Tomorrow, July 20: ENERGY, EFFICIENCY AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Energy, Efficiency and The Environment
5:00 PM, Wednesday, 7/20/16
Salem Five Community Room, 210 Essex St, Salem, MA
Created by: Endless Energy

From Endless Energy:

Come find out how you can make your home more energy efficient through the use of green technologies and renewable energy. Make your home more efficient, valuable and better for the environment. Be green and make some green too!

Endless Energy and our partners, Coastal Windows & Exteriors and Healthy Home Healthy Planet, will show you how you can take advantage of incentives to implement affordable programs that could potentially result in a positive net energy home.

In addition to making our homes more sustainable, we can work together to save our planet, which will be better for today and future generations. There will be presentations/information by Jeff Elie (Salem’s Energy & Sustainability Manager), Citizen’s Climate Lobby, Salem Sound Coastwatch, SalemRecycles and SAFE (Salem Alliance for the Environment) and other community leaders.

energy efficiency and the environment
Salem Five Community Room, 210 Essex St, Salem, MA

From the Mass. Climate Action Network: the Energy Omnibus Bill is in the House TODAY

[Below are detailed ideas on what to ask for in the bill, and a link to find out who your Mass. elected officials are.]

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Massachusetts has been a national leader on clean energy,  but now are at a crossroads: we are poised to invest billions of dollars to replace retiring power plants and make energy choices that will shape our future.

Comprehensive energy policy is now advancing through the state legislature. Please urge your elected officials to invest in clean energy like wind and solar, and to ban any public financing of fracked gas pipelines!

Will you contact your respresentative and senator today?

When you call, meet with, or email your Representative and Senator, here is what you can say:

“I want to urge you to strengthen clean energy provisions in the House energy bill, H4336 – an Act Relative to Energy Diversity. Please work to pass an energy bill that reduces our reliance on imported gas and harnesses our state’s abundant renewable energy resources like wind and solar. The energy bill should:

  1. Stop the “pipeline tax.” Ratepayers should not foot the bill for new fracked gas pipelines. The cost and risk to consumers and the environment are too great and the legislature has a role to play in protecting the public by banning this practice. Please amend this legislation to head off the DPU’s plan to charge electric ratepayers for gas pipelines.
  2. Be bold with offshore wind: Legislation should establish long-term contracts for at least 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind energy. The current bill calls for 1200 megawatts – a good start, but increasing this will allow our state to grow wind jobs and capture a cost-saving economy of scale.
  3. Accelerate the Renewable Portfolio Standard to increase 2% per year: Maryland, California and Hawaii have all set ambitious RPS targets. To meet cuts the scientists say we must make in our climate change causing pollution, we can and should do the same. Please increase the RPS and accelerate the growth of local renewable power and the growth of clean energy jobs.
  4. Restore low-income and community solar: To ensure all communities can access solar power, the legislature should restore compensation for low-income and community solar projects.

Thank you for your support of clean energy, and please urge your colleagues to support these provisions.”

If you don’t know who your elected official is, you can find out here. Once you are ready to call, you can call them directly or you can call the state house switchboard at (617) 722-2000. And once you call, please let me know what your Representative and Senator says. It is super helpful to helping us strategize!
[T]hanks,

Carol Oldham, Executive Director [carololdham@massclimateaction.net]
Massachusetts Climate Action Network
http://www.massclimateaction.net/

carol oldham MCAN

Moulton to host Q&A at ‘Merchants of Doubt’ film

Film focuses on efforts to discredit climate change, other issues

Almost every seat was filled at the National Park Service Visitors Center last night, for a screening of the film, Merchants of Doubt (the story referred to above ran in the Salem News on May 5th). The film showed how the struggle to expose the tobacco industry’s practice of hiring “experts” to discredit the dangers of smoking is happening all over again with climate change. However, that battle took 50 years, and we don’t have the luxury of that many decades this time around, according to James Hansen and other scientists focused on the hard science of what is happening to our atmosphere.

Here is a YouTube clip of the question-and-answer session with Congressman Moulton, filmed by SAFE Advisory Board Member, Stan Franzeen. The Salem News article that ran on the 5th before the screening can be read here.

