BEACON HILL HAPPENINGS
– Is Mass. Keeping Its Offshore Wind, Hydro Procurement Promises?: Back in 2017, Massachusetts began two efforts to buy of both offshore wind and out-of-state clean energy. We have summarized and evaluated what has happened over the last two years, and think about the future of both efforts. Both efforts originate from the state’s 2016 energy diversity bill, which required Massachusetts utilities to enter into 20-year contracts to purchase a total of 2,800 MW of renewable energy. Read more about the progression, and politics, surrounding these two efforts that have the potential to reshape the energy economy in Massachusetts.
– “Among other millennials, Framingham state Rep. Maria Robinson pushes for renewables” (Katie Lannan, SHNS via Metrowest Daily News): “The millennials group supports bills filed by Reps. Marjorie Decker and Sean Garballey and Sen. Jamie Eldridge (H 2836/S 1958) that call for Massachusetts to get all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2035, and fully transition to renewable energy economy-wide, including heating and transportation, by 2045. More than 100 lawmakers have signed on to co-sponsor the 100 percent renewable energy bills, said Garballey, who is also 34.”
– “Youth around the country to lobby state lawmakers, demanding climate action” (Marlene Cimons, Nexus Media via ThinkProgress): “…De Simone is one of hundreds of young people in multiple states — including Massachusetts, New York, Florida, Nebraska, Iowa, Oregon, and Illinois— planning to congregate in statehouses Tuesday, Youth Lobby Climate Day, to try to persuade lawmakers to address climate change. Young people in Washington State will be gathering on Thursday. The vast majority of measures proposed in these states are carbon pricing bills that also include provisions to reinvest the revenue collected back into communities to support, among other things, renewable energy projects.”
– “Massachusetts goes duck hunting” (Christian Roselund & Tim Sylvia, PV Magazine): “Massachusetts is not exactly a natural choice for a leading solar state. Not only is it fairly close to the Canadian border, but the wet Atlantic climate does not offer a lot of sun. Regardless, Massachusetts is a top state for deployment of solar, with nearly 2.5 GW online as of the end of 2018, meeting 5.7% of the state’s electric demand during the year…. So while Massachusetts is known nationally as an innovative state for policy, the administration of Governor Charlie Baker (R) has compelling reasons for designing the policy whose first draft which was unveiled today in Boston: the Clean Peak Standard. This policy is designed to incentivize energy sources that not only supply zero-carbon electricity, but supply it when it is needed.”
ALL POLICY IS LOCAL
– “Winners Outnumber Losers as Massachusetts Goes Green” (Steve Baragona, VOA News): “Although sunshine is not the first image that comes to mind in connection with Massachusetts, policy decisions have propelled the state to third place nationwide in solar jobs, behind sunny California and Florida, which is known as the Sunshine State. Martell says the industry has been growing at a time when there has not been much other work for electricians.”
– “Eversource advances Cape Cod battery project, defers 13-mile distribution line” (Robert Walton, UtilityDive): “Eversource advanced plans to install a 25 MW / 38 MWh lithium-ion battery in Provincetown, Massachusetts, after residents approved a lease for the project last week, the utility announced on Friday. Provincetown, on the northern tip of Cape Cod, has faced an increasing number of power outages as climate change has caused more severe storms, according to an Eversource official. The battery will help maintain power during power outages and would defer construction on a 13-mile distribution line through the Cape Cod National Seashore. Eversource plans to have the battery in service by the end of next year. The utility is also working to develop a 14.9 MW facility on Martha’s Vineyard.”
– “West Tisbury bottle bylaw may be a first in North America” (Rich Saltzberg, MV Times): “The proposed bylaw contained in Article 3 of the West Tisbury annual town meeting warrant, if voted in, could constitute the first such law of its type in the U.S., if not North America, according to the Vineyard Conservation Society (VCS) and the advocacy group Plastic Oceans International. While laws prohibiting plastic water bottles are extant, a law specifically prohibiting plastic soda and water bottles is not, VCS programs and membership coordinator Signe Benjamin told The Times.”
– “’Green Communities’ receive $1.2M in grants” (Mike LaBella, The Eagle Tribune): “The cities of Haverhill and Methuen, along with the towns of Billerica, Boxford, Dracut and Merrimac, are the latest to join the state’s growing list of Green Communities. These municipalities were awarded $1.2 million in Green Community Division designation grants by the Baker-Polito administration to help in their efforts to reduce energy consumption in areas such as municipal buildings by 20 percent over the next five years. Some of the methods to be used to reduce utility bills include installing LED bulbs and energy-efficient heating and air conditioning systems, and purchasing fuel-efficient municipal vehicles.”
– “Vineyard Wind commits to fisheries monitoring” (Mary Ann Bragg, Cape Cod Times): “Vineyard Wind has announced that it will adopt research measures recommended by a local university to monitor the effects on fisheries of the 84-turbine offshore wind farm, which when operational could be the first industrial-sized installation in the country. The company, which intends to begin construction later this year of an 84-turbine wind farm south of Martha’s Vineyard, entered into a multi-faceted agreement in 2017 with the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology.”
PRICE THAT CARBON!
