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Policy & Advocacy
The Council actively advocates for a slate of federal policy positions aimed at accelerating the regional and national clean energy economy. As we know from our members and our economic and policy analysis, putting a price on carbon is essential to catalyze the innovation, development and deployment of clean energy technologies.
Throughout the spring, NECEC worked with Pew in support of draft, and now final, legislation for Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs). Many NECEC member companies and other stakeholders signed letters of support for this effort.
In coordination with Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), NECEC focused on developing a set of federal tax policy objectives relating to energy.
NECEC formally congratulated former MIT Professor Ernest Moniz on his appointment as Secretary of Energy in May.
NECEC is wrapping up an extremely active spring as the 2013 legislative sessions come to a close in New England. The Policy & Government Affairs team expanded NECEC’s presence across the region, actively advocating for strong clean energy policies in major bills in several of our states, while beating back anti-wind efforts. We also supported state action to reduce the emissions cap under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which required legislation in New Hampshire and Maine. In addition, NECEC held Clean Energy Days in five of the six New England States, involving approximately 30 companies in over 40 meetings with key legislators and leadership.
NECEC has established a strong voice throughout the region, influencing the outcome of major legislation that will lead to the continued growth of New England’s clean energy economy and delivering the benefits of clean and renewable energy to the region’s citizens, businesses and industry.
Connecticut was the major focus of NECEC’s legislative activities this spring and our efforts on two major pieces of legislation paid off. Together these bills will advance critical clean energy initiatives in Connecticut.
Bill 1138 establishes long term contracting for Class I renewable energy sources, but originally included large hydro in the RPS. While other opponents of the legislation engaged primarily in a negative messaging campaign that included efforts to kill the entire bill, NECEC took a balanced but strong approach to improve it. Mobilizing member company executives, engaging local media and editorial boards, and working intimately with legislative leaders over a 4 month period, NECEC educated on the positive and negative elements of the legislation to ensure that an improved bill got done. The end result was a bill that provides for long-term contracts for Class I renewables for up to 4% of load (with an RFP going out shortly), long-term contracts for large hydro outside the RPS for up to 5% of load, and a strong trigger that includes an additional Class I solicitation before any large hydro can be counted toward Connecticut’s aggressive RPS targets. NECEC also supported member companies concerned about biomass and small hydro provisions in the original bill.
Bill 6360, implementing key elements of the Governor’s Comprehensive Energy Strategy, was passed just as the session was ending on June 5th. It doubles energy efficiency funding, eliminates the subsidy limit for oil heat efficiency, expands virtual net metering, establishes benchmarking for state buildings, fixes wind siting regulations and includes provisions for electric vehicles, on-bill repayment of loans for energy efficiency and a combined heat and power pilot.
In Maine, NECEC worked with our partner, E2Tech, to support several clean energy initiatives and we continue to press for final passage into law.
The Maine Legislature recently passed an omnibus energy bill that will advance clean energy in the state. NECEC supported LD 1559, "An Act To Reduce Energy Costs, Increase Energy Efficiency, Promote Electric System Reliability and Protect the Environment," which will save Maine energy consumers and businesses over $200 million per year by increasing investments in energy efficiency, spurring additional gas infrastructure and funding programs to reduce home heating costs. The bill passed by a vote of 131-7 in the House and 29-6 in the Senate and now awaits action from Governor Paul LePage. Should the Governor veto the bill, NECEC will be urging an override.
In addition to submitting supportive testimony on LD 1426, the bill that formed the core of the omnibus energy bill (LD 1559) in May, NECEC also submitted Committee testimony and sent letters on several bills opposing attempts to roll back Maine's aggressive wind permitting laws, and supported one bill that aimed to restore Maine's uniform building and energy code (LD 977).
Massachusetts is in the first year of a two-year legislative session so the pace of legislative activity has been measured. This April, NECEC President Peter Rothstein, a member of the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) Advisory Committee, gave testimony at an Oversight Hearing on the GWSA held by Senator Pacheco. We continue to monitor and weigh in with the Energy Committee chairs and other leadership on bills related to implementation of Commercial PACE, oil heat efficiency, solar property taxes, renewable thermal energy and combined heat and power.
On the policy front, on May 1, Governor Patrick announced that Massachusetts had reached the target goal of 250 MW of residential and commercial solar energy installed in the Commonwealth an impressive four years early and set an ambitious new goal for the Commonwealth of 1,600 MW by 2020. By early June, applications for solar Renewable Energy Certificates had surpassed the original solar program goal of 400 MW, necessitating emergency regulations to manage the growth and ensure consistent support for solar development.
The first half of 2013 also saw NECEC leading a new type of effort in a Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities proceeding on grid modernization that holds the potential to set a benchmark for clean energy policy beyond a single state. We organized a coalition of about twenty clean energy companies and advocates to develop policy recommendations to encourage smart grid technology investments that will facilitate the deployment and integration of distributed resources, including renewable and clean energy generation, demand response, storage and microgrids.
