The Next Opportunity for Growing Renewable Energy in New England: Going Big by Going Regional

Seth Kaplan

The story of renewable energy development in the United States has included many important moments in which the states have provided leadership – most notably through fostering the shaping and building of new markets for renewable energy markets through programs like Renewable Energy Standards (also known “Renewable Portfolio Standards”).  These efforts have been of great value to the states who put them in place and have complemented and reinforced the incentives and programs to build up renewable energy resources like wind and solar by the Federal Government.

We are at a critical moment in the history of renewable energy development.  The collapse of coherent federal renewable energy policy, due to congressional inaction, in the form of failed attempts to put in place a Renewable Energy Standard and renew the Production Tax Credit, has created a greater need for state action – especially when clean renewable energy is an essential puzzle piece in solving the fundamental climate crisis that we face.

An interesting new element in this story is the quest by the New England States, working through a variety of vehicles, to develop a new “regional procurement” strategy that will allow the states to minimize the cost and maximize the benefits of renewable energy development for the region. This idea, also being discussed by leading scholars, could be a way to move forward smart and effective energy and climate policy, producing great value for a very reasonable investment.

This is far from a theoretical question.  Last year, in July 2011, the New England Governors directed their staff and the New England States Committee on Electricity who work with that staff, to continue to develop and build a mechanism for regional procurement. On July 29-30, 2012 the Governors meet again in Burlington Vermont and will hear a report on how that work has gone.  Will they take the critical step of moving beyond study and consideration of this idea and take action?

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4 Responses to “The Next Opportunity for Growing Renewable Energy in New England: Going Big by Going Regional”

  1. Regional procurement of renewables is an interesting idea. Before this could be effective for New England there must be some basic commonality among renewable policies across the New England states. Vermont’s current renewable policies are at best currently an illusion given that Vermont does not have an RPS and its two current programs SPEED (which promotes contracts with larger scale renewables) and the standard offer (which is a feed in tariff) allow the sale of RECs from these projects into the RPS programs of other New England states. Since utilities have no requirement to keep the RECs they view it as prudent to essentially sell all of them into out of state RPS programs. The result is that Vermont state policy procures no new renewables and anyone the claims differently is double counting. Vermonters really are purchasing expensive brown power. Until this policy ends and VT requires the retirement of RECs through a real RPS and/or Feed in tariff then Vermont’s participation in regional procurement would be a sham. CLF should lead the effort to change this policy.

  2. Regional procurement of renewables is an interesting idea. Before this could be effective for New England there must be some basic commonality among renewable policies across the New England states. Vermont’s current renewable policies are at best currently an illusion given that Vermont does not have an RPS and its two current programs SPEED (which promotes contracts with larger scale renewables) and the standard offer (which is a feed in tariff) allow the sale of RECs from these projects into the RPS programs of other New England states. Since utilities have no requirement to keep the RECs they view it as prudent to essentially sell all of them into out of state RPS programs. The result is that Vermont state policy procures no new renewables and anyone the claims differently is double counting. Vermonters really are purchasing expensive brown power. Until this policy ends and VT requires the retirement of RECs through a real RPS and/or Feed in tariff then Vermont’s participation in regional procurement would be a sham. CLF should lead the effort to change this policy.

  3. Regional procurement of renewables is an interesting idea. Before this could be effective for New England there must be some basic commonality among renewable policies across the New England states. Vermont’s current renewable policies are at best currently an illusion given that Vermont does not have an RPS and its two current programs SPEED (which promotes contracts with larger scale renewables) and the standard offer (which is a feed in tariff) allow the sale of RECs from these projects into the RPS programs of other New England states. Since utilities have no requirement to keep the RECs they view it as prudent to essentially sell all of them into out of state RPS programs. The result is that Vermont state policy procures no new renewables and anyone the claims differently is double counting. Vermonters really are purchasing expensive brown power. Until this policy ends and VT requires the retirement of RECs through a real RPS and/or Feed in tariff then Vermont’s participation in regional procurement would be a sham. CLF should lead the effort to change this policy.

  4. Regional procurement of renewables is an interesting idea. Before this could be effective for New England there must be some basic commonality among renewable policies across the New England states. Vermont’s current renewable policies are at best currently an illusion given that Vermont does not have an RPS and its two current programs SPEED (which promotes contracts with larger scale renewables) and the standard offer (which is a feed in tariff) allow the sale of RECs from these projects into the RPS programs of other New England states. Since utilities have no requirement to keep the RECs they view it as prudent to essentially sell all of them into out of state RPS programs. The result is that Vermont state policy procures no new renewables and anyone the claims differently is double counting. Vermonters really are purchasing expensive brown power. Until this policy ends and VT requires the retirement of RECs through a real RPS and/or Feed in tariff then Vermont’s participation in regional procurement would be a sham. CLF should lead the effort to change this policy.

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