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Congressman Seth Moulton

Time running short on solar

Supporters of solar power in Massachusetts are trying to convince a six-member, Massachusetts legislative conference committee to pave the way for Massachusetts to continue to be a leader in solar power generation. Something has to happen soon, though, for by the end of this month it will be difficult, if not impossible, to alter the language of the “bad” solar bill currently in committee.

From CommonWealth Magazine staff member Bruce Mohl:

Inside the State House, the advocates played a key, behind-the-scenes role in convincing 100 House members to walk away from a previous vote slashing net metering rates and to sign a petition urging the conference committee to approve a bill similar to what the Senate has proposed. Net metering refers to the rate solar power generators are paid for the electricity they feed into the grid.
Outside the State House, solar advocates have also been making their case in a series of opinion pieces. Stephen Christy, the president and CEO of Sustainable Energy Professionals in Plainville, said the inaction on Beacon Hill has forced him to lay off his five employees. He also said the net metering cap is driving his firm out of Massachusetts and into New York.
Solar_panels_on_house_roofPhotovoltaic solar panels on a house roof in Massachusetts (image: Gray Watson)

New guide aims to help steer solar energy into low-income communities

[note: please don’t forget to sign Salem SAFE’s petition to stop gas leaks in Massachusetts! We only need 16 more signatures!]

Conference committee members are “trading proposals back and forth.”

New standards now being promoted would make Massachusetts lead the country in affordable solar energy, particularly for low-income cities and towns. However, the new standards are in jeopardy because of the current state of the discussions about the two competing bills, which are both presently in conference committee.

On the WWLP-22News website, by State House News Service contributor Katie Lannan:

BOSTON, Mass. (STATE HOUSE) – A policy guide launched Monday holds up Massachusetts as a leader in making solar energy accessible to low-income communities, but solar supporters said Monday that status could be at risk under legislation lawmakers are negotiating.

Competing House and Senate solar bills (H 3854 and S 2058) were referred on Nov. 18 to a conference committee. Lawmakers were charged with working out differences including the amount of power solar producers can sell back to the energy grid at retail rates through what is known as net metering.

“If the bill that comes out of committee is anywhere in between the what Senate version was and what the House version was, you are all but assured that low-income solar is in deep trouble in Massachusetts,” Emily Rochon, director of energy and environmental policy at Boston Community Capital, said during a conference call with reporters and solar advocates Monday.

Read more.

solar-panels
Photo courtesy: MGNonline

Call for action from Jeffrey Barz-Snell, Co-Chair of SAFE

The following email was sent our Co-Chair, Jeffrey Barz-Snell, out to the SAFE listserve regarding a bill in the House that could bring solar power business in our state to a grinding halt. We are posting Jeffrey’s letter here as well and hope that you will write your State Representatives and State Senators as a result. Here are the links to a template for a sample letter:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-Czxx1KRbfeZWs2MXVwME9aY2c/view?usp=sharinghttps://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-Czxx1KRbfeWnFBaXRqODBpb1E/view?usp=sharing

Jeffrey’s letter to SAFE:

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Hello SAFE supporters,
     As we all know there is an attempt by Speaker DeLeo here in Massachusetts to change the regulations that permit the growth of solar and wind power here in the Commonwealth.  Representative DeLeo is listening to lobbyists for the public utilities and trying to undermine the business model on which solar and wind projects are based; specifically no longer obligating public utilities to buy back power from solar systems at almost the same exact price for which they are selling it.  This is calledNet Metering and it is a key regulation anywhere that solar has grown as an industry here in the US and around the world.
     The State of Nevada has already changed their net metering regulations, (through their Public Utilities Commission) and the impacts are significant and devastating to solar system owners and users in the state.  Similar sorts of changes to solar regulations are now being proposed in many states all over the country, in what appears to be a coordinated effort to undermine the growth of solar and wind power generation.  Here’s an article about what has happened in Nevada:
     This cannot and should not happen here in Massachusetts.  Call your local representative and senator (Paul Tucker and Joan Lovely here in Salem) and tell them you oppose House Bill 3854, which will change net metering rules and greatly reduce (or even eliminate) the growth of solar and wind generation here in the Commonwealth.  And encourage your friends and family all over the state to do the same.
     Thanks,
     Jeff Barz-Snell

 

 

 

OPINION: DeLeo is the reason solar on hold

Massachusetts House Representative Marjorie Decker recently held a press conference underlining the need to immediately lift the cap on net metering. Massachusetts is in danger of not only losing 15,000 solar jobs, but also of losing its solar installation companies to other states with solar legislation that is more favorable.

