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Northern Pass News

Nashua Telegraph – December 28, 2012

NE grid operator needs to do more

Letter to the Editor

There is much to applaud in the New England regional grid operator’s (ISO-NE’s) decision to defer the construction of $260 in transmission lines due to the energy efficiency investments in the region (The Telegraph, Dec. 18). But rather than simply acknowledge the existence of energy efficiency, ISO-NE could be doing much more in its planning process to promote the adoption of energy efficiency as an alternative to costly new transmission.

Non-transmission alternatives like energy efficiency are not only lower in cost but also would support lower emission sources like distributed solar, spur economic growth, and increase energy independence.

Yet financial incentives are stacked against non-transmission alternatives. Thanks to Congress and federal regulators, electric utilities are rewarded with high return on transmission investment – a guaranteed return of close to 13 percent for certain transmission investments in New England. Those same laws and regulations have made it politically easier for states to pay a share of costly transmission construction rather than the full cost of less expensive non-transmission alternatives like energy efficiency. Not surprisingly, utilities already are on track to construct expensive transmission lines – and lots of them – rather than pursue cheaper, non-transmission alternatives.

While less expensive alternatives exist, grid planning has to be up to the task of identifying them and providing fair compensation. The outdated planning process used by ISO-NE to determine new investments in transmission must change if we are to have a power grid that can deliver clean, low cost energy and bring New England into a competitive economic future.

Michael G. Henry

Senior Counsel and Director, ENE Sustainable Transmission Project

Providence, RI

Clean Technica – December 27, 2012

Energy Efficiency Saves New England $260 Million In Transmission Costs

Silvio Marcacci

Energy efficiency represents the biggest potential to cut consumer costs and reduce power demand – one report has found America is just 43.8% efficient. While individual projects show small results, when they accumulate across a regional grid, efficiency savings add up quickly, as New England’s grid operator recently discovered.

State and private programs designed to reduce consumer energy demand have recently cut the need for $260 million in planned transmission system upgrades across the six states within the ISO-New England (ISO-NE) region. The announcement was made during ISO-NE’s energy-efficiency forecast, the first multi-state outlook in the U.S.

ISO-NE is one of the nation’s largest grid operators, managing electricity supply and demand for 14 million people in 6.5 million households and businesses across 8,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines and 350 generators. The system has more than 32,000 MW of capacity, including more than 2,000 MW of demand response resources.

Roughly $1.2 billion was spent across the ISO-NE region from 2008-2011, resulting in a total reduction of 3,502 gigawatt-hours (GWh) in electricity use. The average state reduced electricity consumption 876 GWh annually, with total summer peak demand savings of 514 megawatts (MW).

The overall effects of these savings are hard to ignore. Regional peak demand is only forecast to grow .9 percent from 2012–2021 (roughly 2/3 the previous estimate), with a flat annual growth in energy consumption over the same period, and winter peak demand actually projected to decline nearly .5 percent.

Lower Demand Leads To Lower Infrastructure Costs

In the long term, this consumption decline will have a major impact. From 2015–2012, ISO-NE estimates annual savings of 1,343 GWh from energy efficiency — roughly the same amount of electricity used by 2 million average homes in the region. New England will spend an estimated $5.7 billion on energy efficiency program over the same time period, according to the report.

As a result, ISO-NE was able to lower long-term planning needs for the system’s grid beyond 2020. “Revised analysis shows that the region can actually defer 10 transmission upgrades that earlier studies showed were needed to ensure system reliability,” said Stephen Rourke, vice president for system planning. “By deferring these upgrades, the region will save an estimated $260 million.”

Energy efficiency programs across the region were comprised of relatively simple steps, like encouraging consumers to swap out incandescent light bulbs for efficient lighting like CFLs or LEDs, upgrade HVAC systems and building insulation, purchase Energy Star appliances, or integrate more efficient industrial processes and motors.

Diverse Funding Streams Foot the Bill

Funding for the 125 different individual programs has come from four main sources: state-designated funding, revenue from the system’s Forward Capacity Market (long-term capacity sales), a designated “systems benefits charge” on ratepayer bills, and revenue from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

Energy efficiency programs have been the largest recipients of RGGI investments by far, garnering 66 percent of all carbon auction revenue to date, according to the RGGI 2011 Investment Report.

Given all this, it’s no surprise New England leads the U.S. in the energy efficiency economy, with Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, and Rhode Island all listed in the annual ranking of the top ten most energy efficient states.

Read more and view graphs at http://cleantechnica.com/2012/12/27/energy-efficiency-saves-new-england-260-million-in-transmission-costs/#PzpISDK56CjJmhGV.99

NH Public Radio – December 27, 2012

Lawmakers Want To Reshape Energy Permitting In NH

By Sam Evans-Brown

The controversial Northern Pass project is one of the inspirations of a set of bills up for consideration this year that would reshape how the state considers and approves energy projects.

Proposed energy projects are causing a stir among New Hampshire lawmakers. Lawmakers will consider a raft of bills that would change how the state considers and approves such installations.

Grafton Republican Skip Reilly has proposed putting a temporary stop on new transmission or wind-farm projects.

Not every lawmaker has come on so strong. Weare Republican Neal Kurk would like to let every community that can see a proposed energy project vote on whether or not they want it.

But the bill that perhaps has attracted the most buzz is from Republican Senator Bob Odell: he wants the state to redo its energy plan for the next ten years. Odell: I think we have to recognize New Hampshire is now a net exporter of energy. My legislation will set out the goals, provide a vision for what we want the plan to look like.

Expect to hear about the high cost of electricity in New Hampshire, the coming retirement of some of the state’s aging power plants, and how electricity generation factors into climate change in the debates over all of these bills.

Berlin Daily Sun – December 27, 2012

Delegation and Senator get committee assignments

Written by Barbara Tetreault

Rep. Robert Theberge, who also serves as chair of the delegation, is the only Coos County representative named to chair one of the 21 standing House committees in the Democrat- controlled House. Freshman legislator Wayne Moynihan (D-Dummer) was named vice chair of the Environment & Agriculture Committee. Rep. Bill Hatch (D-Gorham) was named to the powerful Finance Committee.

Other assignments are Yvonne Thomas (D-Berlin) to the Resources, Recreation & Development Committee; Laurence Rappaport (R-Colebrook) to the Science, Technology & Energy Committee; Leon Rideout,(R-Lancaster) to the State-Federal Relations & Veterans Affairs Committee; Gary Coulombe (D-Berlin) and Herbert Richardson (R-Lancaster) to the Labor, Industrial & Rehabilitative Services Committee; Larry Enman (D-Errol) to the Municipal & County Government Committee; and Marcia Hammon (D-Whitefield) to the Public Works & Highways Committee.

On the Senate side, where Republicans hold a majority, District I State Senator Jeff Woodburn (D-Dalton) was named to the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Woodburn described the committee as an important one for the North Country, noting it deals with state parks, Fish and Game Department, and agriculture. Woodburn said the committee also deals with the Northern Pass and other energy-related projects. He said one of the committee’s top priorities will be working with in-coming Gov. Maggie Hassan on a state energy policy.

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