Green Energy Consumers Alliance welcomes the recent announcement that Rhode Island will look to procure up to 600 MW of offshore wind. In January, we applauded Governor Raimondo’s goal of achieving 100% renewable electricity by 2030. Since becoming the first state in the nation with offshore wind turbines, Rhode Island has fallen behind on our clean energy goals. The offshore wind procurement is a necessary and clear step to getting us back on track to a low-carbon future.
Over the past week, many of us here in New England might have turned on our heat as temperatures dipped to near freezing for the first time this fall. For the slight majority of us in Rhode Island and Massachusetts who heat our homes with natural gas, we’re relying on a centrally distributed fossil fuel to keep our homes and businesses warm in winter. On the one hand, natural gas is cheap, and a growing economy calls for more customers to hook up to the pipeline. On the other, we are way over our budget for greenhouse gases. Natural gas releases carbon when burned and causes an even bigger problem when leaked in the form of methane. We have a conundrum on our hands: how do we urgently reduce emissions from our buildings when most of us rely on the natural gas system to supply needed warmth during the winter?
Protecting and strengthening energy efficiency programs in Massachusetts and Rhode Island have been core components of Green Energy Consumers’ advocacy for years. We urge utility efficiency administrators and state officials to build energy efficiency programs that have ambitious energy savings targets, incorporate equity, and invest in deep, innovative efficiency measures.
This summer marks a pivotal moment in energy efficiency programs in Rhode Island: 2020 has already seen the publication of an Efficiency Programs Potential Study—that is, the first study in ten years to identify new efficiency opportunities—as well as a revision of the regulations governing efficiency programs. Now, National Grid, alongside stakeholders (including Green Energy Consumers), is working to draft the next Three Year Efficiency Plan, which will guide the programs from 2021 through 2023.
Unfortunately, the first draft of the 2021 – 2023 Three Year Plan is insufficient to meet RI policy goals or comply with state law that efficiency programs be “cost-effective, reliable, and environmentally responsible.”
This week, after about four months of lower-than-usual demand due to the coronavirus pandemic, demand is climbing to normal hot weather levels—enough to cause a potentially expensive and polluting peak day.
On peak days, we remind New Englanders to turn up the thermostat, turn off lights, and delay charging devices or electric vehicles—all to attempt to lower the peak electricity usage of the day and avoid turning on dirty power plants. But efficiency and conservation are important year round—in fact, as we have written many times, energy efficiency is one of the most powerful tools we have to reduce emissions and save consumers money.
What if there were a simple, free policy that would save money, water, and energy year round, all without any effort from consumers or any impact on the economy? This magical policy exists, and it’s called appliance standards! In the coming weeks, we need your help to update appliance standards in Massachusetts.
Here in Boston and Providence, temperatures finally cracked 70 degrees. It’s true: summer is coming!
But with high summer temperatures comes high electricity demand. The bad news is that, between 5pm and 8pm on peak electricity demand days, the electrical grid operator turns on dirty, expensive power plants that sit unused the rest of the year. The good news is that you can help fight dirty energy on peak days by reducing your electricity usage during peak hours. Sign up for Shave the Peak alerts at greenenergyconsumers.org/shavethepeak so that you’ll know when to turn off your air conditioner, lights, and appliances.
At Green Energy Consumers, we talk a lot about the importance of energy efficiency and conservation. But, for a few hours every year, reducing our energy usage becomes especially important: on the hottest and coldest days of the year, energy use is the highest and electricity is dramatically more expensive and polluting. These high-demand days are called peak days, and we’re calling on our members to help us Shave the Peak by taking straightforward steps to reduce energy usage for a few hours on these days.