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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Governors In Conn., Mass., R.I. Say They Will Collaborate On Energy Policy

As you know from watching our energy special, New England states coordinate closely on energy management and trying to keep the lights on in all cities and towns during peak demand.  Extending this level of cooperation on renewables, and expanding natural gas as a bridge fuel, is key to increasing their share of the power supple on our grids.

We think, too, this will help push the process of bringing hydro down from Quebec as a major supple of electricity.

We have felt from the very beginning that sustainability is the last great bastion of collaboration in which we will see all people, parties, states and nations work together on solutions.  Good to see some of that high-level cooperation seeding here in New England.

Thanks to Steve Holland, who runs our energy channel, for sending this over.  Be listening on WRNP 1320 for his most recent segment. 

The governors of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island are joining together to look for ways to increase the region's reliance on renewable energy sources while also expanding natural gas capacity.

Under the plan, electric distribution companies in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island will collaborate with their respective state agencies to begin a competitive bidding process to seek proposals from suppliers of clean energy resources including wind, solar, small hydro, biomass, fuel cells and other non-carbon emitting sources.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said the collaborative effort between the three states opens the possibility of procuring large-scale projects and transmission to deliver clean energy on a scale that no single state could secure.

"By working together with neighboring states we can make the most efficient use of our resources to attract new clean energy projects at the lowest possible cost for ratepayers while advancing our interests in reducing emissions of greenhouse gases," Malloy said in a statement.

Malloy said the three states took the first step in the procurement process by formally releasing a draft request for proposals, including a 30-day comment period that will end on March 26. After considering the comments, the states will issue a final request for proposals this spring.

The draft proposal request allows the states to consider projects for the delivery of clean energy through traditional power purchase agreements that don't require transmission upgrades; purchase power agreements that require transmission upgrades; and transmission projects containing clean energy commitments but without any associated power purchase agreements.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said the effort is part of a push to reduce energy costs, strengthen grid reliability and increase the region's economic competitiveness. Baker said it's also important for Massachusetts to embrace regional cooperation with neighboring states to pursue natural gas expansion.

"This regional partnership will allow Massachusetts to acquire cost effective renewable resources for the Commonwealth's energy supply," Baker said Wednesday.

Baker said he reached out to his counterparts in neighboring states during last weekend's National Governors Association meeting in Washington.

Baker also said he's also directed the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources to file a request with the state Department of Public Utilities to begin a process to determine how electric utilities can pursue gas capacity contracts to improve winter reliability and lower winter electricity costs.

He said the agencies will also explore ways to expand natural gas expansion under existing law.

Baker said the Department of Public Utilities may issue a written order to give direction to the electric utilities on how they should move ahead to expand natural gas capacity.

Copyright © 2015, Hartford Courant

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