energy

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling against a request by utilities to charge electricity users for expanding natural gas pipelines is already affecting a similar request in Rhode Island.

The Conservation Law Foundation filed a motion at the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission to dismiss National Grid’s proposal to secure gas contracts and recover costs for its Access Northeast Project.

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Lawmakers from Burrillville are calling on the Department of Health to recommend withholding approvals for the proposed power plant in the area, until changes are made to mitigate any potential negative health effects.

In a letter sent to an environmental health risk assessment toxicologist at the Department of Health, Representative Cale Keable and Senator Paul Fogarty list their concerns over the proposed power plant project.

Those include impacts on local drinking water, noise pollution, and emissions.

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National Grid has come under fire for two proposals related to natural gas. The utility company's goal is to bring down the cost of electricity in the wintertime, but some state lawmakers and environmental groups aren’t convinced.

Courtesy of SmartPower

A state program designed to make buying and installing solar panels affordable and easy is available for residents and small businesses in Providence through late June.

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The nonprofit that operates New England’s energy grid and wholesale energy market purchased power this week from two Rhode Island energy projects: Deepwater Wind’s Block Island Wind Farm and Invenergy’s proposed power plant in Burrillville.

The offshore wind farm is scheduled to go online later this year, and the power plant has yet to gain approval from state officials.

RIPR FILE

Rhode Island government agencies are among the state’s top energy consumers, spending about $35 million a year on energy bills.

Gov. Gina Raimondo signed an executive order to reduce that energy consumption. She’s committing state agencies to get 100 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2025 and to reduce energy consumption by 10 percent by 2019.

Fighting Against Natural Gas

Activists with the environmental advocacy group Fighting Against Natural Gas (FANG) say they remain committed to their fight against an upgrade of Spectra Energy’s natural gas facility in Burrillville. Spectra Energy is responding to the protest.

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Deepwater Wind installed the first foundation over the weekend for what is slated to be the first offshore wind farm in the country. Monday morning the company took state and federal officials on a boat trip to see the barge, cranes, and foundations up close.

Five New England governors met yesterday in Hartford, Connecticut, to talk about increasing the region’s energy supply. No solutions are set in stone, but environmental advocates are concerned proposals rely too heavily on natural gas.

Gov. Gina Raimondo said this winter New England’s average wholesale electricity prices were significantly higher than neighboring regions. And those high prices are tough on consumers and businesses. Raimondo said at the regional meeting, the governors committed to provide relief.

RIPR File Photo

Gov. Gina Raimondo will meet with other New England governors in Hartford, Conn., tomorrow to discuss the region’s energy problems.

At a private roundtable, New England governors plan to explore solutions to a number of challenges: the rising prices of electricity, limited pipeline capacity, and the aging electricity grid.

Residents will get a chance Tuesday to tell the state’s Public Utilities Commission how they feel about a proposed 24 percent rate hike from National Grid.  If approved, the rate hike would kick in on January 1st .

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More approvals rolled in this week for the five-turbine wind farm Deepwater Wind.  And  the company says it has secured the last of its permits for the offshore wind farm planned for three miles off the coast of Block Island.  Construction is set to start next year.

The Coastal Resources Management Council has approved the lease agreement for the underwater land on which the wind farm will sit. The lease took effect earlier this month and will be valid for 25 years from the wind farm’s start date.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee and other leaders have gathered at Slater Mill in Pawtucket this afternoon for a ceremonial signing of the Affordable Clean Energy Security Act, an energy bill the governor signed into law earlier this summer.

The act gives Rhode Island an opportunity to work with other New England states to address volatile electricity prices. Last winter, the New England region spent $5 billion in energy costs, nearly as much as the region spent for the entire 2012 calendar year.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Climate change is one of the country’s most serious public health threats, said Gina McCarthy, the head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She spoke to a large crowd of local energy and environmental leaders at an annual conference today hosted by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. 

McCarthy shared one example of a direct public health threat.

New Englanders spent $5 billion in electricity last winter, compared to $5.2 billion for all of 2012. That's why each of the New England states has introduced legislation in their respective states to address the problem of rising electricity prices. But environmental advocacy groups are worried this regional collaboration would promote unnecessary natural gas projects.