Many New England states have shown their commitment to clean energy through nation-leading energy efficiency programs and renewable energy installations. To continue reducing emissions, they must act to modernize the power grid and adopt more clean energy technologies.
Percentage of Renewables in Energy Mix
New England can support renewables development and make renewable generation, including hydroelectricity, 57% of its energy mix by 2030.
The sources of electricity generation in New England have shifted significantly from 2001 to the present. Coal use declined from 16% to 4% and natural gas increased from 29% to 49%. This shift initially reduced greenhouse gas emissions by pushing out less-efficient coal plants, but the region’s increasing overreliance on natural gas will provide the region with few additional emissions benefits and increases risks of price volatility and supply disruption. Expanding renewable generation is a less risky alternative that provides stable costs, mitigates fuel price risk, and reduces emissions.
Megawatts of Land-Based Wind
New England states can increase land-based wind by 3,700 megawatts to reach the 2030 target.
Renewable Portfolio Standards provide overarching targets for developers and policymakers, and New England states are also advancing renewable generation by issuing large-scale purchase bids, or long-term contracts, in the market. These contracts finance and construct large renewable projects like land-based wind farms that have significant capital costs and require upgrades to transmission infrastructure. Large-scale purchases of renewable energy reduce costs and can help to overcome financial barriers that could otherwise stifle development.
Megawatts of Offshore Wind
States can also increase offshore wind by 4,000 megawatts to reach their emissions targets.
Megawatts of Distributed Solar
Distributed solar, including rooftop, community, commercial, and municipal solar, can grow 11 gigawatts, nearly 11 times its current reach.
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.
Megawatts of Grid-Scale Solar
Grid-scale solar can provide an additional 5,000 megawatts of solar across New England.
Solar photovoltaic (PV) projects can be grid-scale or built to provide energy to a single home. The technology can be installed in a variety of places and is therefore uniquely suited to provide distributed generation. Distributed solar projects bring special value by avoiding expensive infrastructure and providing local jobs. As a result, solar PV has been promoted across the region through dedicated programs that reflect this value, including the ZREC program in Connecticut, the Renewable Energy Growth program in Rhode Island, and a new Massachusetts program that will create incentives for siting in preferred locations, offer bonuses for low-income participation, and incorporate energy storage.
Trillion BTU of Fossil Fuels
By adopting zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) and improving mobility options, New England can reduce fossil fuel consumption for transportation by more than 20%, or 190 trillion BTU, by 2030.
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.
Percentage of Cars Electrified
New England states can electrify at least 13.5% of light cars and trucks by 2030.
An electric vehicle (EV) emits less than half of the CO2 of a conventional vehicle, and EVs will produce even fewer emissions as technology improves and more electricity is produced by renewables. CT, MA, RI, and VT have committed to put 537,000 zero emission vehicles on the road by 2025. These commitments can be expanded to include all New England states and strengthened through an ambitious but achievable 2030 target 13% of cars and light trucks electrified.
Deployment will require smarter electric rates that make EVs more attractive to drivers and consumer incentives to facilitate EV purchases, which would decline over time. Pricing transportation emissions will accelerate EV adoption while raising funds for rebates, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, transit, and other transportation sector investments.
Percentage of Trucks Electrified
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.
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.
Percent Decrease in VMT Compared to the Baseline Scenario
Vehicle Miles Traveled
New England can slow projected VMT growth from 11% under current policies to 5%, reducing annual VMT 5% over a 15-year period.
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.
Trillion BTU of Fossil Fuels
Increased efficiency and electric heat pumps can reduce fossil fuels consumed in buildings 29%, or by more than 200 trillion BTU, by 2030.
To advance the clean energy future, buildings in New England 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.
Percentage of Heating Systems Converted
To meet the 2030 target, New England states can convert 14% of oil, gas, and propane heating systems in homes and businesses to heat pumps.
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 New England winters.
Percentage of Water Heaters Converted
Heat Pumps for Water Heating
New England needs to replace at least 12.4% of fossil-fueled water heaters with heat pumps by 2030.
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.
Percent Reduction in Electricity Consumption
New England must decrease electric consumption 40% by 2030 to reduce emissions from electricity generation and offset additional demand from EVs and heat pumps.
New England is a national leader in investing in energy efficiency. Energy efficiency works hand in hand with coordinated improvements in our energy system: by reducing overall demand for energy, energy efficiency allows renewable energy resources to ramp up and offsets increased electricity demand from new technologies.
Many New England states have strong efficiency plans, but states must continue to show a sustained commitment to energy efficiency in order to reduce energy consumption and minimize costs. Leading states like Massachusetts and Rhode Island have achieved the highest electric savings rates in the country—approaching 3% annually. New England must achieve at least 2.5% annual efficiency goals on average to reach 2030 targets.
Percent Increase in Natural Gas Savings
Natural Gas Efficiency
By 2030, natural gas savings can increase to at least 23% through weatherization in New England.
New England 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.
Updated rules, planning processes, and financial incentives can enable the adoption of technologies critical to meet 2030 and longer term emissions reduction targets.
New England states must create a modern energy grid that is dynamic, low carbon, and delivers a fair, safe system that protects consumers and allows clean energy to flourish. The 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.
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.
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.
Megawatts of DR and ALM
Demand Response and Active Load Management
New England can increase Demand Response and Active Load Management to cover nearly 3,000 megawatts of electricity load by 2030.
Megawatts of Battery Storage
New England can adopt 2,200 MW of new battery storage to meet 2030 goals.
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.
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