and the greatest consumption of fossil fuels… Maine should continue to advance renewable energy such as solar photovoltaics, onshore and offshore wind and advanced technologies such as energy storage to continue to reduce emissions.”
Comments of Glenn Poole, Corporate Energy Manager, Before Maine Department of Environmental Protection and Maine Land Use and Planning Commission in the matter of Central Maine Power, New England Clean Energy Connect.
February 28, 2019
“CMP’s NECEC directly reduces all three of these risks [increased gas costs, increased electricity costs and intermittent electricity supply]. It will materially lower the cost of electricity in New England. It will reduce the need for natural gas by producing over 1000 MW of virtually base load power, simultaneously replacing 1000 MW of generation that has retired, making our grid less reliable. Lower gas demand means lower gas and electricity prices as well. It doesn’t matter that Maine isn’t buying power across NECEC; what matter is that someone else is, and that it substantially increases New England’s electricity supply. NECEC increases Maine’s fuel security.”