The Energy Consumer's Bulletin- a New England energy news blog

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Energy policy & advocacy (2)

What’s Needed in Rhode Island Energy EV Filing

We have been attending Rhode Island Energy’s (RIE’s) quarterly Power Sector Transformation sessions for a few years to learn about and advise on electrification initiatives in the state. At the most recent session, we learned that Rhode Island plans to submit an Electric Vehicle Program Filing with the PUC this Fall. Given that transportation is the largest source of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions in the state, RIE’s EV programming will be a key piece of Rhode Island’s approach to meeting the emissions reduction mandate of the Act on Climate. Recognizing this important role, we submitted this memoto key stakeholders detailing what we think RIE EV programs must include to result in adequate emissions reductions. Below are our four main points:

Picture of Amanda Barker Amanda Barker

Biodiesel & the Clean Heat Standard

In previous blogs, we expressed strong support for a Clean Heat Standard (CHS) as a policy to decarbonize the building sector. We have also expressed vehement opposition to the notion put forth by gas utilities of allowing renewable natural gas and hydrogen to be considered clean heat. This blog covers the question of whether biodiesel ought to be given credit as clean heat when blended with regular heating oil. Biodiesel is a renewable, biodegradable fuel manufactured from vegetable oils, animal fats, or recycled restaurant grease.

Picture of Larry Chretien Larry Chretien

Massachusetts Electric Car Charging Council Issues Report

Last month, we published a blog encouraging residents of Massachusetts to send in comments to the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Coordinating Council (EVICC) as it was preparing its initial assessment for the Legislature. Dozens of you responded and sent in your thoughts on the state of electric vehicle (EV) charging in Massachusetts – thank you! Now, EVICC has published its Initial Assessment. Here’s what’s in that report and what's next.

Picture of Anna Vanderspek Anna Vanderspek

Oil Prices on the Rise Again

If you’ve been following the economic news, you know that inflation has generally subsided and employment has been strong. But in recent weeks, we have seen a rise in oil prices. Nationally, gasoline prices have risen almost a penny per day for the last month. In New England, wholesale heating oil prices have risen almost two pennies per day. What’s going on?

Picture of Larry Chretien Larry Chretien

A good Clean Heat Standard would apply to gas, oil, and propane. Not electricity.

In Massachusetts, both the legislative and executive branches are considering a Clean Heat Standard (CHS) to reduce emissions in the building sector. We’ve been writing a lot about the CHS lately – how it wouldhelp get climate funding for public housing, should encourage electrification, and would allow consumersmore flexibility in home electrification. As the state starts getting into specifics, one thing is clear: a good CHS would apply to gas, oil, and propane, not electricity.

Picture of Larry Chretien Larry Chretien

Tell Massachusetts About Your EV Charging Needs

Updated July 26 to add third public hearing and how to submit written comments!

Last year’s climate law in Massachusetts set up an Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Coordinating Council (EVICC) that has been meeting since the spring to prepare a report on the Commonwealth’s electric vehicle (EV) charging needs. This month, EVICC is hosting three public hearings for residents to share their experiences and inviting written public comment.

Picture of Anna Vanderspek Anna Vanderspek

Rhode Island Must Increase its Capacity to Make Climate Progress

Rhode Island has committed to combating climate change by adopting one of the strongest climate policies in the nation: An Act on Climate, committing the state to 45% emissions reduction by 2030 and net zero by 2050. While Rhode Island is at the forefront of aggressive climate policy, it is not alone. California, New York, and Massachusetts all have similar emissions reductions targets and the ultimate goal of net zero by 2050. The difference is that these states have all backed up their commitment by making budgetary allocations for decarbonization. Rhode Island has just recently taken a modest step towards funding its decarbonization efforts.

Picture of Amanda Barker Amanda Barker

Victory in New Building Decarbonization at the Eleventh Hour!

Late into the last night (early morning on June 16, actually) of session, the RI General Assembly passed S855 Sub A requiring the RI building code commission to adopt the 2024 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) within 3 months of its publication, which is expected this Fall. Rhode Island is now set to become the first state to adopt the 2024 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). This legislation was one of Green Energy Consumers’ top priorities this legislative session, especially since the state currently uses only the 2018 IECC with weakening amendments. Adopting this code will mean that new buildings in Rhode Island will be more energy efficient and have much lower emissions than ever before.

Picture of Amanda Barker Amanda Barker

Public Housing Needs Climate Funding: A Clean Heat Standard Will Help

Through the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA), Massachusetts is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the entire economy, including the transportation, electricity, and building sectors (45% by 2030 and net zero by 2050). The building sector includes about 73,000 public housing units for the most vulnerable people in society. Rents are pegged to 30% of the residents' incomes. Public housing has been chronically underfunded for decades, leading to a multi-billion dollar capital backlog that reduces building efficiency and dramatically impacts tenants’ quality of life. So naturally, if we want to reduce the energy consumption of public housing and improve conditions for its residents, we need to be serious about where the funding will come from.

A Clean Heat Standard Ought to be About Electrification — That Means Lowering Electricity Rates

Decarbonizing buildings means putting an end to burning stuff in order to stay warm – whether methane, oil, or propane. The sustainable way to keep ourselves warm is through high-efficiency heat pumps (air-source or ground-source). That’s not just us talking, that’s the conclusion that Massachusetts has come to with its Clean Heat Commission report and Clean Energy and Climate Plans for 2030 and 2050. It’s also now policy for the state of New York. But this blog is not about whether we should electrify the heating sector. It’s this: People will switch to heat pumps and away from fossil fuels faster if we reduce electricity rates to make heat pumps more affordable.

Picture of Larry Chretien Larry Chretien