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Renewable Energy in the Northern Forest

Ann Ingerson September, 2012


Renewable Energy in the Northern Forest

September, 2012

Acknowledgments Thanks to the many individuals who provided information for this report, including staff at the Department of Energy Economic Information Administration, several units of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Public Service Departments and Public Utility Commissions in New England states, and staff of many non-profits who wrote or sponsored reports on energy options that we’ve drawn from in this text. I am especially grateful to those who reviewed earlier drafts and provided helpful comments, including: Derek Murrow, Environment Northeast; Jonathan Peress, Conservation Law Foundation; John Rogers, Union of Concerned Scientists; Michael Wickenden, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation; Pat O’Neill, energy activist; and Pete Morton, Chase Huntley, Liese Dart, David Moulton and Ben Rose, The Wilderness Society. Remaining errors and omissions are mine alone and reviewers have not necessarily endorsed any positions taken here. Please address comments or questions to Ann Ingerson, Economist, The Wilderness Society, Craftsbury Common, VT, ann_ingerson@tws.org.

Cover photos (clockwise from top left): Solar Roof Panels, Falmouth, Massachusetts. Kibby Wind Farm, Maine. McNeil Wood-Fired Electric Generating Station, Vermont. Pontook Dam, New Hampshire.

Maps produced by The Wilderness Society and included in this document include intellectual property of ESRI and its licensors and are used herein under license. Copyright © 1995-2010 ESRI and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Updates: September, 2012 – updated solar PV statistics and examples. March, 2012 – cited Smith et al. 2012 on U.S. bioenergy limits. February, 2012 – incorporated information on hydroelectricity emissions from Steinhurst et al. 2012 and Raadal et al. 2011; restored missing footnotes. December, 2011 – updated wind projects map and photos. October, 2011 – supplemented information on offshore wind; new data on residential wood heat.

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Contents Acknowledgments .................................................................................................................................... i Executive Summary ................................................................................................................................ iii Preface .................................................................................................................................................... 1 Fossil Fuel Impacts and the Transition to Renewables.............................................................................. 2 Energy Use in New England ..................................................................................................................... 2 Electricity ................................................................................................................................................ 7 Reducing Consumption ........................................................................................................................ 7 The Electricity Grid ............................................................................................................................ 12 Land-Based Renewable Electricity Sources ......................................................................................... 16 Distributed Electricity from Renewable Resources ............................................................................. 29 Transportation ...................................................................................................................................... 32 Transportation Efficiency ................................................................................................................... 32 Renewable Energy for Transportation ................................................................................................ 33 Heat and Industrial Processes ................................................................................................................ 34 Heat and Processing Efficiency........................................................................................................... 35 Renewable Energy for Heat and Industrial Processes ......................................................................... 37 Putting It All Together – Selected Costs and Benefits of Renewable Energy............................................ 39 Direct Financial Costs ......................................................................................................................... 40 Energy Jobs........................................................................................................................................ 42 Greenhouse Gas Emissions ................................................................................................................ 44 Land Disturbance ............................................................................................................................... 47 Energy Return on Energy Invested ..................................................................................................... 49 Woody Biomass Supply and Cumulative Energy Demand ................................................................... 50 Public Energy Policy ............................................................................................................................... 52 Energy Incentives............................................................................................................................... 54 Facility Permitting.............................................................................................................................. 57 Conclusion............................................................................................................................................. 59 References ............................................................................................................................................ 61 Appendix. TWS principles for responsible renewable energy development: Sustaining wildlands and meeting our energy needs ..................................................................................................................... 73

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Executive Summary Fossil fuels are the leading cause of climate change, and their extraction and combustion cause many other serious environmental and social impacts. Coal-burning power plants support mountaintop removal and hazardous underground mining in southern Appalachia. Natural gas for electricity and heat relies increasingly on hydro-fracking in the Marcellus shale region from New York to Virginia. Heating oil and gasoline are driving continued drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, the Arctic and public lands across the west. Fossil fuel imports make the U.S. vulnerable to the political whims of unstable regimes in distant lands. Fossil fuel burning in the U.S. accounts for about 19% of total global greenhouse gas emissions, with per capita emissions at 4 times the global average. Concern about these fossil fuel impacts has led to state, regional and federal policies promoting renewable energy development. Clearly, one of the most important tasks for our age is to accomplish a transition to renewable home-grown sources of energy. Although renewable energy resources result in lower greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants than fossil fuels (see Figure 23), renewable energy is not truly carbon free and it is not without impact on the landscape. A clean energy transition must balance the impacts of siting renewable energy facilities within an alreadycrowded landscape with the long-term impacts of climate change on biological diversity, fish and wildlife habitat, natural landscapes, and human well-being. Consequently, great care should be taken to build only what is needed, and to site and configure new facilities to avoid and minimize adverse environmental impacts. The particular focus of this paper is northern New England. Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont already benefit from significant renewable electricity supply – mostly hydro (including imports from New York and Canada) and woody biomass (including industrial boilers as well as stand-alone electricity dating from the first energy crisis in the 1980’s). New wind and solar projects are also beginning to gain a foothold across our region.

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Report Highlights •

Since electricity, heat/processing, and transport all share many of the same energy resources, addressing all sectors together will achieve the best energy returns for each limited resource.

Reducing energy use should be the first priority. Conservation is more costeffective than new production (particularly when environmental costs of new facilities are included), and benefits local economies by substituting local spending for out-of-region energy purchases.

Small-scale renewables and efficient combined-heat-and-power technology can generate jobs and savings throughout the region and reduce environmental impact when located in already-disturbed areas closer to end users.

Large centralized renewable electricity facilities– particularly ridgetop wind, hydroelectric, and biomass – may affect the most remote and unspoiled lands remaining in eastern North America, and require investment in new longdistance transmission lines that further fragment the landscape.

Renewable energy technologies will generally reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional fossil fuel energy sources, but careful life-cycle analysis reveals that no solution is truly “carbon neutral” and the details of design, location and operation matter.

In order to minimize environmental impact and maximize local economic benefits, energy policy should emphasize efficiency and on-site power production, but some new energy development will be necessary. Choices about technology and location should address all cumulative impacts.

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Because this region operates on a single interconnected electrical grid, power flows readily across state lines. In New England, most of the demand for energy comes from the more-populous southern states, while much of the immediately deployable renewable energy potential – particularly for terrestrial wind and biomass – is located in the north. Energy development in the Northern Forest could encroach on the largest contiguous area of intact forestland remaining in the eastern U.S., so it makes sense to first minimize demand and then plan carefully to avoid irreversible damage from unavoidable new energy development. Massachusetts imports considerable amounts of electricity, and is dependent on Maine, New Hampshire and New York for much of the renewable supply that allows its utilities to comply with Renewable Portfolio Standard targets. The region as a whole also imports significant amounts of hydroelectric power from Hydro Quebec, and a new long-distance transmission line is proposed through New Hampshire. When energy development occurs far from the end consumer, the considerable cost of new or upgraded transmission must be included in cost estimates, even when that cost is shared across jurisdictions. For some wind energy scenarios, transmission could increase capital costs by more than 40%. The most cost-effective electricity resource, and one of the best job-generators, is the energy that is never needed. Demand-side investments that improve energy efficiency, and behavioral changes driven by better information and price incentives, can reduce overall energy use by approximately one-quarter in this region according to some estimates. New England states already have model electricity efficiency programs in place, and financing from emissions permit sales through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative should enable these programs to expand – provided the states remain committed to the program. Over time, rising conventional energy prices will make efficiency investments even more attractive. Rural New England, with its scattered development patterns and independent spirit, provides fertile ground for home-grown distributed electricity. Even though smaller solar, wind, hydro, landfill or farm methane, and combined heat-and-power facilities may not achieve the economies-of-scale enjoyed by large commercial facilities, lower permitting and transmission costs and reduced environmental impacts make this approach attractive to many energy users. Policies to drive deployment are relatively new but show great promise. Net metering programs, despite their short track record, have seen dramatic growth in this region, particularly in Vermont. Pilot feed-in-tariff or standard offer programs in Vermont and Maine, which guarantee a high retail purchase price over a long contract period, have seen a favorable response from small-scale energy developers, including solar, landfill and farm methane, and small-scale hydro and wind. Despite our best efforts at reducing energy demand and encouraging small-scale distributed production, new commercial-scale renewable facilities will be needed as coal and other fossil plants go off-line. Most options for large-scale electricity generation impose significant external costs that need to be considered alongside financial costs when developing public policies that support specific technologies. Despite a common assumption that all renewable electricity technologies are environmentally benign,

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these alternatives do have impacts, including some associated greenhouse gas emissions, that depend upon on siting and operational details. •

• •

Inland wind resources tend to be concentrated on ridgelines, many of which are located in the last remaining unroaded open spaces across much of our region. Turbines located on intact ridgelines disrupt contiguous wildlife habitat and affect large viewsheds. Offshore wind potential dramatically exceeds inland, though its financial costs are higher and environmental effects less well-known. Woody biomass shares some of the drawbacks of other combustion-based technologies, including increased greenhouse gas emissions at least in the short term, fuel transport and water use impacts, and without careful management could reverse the regrowth of older forests that is currently underway in many New England states. Small-scale hydro development has some potential at pre-existing dams or through new microhydro approaches that do not impound water, though even these facilities would reduce stream flow and disturb habitat through penstock construction. Larger-scale hydro-power is most likely to originate in Quebec, where remote stretches of boreal forest are being eliminated, rivers re-routed, and salmon spawning reaches flooded.

