National Grid Blasted By Environmentalists For Attempts To Skirt Renewable Energy Standard

Brian Barth

Contact:
Jerry Elmer, CLF Staff Attorney
(401) 351-1102, jelmer@clf.org

Three prominent environmental groups today blasted National Grid’s attempt to skirt global warming standards that would require the company to invest in renewable energy projects, like wind and solar. In formal comments to the Public Utility Commission on Docket 3765, which pertains to Rhode Island’s so-called “Renewable Energy Standard,” the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and Environment Rhode Island argued that National Grid should not be allowed to evade its mandatory legal obligation to enter into long-term contracts with suppliers of safe, clean renewable energy.

The groups were responding to a renewable energy procurement plan submitted by National Grid to the PUC in which the energy company argued that it should not be obligated to enter into long-term contracts for renewable energy. “Grid is legally obligated to enter into long-term contracts as a part of meeting the RES requirement. In fact, the public-policy argument that Grid is making now was made by Grid in 2005 . . . . At that time, Grid’s argument was soundly rejected,” the environmental groups said in their comments.

“With the expected sea level rise and temperature increases from climate change, it is utterly ridiculous that National Grid would try and ignore its responsibility to help curb global warming,” explained Jerry Elmer, CLF staff attorney and principal author of comments filed today. “Without long-term contracts, companies seeking to develop new renewable energy projects won’t be able to secure the financing necessary to get up and running.”

“The General Assembly unanimously approved Rhode Island’s Renewable Energy Standard in 2004 to promote the development of clean renewable energy sources,” said Matt Auten of Environment Rhode Island. “The legislative intent of General Assembly was for National Grid to enter into long-term contracts and that decision was reaffirmed by the PUC in 2005. For those who support renewable energy, it is very disappointing that two years later advocates are digging in for another fight at the PUC instead of digging the foundations of new renewable energy projects in Rhode Island”

In their comments the environmental groups also point out that in National Grid’s own PUC submissions a year ago, the company had already acknowledged that it was legally obligated to enter long-term contracts. “In this context, Grid’s belated claim that [the law] does not require it to enter into long-term contracts cannot be taken seriously,” the comment says.

Rhode Island’s Renewable Energy Standard was approved by the General Assembly in 2004 to encourage investment in renewable energy sources, like wind and solar, and reduce harmful power plant pollution that contributes to global warming and harms public health. Rhode Island’s Renewable Energy Standard requires that 16 percent of the state’s electricity come from clean renewable energy projects by 2020.

The Conservation Law Foundation works to solve the environmental problems that threaten the people, natural resources and communities of New England . CLF’s advocates use law, economics and science to design and implement strategies that conserve natural resources, protect public health, and promote vital communities in our region. Founded in 1966, CLF is a nonprofit, member-supported organization. It has offices in Boston, Massachusetts; Concord, New Hampshire; Providence, Rhode Island; Montpelier, Vermont; and Brunswick, Maine.

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