We’re big advocates for incentivizing electric vehicle (EV) drivers to charge their cars off-peak by offering them a lower retail price per kilowatt-hour (kWh). “Off-peak” periods refer to times when demand for electricity is low – at these times, wholesale electricity prices and emissions per unit of energy are lower as well. Shifting EV charging demand by setting a price signal (sometimes call a “time-varying rate” (TVR) or “time-of-use rate” (TOU)) is a win for everyone: EV drivers, non-EV drivers, the environment, and our electric grid. Right now, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) is considering whether and how to move forward on this issue – and we wanted to give you an update on progress made so far. (Fair warning: if ever there was a blogpost for the policy wonks, this is it!)
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?
In April 2020, while the economy shuttered and infection rates for COVID-19 in the US skyrocketed, pickup truck sales exceeded sedan sales for the first time. Passenger cars are the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and more people than ever believe man-made climate change is happening. So how are biggest gas-guzzling cars taking over the industry?
There is so much happening these days it’s hard to track everything, but if you haven’t heard much about the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI), you will soon. It’s an idea that could result in a compact of 11-states (plus D.C.) in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic to address transportation emissions. It would do so by setting a cap on emissions, a cap that declines over time.
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.
It is mid-June 2020 and another day of unrest in America. As I scan the news, I learn that the environment has been under attack. Again. President Trump recently signed an executive order to dismantle the process requiring environmental reviews of large infrastructure projects, including oil and gas pipelines. I also learn that the administration is proposing restrictions that would further weaken air pollution controls. As I dig more, I find out that it could get a lot worse for clean water too.
Sadly, I am not surprised. It has been 4 years of chipping away at environmental protections; it’s a long list covering everything under the sun, from vehicle efficiency standards to wildlife protection. I shut down my laptop and step outside. I need fresh air.
At yesterday's Massachusetts Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Commission's quarterly meeting, the state announced a change to the MOR-EV rebate program. This important electric vehicle incentive will now be available to commercial fleet owners, as well as individual residents of the Commonwealth. We applaud the state for taking this step and are encouraged by conversation that further program changes may follow. In fact, we have a couple of ideas...
In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, about 85% of the population is served by investor-owned electric utility distribution companies - Eversource, National Grid, and Unitil. By law, their customers have three options for how they would get their electricity supply. The first option is to stick with the utility’s Basic Service. The second is to select, by yourself for just yourself, a “competitive power supplier”. And the third is to receive the supply service from a community’s municipal aggregation program.
Although municipal aggregation has proven itself to be the superior option for consumers both economically and environmentally, Massachusetts government, especially the Department of Public Utilities, has failed to support the model to the extent necessary to achieve important policy goals.