Clean Energy Making Headlines on a Local, Regional, and Global Stage

The clean energy industry is closing out 2018 with a roar as major accomplishments are achieved across several sectors. Here is a run down of some the biggest news to break as we head into the new year.

Offshore Wind

Last week, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) selected three offshore wind developers from a field of 19 in their auctions for locations south of Martha’s Vineyard. Three companies, Mayflower Wind Energy, Vineyard Wind, and Equinor (all NECEC member companies), emerged as the winners in this record-setting sale.  According to BOEM, the results of the auction could yield 4.1 gigawatts of commercial wind generation, enough electricity to power around 1.5 million homes. With these bids, it is clear that offshore wind is no longer a nascent industry in Massachusetts. In fact, the sector saw 11% job growth over the past year, according to the 2018 Massachusetts Clean Energy Industry Report, a number that will only keep rising.

Solar

ISO-New England, the Northeast’s electric grid operator, recently reported that solar power shifted peak demand on Thanksgiving from the usual midmorning spike. While turkey roasting and parade watching usually lead to immense demand for power earlier in the day, electricity generated from the region’s more than 150,000 solar panels displaced the need for power from traditional generators like nuclear and natural gas. This is the first time peak demand did not occur midmorning on Thanksgiving since ISO-New England began recording relevant data in 2000, a major milestone. The accomplishment reflects a major scale up in solar over the past couple of years and will undoubtedly provide momentum to the sector heading into 2019.

Clean Transportation

Perhaps more than any other sector, clean transportation is dominating headlines these last few weeks. The buzz began earlier in the month with the release of a two-part report in Massachusetts by the Commission on the Future of Transportation. The report will guide the Baker-Polito administration as they prepare to drastically reduce emissions from the sector between 2020 and 2040.

Then, just this week, nine states and Washington, D.C. (including four of NECEC’s states, MA, RI, CT and VT), announced plans to establish a market-based cap and invest program on transportation emissions. The announcement followed a year-long phase of public comments and stakeholder engagement by the Transportation and Climate Initiative. NECEC actively supported a regional solution to transportation emissions, identifying a cap and invest program similar to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative as perhaps the best solution to cleaning the sector while protecting our environment and growing our economy.

Massachusetts Comprehensive Energy Plan

On December 12, the Baker-Polito administration released Massachusetts’ first-ever Comprehensive Energy Plan (CEP), commissioned as a part of the governor’s Executive Order No. 569, Establishing an Integrated Climate Change Strategy for the Commonwealth. The report outlines the path forward for the Commonwealth to achieve cleaner, more affordable energy while reducing intermittency in the process. The CEP forecasts more than a 30% reduction in emissions from 1990 by 2030. In 2020, a new CECP will be published setting a greenhouse gas emission limit for 2030 with policies and strategies for achieving that goal.

New York 100% Renewable by 2040

On Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo declared his intention for New York to be powered by 100% clean electricity by 2040. Though not yet a legally binding commitment, the Empire State joins California, Hawaii, New Jersey, and Washington with 100% renewable goals. Cuomo is touting the target as a part of a “Green New Deal,” an idea that is quickly picking up steam among some incoming members of Congress.

COP24

Finally, at the United Nation’s COP24 in Katowice, Poland, more than 190 countries agreed to a set of rules for implementing the Paris agreement on climate change. A recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change noted that carbon emissions must be cut in half by 2030 in order to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. While the framework of the Paris agreement will not currently achieve such prevention, the rules set in Katowice are an important step towards building a truly clean economy and establishing more ambitious reductions commitments in the near future.

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Brennan Molina

Brennan is NECEC's Membership & Events Manager.