For the seventh consecutive year, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) named Massachusetts the most energy-efficient state in the United States. The council’s 11th annual report, released September 28, 2017 in the wake of recent extreme weather events, highlighted the importance of energy-efficiency as a tool to help communities recover from storms and economic shocks. While many states, such as Idaho, Florida, and Virginia made vast improvements over last year, Massachusetts continued to pave the way for sustainability through continued leadership in energy-efficient transportation policies and utility-sector energy efficiency programs.
On September 11th, Tesla announced the opening of Supercharger stations in downtown Boston and Chicago, representing the first step in the company’s effort to expand its Supercharger network into urban areas. The company currently operates 951 Supercharger stations worldwide, primarily along major highways to provide quick recharging on long trips. By bringing the network of charging stations into city centers, Tesla hopes to service growing demand among urban dwellers without immediate access to home or workplace charging.
On August 23, 2017, the Department of Energy (DOE) released its “Staff Report to the Secretary on Electricity Markets and Reliability,” which was commissioned by U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry in April to provide an assessment of the reliability and resilience of the United States’ electrical grid. The comprehensive report includes an overview of electric grid resources, identification of issues bearing on electricity markets, and several recommendations primarily focused on implementing pricing policies designed to support baseload resources.
On August 23, the Baker-Polito Administration awarded $455,000 in grants to seven early-stage researchers and companies developing clean energy technologies as part of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s (MassCEC) Catalyst program.
On August 23, Massachusetts joined the eight other states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in announcing a plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by an additional 30 percent by 2030 relative to 2020 levels. The nation’s first market-based regulatory program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the RGGI counts Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Massachusetts as members. Since 2009, the initiative has employed a cap-and-trade program to lower emissions, and the proceeds from the pollution permit auctions are used to support energy efficiency programs in the member states. This most recent plan would lower emissions by more than 65 percent since the initiative’s inception.
In early April 2017, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) partnered with investor-owned electric distribution companies across the state to jointly issue a request for proposals (RFP) for renewable energy generation. The mission of the RFP is to ultimately help the state meet goals outlined by energy diversity legislation signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker in August 2016. By the time the initial deadline closed on July 27th, the state had received nearly four dozen bids for a contract to add more renewable power to its energy portfolio.
This year is proving to be the year of investing in innovative energy technology. Mercom Capital Group reports that in the first half of 2017, over $1 billion in venture capital and private equity funding has been invested in battery storage, smart grid and energy efficiency companies worldwide, exceeding the first-half funding benchmarks in 2014, 2015, and 2016.
Mercom Capital Group, a global clean energy communications and consulting firm, surveyed the combined venture capital funding (including private equity and corporate venture capital) and mergers & acquisitions across 89 companies in three separate sectors – Battery Storage, Smart Grid, and Energy Efficiency. Total investments in these areas amounted to $1.03 billion across the first half of 2017, a marked 25% jump from $807 million in the first half of 2016.
On June 2nd, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the New York Power Authority (NYPA) issued record requests for proposals from qualified developers to build renewable energy projects that will generate 2.5 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity a year. The two requests combined total the largest renewable RFP issued in any state. Alliance for Clean Energy New York estimates that the solicitation “will drive between 600 and 1,600 megawatts of new capacity depending on the mix of technologies ultimately developed.”
The Massachusetts Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change is hosting hearings across the Commonwealth to gather input on clean energy and climate change. Launched by Senate President Pro Tempore Marc R. Pacheco (D-Taunton), the “MA Clean Energy Future Tour” began its nine-stop tour on May 8 and will end on June 26 in Boston. To learn more about this tour, read on!
From April 26th-28th, San Francisco hosted the 2017 Ceres Conference. Ceres is a non-profit organization advocating for sustainability leadership. The annual conference brings together more than 600 investor and company leaders and advocates who are catalyzing the biggest breakthroughs on sustainability.
This year’s jam-packed agenda spanned a variety of topics surrounding the energy industry, but two key themes emerged: (1) that there is a growing need for standardized data to measure the impact of investments made in energy, and (2) that sustainable energy is playing an increasingly central role in the investment decisions for stakeholders across sectors and across the political landscape – in other words, the push for clean energy isn’t going anywhere. Continue Reading Recap: The 2017 Ceres Conference on Sustainability