Value-added power

2014 was a record-breaking year for renewable energy, with the installation of new  wind, solar, hydro, and other natural sources of power outpacing traditional sources of generation worldwide. The U.S. Department of Energy also recently announced it has secured billions of dollars for a center to help investors support clean energy projects. Leaders, from political to religious, are calling for a greener grid.

As policies and projects work toward a cleaner energy future, there is the potential for significant job growth. Modernizing the grid and developing clean energy technologies will require thousands of skilled workers, adding to the benefits of renewable energy investments both here in New Hampshire and elsewhere.

Energy Jobs by Sector

According to jobs tracking analysis by Environmental Entrepreneurs, these renewable energy and associated manufacturing sectors announced more than 30,000 jobs in the U.S. in 2014. An additional 16,000+ jobs were announced in the areas of transportation, recycling, and building efficiency. Source: E2, www.cleanenergyworksforus.org

 

Record Year for Renewable Power; Heat, Transport Stay Fossil
AP via New York Times, 17 June 2015

Canada passes major wind energy milestone
Fierce Energy, 16 June 2015

Success of ‘Solarize RI’ campaign brings new renewable energy opportunities
WPRI, 17 June 2015

Back at work, Biden touts clean energy to investors
USA Today, 16 June 2015

As the pope opines on climate change, O’Malley releases a clean energy agenda
Washington Post, 18 June 2015

Eversource pledges local jobs
New Hampshire Union Leader, 17 June 2015

Collin O’Mara and Michael Sabitoni: Block Island Wind Farm could launch new American energy revolution
Providence Journal, 22 June 2015

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Challenges today securing energy for tomorrow

What will it take to truly transform the grid? Will tomorrow’s energy still benefit from today’s shale gas boom? Will wind, sun, and water fuel the future? One report suggests it’s possible to run America entirely on renewables within a generation, but industry observers are quick to note the incredible amount of logistical and political coordination required to make that possible.

Overcoming the challenges that surround energy development is something stakeholders in New England and around the country are working on. Meanwhile energy companies and regulators are feeling more pressure to lower greenhouse gas emissions, find cleaner energy sources, and lower costs for consumers.

US 100 Percent Renewable

Data from the study “100% clean and renewable wind, water, and sunlight (WWS) all-sector energy roadmaps for the 50 United States,” as relayed online by Vox.

The links below are referenced in the article above

The Three Seismic Shifts That Are Shaking Up the World of Energy
Bloomberg Business, 10 June 2015

“The rise in U.S. crude output has simply been explosive. America added 1.6 million barrels a day in 2014, taking production past its previous peak in 1970. It also made the U.S. the world’s largest crude producer, knocking Saudi Arabia off its perch.”

Amid low prices, US oil output may be nearing peak
Boston Globe, 6 June 2015

“But some industry analysts say projections of peak production are shaky because it’s difficult to project future drilling costs and global energy prices. Joe Petrowski, managing partner at Mercantor Partners, a Framingham energy investment and management firm, said drilling technologies will keep improving, thus allowing drillers to extract ever more oil and gas from shale fields at lower costs.”

Vermont governor to sign renewable energy bill
AP via WCAX, 11 June 2015

“Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin is planning to sign into law a bill that retools Vermont’s system for promoting renewable energy.”

Here’s what it would take for the US to run on 100% renewable energy
Vox, 9 June 2015

“No one can say any longer, at least not without argument, that moving the US quickly and entirely to renewables is impossible. Here is a way to do it, mapped out in some detail. But it is extremely ambitious.”

Part 2: What states are doing on energy
CommonWealth, 8 June 2015

“The challenge for governors, legislators, and regulators is to size expenditures appropriately to meet our near- and mid-term needs, while keeping us on the right path for the energy system of the future.”

Clean Power Plan: Utility Industry Says It Will Do The ‘Right Thing’
Forbes, 11 June 2015

“’With all the activity we have had with stakeholders, this industry has moved the ball forward,’ says Nick Akins, chief executive of Columbus, Ohio-based American Electric Power and the newly-elected chair of the Edison Electric Institute, during a press gathering at this week’s conference.”

