Energy news for week ending November 6, 2020

Survive the transition? | New referendum | Seaweed to the rescue

Happy warm and sunny Friday!

It’s been a very interesting week politically so let’s distract ourselves with a bit of energy news.

Up first is a story from Grist about Massachusetts’ look into the future of the natural gas industry. While we covered this in last week’s edition, there are a few more insights in this story. “Massachusetts may be a climate leader in the U.S., with a goal to reduce economy-wide emissions in the state to net-zero by 2050, but it will face a major obstacle along the way: More than 1.3 million of its households make it through those cold New England winters by burning natural gas. Roughly one-third of the state’s emissions come from the fuels burned in buildings for heating, hot water, and cooking. Now the state is responding to pressure from its attorney general, Maura Healey, to take a look at what the path to net-zero in the building sector might look like, particularly for the gas companies whose entire reason for existing could be eliminated in the process. Last week, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) officially opened a new proceeding to start guiding utilities into a decarbonized future while protecting their customers. As the number of people using the gas system shrinks over time, the cost of maintaining reliable service for remaining ratepayers could balloon. ‘It’s a really complicated set of issues as you look at what’s going to be happening on the gas side as people peel off,’ said Susan Tierney, a senior advisor and energy expert at the Analysis Group, an economic consulting firm. ‘There’s real trade-offs about affordability of supply, safety of service.’…Audrey Schulman and Zeyneb Magavi, co-executive directors of the Massachusetts–based environmental nonprofit HEET, applauded the new inquiry, but they are concerned that the process it outlines will result in a one-sided picture of what’s possible, and could stymie more creative solutions.”

The fight in Maine against the New England Clean Energy Connect project hasn’t ended. From the Press Herald, “A new referendum drive aimed at stopping a 145-mile hydropower transmission corridor in western Maine is underway. The Maine secretary of state on Friday provided the paperwork necessary for signature collection to begin, and referendum supporters plan to be at polling places with petitions on Election Day. ‘With a decision this important, Mainers deserve to be heard, but so far during the permitting process, their overwhelming opposition to this project has fallen on deaf ears,’ said Tom Saviello, a former state lawmaker who opposes the project. It would be the second referendum targeting Central Maine Power’s $1 billion New England Clean Energy Connect, which aims to serve as a conduit for up to 1,200 megawatts of Canadian hydropower to reach New England. The project would be fully funded by Massachusetts ratepayers, but the entire region would benefit through reduced greenhouse emissions and stabilization of energy prices, supporters say. Critics say the benefits are overstated and that the project would spoil part of Maine’s North Woods.”

Last up this week is an interesting story from the Wall St. Journal about a new way to help stem methane emissions. “Cows Make Climate Change Worse. Could Seaweed Help? Scientists have spent years coaxing a fussy red seaweed called asparagopsis into cultivation. Their plan: to feed the underwater plant to cows and sheep in an effort to make the animals less environmentally destructive. The belching and flatulence of livestock release large quantities of methane and make up around 4% of global greenhouse-gas emissions, according to data from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. That’s equivalent to the amount contributed by Japan and Germany combined. Seaweed alters bovine digestion, reducing the methane an animal produces by 80% or more, according to scientists at the University of California, Davis, and Australia’s national science agency. It is one of the plants and chemicals that meat and dairy businesses are experimenting with to reduce their contribution to global warming.” And if you’re looking for ways to cut back on your beef and lamb intake, the Bangor Daily News offers up this alternative, How to hunt and prepare squirrel meat.

That’s the recap for this week. Have a wonderful weekend.

Efficiency/Storage

Study: Long Island’s smallest power plants could be replaced by trailer-sized batteries, Newsday

New York City Becomes The Most Energy Efficient City In ACEEE Scorecard 2020, Construction Review

Revamped Energy Efficiency Programs Are the Key to Deep Carbon Reductions, Greentech Media

New York Housing Authority announces new bold commitment to electrification, Greenbiz

Efficiency meets style in this net-zero home in Jamestown, Rhode Island Monthly

Climate Change/Renewables/RGGI

Hydrogen is having a moment, and power generation is leading the way, Utility Dive

