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Data

Northeast

By redoubling efforts to adopt clean energy technologies, the Northeast can modernize its energy systems, give consumers better options to control energy costs, advance economic growth, and dramatically reduce climate pollution.

Emissions Reductions
18% Below
1990 Levels
Northeast Recorded Emissions, 1990-2015
Projected Reductions, 2015-2030

Clean Energy Replaces Fossil Fuels

Select a key area to see how individual technologies can grow to replace traditional, fossil-fueled energy. Drag the bar on the bottom of the page to see total emissions decline as each technology expands.

Key Sector

Electric Generation

To meet 2030 emissions targets, at least 35% of the region’s generation needs to come from renewable sources like wind and solar. Including hydroelectricity, 57% of the Northeast's energy must be renewable by 2030.

Percentage of Renewables in Energy Mix

The sources of electricity generation in the Northeast region shifted significantly from 2001 to the present. Coal use declined from 16% to 2.5% and natural gas increased from 28% to 45%. The successful Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) cap-and-trade program and related policies and market changes contributed to this trend by making lower-carbon generation more competitive. Cheaper natural gas has pushed out older, less-efficient coal and oil generation; however, the region’s increasing overreliance on natural gas will provide few additional emissions benefits and increases risks of price volatility or supply disruption. Hydraulic fracturing has reduced natural gas prices but raised concerns about impacts on local communities and climate. Expanding renewable generation is a less risky alternative that provides stable costs, mitigates fuel price risk, and reduces emissions.

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Land-Based Wind

Across New York and New England, states can increase land-based wind by 5,600 megawatts to reach the 2030 target

Megawatts of Land-Based Wind

Northeast states should pursue several policy mechanisms to finance and construct large renewable projects. Large projects that require significant capital costs and upgrades to transmission infrastructure can be facilitated by long-term contracts that include transmission and enable cheaper financing. Bulk purchasing should be continued and expanded to achieve 2030 targets, through coordination among states and regional grid operators whenever practical.

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Offshore Wind

States can also increase offshore wind by 6,400 megawatts to reach regional emissions targets.

Megawatts of Offshore Wind

Good wind speeds, shallow water, and proximity to population centers make offshore wind a promising grid-scale renewable resource. The first offshore wind farm in the country is operational in Rhode Island, and Massachusetts utilities will solicit 1,600MW of offshore wind capacity pursuant to new legislation. New York is also pursuing offshore wind development to achieve renewable energy targets. With continuing commitments to offshore wind, the Northeast could be the offshore industry hub for northern America, attracting a large share of industry jobs and economic development.

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Distributed Solar

Distributed solar, including rooftop, community, commercial, and municipal solar, can grow to more than 24,000 megawatts in the Northeast.

Megawatts of Distributed Solar

Unlike large-scale electricity generation that feeds into the transmission system, distributed generation (DG) provides energy directly to consumers and the local distribution grid. In addition to generating clean energy, clean DG resources like rooftop solar can make the electric grid more resilient and reduce the need for expensive grid infrastructure. On-site distributed generation can be a valuable resource that benefits the energy system, while empowering consumers to control their energy bills and receive payment for the local energy they produce.

Grid-Scale Solar

Grid-scale solar can provide an additional 11,000 megawatts of solar across the Northeast.

Megawatts of Grid-Scale Solar
Key Sector

Transportation

By adopting zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) and improving mobility options, the Northeast can reduce fossil fuel consumption for transportation by 22%, or 426 trillion BTU, by 2030.

Trillion BTU of Fossil Fuels

New York and New England must embrace clean transportation technologies to build a cleaner and more efficient regional transportation system. By adopting these technologies, states can also reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions significantly, as fossil fuels burned for transportation represent the largest share of the region’s GHG emissions. New policy measures can build on already growing consumer interest in zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), primarily electric vehicles (EVs), to replace more conventional cars and trucks. At the same time, the states can invest in alternative mobility options to create vibrant communities and reduce the need to drive in both urban and rural areas.

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Electric Vehicles

States can continue progress to electrify 17% of light cars and trucks by 2030.