Although most energy policy and planning focuses on electricity, our region uses approximately equal amounts of energy for transportation and thermal uses such as space heating. The three northern New England states depend on fuel oil, LP gas, and natural gas for heat and industrial processes and in company with the rest of the U.S. nearly all transportation relies on fossil fuels. As shale gas capacity ramps up and comes to dominate natural gas supply in our region, groundwater impacts and fugitive greenhouse gas emissions could increase the ecological footprint of our thermal energy mix. Demand reduction offers a cost-effective and employment-boosting option for reducing heating and cooling energy, just as it does for electricity. Home weatherization, in particular, has tremendous potential in a region with aging housing stock. Energy audits, insulation, and window and door replacements can also provide steady employment, even when home-building slows during recessions. Improved standards for new buildings can be even more cost-effective than retrofits. As states expand their efficiency programs into the heating and cooling sector, the magnitude of potential energy savings is estimated to be similar to those from electricity efficiency programs at about 25% of projected use. Once energy inputs have been minimized through building envelope improvements, there is significant potential to provide more heat with wood, geothermal, and passive solar. Each source has its own unique impacts on the total energy system. Geothermal heat pumps, for instance, increase electricity demand, even though they deliver much more energy than they consume. Wood offers higher energy conversion efficiencies when used directly for space heating compared to generating steam to drive turbines that generate electricity. These examples reinforce the need for comprehensive energy planning to prevent a one-sector solution from exacerbating the renewable energy challenges for another sector.

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The transportation sector presents the greatest obstacles to expanding renewable energy in rural areas. Small amounts of ethanol imported to the region, and even smaller amounts of locally-made biodiesel, are the only renewable components of transport fuels to-date. In the short run, demand reduction can be achieved through purchase of more efficient vehicles and reducing miles travelled by telecommuting or ride-sharing. On the supply side, biofuel production from oil seed crops can make farms more energy self-sufficient, but a limited farmland base restricts potential growth. In the longer term, land use policies that discourage scattered development might make further demand-side inroads, and electric vehicles charged during off-peak hours to avoid the need for new electric infrastructure might be a partial solution on the supply side. Northeastern states are studying a low carbon fuel standard as one way to encourage fuel switching, but expanding use of electricity or biofuels will put further pressure on wood, wind and hydro resources already in heavy demand from other energy sectors. Rather than paint all renewable options with the same “clean, green and carbon neutral” brush, policy makers need to design incentive programs that minimize damage and incorporate the full set of relevant environmental criteria in permitting decisions. Each particular site will have unique benefits and impacts; the Putting It All Together section provides a general comparison of the relative costs, jobs provided, greenhouse gas emissions, land area affected, and pressure on forest resources associated with alternative energy approaches. As we make a historic exit from the fossil fuel age, difficult choices await. Despite the need for urgent action, those choices must be thoughtful and well-informed. “Not in my back yard” and “out of sight out of mind” cannot be the guiding principles for designing a new energy system. Nor can we accept current consumption patterns and low energy costs as a given. With a clear understanding of the full costs of new energy development, New Englanders are more likely to tackle the fundamental task of reducing our energy demands and learning to live within the carrying capacity of our landscape. We hope that this paper contributes to that understanding.

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Preface As fossil fuel impacts, including climate change, grow increasingly clear, New England states are just beginning the difficult but vital task of transitioning to renewable low-carbon energy sources. As we institute new policies to accomplish this transition, it is important to recognize the full impact of our energy choices. The past several years have seen multiple energy proposals that affect northern New England’s least developed landscapes. The area from the Adirondacks to northern Maine, known as the Northern Forest, contains the greatest tracts of intact forest in the eastern United States, as indicated by the lack of night lights on the left-hand image below. On the right, The Wilderness Society’s “wildness” index1 also illustrates the uniqueness of this area in the East. Figure 1 Electric Lights at Night and Northern Forest Wildlands

ESRI imagery and The Wilderness Society Center for Landscape Analysis

Advocacy organizations and policy-makers with energy expertise seldom engage in wildland conservation issues, and those concerned primarily with land protection have little energy expertise. Likewise, the northern and southern parts of New England are interdependent, and policies in one state affect land use in the others, but initiatives are not always coordinated across state lines. This paper is an attempt to build shared understanding across traditionally separate energy and land use arenas, and across our region from state to state. Our ultimate goal is to ensure that new clean energy development in our region occurs, but with sufficient care for the special character of our most remote landscapes and communities.

1

Data included in the index are: population density, distance from major highways, size of patches of natural vegetation, presence of dams in the watershed, natural land cover, presence of built infrastructure, pollution sources, and the night lights shown above.

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Fossil Fuel Impacts and the Transition to Renewables Before describing the impacts of various renewable energy sources and highlighting the need for careful planning, a reminder is in order about why developing those sources is such a high priority. Fossil fuels provide 77% of all energy in New England and 85% in the U.S. as a whole. Producing and combusting these fuels has very serious environmental and social consequences including: •

• • • • • • •

6 billion metric tons of U.S. greenhouse gases emitted annually (as carbon-dioxide equivalents) about 19% of the global total at a per capita emissions rate 4 times the global average – which most scientists believe will lead to widespread adverse ecological and economic impacts if not reduced dramatically over the next 20 years; miner fatalities and mountain-top removal impacts associated with coal extraction in the southeastern U.S; groundwater pollution and poisoned drinking water from hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in geologic formations such as the eastern U.S. Marcellus shale; massive oil spills that decimate ocean life and eliminate fishing and tourism jobs in the Gulf of Mexico, Arctic Ocean and elsewhere; widespread habitat destruction and air pollution in western U.S. oil and gas fields; severe and permanent damage to land and water in Canada’s tar sands region, with spill-prone long-distance pipelines traversing the U.S. plains; loss of life, health, infrastructure and dollars associated with military action to protect critical reserves in other countries; other pollutants from combustion that degrade air quality and damage human and ecosystem health – including the effects of acid precipitation on New England’s soils, vegetation and aquatic life.

It is beyond the scope of this paper to enumerate the many negative environmental and social consequences of fossil energy. But we want to start by acknowledging the critical importance of a transition to renewables. The Wilderness Society supports truly renewable energy development at a local and utility scale where it is needed, and doing so in the right places with the right practices (see Appendix for our renewable energy siting principles). This analysis is intended to promote a transition to renewable energy solutions by encouraging realistic planning to minimize damage from their development. Environmental impacts should not be overlooked if we are to strike the right balance between the need for more renewable energy and the need to preserve wild unfragmented ecosystems that can help species and natural communities survive looming climate change threats.

