Tag Archives: Energy Policy

The Courage to Act: President Obama’s Climate Action Plan

Obama+2013+Photo+10“The courage to act before it’s too late.” That’s how President Obama framed his address on Tuesday on climate change. Speaking to students at Georgetown University, the President asked for a new generation’s help to keep “the United States of America a leader in the fight against climate change.” The speech laid out a new climate change action plan that includes placing limits on the carbon dioxide emissions from power plants under the Clean Air Act, creating new federal appliance standards that will bring emissions down by 3 billion tons by 2030, as well as programs to increase the efficiency of our commercial, industrial, and multifamily buildings by 20 percent by 2020 (see the details of from the White House here).

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State Energy Efficiency Policy Rundown

Josh Craft, Manager of Public Policy Analysis

May finds many states in the midst of important legislative and regulatory debates that will impact energy efficiency programs throughout the Northeast region. Below is an overview of some of the key energy efficiency proceedings we are keeping tabs on.

Connecticut

Connecticut is in the midst of serious debate about their energy policy future. We are tracking HB 6360, which would implement the major provisions of the Governor’s Comprehensive Energy Strategy. The bill is out of committee and should be headed for a vote soon. HB 6360 would boost energy efficiency revenue by increasing its system benefits charge from 3 mills/kWh to 6 mills/kWh and require its electric utilities to implement revenue decoupling.  It would also require certain large, non-residential buildings to benchmark and disclosure their energy use on an annual basis.

Legislation is not the only route for change, however. The state’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) is actively considering allowing the utilities to increase investment in energy efficiency through a conservation adjustment mechanism (CAM). That proceeding, part of their 2013-2015 Conservation and Load Management (C&LM) plan proceedings, will be ongoing throughout this year.

Building Energy Codes

NEEP has focused much of our building codes outreach work in Maine, where proposals both to enhance and to dilute the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code (MUBEC) have been floating around this session. Prospects for passage of LD 977, which would restore MUBEC for communities above 2,000 residents, look favorable after it passed the Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development.

Moreover, we are also pleased to see that Vermont is poised to create its first “stretch” energy code as part of their omnibus energy bill, H. 520. The provision would apply to large residential development projects as part of compliance with the state’s Act 250 land use planning process. H. 520 is expected to be signed by Governor Peter Shumlin in the coming weeks.

NEEP is also working with states as part of upcoming rule-makings to adopt the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). Rhode Island, Washington D.C., and Massachusetts are all actively working to adopt the 2012 IECC.

Building Energy Disclosure

Building energy disclosure policies are increasingly being discussed at the state level. Connecticut includes a fairly robust energy disclosure package for non-residential buildings as part of HB 6360, with benchmarking beginning for the largest buildings starting in January 2014. Vermont is also attempting to move ahead with building energy disclosure. Vermont’s H. 520 would create a working group to study a “consistent format and presentation for an energy rating” for disclosure purposes.

Oil Heat Efficiency Funding

NEEP continues to advocate for legislation that would extend access to energy efficiency programs to customers who rely on oilheat. We look forward to hearings later this summer legislation in Massachusetts on H. 2741, which would create an oilheat energy efficiency fund to supplement the state’s already strong energy efficiency programs. More information about this important legislation can be found at http://www.oilheatsaveenergycoalition.org/.

 RGGI Bills

States made headlines when they moved to lower their carbon budgets for the second phase of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). This important move will enable the region to continue to drive down greenhouse gas emissions and promote energy efficiency and clean energy. Less attention has been given to a number of proposals that would divert investments from their carbon auctions away from energy efficiency and towards other uses. Three states have proposals we are concerned with:

  • In Massachusetts, the House’s FY 2014 budget would use RGGI proceeds to reimburse communities for certain lost revenues as a result of closing of coal plants.
  • In Maine, LD 1425, supported by Governor Paul LePage, would divert RGGI proceeds away from energy efficiency and towards rebates for natural gas conversion and rate reductions for large customers.
  • In New Hampshire, the majority of proceeds will continue to go towards rebates for customers, and new legislation would divert more funds away from the CORE energy efficiency programs.

NEEP looks forward to working with stakeholders from across the region to ensure that RGGI proceeds are invested in energy efficiency, which independent analysis shows is the most economical use of proceeds.

Federal Policy Update

Federal policy decisions have significant implications for energy efficiency policy in the states. Two potentially important developments are working their way through the Congress that stakeholders in the Northeast should be aware of.

