NEW ENGLAND STATES REAFFIRM THEIR COMMITMENT TO RENEWABLE GENERATIONby Robert Olson and David J. Shulock -- Brown, Olson and Wilson, P.C.
(originally published by PMA OnLine Magazine: 2006/10/27)
The states of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Vermont, and Rhode Island reaffirm their commitment to renewable energy. In August, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney outlined a four-prong long-term energy plan. The plan focuses on diversifying and increasing the Commonwealth’s energy supply through the use of renewable wood, hydro, and wind powered developments, investing in energy infrastructure and the development of advanced energy technologies, and increasing energy efficiency. Governor Romney sees biomass generation as contributing most to Massachusetts’ renewable future, followed closely by wind generation. To support biomass production, Governor Romney proposes to expedite regulations regarding fuel inputs, co-firing, and project siting, and he proposes to fund wood supply and wood supply transportation upgrades. To support wind production, Governor Romney proposes expedited permitting for wind facilities on private land and for state facilities on state lands and waters. Lastly, Governor Romney proposes lowering standby rates for on-site generation to encourage private investment in generation.
In New Hampshire, Governor John Lynch announced his goal of obtaining 25 percent of the state’s energy needs from renewable sources by the year 2025. New Hampshire currently obtains 14 percent of its energy needs from renewables. Economic modeling done by Lawrence Livermore Labs demonstrates that increasing the use of renewable energy to 20 percent by the year 2020, combined with similar efforts of other New England states, could save New England residents between $82 and $204 million on their energy bills. Governor Lynch sees other advantages, including a cleaner environment; savings achieved from lower emissions, stabilized energy prices, and localized economic growth. According to Governor Lynch, wood-fired generation is a natural choice for New Hampshire, although solar, wind, and hydro production are also worth studying. Increasing renewable woodfired generation would take advantage of New Hampshire’s ample wood supply, encourage the responsible harvesting of lessergrade woods, and help to preserve New Hampshire forests from development. Governor Lynch has directed his Office of Energy Planning and the Department of Environmental Services to develop a plan for meeting his goal.
Connecticut’s Governor Jodi Rell announced a plan to obtain 20% of all energy used and sold in Connecticut from clean or renewable sources and a 20% reduction in peak demand. Governor Rell’s plan focuses on increasing the use of biofuel in transportation and home heating, and funding energy efficiency programs. Governor Rell also re-affirmed the state’s commitment requiring state agencies and universities to purchase 20% of their electricity from the state’s renewable energy portfolio Class I renewable sources by 2010. Governor Rell has ordered an audit of state agency and university power procurement and the preparation of a progress report. She has also stated that funds will be made available to state agencies to help them reach the State’s goals.
Vermont’s latest campaign to increase renewable production focuses on small distributed generation. The Vermont Solar and Small Wind Incentive Program, which was established in 2003, will receive a total of $980,000 in new funding from the State of Vermont Department of Public Service, Central Vermont Public Service Company, and Green Mountain Power Corporation. The incentive program supports photovoltaic, solar hot water, and wind installations by individuals, businesses, farms, schools and municipalities. As part of the new funding initiative, special incentives will be provided to farms ($4.50/watt up to $20,000) and low-income multifamily housing developments ($3.50/watt up to $35,000). The funds contributed by the State of Vermont come from the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund, which was established by the Vermont legislature in 2005 for the purpose of promoting the development and deployment of renewable energy resources and combined heat and power technologies. The assets of the fund come primarily from Energy Nuclear Vermont Yankee LLC and Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc., the owners and operators of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, under agreements with the Vermont Department of Public Service. The Department expects the Entergy companies to contribute between $6 and $7.2 million per year to the development fund through the year 2012.
On September 8, Governor Donald Carcieri of Rhode Island outlined an energy plan that would rely upon hydroelectric and wave energy to bolster that state’s renewable energy production. Governor Carcieri has called for the state to increase its renewable portfolio requirement from 16% by the year 2019 to 20% by the year 2014. It is expected that several hydroelectric and wind projects being developed in Rhode Island would cause the state to reach 20% renewable production by 2011. According to the governor, the state’s Office of Energy Resources has identified sites with more than 10 MW of potential hydroelectric capacity, and is already providing $500,000 to the developer of the Harris Mill Dam on the Pawtucket River. The Harris Mill Dam is expected to begin operation in 2007 and to generate approximately 10 million kWh of electricity per year. The Office of Energy Resources is also conducting feasibility studies for developing hydroelectric production at two other existing mill sites.