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

On Whitening Teeth and Installing Solar Panels

perfect teeth smileWhat do teeth-whitening and solar PV installation have in common?  Both can be subject to the murky authority of state professional boards made up of members with potential conflicts of interest.  A case argued before the Supreme Court on October 14th, North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission, colorfully presents the potential conflicts that arise when professionals on such boards attempt to regulate at the margins of their profession.  It also suggests that federal antitrust laws may restrain the authority of such boards in… More

Massachusetts DPU Seeks Input for Net Metering of Small Hydro Facilities

Massachusetts may soon add hydroelectric facilities to the growing list of net metering eligible distributed generation in Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities has issued a notice and order opening a proceeding (DPU 14-118) under which DPU will take the first steps towards developing legislation to enable net metering of small hydro.

Enabling small hydro to participate in net metering has the potential to provide benefits not only to owners of such current facilities but potentially also for the redevelopment of dams, impoundments and millponds nearby the many mill properties in the Commonwealth.

DPU is seeking input… More

The Hub is Still a Hub for Cleantech: Reports Highlight Boston and Massachusetts Clean Energy Achievement

This week, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick lauded the progress of the Cleantech sector in Massachusetts, and the over 88,000 jobs the Commonwealth’s clean energy businesses provide. In fact, employment in a clean energy field now represents 2.4% of all employees in Massachusetts. The 2014 Clean Energy Industry Report highlights the state’s “thriving local market for clean energy and a strongly supportive business environment.”

The sector has grown 47% since 2010.  The report, put out by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and funded by the Commonwealth, surveys clean energy employers in Massachusetts. Employers are optimistic about the future, and the report… More

Some PURPA Qualifying Facilities are More Qualified Than Others

In a fascinating decision last week, a divided panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Texas Public Utilities Commission had authority to limit the universe of “Qualifying Facilities” under the Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act which can choose to enter into a “legally enforceable obligation” requiring a utilities to purchase power from a renewable energy producer. The decision could be a big problem for wind power facilities in jurisdictions less than fully hospitable to renewable energy.

FERC’s rules implementing PURPA provide in part that:

Each qualifying facility shall have the option either:

(1)… More

Nicaragua: La Fé-San Martín Wind Park Offers Glimpse of Clean Energy Future in Latin America

Nicaragua and its neighboring countries are continuing to develop their renewable energy sectors, with an eye not only towards domestic markets but also regional customers. Following the completion in 2013 of the Central American Electrical Interconnection System (SIEPAC) transmission line, Nicaragua’s grid is now interconnected with those of Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala (with the prospect of Mexico, Colombia and Belize joining as well). The newly-formed Central American Regional Electricity Market (MER) acts as a single, integrated transnational market for the member countries. Renewable energy producers in the region can now benefit from the ability to… More