Energy Use in New England Since renewable energy development is designed to meet a perceived need, it is useful to start with an understanding of how we in northern New England use energy and what sources we rely on to meet that demand. According to the Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration (USDOE EIA October 28, 2010), Vermont used 154 trillion Btu of energy in 2008 (249 million per capita); New

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Hampshire 311 trillion (235 million per capita), and Maine 469 trillion (356 million per capita). 2 These three states rank 42nd, 45th and 21st in the country in per capita use, but energy used by large industrial facilities skews the raw per capita figures, particularly in Maine. Residential energy use is only about one-quarter of the total - 71 million Btu per capita in Vermont and Maine and 68 million Btu per capita in New Hampshire. Of course, individuals are also responsible for a significant portion (about one-third nationally) of energy used for transportation, and commercial and industrial operations also ultimately serve individual needs, so individual choices do affect all energy uses. Figure 2 Energy Use by Sector - VT, NH, ME, 2008

USDOE EIA October 28, 2010

Energy is delivered to users as electricity, liquid fuels, gases, and to a lesser extent solids like coal or wood. To compare levels of use, all energy sources can be converted into British thermal units (Btu). Figure 3 below shows total and renewable energy use by state. 3 The chart also shows Inter-state and international transfers of electricity (which may change from year to year - Connecticut was a net exporter in 2009). Existing data do not indicate whether transfers are from renewable sources, nor to what extent Renewable Energy Certificate purchases may exceed actual electricity transfers and essentially transform some of the general electricity into renewable sources. Likewise, energy exporting states that sell RECs may no longer claim those sources as renewable, even if the electricity is used instate.

2

Different forms of energy are often reported in different units: electricity in kilowatt-hours, heat in Btu, liquid fuels in terms of the work they perform such as vehicle miles traveled or horse power provide by generators. To compare consumption in different states, EIA converted all uses to Btu (3,412 Btu=1 kWh). 3 Different forms of energy are often reported in different units: electricity in kilowatt-hours, heat in Btu, liquid fuels in terms of the work they perform such as vehicle miles traveled or horse power provided by generators. To compare consumption in different states, EIA data illustrated in the figure convert all energy to Btu (3,412 Btu=1 kWh). Totals include the energy content of fuels used to generate electricity, even though the output of useful electricity is generally much less than the energy content of the fuel inputs.

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Figure 3 Renewable Energy Use by State, 2008

USDOE EIA June 30, 2010a, Tables S3, S7, and S8.

Because each energy source may be used by multiple end-users (households, commercial and industrial) and for various uses (to generate electricity, provide heat, or power vehicles, for instance), policies aimed at one type of user or one fuel will affect others. For instance, gasoline consumption and car emissions may be reduced by converting to electric vehicles, but the ultimate greenhouse gas impacts will depend upon the source of electricity and consumers’ responses to higher electricity prices. Electricity consumption may be reduced by converting from electric to gas heaters, but such a move may not be desirable if natural gas sources depend on hydro-fracking or other potentially environmentally damaging techniques. Ethanol may be manufactured from wood fiber, but such a shift could reduce wood fuel availability for home heating or cause forest degradation. If ethanol is made from annual crops, and it results in more acreage of cultivated land, then it could increase carbon emissions from agricultural soils. To provide a comprehensive picture of how we use energy in New England, Figure 4 provides detailed breakdowns of energy use by source and sector for Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, the three southern New England states combined, and the U.S as a whole. •

•

Vermont is known for its low-greenhouse-gas energy profile, thanks largely to its reliance on the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant (due to shut down in 2012 under state law notwithstanding the recent license extension granted by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission) and substantial imports of hydroelectric power from Canada (with contracts recently extended despite controversy over environmental impacts). Vermont also has two operating wood-fired electric facilities, and no in-state natural gas electric plants due to limited access to natural gas pipelines. New Hampshire exports considerable amounts of electricity and the pie chart mix reflects all energy produced in the state, since the data source did not distinguish sources of fuel for instate and exported power. New Hampshire produces a higher proportion of coal-fired electricity than other New England states, and has exports equivalent to all its coal-fired and half its nuclear electricity. New Hampshire also has a number of moderate-size wood-fired electricity generators.

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Maine is noteworthy for the amount of industrial process heat generated from wood waste, mostly at paper plants that burn black liquor and wood waste as industrial byproducts. Maine is also unusual in the high proportion of in-state power from hydroelectric and woody biomass plants, and in its lack of in-state nuclear capacity. Maine’s space heating sector relies heavily on fuel oil. Southern New England has a moderate amount of coal-fired and nuclear-derived electricity and little wood-fired electric capacity. The region relies much more heavily on natural gas for heat and industrial processes compared to the north. Renewable sources provide about 7% of overall U.S. energy, more than the southern New England states, but less than northern New England. Compared to northern New England, the country as a whole is more dependent on coal and less on nuclear for electricity, uses more natural gas and less fuel oil for heat, and uses a similar mix of transportation fuels.

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Figure 4 Energy Use by State, Fuel Type and Sector (all fuels used in state, including those used to generate electricity for export)

USDOE EIA June 30, 2010a, Tables S3, S7, and S8. For exporting states, fuel mix in chart is not adjusted for exports of power from specific fuel sources. For importing states, blank slice of pie represents fuels used to generate electricity in other states or countries. Data for states that both import and export electricity do not reflect differences in fuel sources for imports and exports (e.g. for Vermont mostly hydro imports and mostly nuclear exports). Adjustments have been made to interstate electricity transfers, on the recommendation of EIA staff, but some inconsistencies with state profile data used in Figure 4 remain.

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Electricity Although all energy sectors need to be considered together, electricity often gets the lion’s share of policy attention. The extensive infrastructure investment and the complexity of the electrical grid system requires public regulatory oversight and monitoring and creates some obstacles to an energy transition. Power is produced at generating stations in the region, or is imported from neighboring states or countries, is transmitted through high voltage transmission lines, and is purchased and distributed by retail utilities either on the spot market or through contracts that lock in quantity and price. The New England states (except Vermont) have restructured their electricity sectors, allowing separate ownership of each of these components of the electricity system and facilitating retail competition whereby consumers can choose the source of their power. Electrical generating facilities are often rated by their capacity to produce power (usually expressed as megawatts - MW - or 1 million watts). Consumers purchase electricity as a flow measured in kilowatthours (kWh - or 1 thousand watts of power sustained over an hour). Total electric consumption throughout most of this paper is expressed as gigawatt-hours (1 million kilowatt-hours). A 1 MW plant will produce 1 MWh (1 megawatt-hour or 1,000 kilowatt-hours) of energy during each hour that it runs at full capacity. However, over the course of a day or a year a plant will often operate below full capacity or will be shut down for maintenance. The capacity factor measures actual electrical output as a percentage of the total potential if a plant ran full-bore for 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Low capacity factors may be due to resource limitations (e.g. intermittent wind or sun, or hydro capacity limited by precipitation and minimum stream flows), or to management decisions that shut down some sources when demand is low and reserve others for use during peak times only. Typical capacity factors in the northeast range from 12-15% for solar to 30% for wind, 50% for hydro, 80% for biomass and 90% for nuclear.

Reducing Consumption Shifting to cleaner energy sources requires not only replacing current sources but also addressing future energy demand. The U.S. Department of Energy’s 2011 Annual Energy Outlook (USDOE EIA April, 2011a) predicts that total energy use in New England will increase 11% from 2010 to 2035, with energy delivered as electricity increasing 21% 4 despite no significant increase in electric vehicles as part of the reference model. Meanwhile natural gas consumption is predicted to increase 29%, coal 89% (from a very small base), and renewable energy sources 52%. Transportation energy overall is expected to remain stable and non-electric energy use by households and commercial and industrial users combined to grow by only 12%. Clearly, without serious demand-side management, expanding energy use threatens to dwarf any contribution that our region’s limited wind, wood, water and other renewable resources can make. Given the impacts of all forms of energy production outlined in this paper, it would be a mistake to take 4

ISO New England similarly projects regional electricity use increasing at 1.16% per year through 2018 without special efficiency programs and appliance standards in place, or at 0.9% with these programs (NEEP 2010). For comparison, Vermont’s Department of Public Service expects the state’s electricity demand through 2028 to increase 0.93% per year without new demand-side management programs, and to decline 0.19% with expanded DSM (Vermont Department of Public Service 2011).

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demand projections as inevitable. Like all projections, these depend upon modeling assumptions that can shift due to changes in policies or economic choices. For example, projections that guided the design of the northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative failed to anticipate the most recent recession, which along with expanding natural gas supplies resulted in more emissions permits being available than were needed by electric plant operators over the first several years. Aside from economic slumps, changes in consumer behavior or emerging technological improvements may also reduce projected increases in demand for power and public policy can help spur those changes. The higher the total environmental and social costs of energy production the more it makes sense to invest in demandreducing alternatives. Lower consumption can be achieved by improving efficiency (getting more energy services bang for the buck of energy input) or by what we call thrift (changing expectations and behavior to reduce energy use) – these approaches provide the dual benefit of saving dollars and protecting the environment. Economic theory explains several constraints that limit private investments in efficiency, and public policy can help overcome these failures of markets or information. • • •

Private discount rates generally exceed the social discount rate, making individuals reluctant to invest substantial sums today for benefits in the distant future; Individuals have imperfect information about future benefits, and hence may fail to consider them when making consumption choices; Many of the benefits of efficiency investments accrue to society and the environment as a whole rather than generating financial returns to the investor.

