Recently I was asked by the Boston Globe to write 350 words on why the Mass Save energy efficiency program should phase out rebates for new oil-fired systems for heat and hot water. Another writer took the opposite view and readers were invited to vote for their preferred argument. The Globe’s request was reasonable and so I wrote my piece, but in this expanded blog, I can better address some important points in the discussion.
Compared to parts of the country that have much greater summer cooling needs, New Englanders have more options to keep ourselves comfortable affordably and sustainably. Unless you have someone in your home who needs central air conditioning for health reasons, we encourage you to look to room air conditioners and fans, particularly ceiling fans. Here are some tips, offered by the American Council for an Energy Efficiency Economy.
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.”
Last month, we predicted that summer temperatures might drive high demand — high enough to cause a peak day! Indeed, despite the depressive effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on regional electricity demand, weeks that saw 90+ degree days across New England were enough for us to call peaks on July 20th, 27th, and 28th. A peak electricity demand day is a day on which extreme weather (usually hot temperatures) leads to a spike in electricity demand; these spikes are associated with more expensive and polluting electricity than usual.
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.
Last month, we covered some of the impacts that COVID-19 and the resulting stay-at-home orders have had on our electric grid. This month, the pandemic has continued to drive low electricity demand and record low electricity prices. Even better, low demand and higher than ever solar production has led to a greener grid. But as temperatures rise and stay-at-home orders relax this summer, can we expect low demand, prices, and emissions to continue?
With innovative clean energy developers, enthusiastic members, amazing staff and board, and awesome volunteers in the mix, our organization's story can be told in what we're grateful for. We hope these stories will inspire you to support our work the same way they have inspired us to persevere.
Here's a quick recap of #7DaysofGratitude (click to read each individual story):
Day 1 - Sumul Shah and Malcolm Brown, wind advocates & developers
Day 2 - Block Island Wind Farm, the first offshore wind farm in the country
Day 3 - John & Claire Fitzmaurice, Joel Golden, and all our other Electric Car Ambassadors
Day 4 - Conservation Law Foundation, our amazing partners
Day 5 - Our hardworking staff and board
Day 6 - Dedicated community organizers working on Green Municipal Aggregation
Day 7 - Ricard Torres Mateluna and Christine Hatch, Heating Oil members who've become as energy efficient as they can!
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.
This piece written by Eugenia Gibbons and Khalida Smalls was originally published by the Barr Foundation. We believe believe that the Massachusetts Energy Efficiency Report's implications also apply to Rhode Island.