Percentage of Cars Electrified

An EV emits less than half the CO2 of a conventional vehicle, and EVs will produce even fewer emissions as technology improves and more electricity is generated by renewables. Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, and New York have already committed to put nearly 1.4 million zero emissions vehicles (ZEVs) on the road by 2025. These commitments can be expanded to include all states in the region and strengthened through ambitious yet achievable deployment targets for 2030: 17% of cars and light trucks electrified.

 

Deployment will require smarter electric rates that make EVs more attractive to drivers. Consumer incentives to facilitate EV purchases are also needed to grow markets but would decline over time. Pricing emissions from transportation fuels will accelerate EV adoption while raising funds for rebates, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, transit, and other transportation sector investments.

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Medium-duty Electric Trucks

Converting an additional 2.5% of the medium duty fleet to electric vehicles will help the region meet its clean energy goals.

Percentage of Trucks Electrified

Beyond passenger cars and light trucks, medium-duty vehicles, such as buses and delivery trucks, can also be electrified. For example, at the end of 2015, FedEx had already placed nearly 1,200 electric vehicles in service in its global fleet.

By promoting the benefits of these vehicles, including reduced fuel and maintenance costs, states can achieve greater adoption of commercially available electric alternatives in the medium-duty fleet.

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Vehicle Miles Traveled

The Northeast can slow projected VMT growth from 8% under current policies to 3%, reducing annual VMT 5% over a 15-year period.

Percent Decrease in VMT Compared to the Baseline Scenario

To put this in perspective, VMT in the Northeast dropped 5% in the period of 2007 to 2011, an equivalent reduction in only 4 years.

Public transit, walking, biking, carpooling, and ride-hailing services can reduce the number of miles a car is driven. From rural to urban areas, improving access to these services and activities can create vibrant communities and reduce emissions.

 

Key Sector

Buildings

Increased efficiency and electric heat pumps can reduce fossil fuels consumed in buildings 25%, or by more than 440 trillion BTU, by 2030.

Trillion BTU of Fossil Fuels

To advance the clean energy future, buildings in the Northeast must be powered and heated by cleaner energy sources while at the same time becoming more efficient. Continued investment in energy efficiency will save money and avoid unnecessary energy waste. When efficiency is combined with clean heating technologies, a deep emissions reduction pathway emerges. The buildings of tomorrow will reflect a much more integrated and interactive energy system that produces and consumes electricity in ways that result in a cleaner and more efficient grid.

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Heat Pumps

To meet the 2030 target, Northeast states can convert 10% of oil, gas, and propane heating systems in homes and businesses to heat pumps.

Percentage of Heating Systems Converted

Heat pumps are a form of efficient electric heating for residential and commercial buildings. They extract heat from either outside air or the ground and move it into a building. An air conditioner is a type of heat pump that moves heat from inside a building to the outside to cool it; heat pumps simply reverse this process during the heating season and can now efficiently function even in cold Northeastern winters.

 

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Heat Pump Water Heaters

The Northeast region needs to replace at least 11% of fossil-fueled water heaters with heat pumps by 2030.

Percentage of Water Heaters Converted

Making hot water is the second greatest use of energy in homes after space heating. Heat pumps can increase water heating efficiency as much or even more than space heating efficiency.

States should adopt policies that assign an appropriate value to the emissions savings gained from replacing fossil fuel hot water systems with cleaner alternatives.

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Electric Efficiency

The Northeast must decrease electric consumption 36% by 2030 to reduce emissions from electricity generation and offset additional demand from EVs and heat pumps.

Percent Reduction in Electricity Consumption

The Northeast is a national leader in investing in energy efficiency. Not only is efficiency the lowest cost and cleanest energy choice, it provides enormous economic gains, creates jobs, and saves consumers money. Increasing investments in efficiency have made nearly $500 million of expensive transmission line upgrades no longer necessary in New England. Efficiency investments have reduced the cost of doing business, lowered consumer energy bills by billions of dollars, and provided healthier, more comfortable spaces to live and work in.  Energy efficiency works hand in hand with coordinated improvements in the energy system: by reducing overall demand for energy, energy efficiency allows renewable energy resources to ramp up and offsets increased electricity demand from electric vehicles and heat pumps.