– Transcript: “Conservative Experts Advocate for a Price on Carbon in SCPN Webinar” (Noa Dalzell, Climate XChange): In an era of extreme partisan gridlock, it has been difficult to gain bipartisan support for climate policy. Climate action is, in many ways, now perceived as a liberal issue, with Democrats introducing ambitious policy like the Green New Deal, and Republicans often fervently opposing it. However, some conservatives have prioritized climate and environmental policy, pursuing market-based mechanisms as the optimal way to reduce emissions. Earlier this week, three experts — Alex Bozmoski (RepublicEn), Nader Sobhani (Niskanen Center), and Josiah Neeley (R-Street Institute) — sat down with the State Carbon Pricing Network to make a strong conservative case for carbon pricing. Read the full article about the conversation here.
– “Houston Group Says Coastal “Carbon Marketplace” Could Help Fight Climate Change” (Travis Bubrnik, Houston Public Media): “Texas pumps more carbon emissions into the atmosphere than any other state, according to the Energy Information Administration. But a tiny non-profit on the Texas Gulf Coast says private landowners could be making money off those emissions, while helping to offset them. The group says that the concept of a “market” for carbon — where carbon-producing businesses or individuals would pay landowners to preserve coastal marshes — is a promising business solution in the fight against climate change.”
– “These Countries Have Prices on Carbon. Are They Working?” (Brad Plumer & Nadja Popovich, New York Times): “The idea of putting a price on carbon dioxide emissions to help tackle climate change has been slowly spreading around the globe over the past two decades. This week, Canada’s federal government took the latest step when it extended its carbon-pricing program nationwide by imposing a tax on fossil fuels in four provinces that had declined to write their own climate plans. More than 40 governments worldwide have now adopted some sort of price on carbon, either through direct taxes on fossil fuels or through cap-and-trade programs….
Economists have long suggested that raising the cost of burning coal, oil and gas can be a cost-effective way to curb emissions. But, in practice, most countries have found it politically difficult to set prices that are high enough to spur truly deep reductions…Partly for that reason, carbon pricing has, so far, played only a supporting role in efforts to mitigate global warming. Here are some efforts to date:”
INSIDE THE BELTWAY
– “Inside John Kerry’s shadow diplomacy on climate change” (Amy Harder, Axios): “Former Secretary of State John Kerry is speaking publicly for the first time about a new chapter in his half-century history with Vietnam: an initiative aiming to get the country off coal-fired power… In an exclusive interview with Axios last week, Kerry laid out the broad parameters of a proposal he says would enable the nation to get off coal by financing renewables — and become a model for the rest of Asia, which is heavily dependent on coal.”
BEYOND THE BAY STATE
– “The New Governor of Florida Is Not the Environmental Disaster Everyone Thought He’d Be” (Jackie Flynn Mogensen, MotherJones): “On paper, Ron DeSantis looked like an environmental disaster waiting to happen… But since taking office, the self-described “Teddy Roosevelt conservationist” has been somewhat of a pleasant surprise. Even as his comrades at the national level have pushed for environmental deregulation, imposed budget cuts for environmental programs, and actively censored climate science, DeSantis appears to have broken away from the Republican pack.”
– “States can grow battery resources with ‘one simple step,’ report finds”(Robert Walton, UtilityDive): “States looking to grow battery resources should consider making energy storage eligible for efficiency funding, a report from the Clean Energy Group suggests. The firm’s economic analysis paved the way earlier this year for Massachusetts to adopt that policy. Enacting that first-in-the-nation policy hinged on two steps, according to CEG: including peak demand reduction as an energy efficiency goal, and demonstrating the cost-effectiveness of customer-sited batteries.”
– “Rhode Island giving away 1,000 free trees to conserve energy” (Associated Press): “Rhode Island is once again working with the Arbor Day Foundation to give away trees this spring to help homeowners conserve energy and reduce utility costs. The Department of Environmental Management is giving away 1,000 trees for the energy-savings trees program, now in its eighth season.”
– “Climate activists have their next target: The DNC debates” (Rebecca Leber, Grist): “Environmental and progressive groups including 350.org, Greenpeace, Sunrise movement, Credo Action, and Friends of the Earth plan to ramp up campaigns in the coming weeks and months calling on the Democratic National Committee, as well as the major networks and individual 2020 candidates, to dedicate one of the dozen official debates to a subject that has never gotten its due in primetime.”
– Trump’s 2020 Pitch: No One Cares More About The Environment Than Me (Bess Levin, Vanity Fair): “The president is reportedly working on a re-election strategy that involves the bold claim that he’s a champion of environmental issues… Unsurprisingly, people who actually care about the environment are already calling bullshit.”
GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE
– “Now What? Addressing Climate Change Is Also A Spiritual Matter” (Maria Virginia Olano, Climate Xchange): “Boston native Reverend Mariama White-Hammond recently started her own congregation in the city, with a hope to make climate justice a central pillar of her message. I talked with her about the role of faith and spirituality in conveying the message about a changing climate, and importantly, our individual roles in being part of the solutions.” Read or listen to the full story here.
– “Dumping Capitalism Won’t Save the Planet” by Noah Smith, via Bloomberg.
– “Why Does Donald Trump Hate Wind?” by Michael Mann, via Newsweek.
– “IEA forecasts for demand and climate change can shape attitudes and behaviors.” Read more here.
– “How corn farmers and cows can help avert the climate crisis” by Scott Faber and Colin O’Neil, via the Hill.