National Grid Joins Eversource Energy and Spectra Energy on Access Northeast: New England Grapples With How to Pay for New Energy Infrastructure

Multiple news outlets (including the Boston Globe and PR Newswire) reported on Wednesday that National Grid is joining Eversource Energy (formerly Northeast Utilities) and Spectra Energy Corp. as a co-developer of the Access Northeast pipeline project.  The Access Northeast project, which Spectra outlined to the New England States Committee on Electricity (NESCOE) in June, is a compliment to previously announced expansions of Spectra’s regional pipeline infrastructure (specifically the Algonquin Incremental Market or “AIM” project and the Atlantic Bridge project).  Proponents say that, at a cost of roughly $3 billion, the project could provide approximately a billion cubic feet… More

Little Action in Offshore Wind Rights Auction

Last November the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) announced that over 742,000 acres of offshore Massachusetts land would be auctioned for commercial wind development by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) as part of the Obama Administration’s Climate Action Plan. The land was divided into four leasable tracts of varying sizes, and twelve companies qualified to bid.

iStock_000016688496_smlThat auction took place on January 29th, and the results were rather anti-climactic. Two of the four parcels received nary a bid, and only two of the twelve qualified companies participated:… More

MassDEP Releases New Proposed Clean Energy Standards as Baker Administration Takes Office

The diStock_000037220428_smallay before Governor Charlie Baker was sworn into office as the state’s 72nd chief executive, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection released its proposed Clean Energy Standard (CES) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state.

The CES would come into effect in 2020 and require a minimum percentage of electricity sold to retail customers in Massachusetts to come from “clean generation,” starting with a 45% requirement in 2020 and increasing to 49% by 2024. For each year after,  MassDEP would set the clean energy minimum percentage a decade in advance. … More

Not a Good Day For Cape Wind: NStar and National Grid Terminate the Power Purchase Agreements

According to this week’s Boston Globe, both NStar and National Grid have terminated their power purchase agreements with Cape Wind, visual_sim_boat1mile_thumbciting the failure by Cape Wind to meet a December 31, 2014 deadline to obtain financing and begin construction.  Cape Wind is asserting that the utilities may not validly terminate the PPAs, arguing that the protracted litigation against the project excuses Cape Wind’s obligation to meet the December 31 date.

I’m not going to get into the merits of the contractual wrangling.  I’m only going to note here that this… More

Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board Finds MA Department of Revenue’s Denial of Property Tax Exemption for Virtually Net Metered Solar Facility “Incorrect,” Based on an “Illusory Distinction” and “Entitled to No Deference”

On December 4, 2014, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Appellate Tax Board (the “Board”) promulgated its Findings of Fact and Report in Forrestall Enterprises, Inc. v. Board of Assessors of The Town of Westborough.

Major Change

The Findings represent a major change in the application of the Commonwealth’s property tax exemption for off-site, net-metered and virtual-net-metered wind and solar systems. For some time now, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (“DOR”) has taken the position that certain net metered solar and wind systems, in particular off-site or virtually net-metered systems, do not qualify for the exemption available under clause “forty-fifth” of Massachusetts… More

Will Time Varying Rates Shift Demand and Reduce Costs in Massachusetts?  We Will Find Out (Eventually)

digtalclock_imageIn June, I wrote about the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities’ proposal to shift “Basic Service”—the default electricity service provided by electric distribution companies and used by most residential customers—from a flat rate structure to a time varying rate.  On November 5th, the DPU adopted that proposal without modification.

That means that, in the future, the default service for retail customers in Massachusetts will have a time-of-use pricing structure.  The rate for electricity during “on-peak” hours, noon to 8:00 p.m. on weekdays, will be higher than the rate for “off-peak”… More

The Massachusetts DPU Sets Requirements for Utility Grid Modernization Plans, Starting a Nine Month Period for Utilities to Identify Investments

stopwatch_ZG_blog postMassachusetts has taken the next step towards requiring substantial investments to increase the capabilities of its electrical system and create opportunities for new technologies and innovations.  On November 5th, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities issued an Order, D.P.U. 12-76-C, along with itemized filing requirements and a summary template, laying out what Massachusetts utilities must file in their “Grid Modernization Plans” (“GMPs”)—the ten-year proposals for investments promoting “grid modernization objectives” (such as reducing the effects of outages, optimizing demand, and integrating distributed resources) required by the DPU’s… More

New York’s Green Bank Announces Its First Transactions

piggy bank blogOn October 22, Governor Cuomo announced the first seven projects that will receive support from New York’s Green Bank: a state-sponsored financial entity that aims to partner with the private sector to develop clean energy projects in New York.  The deals have not closed, but the projects represent more than $800 million in clean energy investment (most of which will come from private parties).  A short description of the seven projects is available here.  The projects include a small-scale commercial solar project in Lackawanna (south of Buffalo),… More

The Massachusetts DPU Issues Regulations to Increase Net Metering Caps, but What Does the Future Hold?

On November 4th, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities issued emergency regulations to implement the increase in net metering caps that was included in the thermal energy bill that passed at the end of the legislative session (An Act Relative to Credit for Thermal Energy Generated with Renewable Fuels, Chapter 251 of the Acts of 2014).  The action here was in the legislation, which we wrote about in August.  The bill raised the public cap from 3% to 5% of peak historic load and the private cap from 3% to 4%; the emergency regulations just incorporate this… More

Incentivizing Canadian Imports into Massachusetts: Act II

When the Massachusetts Legislature recessed this summer without enacting the Clean Energy Bill, many stakeholders assumed the issue of creating incentives to encourage Canadian hydro imports would be deferred until the next legislative session and the next Administration. Not quite. Taking a page out of Gina McCarthy’s playbook, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has decided to rely on its existing statutory authority under the Global Warming Solutions Act (“GWSA”) to promulgate new regulations to accomplish, in essence, what the Legislature declined to do. MassDEP has issued a “discussion draft regulation” designed to implement a Clean Energy Standard… More