The State of Carbon Capture, Removal and Utilization, Greentech Media

Cows Make Climate Change Worse. Could Seaweed Help,? Wall St. Journal

Look Ahead, Vermont: Global Warming Solutions Act takes first steps as Climate Council appointees named, Brattleboro Reformer

Environmental groups press Murphy to reject regional anti-pollution pact. They say it’s not bold enough, NJ Spotlight

Maine regulators deny requests to reconsider renewable energy projects, Bangor Daily News

Voters give non-binding ballot questions on renewable energy, open-door government widespread support, Hampshire Daily Gazette

Museum of the Earth unable to promote climate change exhibit amid 2020 election, Ithaca Voice

Local elections are changing America’s energy mix, one city at a time, The Verge

Are renewable energy targets useful? Analysts dispute new study questioning their value, Utility Dive

If true geothermal arrives here, it’ll have to be around Conway, Granite Geek

Latest Rhode Island Green Report Card Gives Statehouse an ‘Incomplete and Lacking Leadership,’ EcoRI

A Bipartisan Climate Policy? It Could Happen Under a Biden Administration, Washington Veterans Say, Inside Climate News

Wind

First offshore wind farm goes offline: An industry warning,? E&E News

Shipbuilding on the ballot? Offshore wind sees an opening, E&E News

Rhode Island in Position for Offshore Wind Power Grab, EcoRI

Solar

New firm will optimize performance of New England solar projects, Vermont Biz

Farmington approves land lease for solar project, Sun Journal

EVs

Patchogue Village purchases first electric car, Long Island Advance

Nuclear

Shipping industry should consider nuclear option for decarbonizing: experts, S&P Global Platts

Holtec accelerates US NRC design certification for SMR-160, Nuclear Engineering International

Natural Gas/Oil/Pipeline/Drilling

Can gas utilities survive the energy transition? Massachusetts is going to find out., Grist

Gas workers call on lawmakers to improve safety, Salem News

In effort to curb emissions, state regulators probe the future of natural gas in Massachusetts, Boston Globe

Gas supply rates rise for Eversource customers; increase driven by market forces, not purchase of former Columbia Gas, MassLive

Tennessee Gas and contractor to pay $800,000 in penalties, repairs over controversial natural gas project in Otis State Forest, MassLive

Final order on Eversource gas rates announced, WickedLocal Hanover

Cold Weather Thaws Natural-Gas Prices, Wall St. Journal

Thousands in Derby, Ansonia lose natural gas service, Stamford Advocate

St. Albans meadery converting to 100% renewable natural gas to fight climate change, Burlington Free Press

Market/Grid/Policy/Prices

Opponents of CMP hydropower corridor launch new referendum drive, Press Herald

PURA Opts for Existing Programs Over Shutoff Moratorium, CT Examiner

CMP hydropower project wins key permit, likely to start construction soon, Bangor Daily News

Trump ousts Chatterjee, taps Danly to lead FERC, Utility Dive

Eversource: Tropical Storm Isaias restoration topped $275 million, still counting costs, CT Insider

Larger, vertically-integrated utilities better prepared to face cyber threats, says Moody’s, Utility Dive

Massachusetts Blazes Its Own Trail on Distributed Energy Policy, Greentech Media (subscriber content)

National Grid’s Massachusetts president to retire, Boston Globe

MASSCAP, Action Inc. launch heating help awareness campaign, Wicked Local Gloucester

Eversource Proposes Rate Increase In CT, Cites Generation Costs, Patch.com

Eversource submits proposal for winter rate increase, says they won’t profit, Fox 61

‘Totally worth it’: Chatterjee speculates DER order, carbon pricing are behind Trump ousting him, Utility Dive

Opinion

Maine Voices: New plan to kill CMP corridor will have unintended consequences, centralmaine.com

How to Overcome Barriers to Community Microgrids, Microgrid Knowledge

Give community power a chance, by Mary Ewell, Keene Sentinel

Tree Talk: Renewable wood energy, Sun Journal

Op-Ed: NJ needs to rethink Energy Master Plan, prioritize affordable energy, NJ Spotlight

We don’t have to wipe out farmland to grow solar energy in N.J. | Opinion, NJ.com

Pull plug on destructive Quebec hydropower proposal, Albany Times Union

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Filed under Climate Change, Electric Grid, Electricity Costs, New England Energy News, Northeast Energy News, offshore wind, solar

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