Policies designed to internalize the external costs of each energy technology make good economic sense as they convey correct information about relative costs. A higher price for the most damaging technologies could have a disproportionate effect on low-income consumers and small businesses, but revenue from pollution permits or fees can offset this impact by subsidizing efficiency improvements or new renewable supply. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, for instance, has generated more than $872 million in pollution permit revenues that participating states have used to co-invest with households, municipalities and businesses in conservation and renewable energy, supporting jobs in industries with a bright future while lowering carbon emissions. The next few pages summarize the potential for electricity conservation (see the Transportation and Heat and Industrial Processing sections for demand-reduction alternatives in those sectors). Electricity planners have traditionally assumed a steadily increasing need for energy – the task for utilities was to develop ever-expanding supplies to meet that demand. Even though efficiency efforts can avoid massive investments in costly new energy-producing infrastructure, electric utilities traditionally saw little reason to pursue demand-side strategies that reduced profits from sale of electricity, so special mechanisms are needed to finance these improvements. Prior to electricity market restructuring/deregulation, some utilities negotiated with public regulators to recover the cost of efficiency assistance to customers through surcharges on electric bills. In 2000, utilities in Vermont pooled these efficiency surcharges to establish a separate entity – Efficiency Vermont – that offers efficiency services to businesses and households. Maine soon followed suit with Efficiency Maine. The Wilderness Society

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Other states have established benefit funds that offer loans or rebates for investments in energy efficiency, conservation or distributed renewable energy, and proceeds from the sale of Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative permits have augmented these funds in many states. Demand-side investments that reduce energy consumption are now accepted as a way to match supply with demand – and can even bid against new supply in ISO-NE’s forward-capacity auction. 5 Efficiency Vermont programs typically target improved lighting, refrigeration, air conditioning, compressed air, and motors. From 2007 through 2009, energy savings exceeded projected load growth so that state electricity consumption fell during those years. Table 1 Efficiency Vermont Investments and Savings, 2005-2009

Year 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009

Savings and Costs (millions of 2009 dollars) 6 Total Resource Savings Over Participant/Third- Benefit:Cost Project Lifetime 7 Efficiency VT Costs Party Costs Ratio $58.3 $17.6 $17.4 1.67:1 $57.9 $15.7 $14.5 1.58:1 $81.0 $20.5 $21.7 1.92:1 $131.6 $33.4 $27.5 2.16:1 $131.9 $26.5 $21.6 2.75:1 Efficiency Vermont 2010

GWh Saved (annualized) 57 56 103 144 96

Cumulative Savings in Capacity (% of Peak Demand) 3% 4% 6% 8% 9%

In 2008, Efficiency Vermont’s record efficiency year to-date, each kWh saved cost about $0.031. For comparison, the long-term contract recently negotiated with Hydro Quebec starts at a wholesale purchase price of about $0.06/kWh and fluctuates with the market. Efficiency Maine, which operates similarly to Efficiency Vermont, achieved 93,011 MWh of electricity savings in fiscal year 2010 (a bit lower than its record in 2008) at a cost of $0.043 per kWh and a benefitcost ratio of 2.66 (Efficiency Maine 2010). A study of energy efficiency potential in New Hampshire estimated that expected 2018 electricity usage could be reduced by 20% if cost-effective efficiency measures were implemented (with a 12% reduction achievable using measures that cost less than $0.02/kWh). Over half the residential potential is for improved lighting, followed by energy-efficient appliances; refrigeration is a major potential savings for commercial establishments; and for industrial facilities more efficient motors provide most of the savings (GDS Associates 2009). Figure 5 below from this study shows that reducing projected electricity use by more than 20% would become prohibitively expensive (note, however, that this curve does not incorporate behavioral changes that might generate net savings at no financial cost).

5

This auction can help ensure a smooth transition from current to future electricity sources by purchasing commitments to provide for future electricity needs. The cost is distributed among current electricity users. Through this auction, the forecast increase in consumption can be met through investments in efficiency rather than through new generation. 6 2005 (originally reported in 2003 $) and 2006-2008 (originally reported in 2006 $) converted to 2009 dollars using consumer price index. 2009$ = 1.166*2003 $ and 2009$ = 1.064*2006 $ 7 Includes non-electricity savings such as fossil fuels and water.

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Figure 5 Marginal Costs of Residential Electricity Efficiency Measures, NH

GDS Associates 2009

A total investment of $12.4 billion across all six New England states over 10 years could achieve energy savings of 31,800 GWh by the year 2018 (20% of projected use for that year) by pursuing only achievable cost-effective energy investments (those that cost less than new supply - average cost across all measures would be $0.041 per kWh saved) 8. Over the life-time of the improvements, these investments would yield net energy savings of $19.6 to $21.7 billion9. Secondary benefits include reduced environmental damage and 421,906 job-years of additional employment across the region (NEEP 2010). Table 2 Electric Energy Efficiency Potential by State State Vermont New Hampshire Maine Massachusetts Connecticut Rhode Island

Study Period 2006-2015 2009-2018 NA NA 2009-2018 NA

Achievable Cost Effective Potential 19.4% 20.5% 20.5% 20.3% 20.3% 16.3% NEEP 2010

Energy Savings by Sector Residential Commercial Industrial 21.3% 21.3% 14.5% 20.9% 19.9% 21.1% 20.9% 19.9% 21.1% 18.0% 27.0% 23.0% 18.0% 27.0% 23.0% 16.3% 18.1% 19.9%

Nationwide, utility-financed demand-side management programs saved a total of 598,000 GWh in the decade from 1999 to 2008 at an average cost of $0.03 per kWh (USDOE EIA August 19, 2010). U.S. electricity use increased at an average annual rate of 1.3% over this period; without demand-side management usage would have increased at 3.0% annually. At the same time, these programs have supported widely-dispersed employment for energy auditors, home renovators, and manufacturers, retailers, and installers of efficient appliances and home energy equipment. 8

Note that the requirement to be cost-effective is much more stringent than typical eligibility requirements for renewable energy subsidies. Public renewable energy subsidies are justified because social and environmental benefits far exceed private returns, and this is even more true for efficiency investments. 9 The higher estimates include transmission and distribution as well as production costs.

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To avoid major new transmission costs, efficiency investments can be geographically targeted to the most supply-constrained areas where lack of transmission capacity imposes a major bottleneck. Vermont’s energy efficiency utility is experimenting with such targeting in four geographic areas. Essentially demand reductions can substitute for new supply within the high-demand region – either solution would reduce the need for transmission upgrades. Aside from overall demand reductions, shifting demand to low-use periods can also lower the total electric production capacity required by increasing what is known as the load factor (total annual energy load divided by the peak load times hours-in-a-year), which also reduces the need for new facilities. “Smart grid” and “smart appliance” technologies that automatically time discretionary uses, and demand-response contracts that pay some users to shut down during peak periods, are two approaches to reducing peak electricity demand. If base-load electricity generation is already operating close to full capacity, however, new sources will need to be engaged when demand is shifted to off-peak time periods, so total emissions may not change much. The jury is also still out on whether consumers respond to differential time-of-use prices, or whether the considerable expense of meters will exceed the benefits in terms of shifting use patterns. Thrift as an Energy Option Though tremendous potential still exists, investments in energy efficiency will eventually exhaust the economically-attractive opportunities. Another way to reduce energy use per capita is to simply use fewer energy-demanding goods and services by changing behavior and consumption patterns. In his book Climate Change in the Adirondacks: The Path to Sustainability (2010) Jerry Jenkins uses the good old-fashioned term “thrift” to describe the possibility of reducing energy use through changes in behavior. An added bonus to the thrift approach is that energy costs go down without the need for expensive up-front investments, freeing up discretionary income for other uses. Rising prices are a strong incentive to save energy by changing consumer choices, but direct taxes on energy would be politically unpopular. Some utilities, do, however, use block rates that distribute lowcost sources among customers at a low fee, then charge increasing fees that correspond to increases in the marginal price of additional power purchases (New York Power Authority hydro power supplied to municipal and co-op utilities in Vermont is distributed this way, for instance). We also might learn from the Victory Gardens campaign that quickly established 20 million gardens nationwide and produced fruits and vegetables in nearly the same volume as commercial supplies during World War II. Even without financial incentives, Americans often respond willingly when asked to contribute for the greater good, as evidenced by increased recycling of household waste.