Many, but not all, states have strong efficiency plans in place, and states must continue to show a sustained commitment to electric efficiency in order to reduce energy consumption and minimize costs. If on average all Northeast states achieved at least 2.5% annual efficiency goals, efficiency would reduce emissions from electricity generation and offset additional demand from new technologies. Some states in the region are meeting—and even exceeding— this level of efficiency cost-effectively, but all states need to make longer-term commitments to ensure this trend continues through 2030.

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Natural gas efficiency

By 2030, natural gas savings can increase to at least 22% through weatherization in the Northeast.

Percent Increase in Natural Gas Savings

The Northeast states also have opportunities to reduce energy costs and emissions by investing in energy efficiency measures that reduce the use of heating fuels like natural gas, propane, and fuel oil. Weatherizing buildings, replacing outdated equipment, and improving industrial processes can all reduce the amount of fossil fuels consumed in buildings.

Lagging states need to capture all cost-effective efficiency and leading states need to sustain and even improve their current efforts. States need to find sustainable funding mechanisms for fuel oil and propane efficiency through economy-wide carbon pricing or a different mechanism.

Key Sector

Grid Modernization

Updated rules, planning processes, and financial incentives can enable the adoption of technologies critical to meet 2030 and longer term emissions reduction targets.

New York and New England must create modern energy grids that are dynamic and low carbon and deliver a fair, safe system that protects consumers and allows clean energy to flourish. A modern grid should incorporate investments in new technology and innovation and give consumers and communities greater control over energy costs. To transition to a modern system, states can update grid rules to incentivize utilities to achieve clean energy goals that benefit consumers.

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Energy Grid

The modern energy grid must be highly efficient and resilient, produce less pollution, and rely increasingly on distributed energy resources and sophisticated load management practices.

The traditional energy grid system has been structured around one-way power flow from power plants traveling over transmission and distribution lines to homes and businesses. In the new system, power will flow in multiple directions with greater consumer engagement and third party participation. As the energy grid evolves and distributed energy resources become more prevalent, utilities will increasingly take on the role of coordinators of the energy market, rather than functioning purely as energy providers and infrastructure developers.

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Utility Incentives

Utility regulators must adopt new rules that allow the utilities to recover costs and earn comparable returns on local energy solutions.

Traditionally, utilities earn money by making a regulated rate of return on approved capital investments. This system gives utilities incentives to build or upgrade traditional infrastructure projects. These outdated utility financial incentives inhibit the transition to a clean energy future, increase consumer costs, and hinder investment in new technologies. While the region’s energy needs can increasingly be met by local energy resources and smart energy management, utilities often earn far less—or nothing at all—by choosing lower-cost, clean energy solutions.

Without changes to the way they are regulated and rewarded, utilities will continue to advocate for infrastructure over local energy resources. Instead of earning revenue primarily for building new infrastructure, utilities should be rewarded for achieving energy efficiency and clean energy goals, minimizing the cost of the grid, and providing choices, opportunities, and control to consumers.

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Demand Response and Active Load Management

New York and New England can increase Demand Response and Active Load Management to cover about 5,770 megawatts of electricity load by 2030.

Megawatts of DR and ALM

Demand response (DR) measures reduce or shift energy consumption during periods of high demand on the grid. Traditionally, DR involves coordination between utilities and large customers. Like DR, active load management (ALM) shifts demand patterns, but it is highly-automated.

Smart or programmable technologies (e.g., thermostats, equipment, and appliances) make active load management possible. These technologies minimize a consumer’s load during peak periods or shift a consumer’s load when renewables are generating electricity. For example, a water heater can automatically preheat when renewable generation is available, drawing less power from fossil fuel sources.

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Energy Storage

The Northeast can adopt about 4,200 megawatts of new battery storage to meet 2030 goals

Megawatts of Battery Storage

Batteries and other types of energy storage can store power when demand for energy is low and release it when demand is high. For example, storage can retain solar energy produced mid-day and release it after the sun goes down. Electric vehicles have the potential to contribute to both active load management, through smart coordinated charging, and storage, by releasing power from their batteries to the grid when it is economical to do so.

Get More Materials

Download EnergyVision 2030 companion materials, including a summary brochure and poster, companion briefs on each region and key area, and the technical appendix.

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