Pipeline debate lives on
Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 14 June 2015

“A realistic solution, as we’ve said previously, requires more of everything — renewable resources certainly, conservation absolutely, and added pipeline capacity for now. The issues and solutions occupy all our backyards.”

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Currents of change

There were two significant developments last week that have the potential to change the shape of New England’s energy landscape. The U.S. Department of Energy released a report that recommends the permitting of a clean energy transmission project and the New Hampshire Legislature passed a bill that lays the framework for completing deregulation in the state.

At first blush, these seem to be two very different energy issues. One deals with adding clean, renewable hydropower to the grid and the other anticipates the divestiture of the generating assets of the state’s largest utility. Yet they share the common goal that nearly every pending energy proposal seeks to claim – to help ease the burden of the region’s high energy prices.

There are, however, many milestones that energy projects must meet on the path to becoming reality – both in the form of permitting and earning support. Along the way, compromise and reason are keys to ensuring projects like these help solve the challenge of high electricity costs.

 

Canadian power line project for New England advances
Boston Globe, 4 June 2015

“TDI’s $1.2-billion proposal would involve burying 154 miles of cables under Lake Champlain and over land in Vermont. It is one of several proposed transmission projects to bring non-fossil fuel electricity into New England. Other proposals include an undersea cable from Maine backed by National Grid , an overland transmission route supported by Eversource , and a joint proposal by National Grid and Emera, a Maine utility.”

House OKs bill key to settling with Eversource
New Hampshire Union Leader, 3 June 2015

“Supporters say the settlement will provide stable electric rates for Eversource customers for years to come instead of the rate volatility of recent years. And they say it will save ratepayers $380 million in costs over the next five years.”

Study: Transmission Line Under Lake Would Have Minor Environmental Impact
Vermont Public Radio, 4 June 2015

“In essence, the study says that if this project doesn’t work out, Vermont will still have to do something to meet demand. It’s possible meeting demands through other means would bring non-renewable energy into the state’s portfolio, so not building a transmission line that’s expected to bring hydro-electric power from Canada to Vermont carries some environmental risk.”

Vote clears way for sale of N.H. power plants; payment for scrubber set
Concord Monitor, 4 June 2015

“’Many of us made a campaign promise to do what we could to control electric costs in the state,’ Republican House Majority Leader Jack Flanagan said in a statement. ‘This is a proactive measure that will save New Hampshire electric ratepayers millions of dollars.’”

Pipeline backer: Shortage is ‘painful for families’
New Hampshire Union Leader, 6 June 2015

“In a June 2 filing with the PUC, Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP) notes New Hampshire and the New England region ‘are consistently experiencing the highest electricity and natural gas prices in the continental United States,’ which it claims can be ‘significantly reduced through contracting for and building additional pipeline capacity in the region.’”

A long road lies ahead for pipeline plan
Keene Sentinel, 7 June 2015

“The project won’t need a input from the N.H. Legislature, and local zoning requirements are unlikely to stand in the way of Kinder Morgan’s path once federal approval is granted.

‘There isn’t a simple process,” Silverman said. “It would be nice if there was.’”

Poll: New Hampshire split on energy projects
AP via Foster’s Daily Democrat, 30 May 2015

“The WMUR Granite State poll shows 18 percent of New Hampshire adults are very familiar with the Northern Pass project to bring hydro-electric power from Canada through New Hampshire. Among those who have at least some familiarity with the project, 42 percent support it and 34 percent oppose it.”

Monitor Board of Contributors: Solutions to big problems become possible only when ideology is absent
Concord Monitor, 4 June 2015

“There are major, serious problems to be solved in our world, nation and state: addressing climate change, providing affordable and effective health care to all, reforming tax laws to be more fair and equitable, finding the right level of regulation so we can have both a healthy environment and robust private enterprise. None of this can be solved by ideologues or rigid ideologies.”