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Sometimes better information about the impacts of energy choices is enough to inspire greater conservation. Miles-per-gallon gauges on cars or real-time energy meters in homes could provide direct and immediate feedback about behaviors that affect energy use. Energy content labeling, while challenging to implement, would also support energy-saving consumer choices. As Jenkins points out in his Adirondack climate book (2010) “stuff” may represent nearly half of a typical household’s energy budget. Better information about energy content would encourage households to “reduce, reuse and recycle” the most energy-intensive goods.

The Electricity Grid Regardless of the success of demand-reduction measures, U.S. homes and businesses will continue to rely on electricity delivered over a centralized grid. The regional electrical grid in New England is managed by ISO 10-New England. Managing a regional network to ensure reliability with hundreds of sources and millions of customers is an extremely complex task, since both supply and demand for electricity fluctuate hour-by-hour and from season-to-season. Grid managers generally rely on baseload sources (often very large nuclear or coal plants, but in some areas hydropower) to meet a constant minimum level of daily and seasonal use. Smaller more nimble sources (often natural gas, but sometimes biomass or hydro) can be started up to meet predictable daily or seasonal peak needs, and these peaking facilities may be idle for much of the time. Traditionally, winter has been the peak season for the colder parts of New England, but as the climate warms and electric heating has declined and air conditioning increased, the region now sees peak use in the summer (Figure 6). Figure 6 Trends in Seasonal Peak Electricity Use Vermont 1100

27600

1050

25600

1000

23600

950

mW

mW

New England 29600

21600

900

19600

850

17600

800

15600

750 2008

2007 2006

2005 2004 2003

2002 2001

Winter Peak

2000 1999

1998 1997

1996 1995 1994

1993 1992

Summer

1991

2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996 1995 1994 1993 1992 1991 Winter

Summer Peak

Source: Vermont Department of Public Service, 2008

A final category of electricity sources is needed to meet unpredictable sudden spikes in demand (everyone turns on their air conditioners during a heat wave) or unforeseen drops in supply (a large coal or nuclear plant shuts down for emergency maintenance or wind farms cease operating as the wind drops region-wide). In New England these “spinning reserves” tend to be smaller natural gas fired 10

Independent System Operators emerged as the power industry was deregulated in the 1990’s, when generators of power were separated from transmission line owners and retail distributors. ISOs are responsible for managing the interconnected grid day-to-day and ensuring rational access to new sources and new transmission capacity.

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plants, but hydroelectric plants can also fill this role without any additional emissions beyond those associated with construction. Balancing supply and demand while increasing the proportion of renewables remains one of the serious challenges to a renewable energy transition. Hydro works well for both peaking power and spinning reserves, but is limited by total available water supply and the need to maintain in-stream flows. Wind and solar are variable resources that cannot be called up on demand and do not fit neatly into any standard power source categories, so as their contribution increases grid managers need to develop new management approaches. Where the wind or solar resource is well correlated with peak needs, these sources may fit into a mix of peaking power sources as long as alternatives exist for calm or cloudy periods. Similarly, they may be operated as part of baseload when available, with traditional baseload plants retained in the system and started up when wind or sun are scarce. When baseload sources are large coal or nuclear plants, however, frequent starts and stops are costly and inefficient and may lead to higher emissions per kWh of electricity generated – and one goal of renewable energy expansion is to retire these plants. Aside from relatively predictable fluctuations, if renewable energy output changes quickly without warning, new spinning reserve capacity may be needed, and this is generally the most expensive type of reserve power. However, reliance on single coal or nuclear plants is also risky, so it is difficult to predict to what extent a system dominated by renewables would require new reserves. The grid also creates another interesting complication for state policy favoring a transition to renewable energy sources. Because it is impossible to identify the source of a particular electron delivering electricity through a widely-interconnected grid, Renewable Portfolio Standards that require an increasing percentage of renewable sources in a state’s power mix rely on Renewable Energy Certificates to document the delivery of one unit of renewable electricity to the grid. As long as the purchasers of renewable power increase the total amount of energy entering the grid from renewable sources, it doesn’t really matter who uses those particular electrons. In New England, only Vermont lacks mandatory RPS targets (a situation that leads to oddities like the recent Hydro Quebec contract see note below). An interconnected grid means that an individual state does not need to produce all the electricity it consumes. Vermont, Maine, and especially New Hampshire produce more electricity than they use (Vermont and Maine import, mostly from Canada, nearly the same amount as they export to other states). Massachusetts imports significant power from other states and countries. Our Canadian neighbors to the north are also important sources of energy - Vermont’s utilities recently negotiated a 26-year agreement with Hydro Quebec starting in 2012 to purchase up to 225 MW of power during 16 hours of each day (typical Vermont load is about 700 MW with a peak at 1,000 MW).

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Figure 7 Electricity Use and Generation in the New England States, 2009 Vermont

New Hampshire

Maine

Massachusetts

Connecticut

Rhode Island

USDOE EIA April, 2011b

Because electricity is rarely produced exactly where it is needed, an elaborate network of transmission lines traverses the region, including interconnects to neighboring grids in Canada, New York, and the Mid-Atlantic. New transmission lines cross multiple property ownerships, create widespread landscape impacts, and as a result may take decades to plan and construct. If new generating capacity is far from demand centers, the transmission system develops bottlenecks that cause constraints in some areas and excess capacity in others. This may be a particular issue for renewables like wind, hydro, and biomass that need to operate near the natural resources that support them. For example, if northern New England and our Canadian neighbors continue to develop energy for export, new or upgraded transmission lines will be needed to carry the power to customers. Several proposed energy developments in northern New Hampshire would like to connect to the regional grid via the “Coos Loop”, which was designed for local power distribution. Two proposed biomass electricity generators (Clean Power Development 29 MW and Laidlaw 70 MW, both proposed for Berlin, NH – though likely only one could be built) and two wind farms (Granite Reliable 99 MW and North Country Wind 180 MW) could together generate at least 210 MW more than the Coos Loop could handle with minor upgrades. The Wilderness Society

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An investment of $150-200 million would be required to boost capacity sufficiently to handle all of these projects. With wholesale competition and a restructured electricity system, it is not clear who should pay for such transmission upgrades. Possibilities range from the entire New England grid (generally reserved for projects that improve reliability grid-wide) to transmission grid owners (PSNH in the case of the Coos Loop) to project developers (recommended in the Coos Loop case by a consultant hired by the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning, but predictably not well received by energy developers). In its planning for future energy supply through 2030, ISO-NE modeled new transmission required for various future energy scenarios. The maximum wind scenario assumed added New England wind capacity of 7,500 MW inland (40% of potential) and 4,500 MW offshore (1% of potential), and would require an additional 4,320 miles of transmission line at a cost of $19 to $25 billion (ISO-NE 2010). Including these transmission costs would boost the total cost of wind farm construction by about 44%. 11 In addition to the cash costs, some of the proposed transmission corridors would cross remote forestlands in northern New Hampshire and western Maine, weakening landscape connections that enable plants and animals to seek new habitat in response to climate changes. Figure 8 Proposed Northern Pass Transmission Route

Map by TWS, route from Northern Pass DOE Permit Filing

Figure 9 Transmission Required for 12,000 MW Wind

ISO-NE 2010

11

Construction costs in New England are about $3,000/kW or $3 million/MW (see Figure 22) for inland wind and offshore costs may be over twice as high. 7,500 MW of inland wind would cost $22.5 billion to construct and 4,500 MW of offshore $27.0 billion, for a total of $49.5 billion. $22 billion for transmission is 44% of total construction costs.