Later in May, NECEC participated in the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office 2013 Energy Summit, where VP, Policy & Government Affairs Janet Gail Besser moderated a panel on the innovative ideas and technologies MA businesses can use to reduce long-term energy costs.
As of June 14, the House and Senate have acted upon all energy related bills, save two RPS-related bills, HB 542 and SB 148. Working with our New Hampshire state coordinator, Kate Epsen, now the Executive Director of the NH Sustainable Energy Association, NECEC actively engaged on several of these bills.
SB 191, a bill to create a state energy strategy and discussed by key stakeholders on NHPR, has passed along with a group net metering bill (SB 98), which expands the state's current net metering program, and will not require utilities to allocate credits across multiple bills, an important difference from many other net metering programs.
HB 306 also passed, allowing NH to remain in compliance with the new RGGI model rule and regional cap level. Both HB 306 and SB 98 will likely go to the Governor for signature soon.
NECEC successfully fought back several attempts to place a moratorium on wind projects; many of these bills were retained for summer study. One bill, SB 99, was modified to become a bill to study the Site Evaluation Committee process and develop detailed siting criteria for wind and other generation and transmission projects. Governor Hassan has not yet signed this bell.
Lastly, despite a NH mini lobby day on preserving the Renewable Energy Fund, as part of its version of the biennial budget, the Senate voted to raid $16.1 million from this dedicated Fund, whose monies come through the RPS. The House budget did not raid these funds. Each body must come to an agreed budget by June 27th, the last day of the NH session. NECEC continues to urge preservation of the Renewable Energy Fund.
In May and June, NECEC focused its Rhode Island Efforts on the Governor’s Energy Reform Act (ERA) and Distributed Generation Standard Contracts (DG) legislation. The Council raised concerns about the procurement of large amounts of large hydro put forth in the ERA and supported the expansion of the DG program to 40 MW per year for four years. NECEC also testified in support of a residential PACE bill and renewable energy tax credit legislation.
In June, Rhode Island State Coordinator, Charity Pennock, was appointed and confirmed to the state's Distributed Generation Contracts Board.
NECEC worked with Renewable Energy Vermont (REV) this spring, providing research support to oppose anti-wind siting legislation (S 30) which originally proposed a three-year wind moratorium. The following legislative update was prepared by REV.
H. 520—This bill contains a number of elements, per the outline below. The final bill may be found here: http://www.leg.state.vt.us/docs/2014/bills/Passed/H-520.pdf
H. 395 — Establishes a Clean Energy Loan Fund under the umbrella of the Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) for customers to utilize loan support for efficiency and renewables projects. Final bill here: www.leg.state.vt.us/docs/2014/bills/Passed/H-395.pdf
H. 405 — Clarifies that the PSB oversight focuses on the electric generation facility of farm methane projects – not manure management, changes to other farm buildings adjacent to the generating system, etc. http://www.leg.state.vt.us/docs/2014/bills/Passed/H-405.pdf
H. 530 — CEDF funding did receive support from the Legislature – mostly from the payments of an air mitigation fund (only a limited sum came from the General Fund) (p. 288 & 290). For Fiscal Year 2014, $2.7 million will be available. Bill here: http://publicservice.vermont.gov/topics/renewable_energy/cedf
MODIFIED S. 30 — This bill began as a 3-year wind moratorium, which became a temporary ban on all new electric generation of various sizes (which is only renewables right now…). Roughly 20 amendments and bills that were anti-renewable energy were defeated. S. 30 became a coordinated effort to bring members of the Legislature together during the non-legislative session to discuss the findings of the Energy Generation Siting Policy Commission (see below for more detail) and includes language regarding wind studies. NECEC provided research support to Renewable Energy Vermont as it worked to oppose anti-wind siting legislation in this bill. Final bill is available here: www.leg.state.vt.us/docs/2014/bills/Passed/S-030.pdf
Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)
In February 2013, the RGGI states issued a new model rule and cap level that locks in emission reductions achieved to date, and continues to drive additional reductions through 2020. NECEC has been actively involved in Maine and New Hampshire, successfully supporting legislation required there to allow the RGGI cap reduction. NECEC and its members testified at hearings, wrote letters to policy makers, and recruited members to promote the business voice in support of the benefits of RGGI. RGGI supporters are now working to help finalize the new rule in each state.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick's May 30th, 2012 Speech - "Shaping Our Energy Future"
Courtesy of the MA Governor's Office
NECEC's First State Clean Energy Day - Massachusetts, March, 2012
The Policy Committee meets regularly to set the Council's advocacy agenda. To join the Policy Committee, contact Janet Besser, jbesser [at] cleanenergycouncil.org.