Lights On: Energy Customers Grapple With Soaring Prices
CBS Boston, 1 June 2015

“Utility company phone lines have been lighting up with customers seeking answers on the amount their bill indicates they now owe.”

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Business Leaders Speak Out About New England’s Energy Challenges

This spring, business organizations from across New England made an unprecedented effort to urge policy makers to help solve the region’s energy crisis. The heads of the New Hampshire Business and Industry Association, the Maine Chamber of Commerce, the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, and the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, which represent some of the largest companies in New England, co-signed a letter to their respective governors. In it they asked the governors to work together and allow for timely development of energy projects.

“While all the groups below support energy efficiency and the development of renewable energy, the need for low-cost, reliable energy to replace retiring generation sources is undeniable,” they wrote. “Lack of urgent leadership by New England’s governors may well lead to higher unemployment and a lagging economy for years to come.”

The rising electricity rates of the past few years have impacted nearly everyone in New Hampshire, but few have been hit harder than the manufacturing industry.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, electricity rates for New Hampshire’s industrial sector were more than twice the national average this past winter and are 120 percent higher than rates in Texas, a state that has seen rapid growth since the recession.

For these large companies, even a small variation in electricity rates can cost thousands of dollars. Leaders of some of New Hampshire’s largest businesses have been sounding the alarm about this problem for more than a year. They argue that if electricity prices continue to rise, it will hurt their ability to operate in the state.

“Lack of urgent leadership by New England’s governors may well lead to higher unemployment and a lagging economy for years to come.”

Paul Markwardt, the head of the state’s largest manufacturer, BAE Systems, in Nashua, recently wrote that having some of the highest electricity costs in the country makes the cost of doing business in New Hampshire uncompetitive: “Policy leaders in New Hampshire and New England should take immediate steps to secure an increase in the region’s energy supply. Failure to do so will only deepen and extend our energy crisis, stifling economic growth.”

In an opinion article, John Olson, president of Whelen Engineering Company, in Charlestown, also warned of the damage that could be caused by ignoring this problem: “The shortage of energy, most importantly electricity, may well curtail any expansion of existing businesses with additional jobs, or actually shrink the businesses. If they are small and energy dependent, they may be forced to close or leave New Hampshire.”

The region’s independent grid operator, ISO New England, has voiced similar concerns for the past few years. It has taken the position that reducing electricity rates is dependent upon building additional energy infrastructure and adding more diverse sources of energy.

Energy experts largely agree that for New England to move away from high rates and market-influenced price spikes toward a more affordable, reliable system, the region must build additional energy infrastructure. There is no one project that will fix all of our problems. Transmission lines to clean energy sources like Canadian hydropower and wind, pipelines to low-cost natural gas, and other clean energy sources like solar, are all needed. Northern Pass, which will deliver clean, affordable hydropower, is one such solution.

Our elected leaders have acknowledged that infrastructure is vital to bringing down electricity prices and producing cleaner energy. The longer this problem goes unaddressed, the more acute it will become for manufacturers, small business owners, and residents alike. Business leaders have made it clear that something must be done soon. It is now up to New Hampshire and the rest of the region to take action.

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What’s old is new again

Is the United States on the verge of an energy revolution? Or is history repeating itself? Renewable energy is nothing new, but its integration into our electrical grid has the potential to be transformative. Some of the most popular forms of renewable energy have yet to prove they’re reliable for modern demands and proposed projects face their share of setbacks; and, like their fossil-fueled cousins, they are subject to intense scrutiny.

eia renewable chart

This EIA graph shows the amount of energy generated by renewable sources is on the rise. Source: www.EIA.gov

Renewable energy advocates, however, say these sources can lower electricity costs, cut carbon emissions, and generate jobs. Policy makers here in New England and in Washington D.C., meanwhile, are looking at ways to ensure renewable energy continues to make strides.

