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USA: New England Takes Step Toward Clean Energy Revolution

Governors from the six New England states have decided to move forward with a process to jointly procure renewable energy in the near future. The proposal was presented by Massachusetts’ Assistant Secretary of Energy Steven Clarke on behalf of Gov. Deval Patrick, D-Mass., during the New England Governors’ Conference in Vermont Monday. The governors voted unanimously to approve the proposal.

“It’s a big priority for Gov. Patrick and a key component to our clean energy future here in Massachusetts, so we’re really excited about the prospect of collaborating with the other states,” Clarke tells Renew Grid.

The states plan to release a joint request for proposals (RFP) in 2013 for a “significant amount of renewable energy.” The New England States Committee on Electricity (NESCOE) will be in charge of developing and implementing a plan on behalf of the New England governors.

“The Massachusetts clean energy revolution is well under way, thanks to leadership from Gov. Patrick and the legislature, and I look forward to working with my counterparts in the other New England states to further this revolution,” Massachusetts’ Energy and Environment Secretary Rick Sullivan said in a statement.

In 2009, the New England governors adopted the New England Governors’ Renewable Energy Blueprint, which includes technical analysis from ISO New England (ISO-NE) that identifies significant renewable resources in the area.

While Clarke says it is too early to tell exactly how much energy will be sought, he cites a request for information (RFI) issued by NESCOE in 2011 that resulted in over 4 GW of generation and transmission proposals.

“We anticipate that this could be significant in terms of both transmission and generation,” he says. “It will really make a key difference in our energy mix going forward.”

The RFP is expected to be technology agnostic; however, the New England region has quite a bit of wind energy potential.

“Wind energy is the most cost-effective RPS-compliant renewable source of generation now, so we anticipate that wind will play a key role in this,” says Clarke.

The 2010 New England Wind Integration Study from ISO-NE found that up to 12 GW of onshore and offshore wind could be developed in the region, potentially meeting up to 24% of the region’s annual electricity needs. The study estimated that adding 12 GW of wind power and building new transmission lines would cost between $19 billion to $25 billion.

ISO-NE says it supports this collaboration.

“The ISO has worked closely with the states and NESCOE on the region’s renewable energy potential, including providing the technical analysis (The New England 2030 Power System Study) underpinning the Renewable Energy Blueprint developed by the governors in 2009, and we will continue to provide information and technical analysis to the states as needed,” Marcia Blomberg, spokesperson for ISO-NE, tells Renew Grid.

A status report on the RFI from NESCOE stated that transmission projects in various stages of development had been identified and could possibly facilitate the delivery of the additional renewable energy.
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