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Aside from the high cost of new transmission capacity, delivering electricity across long distances involves significant line loss due to resistance in the lines, imperfect insulation, and bottlenecks due to limited capacity in high-voltage lines. Due to these bottlenecks in today’s transmission infrastructure, transmitting electricity from some locations in northern New England may involve momentarily high line losses for power sent to eastern Massachusetts (10% loss) or southwestern Connecticut (up to 25% loss) (Liu and Zobian 2002). Presumably sources that are this poorly connected with specific load centers would be used only if very low in price or during times of peak demand in southern New England. Higher voltage lines and direct current lines may reduce these losses, but new-long-distance transmission construction is very difficult in New England. For example, a proposed new 1,200 MW transmission line from Canada had been proposed by Northeast Utilities and NSTAR (soon to merge if approved) that would transmit Hydro Quebec direct current power through New Hampshire, with a terminal in Franklin, NH that converts DC to AC power. HQ, owned by the province of Quebec, plans to capitalize the $1.1 billion in construction costs and in return would receive exclusive transmission access over a 40-year term. While the route has been planned along existing transmission corridors along some of its route, in northern Coos County this line will pass near or through many undeveloped conserved properties and has generated significant local opposition. With both energy and global warming pollutants flowing freely across state and national borders, consumption choices in one place have profound effects on remote landscapes (a principle that is equally true of conventional energy sources – as mountaintop removal coal mining, offshore oil drilling, shale gas hydro-fracking, and the global impacts of climate change attest). Expanding transmission capacity to move that energy from place to place has its own set of impacts. As we push toward energy transformation, we need to establish new energy policies with eyes wide open to the full array of impacts. The next sections of this paper explore alternative sources of electricity, transportation, and heat/process energy separately, keeping in mind their close connections. In each section, we review renewable options and their major impacts. In the electricity section we describe the potential for distributed generation, and in the transportation and heat/process energy sections, we also describe the potential for demand reduction (summarized above for electricity). A prudent approach for all energy sectors starts with no-regrets policies: reduce consumption - through both efficiency improvements and behavioral shifts - and encourage dispersed small-scale production in already-disturbed areas near centers of demand. These approaches can be implemented quickly, without contentious and costly permitting delays, have less impact on wild landscapes, and will diversify our energy mix to improve stability as we research and minimize the impacts of larger-scale solutions.

Land-Based Renewable Electricity Sources Southern New England is more reliant on the north for high-priority renewable electricity than it is for overall supply. Though southern New England states do have some in-state renewable electricity capacity, and significant off-shore wind is planned, the northern states are currently much richer in renewable electricity capacity.

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Table 3 Renewable Electricity Generation by State, 2008 (GWh) Biomass Waste

-

Total Renewable 1,289.7

Renewable as % of Total In-State Generation 4.2%

131.6

8,515.4

49.8%

0.1

3.7

2,411.2

5.7%

-

10.3

2,808.2

12.3%

-

-

-

163.4

2.2%

415.1

-

10.2

1,918.2

28.1%

Conventional Hydroelectric 556.2

Landfill Gas/MSW 1 Biogenic 731.9

Other 2 Biomass -

Wood and Derived 3 Fuels 1.6

Maine

4,457.4

205.6

52.2

3,668.6

-

Massachusetts

1,155.8

1,127.5

1.5

122.6

New Hampshire

1,633.2

155.0

-

1,009.6

5.0

158.4

-

1,492.9

-

-

State Connecticut

Rhode Island Vermont

Solar Thermal /PV -

Wind

USDOE EIA August, 2010a

In order to meet the RPS goals of all New England states, given current demand-reduction efforts, the region will need to produce more than 43,000 GWh of renewable electricity by 2020, increasing the flow of renewable electricity by two-and-a-half times in just ten years (Garber 2010). If all renewable projects already in the ISO-NE transmission queue are actually built, the RPS requirements through 2020 would be met; however, projects with a queue position are frequently withdrawn for a variety of reasons. Over half the capacity and nearly half the expected generation for projects in the queue are from on-shore wind, which has significant siting challenges. Other sources face their own obstacles, from limited physical potential to costs to environmental concerns. Given uncertainty over the future of federal incentives and state and federal budget limitations, meeting our region’s stated renewable energy goals will be challenging. As Figure 10 illustrates, Massachusetts currently supplies only 10% of its Renewable Portfolio Standard target from in-state resources. Renewable power imported into Massachusetts from New York comes mostly from landfill gas and wind. Biomass also provides a significant portion of Massachusetts’ current RPS-compliant sources and most of that comes from Maine and New Hampshire. Recent proposed changes in Massachusetts’ RPS-acceptable biomass (adding efficiency and greenhouse gas provisions) could change this picture as current sources grandfathered under the older regulations lose eligibility over time. Figure 10 Renewable Energy Sources Under Massachusetts’ Renewable Portfolio Standard Types of Renewable Energy Certified

Sources of Massachusetts’ RPS Power by State

Source: Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources 2010

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Renewable power also flows east-west in the region. For instance, two Vermont utilities - Green Mountain Power and Central Vermont Public Service - have signed contracts to purchase more than 80% of the output from the proposed Granite Reliable wind farm in northern New Hampshire over several decades. Solar Commercial solar electric facilities are rare in New England due to their relatively high cost and the lack of reliable sunshine. Yet the simplicity and dependability of photovoltaics make solar PV a good candidate for distributed energy. Solar installations can also be concentrated in already-disturbed areas like rooftops or industrial parks, which makes for minimal environmental impact. Once the externalities from other technologies are considered, solar may well be competitive on a total cost basis, and even financial costs are dropping over time. The cost per installed watt for U.S. systems smaller than 5 kW (typical for an individual home) declined from $11 in 1998 to $6.20 in 2010 (Barbose et al. 2011). The drop from 2009-2010 was the largest in the history of the series, and California data for the first half of 2011 indicate that the trend continues. In the past, most of the reduction was in non-module costs such as installation, but the past few years have seen dramatic drops in the cost of PV modules due to increased competition among manufacturers (Babose et al. 2011). The high social support for solar is enough to encourage its use despite the modest payback. Most installations in northern New England are the typical household size of roughly 1 to 4 kW, and are often grid-tied systems encouraged by net metering (see Distributed Electricity below). As of early 2012, Vermont had more than 11 MW of installed photovoltaic capacity (ISO New England 2012). Moderatesized installations in Vermont include utility-owned arrays of 58, 138, 150 and 200 kW, a 1.5 MW installation by the Vermont National Guard in South Burlington, and private systems of 1 MW in Ferrisburgh, 2.2 MW in South Burlington and 2.2 MW in Sharon. Together, these relatively large installations produce about 9 GWh of electricity per year. New Hampshire’s largest PV array is a 100 kW net-metered system at Wire Belt Company of America in Londonderry, and the state also hosts a 51 kW array on PSNH’s Manchester headquarters and a 50 kW array at the headquarters of Stonyfield Yogurt. Maine’s largest PV installations to-date are a 15 kW array at Maple Hill Farm and Conference Center in Hallowell and a 12 kW system powers Aqua Maine water treatment plant in Rockland Maine. Massachusetts, by comparison, has a much more active solar PV industry with a total of over 100 MW installed (ISO New England, 2012). Larger systems to-date include a 425 kW array on a “brownfield” site in Brockton and a 500 kW system constructed by Harvard University on the roof of a former factory in Watertown; several 1-10 MW systems are planned by utilities, towns and others around the state. Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine together have about 1.8 million acres of developed land, or about 6% of total land area (USDA 2009). If solar panels sited for maximum sun exposure covered one-tenth of this developed area (obviously not practical for a number of reasons, but a useful reference point), they could produce more than enough electricity to meet current electricity needs in the three states. Hydroelectricity – Local and Imported Hydroelectric dams have long been an important source of electricity in the northeastern U.S., and small low-head or run-of-the-river hydro facilities are usually considered renewable, particularly if they The Wilderness Society

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involve retrofits to existing dams. Hydroelectric plants in New England currently produce about 7,880 GWh of electricity per year (USDOE EIA March 11, 2011) - about 5% of the region’s total generation, including energy produced by industrial facilities for their own use rather than sold over the grid. Most of these plants are very small, with about 479 total hydro sites scattered among the six states. In northern New England, Maine produces about 3,664 GWh (21% of total in-state generation), New Hampshire 1,482 (6% of in-state), and Vermont 1,261 (18% of in-state). New hydroelectric development is rare in the U.S., but there is some potential for expansion of lowhead (less than 30 feet) low-power run-of-the-river 12 facilities – including small plants of less than 1 MW and micro-hydro at less than 100 kW, or the addition of generating capacity or efficiency improvements at existing dams. A U.S. DOE study estimated technically feasible expansion at 432 MW for Maine (100 low-power, of which 54 is low-head or micro-hydro), 174 MW for New Hampshire (69 low-power of which 29 is low-head or micro-hydro), and 217 MW for Vermont (105 low-power of which 40 is lowhead or micro-hydro) (Hall et al. 2006). These numbers are already adjusted for the capacity factor, so theoretically annual hydroelectricity generation could reach 3,784 GWh for Maine, 1,524 GWh for New Hampshire, and 1,901 GWh for Vermont. Most of the smaller sites would be “run of river”, meaning that there is no water impounded in a reservoir, hence less environmental impact but also less ability to provide peaking power during the summer. Such plants may cease to operate at all during times of low water flow. This study did not consider use of micro-hydro designs using kinetic turbines placed in the stream, which generate less power than turbines powered by vertical head, but would require no diversion through a penstock and hence would have even lower environmental impact. Table 4 Small Hydro-Power Capacity in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine Number 159

Average Annual Power from All Projects (Mwa) 554

Low Power Conventional

565

153

0.270

115

0.20

Low Power Unconventional

114

38

0.330

14

0.13

Micro Hydro

2,526

85

0.034

581

0.23

Total

3,364

830

Project Type Small Hydro

Percent of Three-State Electricity Use

Average Annual Power Per Project (MWa) 3.486

Miles of Penstock Construction 42

Miles of Penstock per Project 0.26

752

21% Idaho National Lab GIS Data for DOE 2006.