Solar Shines as Sellers Sometimes Pay Buyers to Use Power
Bloomberg, 26 May 2015

Clean energy use is at its highest level since the Depression
Fortune, 28 May 2015

Wind Power Could Be Coming To All 50 States, Report Says
Huffington Post, 26 May 2015

Revolution? More like a crawl
Politico.com, June 2015

Offshore wind farm shot down again by New Jersey
NJ.com, 29 May 2015

Woodstock Group Balks at Solar Plan
Valley News, 28 May 2015

West Warwick voters OK purchase 3 wind turbines that will offset all utilities costs
Providence Journal, 22 May 2015

Canadian Hydropower can Help States Achieve Carbon-Cutting Goals
The Energy Collective, 5 May 2015

The Economics of Renewable Energy: Falling Costs and Rising Employment
Huffington Post, 27 May 2015

Legislative Wrap: State passes ambitious renewable energy goal
VT Digger, 25 May 2015

Dave Solomon’s Power Plays: Angus King wants everyone to be a power producer
New Hampshire Union Leader, 27 May 2015

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File under non-fiction

The story line is almost rote by now – electricity prices are high and volatile (they dropped from a near-record high in February to a near record low in April). A variety of forces contributes to this phenomenon, but the primary cause is New England’s constrained access to sources of power. Proposed projects that could help face controversy that can potentially slow progress. The changing dynamic of the grid puts future prices and stability into question. There is growing consensus, not just in New England but nationally, around a common vision of a cleaner energy future. But as the debate over projects and policies continues, that reality of high power prices is becoming a major deterrent to economic growth in the region.

iso april prices

This ISO-New England chart shows wholesale power and natural gas prices over the last dozen years. The last three years have seen the most volatile swings from record lows to record highs.

Wholesale price of electricity rose 13 percent, report says
New Haven Register, 20 May 2015

It’s Our Aging Energy Infrastructure, Stupid.
Forbes, 21 May 2015

Wholesale electricity prices and demand in New England
ISO-Newswire, 21 May 2015

Natural gas pipeline battle hammers New England ratepayers
Watchdog.org, 20 May 2015

Obama climate rules will double coal plant closures: Study
CNBC, 22 May 2015

Guest Opinion: Addressing the high cost of energy in Massachusetts
The Herald News, 20 May 2015

Southern Company subsidiary furthers renewable energy leadership by acquiring 103-megawatt Georgia solar project
Market Watch, 21 May 2015

Massachusetts natural gas pipeline investment plan questioned
Platts, 18 May 2015

Charles Arlinghaus: New Hampshire has sunk to the economic bottom
New Hampshire Union Leader, 19 May 2015

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Energy front and center

What will our energy future look like and how will we get there? These are questions being publically pondered not only in New England but also across the country. Policy makers and regulators at the local and national levels face a complicated mix of challenges: increase energy supplies, meet high environmental standards, ensure reliability, integrate new technologies, keep costs low, and consider the concerns of project opponents.

Building the compromise necessary to achieve those goals is critical. Affordable, reliable energy is vital to our economic success.

 

Time to upgrade U.S. energy infrastructure
The Hill, 14 May 2015

“Years of local opposition to a broad array of energy infrastructure projects—natural gas, offshore wind, nuclear or otherwise—has exacerbated the problem, leaving the region with the highest electricity prices in the nation.”

Why LePage took his energy agenda to Congress
Bangor Daily News, 13 May 2015

“Any projects to get Canadian hydropower or more natural gas into Maine’s energy grid require some form of federal oversight, which is why Maine’s governor testified Wednesday before a U.S. House subcommittee, asking to ease permitting on natural gas pipelines, international power transmission projects and domestic hydropower dams.”

Law creates Vermont’s first renewable energy standards
VTDigger, 15 May 2015

“The bill incentivizes the build-out of 400 megawatts of new renewable energy generation by 2032, according to the Shumlin administration. It also encourages utilities to reduce customers’ fossil fuel consumption through the use of heat pumps and electric cars.”

