Plugging In

Plugging In

Energy and the Environment

Eversource’s solar proposal needs to go

Eversource’s solar proposal needs to go

Special charge violates principles of utility ratemaking

HEADS UP EVERSOURCE CUSTOMERS – a discriminatory charge could be coming your way. In its latest general rate case, Eversource announced that it would like to impose a “demand charge” on utility customers with home solar. To put it simply, homeowners with solar would be hit with an additional, unnecessary charge based on how much(...)

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New England’s power grid operator is biased

New England’s power grid operator is biased

Gordon van Welie is a cheerleader for natural gas pipelines

TWENTY YEARS AGO, as part of its effort to create competitive electricity markets, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) authorized the Independent System Operator of New England (ISO New England) to oversee the region’s electric grid. Though it has never been a household name, ISO New England is the ultimate power behind the flipping of(...)

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Reducing power plant emissions is not enough

Reducing power plant emissions is not enough

We need carbon pricing to reach state’s environmental goals

AS A SHELLSHOCKED NATION assesses the damage of Hurricane Harvey, scientists are pointing to warming oceans and rising sea levels as key culprits behind one of the most expensive natural disasters in history. To most, Harvey represents a wakeup call around the urgent need to name and address climate change. Yet our nation’s leaders are(...)

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Northern Pass dealt a regulatory blow

Northern Pass dealt a regulatory blow

NH committee postpones decision on transmission project

A NEW HAMPSHIRE REGULATORY AGENCY said on Thursday it won’t be able to meet its Sept. 30 deadline for making a go-no go decision on Eversource’s Northern Pass transmission project. The agency is now promising an oral decision by the end of February and a written decision a month later. Eversource, which is vying for(...)

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National Grid, Hydro-Quebec snipe over hydro power

National Grid, Hydro-Quebec snipe over hydro power

Companies jockey for position in competition for clean energy contract

NATIONAL GRID AND HYDRO-QUEBEC, two companies competing for Massachusetts clean energy contracts, are sniping at each other over the environmental benefits of hydroelectricity in dueling CommonWealth opinion pieces. The op-eds raise questions about the state’s priorities as it pursues clean energy and also illustrate the high stakes involved as a host of companies vie for(...)

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No clean energy shell game

No clean energy shell game

Hydropower infrastructure can’t be built in a day

IN HIS COMMONWEALTH MAGAZINE op-ed entitled “Quebec hydropower is ‘shell game,’” John Flynn misses the point about Hydro-Québec’s growth and export strategy. We are not taking clean energy from one region and sending it to another; we’re increasing our deliveries to all of our markets. Furthermore, we are continuing to build our generating fleet of clean,(...)

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Quebec hydropower is ‘shell game’

Quebec hydropower is ‘shell game’

It’s not new clean energy, so benefits are minimal

RON GERWATOWSKI’S OP-ED (“Price shouldn’t be sole focus of clean energy buys”) makes an essential point about clean-energy procurement. In the end, Massachusetts’ historic legislation to harness significantly more renewable energy will involve tradeoffs. But in highlighting the potential of hydropower, Gerwatowski ignores a crucially important distinction: Not all clean energy procurement is created equal.(...)

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NE states propose 30% cut in power plant emissions

NE states propose 30% cut in power plant emissions

Nine states, including Mass., favor lowering cap from 2020 to 2030

NINE NORTHEASTERN AND MID-ATLANTIC STATES, including Massachusetts, unveiled a proposal on Wednesday that would require power plants running on fossil fuels to cut their carbon dioxide emissions 30 percent between 2020 and 2030. The proposal was unveiled by the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which sets an overall cap on power plant emissions in the nine(...)

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Sorting out our perverse electricity markets

Sorting out our perverse electricity markets

Natural gas is getting a bum rap in renewables debate

THE RECENT ANNOUNCEMENT by developers of the Access Northeast natural gas pipeline that they are suspending the project until legislation allows for electric ratepayer financing of pipelines illustrates a major flaw in our electricity markets. A market structure that doesn’t incentivize natural gas power generators to subscribe to firm pipeline capacity, and federal open access(...)

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Price shouldn’t be sole focus of clean energy buys

Price shouldn’t be sole focus of clean energy buys

Procurements are about reducing greenhouse gas emissions

NEWS ITEM: Large-scale hydro-electricity from Hydro-Quebec may cost more than the average wholesale price of energy.  Should we be alarmed by this?  Not quite. But why not? First, some background.  Unless you have been living in Antarctica watching melting ice during the last year, you probably already know that the Massachusetts Legislature passed important energy(...)

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