From CommonWealth Magazine, by Kate Galbo:

Fast-growing industry is being hung out to dry

While all parties agree that the next SREC program should be gradually reduced in size, the cap on net metering needs to be lifted. Having an arbitrary cap on the fair compensation for solar development increases uncertainty in the market, drives up costs, and reduces investment in the local energy economy. In addition, keeping the net metering credit rate at retail value will ensure that low-income, community shared, or municipal solar projects can move forward.

Massachusetts needs more leaders within the Legislature to answer the call to action. Unless members of the House recognize the need for dynamic solutions to lift the caps, not only does the Commonwealth risk losing its competitive edge, it risks losing its role as a clean energy leader.

Read more.

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[Image: Daderot at the English language Wikipedia]

Carbon Fee and Dividend In-Depth

From the Citizens Climate Lobby website:

The Basics of Carbon Fee and Dividend:
1. Place a steadily rising fee on fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas).
2. Give all of the revenue from the carbon fee back to households.
3. Use a border adjustment to discourage business relocation.
4. It’s good for the economy AND even better for the climate.

“…phased-in carbon fees on greenhouse gas emissions (1) are the most efficient, transparent, and enforceable mechanism to drive an effective and fair transition to a domestic-energy economy, (2) will stimulate investment in alternative-energy technologies, and (3) give all businesses powerful incentives to increase their energy-efficiency and reduce their carbon footprints in order to remain competitive…”

Read more.

Download Carbon Fee and Dividend, a full-text version of CCL’s Carbon Fee and Dividend proposal.

statelibqld_1_112164_smoke_pours_from_the_new_farm_power_house2c_1952
1952: Smoke pouring from the New Farm Power House in Brisbane, Australia caused numerous complaints from residents. Source: Wikimedia Commons

As solar becomes more cost-competitive, utilities look at how new technology affects their business models

This is occurring all over the country with respect to large utilities pushing back against the different forms of renewable energy, especially solar. It’s from the Al Jazeera America news site. This explains the issues quite well.

From  Al Jazeera America contributor, Renee Lewis:

States weigh rate changes for rooftop solar:

“Utilities don’t want to risk losing financial (compensation) for their investments in the grid to serve all customers, while rooftop solar developers don’t want to lose business opportunities if their potential customers are not compensated as highly by utilities when excess rooftop solar generation is sent back to the grid,” read a recent blog post by Pierre Bull, a policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Following Nevada’s decision, California’s new rules for solar customers showed there is a “better way,” Bull wrote.

California’s PUC decided last week to take a pause to look at grid impact and market analytics before making its decision.

In the meantime, “they have assured existing net metering customers that their generation will continue to be credited at the full retail rate, which is a good, reasonable approximation for the benefits they provide to the grid,” Bull wrote.

Last week, California’s PUC upheld net metering by 3-2, allowing solar customers to continue lowering their overall power bills — which assists them in paying off the investment in rooftop solar…

Read more.

solar installation
IMAGE: JOHN HARRINGTON / SUNRUN / AP

 

Everybody aboard the energy omnibus: House preparing comprehensive electricity bill

House officials are creating an “omnibus” energy bill, which may lead to one of the more interesting debates on Beacon Hill in years. House Speaker Robert DeLeo (pictured below) has been discussing this for some time, his approach being that when there are many debated yet related issues, the best thing is consolidate them into one bill and begin negotiating. The advantage is that it may be better to address the state’s energy issues in a way that’s not fragmented up into multiple bills.

From CommonWealth Magazine contributor, Bruce Mohl (January 14, 2016) —

A conference committee consisting of members from the House and Senate was appointed to resolve the different net metering approaches of the two branches, but there has been little progress. Many think net metering and the whole issue of solar incentives may be tossed into the omnibus pot.

One source said it will be interesting to see if the House pushes for special incentives for offshore wind at a time when it is trying to cut incentives for solar. Both renewable energy technologies hold the promise of developing new industries of the future, but both require, at least for now, heavy ratepayer incentives to work financially.

Read more.

rdeleo
Speaker of the Massachusetts House, Robert A. DeLeo (D Winthrop)
(from his official webpage)