A more site-specific Vermont study conservatively concluded that capacity might be increased at existing dams by 25MW (Vermont ANR 2008), with little potential for totally new installations. If Vermont’s study indicates realistic feasibility for the other states, untapped hydro potential might be closer to 100 MW across the three states, producing about 876 GWh per year.

12

These facilities divert a portion of stream flow into a penstock where the drop provides energy to power turbines, after which the water is returned to the stream. With no reservoir and no dam obstructing fish passage, these designs have less environmental impact, but they do reduce stream flow by up to 50% in the stretch between the start and end of the penstock, and construction of the penstock, access roads and transmission lines have similar impacts to conventional hydro. Penstock lengths may be up to 4,000 feet for small hydro and 2,000 feet for low-power hydro in this region.

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As a renewable resource, small hydro energy potential is more uniformly distributed in New England than wind or biomass, with substantial potential in the southern states where demand is highest. Figure 11 Hydroelectric Sites in New England

Source: Current hydro from US EPA 2008; Potential projects from DOE 2006 Appendix B (GIS data from Idaho National Lab)

Northeastern Canada, in contrast to New England, has vast technically-feasible hydro potential. After opposing early proposals, Northern Quebec Cree and Inuit First Nations have settled with provinceowned Hydro Quebec to permit new large-scale hydroelectric installations on the rivers flowing west into James Bay and Hudson Bay. Despite the settlement, many Cree who are losing their traditional hunting, fishing and trapping grounds oppose the new developments. A series of new dams and upgrades is also planned for several rivers flowing south into the St. Lawrence east of Quebec City, including the Romaine, Petit-Mecatina and Magpie Rivers – all of which host healthy Atlantic salmon populations. Unspecified new projects amounting to 3,000 additional MW are part of the HQ’s The Wilderness Society

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“Northern Plan” (Hydro Quebec 2009). Aside from the large extent of reservoirs in this low-relief landscape, many of these projects also involve inter-basin water transfers that affect both the dewatered rivers and the extra-watered ones. Hydro Quebec plans to sell increasing amounts of power in New England, and has begun lobbying for changes to Renewable Portfolio Standards to accept large-scale hydro-electric power as renewable. Todate, only Vermont, which has no mandatory RPS, has officially designated HQ’s power renewable. 13 The province of Newfoundland and Labrador (through crown-owned utility company Nalcor) is also eager to develop 3,075 MW of new hydroelectric capacity downstream from Churchill Falls on the Grand (Churchill) River and has a transmission agreement with the province of Nova Scotia to bring that power via Newfoundland to the Canadian maritimes and thence to the northeastern U.S. via Maine. 14

13

The HQ contract negotiations illustrate how complex, some might say twisted, electricity markets have become. Vermont has set voluntary renewable energy goals, but will theoretically replace them with mandatory requirements if targets are not met. Since Vermont has no mandatory requirements at this time, it is possible for electricity traders to sell the actual electrons in Vermont (and in the process meet that state’s voluntary goals for renewable sources) while selling the renewable attributes (backed by Renewable Energy Certificates) to one of the New England states that do have mandatory RPS programs. Essentially, Vermont utilities have their cake and eat it too, as they are permitted to double-count the renewable attributes of electricity. In exchange for the Vermont legislature declaring Hydro Quebec power renewable, hopefully opening the way for other states to follow suit, HQ offered to share with Vermont’s utilities the REC revenues it generates from power sold over the Highgate interconnection in northwestern Vermont. If the strategy works, then Massachusetts and Connecticut power consumers will essentially be subsidizing Vermont’s electricity, simply because they have a mandatory renewable standard and Vermont does not. 14 Newfoundland and Labrador hope to make up for an unfavorable long-term contract that awards HQ most of the profits on power from the Churchill Falls project, which flooded over 1.6 million acres of Labrador wilderness to form Smallwood Reservoir - the world’s second-largest by surface area - and dewatered one of the most spectacular waterfalls on the continent th in 1971. Hydro Quebec’s Caniapiscau Reservoir is the world’s 9 largest at over 1 million acres.

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Figure 12 Existing and Proposed Hydroelectric and Transmission Development in Quebec and Labrador

Sources: Hydro Quebec 2010, Nalcor via CBC News 2010.

Well-known impacts of hydroelectric dam construction include: • Destruction of flooded land and river habitat; • Unnatural conditions due to fluctuating reservoir water levels that may harm aquatic life and interfere with recreational use; • Siltation of reservoirs that limits useful dam life and prevents eventual restoration; • Unnaturally high or low river flows and changing water temperatures downstream of the dam that may destabilize river banks and threaten aquatic species; • Obstruction of passage for spawning fish.

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The Impacts of Inland Wind The best inland wind potential in New England occurs in the mountainous parts of the region. The map at right shows wind power class 15 based on average wind speed at 50 meters above the ground. The highest ratings are restricted to narrow zones along ridgetops. Existing and proposed wind farms shown on the map tend to be concentrated on ridgelines in less-populated regions, not only because of the wind resource but also because local opposition presents less of a challenge to developers in sparsely settled regions. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) state-level wind resource assessment indicates that development of all wind resources in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine where 93% of New England’s inland wind potential is located - could generate 49,000 GWh of electricity, enough to exceed New England RPS goals of 43,000 GWh by 2020. Total build-out of commercial wind would amount to roughly 10 times

Figure 13 Inland Wind Potential and Current and Proposed Sites

Wind power class from AWS TrueWind (validated by National Renewable Energy Laboratory). Proposed wind sites over 4.5 MW mapped by The Wilderness Society from state permitting maps and www.windpoweringamerica.gov. Some locations approximate.

15

Wind Power Class Potential Density (W/m2) 1 Poor 0 - 200 2 Marginal 200 - 300 3 Fair 300 - 400 4 Good 400 - 500 5 Excellent 500 - 600 6 Outstanding 600 - 800 7 Superb > 800.

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the existing and proposed wind-farm capacity in each state. Full development would disturb 2.39%, 1.78% and 2.69% respectively of Vermont’s, New Hampshire’s and Maine’s landscape; access roads and connecting transmission lines might double the land area disturbed. National and state parks, wildlife refuges, wetlands, wilderness areas and half of lower-elevation National Forest lands were excluded from NREL’s estimates. In the East, windy ridges that are not protected by these special designations nevertheless play a special role in the overall landscape. Ridgelines are often the least developed areas, provide north-south habitat connections that could be important to climate-stressed wildlife, serve as bird and bat migration corridors, and are highly visible across much of the surrounding area. Hence large-scale wind development would have a disproportionate effect on the Northern Forest landscape beyond the level implied by the raw numbers. Maine’s stated goal of 3,000 MW of installed wind capacity by 2020 would require development of more than 25% of total identified capacity with turbine construction on nearly 150,000 ridgetop acres (plus access roads and transmission lines). A recent site-specific analysis concluded, however, that once conserved lands and sensitive natural areas are eliminated from consideration, even aggressive wind development would likely achieve only about 2,000 MW of capacity (Publicover et al. 2011). If this proportion of NREL’s total (16%) is taken as a practical limit for all three northern New England states, and a conservative capacity factor of 0.3 is applied, wind generating capability might be closer to 8,000 GWh per year. Table 5 Inland Wind Resource Area and Potential Electricity Generation in New England States

State Maine

Available Windy Area (acres) 556,037

% of State 2.69%

% of Total Windy Area Excluded 62.7%

Installed Capacity (MW) 11,251.2

Annual Generation (GWh) 33,779

New Hampshire

105,539

1.78%

74.3%

2,135.4

6,706

Vermont

145,718

2.39%

77.0%

2,948.7

9,163

Connecticut Massachusetts Rhode Island

1,310

0.04%

83.1%

26.5

73

50,805

0.99%

88.0%

1,028.0

3,323

2,298

0.35%

87.4%

46.6

153

National Renewable Energy Laboratory and AWS TrueWind 2010, http://www.windpoweringamerica.gov/wind_maps.asp. Windy area is acres with wind capacity factor 30% or higher at 80 meters, excluding parks, wilderness and urban areas. Installed capacity assumes 5 MW/km2 of windy area. Capacity factors of 31-37% were used to estimate annual generation.