  • FY 2014 Budget Request: President Obama’s FY2014 budget proposal includes $200 million for a “Race to the Top in Energy” initiative. Funding would be made available if the initiative is approved for state and local governments that put in place policy and programs to advance energy efficiency and modernizing the electricity grid. Details are available here (see pdf page 499).
  • S. 761, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competiveness Act: S. 761, the Energy and Industrial Competitiveness Act sponsored by Senators Jean Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) advanced through the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The bill would support state updates to building energy codes, support state commercial building energy efficiency financing programs, and programs to support industrial and process energy efficiency. The bill now needs to be considered by the full Senate.

More from Baltimore: Taking down the barriers, accelerating the drivers to CHP

A great dialogue continues here in Baltimore on accelerating industrial energy efficiency and combined heat and power (CHP) in the region.

Not only do public policies need to provide a solid framework that allows for CHP to be broadly deployed, but champions among end users really need to drive projects and help other stakeholders understand their value propositions.

Those points were driven home particularly by John Baker, Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Management at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, as well as speakers from New Jersey and New York, including Brian Platt of NYSERDA, Mike Winka, director of the Office of Clean Energy in New Jersey, and Steven Goldenberg, chief counsel to the New Jersey Large Energy Users Coalition. Continue reading

Opportunities and Successes in Industrial Energy Efficiency and CHP

CHP, Industrial Efficiency Dialogue in Baltimore Maryland To help set the table for the U.S. DOE and NEEP co-hosted dialogue on advancing industrial energy efficiency and CHP, NEEP’s Sue Coakley is moderating a discussion on ‘Opportunities and Successes.’ She started this dialogue by showing a video from NEEP’s 2012 Energy Efficiency Summit in Stamford, Conn. that highlighted Sikorsky Aircraft and the energy efficiency and CHP investments they’ve made to their Stratford plant. With support from United Illuminating, Sikorsky is aiming to make their facility zero net energy with the help of an innovative co-generation unit. And with support from the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund, the payback period for Sikorsky’s measures has been dropped to under four years.

Showing that best practices are not limited to New England, Jim Freihaut, director of the Mid-Atlantic Clean Energy Application Center at Penn State University, highlighted Proctor and Gamble’s Mehoopany, PA paper products plant, which has saved so much energy with its CHP application, that the company has closed plants in other states and moved those jobs to Pennsylvania. Continue reading

NEEP Launches Regional Energy Efficiency Database (REED)

 NEEP is pleased to announce the public launch of the Regional Energy Efficiency Database (REED), a product of the Regional Evaluation, Measurement & Verification (EM&V) Forum. First previewed and enthusiastically received at the EM&V Forum’s 2012 Annual Public Meeting, REED includes 2011 electric and gas energy efficiency program data for 8 states: Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. Energy efficiency stakeholders across the region can now use the REED data to conduct analyses of efficiency program and policy design, assist with air quality reporting, inform system planning, and compare energy efficiency impacts across states.  NEEP will add 2012 energy efficiency data from the 8 participating states along with Delaware and the District of Columbia in fall 2013. Continue reading

NEEP’s Coakley Presents Trends in Energy Efficiency Policy and Programs at the Restructuring Roundtable

IMG_0337NEEP was honored to participate in an important Restructuring Roundtable discussion last week on the state of energy efficiency in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. Sue Coakley, NEEP’s Executive Director, presented at the event along with Massachusetts Commissioner of Energy Resources Mark Sylvia, Connecticut Energy Policy Advisor Jessie Stratton and Steve Rourke of ISO-New England. The impressive panel highlighted the tremendous progress the Northeast states have made on energy efficiency and put a spotlight on innovative policy and system planning approaches that will help the region continue to lead.

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Welcome Words, Obama Makes the Case for Energy Action

Hallelujah. Finally, we have an American president devoting considerable attention to the topic of climate change and the energy policies that drive it.

1360724706619.cachedIn his State of the Union address last night, President Obama made very clear that the time has come to act. For those of us engaged in ending energy waste and believing we can do more with less, his words were most welcome. The President is absolutely right in asserting that “After years of talking about it, we are finally poised to control our own energy future.”  But that sentence did more than just allow him to introduce the litany of progress that we’ve made; it also marked a call to end the “phony debate” on whether climate change is real.

Enough.

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