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Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Green Energy Times Regional Year in Review

Offshore wind farm. Image: Kallerna, Wikimedia Commons.

George Harvey

While individual states have done a lot of work on reducing carbon emissions, one multi-state effort is very much worth mentioning. After a year of assessing the scientific evidence and data, nine of the twelve states in the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), along with the District of Columbia, formed a group to design a regional approach to transportation. The nine states are Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia. The TCI operates along the same lines as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative but with a special focus on transportation emissions. The next step in the initiative is to take public comment for a year.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts has seen a lot of work developing new climate and energy initiatives. One effort that is particularly impressive is the continuing development of an off-shore wind farm consisting of three parts. As we go to press, three companies have won rights to develop areas off the Massachusetts coast for development. They are paying a total of just over $405 million for their areas, which could have a total capacity of just over 4.1 gigawatts (GW). We can compare this to the Walney Extension, the world’s largest offshore wind farm, which has a capacity of 700 megawatts (MW).

Onshore, the development of renewable energy in Massachusetts is a bit less clear. While great efforts were made to set rules enabling development of solar power, and some progress appears to have been made, the outcome is complex, to say the least. One bright note is that a new initiative was launched to help farmers put solar systems on agricultural land that will remain in agricultural use, such as for grazing or raising shade-tolerant crops (see article in this issue on page 18 for more information).

New Hampshire

Progress in New Hampshire has been slow. Governor Sununu vetoed important legislation, including one bill that would have raised the maximum array size for net metering from one MW to five and attempts to override the vetoes were only occasionally successful. Some progress was made in individual communities, especially Concord, which is committed to 100% renewable energy. In November, the state elected legislators who favor renewable energy. Now, with both chambers in the hands of Democrats, renewable energy advocates expect that more progress might be made.

New York

The picture for climate change and renewable energy in New York has been dominated in the last year by Governor Andrew Cuomo and such state agencies as the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. Fortunately, these have been operating together to make some progress.

New York, like Massachusetts, is looking to install offshore wind farms. The state launched a solicitation for 800 MW, with bids due in February of 2019. The plan is for New York to have 2.4 GW of offshore wind power by 2030.

New York also started moving on energy storage in batteries. The New York Public Service Commission has approved a goal of installing 1.5 GW of batteries by 2025, with the goal for 2030 being double that amount.

In December, Governor Cuomo called for 100% carbon-neutral electricity through the Green New Deal. This may be the most ambitious goal for any eastern state. Some analysts reviewing the call observed that he seemed to want to put the state of New York firmly into the lead on renewable energy, pushing it ahead of California.

Vermont

Like New Hampshire, Vermont has been going through a period in which the legislature and the governor were not in agreement about renewable energy and climate change. The result has been a slowdown in work on renewable energy and a rise in carbon emissions.

Andrew Perchlik, director of Vermont’s Clean Energy Development Fund said the story of the past year has been one in which small utilities have been working to make the changes they need to complete by 2019, under the state’s Renewable Energy Standard.

Perchlik emphasized that we really need to address emissions from transportation and heating. Noting that the abundance of oil that we currently have in this country cannot last forever, he said, “We have to be prepared for a shortage.” He added, “The better we are prepared, the better off Vermont will be.”

Perchlik has been elected to the Vermont Senate, and it may have been from that perspective that he said, “The overall story is about what’s next.”

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