Susquehanna-Roseland power line, a $1.4 billion project, switched on
Lehigh Valley Live, 13 May 2015

“It cost $1.4 billion and is designed to bolster electricity reliability for the power grid run by Pennsylvania-based PJM Interconnection that serves 61 million people in all or parts of 13 states plus the District of Columbia.”

U.S. natural gas projects face Keystone-like resistance
USA Today, 17 May 2014

“‘These are things that pipeline developers have had to deal with for a long time. But we’ve seen a change in the debate. I hesitate to put it this way, but call it the Keystone-ization of every pipeline project that’s out there, that if you can stop one permit, you can stop the development of fossil fuels. That’s changing the way we have to manage these projects.'”

A Bipartisan Approach to Energy
Real Clear Policy, 15 May 2015

“With the QER, Congress has an opportunity to move beyond the distracting and highly partisan Keystone XL pipeline debate and focus instead on urgently needed improvements to America’s aging energy systems.”

NH moves up to 21st in magazine’s ‘Best & Worst States for Business’ list
New Hampshire Union Leader, 10 May 2015

“’If they were, our ranking would very likely be much worse,’ he said. ‘New England businesses and residents paid $2 billion more for electricity during the winter just ended than we did during the winter of 2011-12, a more normal winter with a balanced supply of energy to meet demand.’”

 

 

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Energy is good for business

It’s tough to do business without affordable, reliable electricity. We’ve heard more and more businesses and opinion leaders make this point, urging New England to address these energy challenges before they further harm the region’s economic competitiveness.

Across the region, there is a desire to invest in various kinds of energy infrastructure. There is now a clear consensus that new and diverse energy sources will help alleviate this critical issue – and deliver a potential host of other benefits. From jobs and tax revenue to carbon reduction and reliability, building a strong energy economy is central to maintaining a strong overall economy.energy jobs

 

Paul Markwardt: More energy needed to power NH
New Hampshire Union Leader, 9 May 2015

“…the undeniable fact is that without a major focus on bringing more power supply to the grid, the cost of electricity – essentially, the cost of doing business – will continue to increase, harming the competitiveness of New Hampshire businesses in U.S. and global markets.”

Charles M. Arlinghaus: New Hampshire is being ruined by too many BANANAS
New Hampshire Union Leader, 5 May 2015

“Slowly but surely the dynamism that used to be our job market has turned to stagnation. Mediocre job growth means people don’t move here much, younger people can’t stay even if they want to, and too many Granite Staters have to work in Boston or some other place at the end of a horrific commute. . . And the biggest hole in our competitive armor is electricity.”

Solar installation firm to open second NH office
New Hampshire Business Review, 4 May 2015

“The new office reflects the increased competition and growth of the solar energy industry in New Hampshire. Last week, SolarCity, the nation’s largest installer of residential solar energy systems, said it would soon be opening an office in Manchester and hiring as many as 100 people.”

Transmission line upgrades would add jobs, tax revenue, study finds
Albany Times Union, 6 May 2015

“Transmission line upgrades by National Grid would add $20 million to the tax base in the Capital Region and lead to 264 new permanent jobs locally, according to a new study commissioned by the utility.”

Maine wind energy advocates unveil study touting industry’s benefits
Bangor Daily News, 5 May 2015

“Among other things, the study found carbon dioxide emissions in 2013 decreased by 490,000 tons because of wind-generated power from Maine. According to Payne, that’s the equivalent to the pollution from 94,000 Maine automobiles.”

View: Nuclear energy faces market crunch
Lower Hudson, 5 May 2015

“Nuclear energy plants in New York also employ more than 3,440 highly skilled employees with an annual payroll of $274 million. They contribute more than $55 million in state and local taxes, and are critical to the economic livelihood of communities across the state.”

NH moves up to 21st in magazine’s ‘Best & Worst States for Business’ list
New Hampshire Union Leader, 10 May 2015

“Jim Roche, president of the state’s Business and Industry Association, noted that energy costs were not a factor in the rankings. . . ‘If they were, our ranking would very likely be much worse,’ he said. ‘New England businesses and residents paid $2 billion more for electricity during the winter just ended than we did during the winter of 2011-12, a more normal winter with a balanced supply of energy to meet demand.’”

