New England is joining the frontrunners in the renewable energy movement, with a little help from the results of November’s elections. With shared power sources and relationships that depend on interconnected infrastructures, the 6 New England states are poised to surge ahead to reduce carbon emissions. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the nation’s first and sole multi-state cap-and-invest program covering power plants, is celebrating its 10 year anniversary. Maine’s new Democratic Governor, Janet Mills, is putting solar panels on the governor’s residence. Massachusetts is trying to get Canadian hydropower to the region.
“New England could be a powerful leader and one hell of a big market,” said Karl Rábago, executive director of the Pace Energy and Climate Center at Pace University. “There’s never been a better chance for them to coordinate to share a vision to put down some of the silly competition that’s existed in the past and retool the region for a carbon-free future.”
Rhode Island College Adds a PV System that could save over $200,000 in 15 Years
The sign leading into the dining hall apologized for any inconvenience while the rooftop of Donovan Dining Center and its neighboring Student Union were being equipped with solar panels. Rhode Island College (RIC), a small state school located at the edge of Providence that serves 8500 students, was installing a $300,000 solar photovoltaic (PV) system. The system is expected to save the college more than $231,000 in energy costs over the next 15 years. Ameresco, an energy efficiency and renewable energy company, previously partnered with RIC to provide cost savings through energy efficiency and infrastructure upgrades to 33 buildings.
“Generating clean, renewable energy on campus is a priority for Rhode Island College, and Ameresco is a valuable partner in achieving that goal,” said Rhode Island College President Frank D. Sánchez. “We are committed to creating a greener, more sustainable campus, as evidenced by our 2017 recognition as a Green Ribbon School by the US Department of Education. This project is an important step forward in that work.”
The project was funded by the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources and Rhode Island Commerce Corporation. The 110.9 kW system will be tied into the college’s electric service and is expected to generate 132,502 kWh in the first operating year. Savings will be in the form of direct reduction of kWh usage. Using the US Environmental Protection Agency Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator, the RIC solar system is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 1,358 metric tons of CO2 annually.
That would be equivalent to the CO2 emissions from 163 homes’ energy use for one year or greenhouse gas emissions from 288 passenger cars.
Capacity Auction Helps New England States to Gain Energy Capacity
Sunrun, Inc. has won a bid to deliver home solar and batteries as a source of energy capacity to grid operator ISO New England. ISO New England is the independent, not-for-profit corporation responsible for keeping electricity flowing across the 6 New England states; it ensures that the region has “reliable, competitively priced wholesale electricity today and into the future.” Through its capacity auction, ISO New England awards the lowest-cost energy generators with commitments to supply electricity across six New England States. The grid operator says its annual capacity auction concluded with sufficient resources to meet peak demand in 2022-2023.
Sunrun is calling the winning bid a “historic breakthrough” for clean, distributed energy and the first time in the US that home solar and battery storage has directly participated alongside centralized power plants in a wholesale capacity market. The company says this signals a transformational shift away from the traditional, centralized electricity model – with big power plants – toward a system powered by local clean energy.
Sunrun will provide 20 MW of energy capacity from its Brightbox home solar and battery systems to ISO New England beginning in 2022, which represents approximately 5,000 New England customers. Brightbox is a holistic solar battery storage service that offers clean, safe, reliable backup power that provides individual control over home energy use and cost. Sunrun says its Brightbox home solar and battery system can power homes day and night with clean energy, provide backup power in the event of a grid outage, and deliver power to homes at times when demand for electricity is at its highest, reducing the need to fire power plants at peak times.
“This is a breakthrough moment,” says Lynn Jurich, CEO and co-founder of Sunrun. “Sunrun is able to deliver clean and reliable electricity to customers at a lower cost than traditional central generation and provide this resource to the wholesale capacity market. This new energy services model is a win-win for everyone,” Jurich continues. “We’re creating a new, cleaner, more affordable and resilient electricity system – powered by local home solar and batteries – for the benefit of all New Englanders.”
“Winning a bid in a forward capacity market [FCM] validates the ability of home solar and battery storage to bring the benefits of clean, renewable energy to New England residents and throughout the country,” says Audrey Lee, head of energy services at Sunrun.
Resources totaling 43,641 MW, including 34,925 MW of existing capacity and 238 new resources totaling 8,716 MW, qualified to participate in the FCM, while the regional capacity target for 2022-2023 is 33,750 MW.
Daniel Westerman, president of distributed energy and renewables at National Grid, says, “ISO New England is the first [regional transmission operator] to enable participation for hybrid resources, which truly unlocks a future for a renewables-powered grid. ISO-NE’s thorough vetting process is a high bar to cross for Sunrun, and we’re excited that our team helped make this happen.”
New England Coast Partnership Announced between Ørsted and Eversource
Ørsted, the global leader in offshore wind, and Eversource, New England’s largest energy company and premier electric transmission builder, have agreed to a 50-50 partnership for key offshore wind assets in the Northeast. Eversource is paying approximately $225 million USD for a 50 percent interest in Ørsted’s Revolution Wind and South Fork (LI) Wind Farm projects, as well as the 257-square-mile tract off
the coasts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Ørsted acquired all three assets in November 2018 as part of its Deepwater Wind transaction.
“We are excited to have Eversource join us as we embark on the creation of the strongest U.S. offshore wind platform,” said CEO of Ørsted U.S. Offshore Wind and President of Ørsted North Thomas Brostrøm. “With their expansive knowledge of the energy market throughout the region, and by building on both company’s community outreach programs, we are on track to ensure that the Northeast will be the North American hub for offshore wind energy.”
“Offshore wind will provide a growing and critical source of zero-carbon energy in a region with very aggressive carbon reduction and renewable energy goals,” said Eversource Executive Vice President for Enterprise Energy Strategy and Business Development Lee Olivier. “This transaction solidifies our partnership as the strongest developer of offshore wind in the Northeast and is consistent with Eversource’s efforts to be a key catalyst for clean energy development in our region.”
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