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Fundraising Letter Misrepresents Northern Pass Project

route wrong

Incorrect map used in Fundraising letter: Chichester not on route

route correct

Actual map of proposed route: See full map on project website

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some New Hampshire residents recently received a letter from the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (the Forest Society) asking them to “give generously” to fight the current Northern Pass transmission line project. This campaign aims to raise $475,000 to fund further opposition to the project.

There is inaccurate information about the project that we felt an obligation to clarify so that residents can fully evaluate the facts associated with Northern Pass.

This recent fundraising letter misrepresents the actual Northern Pass route and leaves out important details about the project:

  • According to the Forest Society map included in the letter, the town of Chichester is on the proposed route. Chichester is not along the proposed route and hasn’t been since 2013.
  • The letter states that the project wants to “build more than 40 miles of new transmissionline in northern New Hampshire,” but fails to mention that 8 miles of this section will be constructed underground, under public roadways, and that the remaining miles are on land either owned by Northern Pass or leased from willing landowners.
  • The fundraising letter states that the project wants to “cross three conserved Forest Society Reservations,” but does not tell the reader that those are areas where an electric transmission or transportation corridor already exist today.
  • The letter states that the project poses a “threat to property rights,” but also explains (correctly) that Northern Pass “cannot use the state’s power of eminent domain to take land…,” a contradiction that the Forest Society has repeated on numerous occasions.
  • The letter states that the project as proposed would “build more than 1,500 towers as high as 145 feet…” yet fails to provide any context, leaving readers with a skewed vision of what the project may look like. Along the entire 187 miles of the proposed route, the project includes four (4) structures at 145 feet, and one (1) structure at 155 feet. The majority of the structures in the current proposal are between 85 and 95 feet. Missing, too, is a reminder that almost 80 percent of the proposed route is located along existing transmission corridors, where other power lines already exist.

While we are disappointed that the public is receiving inaccurate information about this important clean energy project, we appreciate the opportunity to correct these misrepresentations via our website, Facebook page, and the many face-to-face meetings we are having across New Hampshire. A comprehensive public permitting process is underway at the federal level, and a state process will soon begin here in New Hampshire. Both of these review processes will consider the facts associated with the proposed project, solicit public input, and determine whether the Northern Pass project satisfies the siting requirements outlined by the Department of Energy and the New Hampshire siting laws governing new energy projects.

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Springing innovation

The first days of May marked some milestones in the energy industry. Solar energy giant Solar City announced it will begin operating in New Hampshire, potentially making this clean energy source more affordable for many residents. Solar may also become more reliable, thanks to newly announced Tesla batteries that claim to store electricity more affordably than others. And Last week off the Rhode Island coast, America’s first off-shore wind project broke ground.

New England’s clean energy expansion comes with some questions yet to be answered – what sources of power should back up the intermittent nature of wind and solar? How will these sources, especially wind energy, reach the grid? These points and more are before New England elected officials as they look to relieve the region’s energy crisis, recently agreeing to work within their own states on energy policy while also collaborating on meeting the region’s energy needs.

Renewable chart EIA

This chart from the Energy Information Administration shows solar and wind power making up more of the nation’s renewable energy supply – with the continued backing of other “base load” renewables like hydropower and biomass. Source: EIA.gov

Solar Energy Giant Moves into N.H. Market
NHPR, 28 May 2015

Tesla’s New Battery Will Make Lithium Ion the New AA
Wired, 1 May 2015

Standing Tall: R.I. pioneers ocean energy
Providence Journal, 2 May 2015

Page: Hang on to clean energy
Times Argus, 5 May 2015

Region’s high energy demands draw New England leaders to Hartford
Masslive.com, 23 April 2015

N.E. Governors Change Course on Paying for Energy Projects
Hartford Courant, April 23 2015

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