Although inland wind potential is higher in northern New England than in southern, it is still quite small compared to off-shore potential in our region. A recent offshore wind assessment (NREL 2010) estimated that the New England coastline from Connecticut through Maine could support up to 390 GW of capacity 16 - enough to provide roughly 10 times New England’s current total peak demand. Offshore winds are steadier – yielding a higher capacity factor of perhaps 40% and turbines can be larger and hence more efficient. At this time offshore wind remains considerably more expensive to install than on-shore and has its own set of environmental concerns, but the size of the resource may provide more 16

This estimate is not directly comparable to the inland estimates, because NREL did not make any exclusions for environmental or social reasons as they did for inland resources.

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opportunities for selective siting to minimize both financial and environmental costs. The technology is also rapidly evolving, including development of floating turbines that can be located further off-shore. DeepCwind Consortium at the University of Maine is developing one model for extensive offshore wind. The 2030 goal is 5 wind farms located 20 to 30 miles offshore, each containing 200 5 MW floating turbines - which would generate 20% more electricity than the state currently uses and allow substitution of electricity for some transportation and heating fuels. (Of course even ocean winds are variable so a larger interconnected grid with alternate sources, or a comprehensive solution to storage, would be needed.) Because turbines would be constructed and serviced on land and towed out to sea for anchoring in place, developers expect costs to be lower than stationary turbines anchored to the ocean floor. Laying transmission cable, towing turbines to and from shore, and actual turbine operation may affect marine species by changing migration routes, direct collision or pressure effects, and interference from noise and electromagnetic fields. A small 225 kW test turbine will be anchored off Monhegan Island in the next year, and full-scale construction will be phased in to allow monitoring of environmental effects (University of Maine Orono and James W. Sewall Company 2011). Northern New England’s potential also pales by comparison with that of the truly wind-rich states. The twelve states with the greatest inland wind capacity could generate enough to supply the entire U.S. eight times over (National Renewable Energy Laboratory and AWS TrueWind 2010). Of course, relying on the central plains to supply power nationwide would require a vastly expanded transmission system, which would be very costly in dollars and environmental impact. Figure 14 U.S. Wind Power Class 3 or Above

National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Wind Deployment System Model, http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/winds/qualitative.html

Grid management challenges for variable renewable sources were explained earlier in this paper. The concept of “capacity credit� expresses the degree to which wind (or other sources) can be relied upon to provide firm power when needed by the system, and roughly indicates the amount of conventional sources that may safely be removed from the system when wind (or other) capacity is added. It is a probability-based measure that depends on the nature of the grid, demand patterns, and options for The Wilderness Society

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storage or spot power purchases as well as the characteristics of the wind resource. One review of multiple studies (Giebel 2005) provides a rough rule of thumb that at 5% of total demand, the capacity credit for wind is nearly the same as its capacity factor (no special backup reserves need to be retained due to the variability of wind power because multiple alternative sources cover the risk of a small drop in power). When wind penetration increases, wind that generates electricity at a capacity factor of 30% may only be credited at 10-15% due to its unpredictable output. Because of lower capacity credits at higher wind penetration, only a portion of the capacity from conventional sources can safely be retired when new wind comes on-line. Unless they are engaged as spinning reserves, these sources would not be operating constantly, so greenhouse gas emissions overall would decline. However, many conventional generation sources operate much less efficiently when frequently ramped up or down to respond to wind variations, which increases GHG emissions per kWh delivered to the grid and hence reduces net emissions benefits from wind. Once wind reaches high penetration, its short-term variability may also require additional spinning reserve capacity, a separate issue from backup power because immediately available replacement power requires running the power source constantly at a low level (Hoogwijk et al. 2007). If spinning reserves are provided by fossil fuel plants, their emissions reduce the net greenhouse gas benefits of wind, though not fully since the spinning reserve function is shared across the whole system. Conversely, when wind suddenly comes on line at a time of low demand, some electricity may be dumped by disconnecting sources from the grid until there is time for a systematic shut-down. This will occur more frequently if wind makes up a large part of the energy mix. This process will further lower the operational capacity factor of wind and increase its cost per usable kilowatt-hour. Figure 15 Lowell, VT and Granite Reliable, NH Wind Construction

Kingdom Community Wind in Lowell, VT; Granite Reliable - NH Audubon, with aerial support provided by LightHawk (http://www.lighthawk.org).

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Aside from impacts to the remaining undeveloped parts of the landscape due to the footprint of turbine clearings, access roads, and transmission lines, other major impacts of wind energy development include: • Harm to migrating birds and bats; • Disruption and fragmentation of habitat for interior forest and high elevation species; • Erosion from access roads and cleared power lines; • Pollution from oils used to lubricate gear boxes and other moving parts; • Effects of turbine noise, visual flicker, and aesthetic impacts on surrounding residents. Forest-Based Biomass Like wind, woody biomass fuel in the northeastern U.S. is most available in northern areas of New England, in this case due to dense forest cover and active timber cutting and processing operations that produce fuel-wood as a byproduct. Although woody biomass energy facilities do exist in southern New England, transporting wood is expensive and plants are best located near available supplies. Figure 16 shows estimated availability, by county, of wood from logging and forest products operations (including forest residues – tops, branches, and other noncommercial trees killed during logging; other removals – thinning and land clearing; and primary and secondary mill residues). 17 Figure 16 Wood Biomass Resources

Figure 17 Wood Biomass Energy Facilities in New England, Existing and Proposed

Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory 2009

Map by The Wilderness Society 2010, from various sources.

17

These estimates extrapolate from limited data and draw upon survey data that in some cases are several decades old, so uncertainty of the estimates is high.

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Figure 17 shows existing and proposed biomass energy facilities in the northeastern U.S., with approximate area from which they may draw wood supplies. The 220 MW of proposed wood-fired electricity facilities shown on this map could produce 1,638 GWh annually at 85% of capacity, compared to the total New England renewable electricity goal of 43,000 GWh by 2020). The map also includes locations of existing and proposed wood pellet manufacturing plants, which are poised to take off once the ‘chicken-and-egg’ problem of coordinating purchase of pellet stoves with pellet manufacturing capacity is solved (see Heat/Process section). If most proposed facilities were actually constructed, biomass energy could become a crowded field with significant implications for the region’s forests. Since electric, transport, and heating/process applications are all looking to wood as a future energy source, we discuss supply estimates in the “Putting It All Together” section below. Though often depicted as “carbon neutral”, biomass actually releases more greenhouse gases than most fossil fuels during combustion, due to high moisture content, physical properties of the fuel that favor incomplete combustion, and a higher ratio of carbon to hydrogen. Converting from fossil fuels to biomass from expanded harvesting of live trees will help reduce atmospheric GHGs only if the source forests quickly reabsorb the carbon-dioxide released during burning. Since New England as a whole is losing forestland to development, and even intact forests take time to recover their previous carbon stocks, some biomass energy systems take many decades to generate greenhouse gas reduction benefits (see Manomet 2010 for details). Unlike biomass from newly-harvested trees, waste material would soon decompose and release its carbon-dioxide to the atmosphere if unused, so this material is closer to “carbon-neutral” than newly harvested live trees. However, tops and limbs from current harvest operations are not truly “waste” since some of their carbon and mineral nutrients are recycled by forest soils, and they provide food and habitat for a variety of forest organisms. Construction and demolition waste is limited in volume and challenging to sort, collect and transport. Between existing energy use and other beneficial uses from paper pulp to mulch, most mill residues in this region are already utilized, so a very small portion would be available for new energy uses. 18 Perennial energy crops grown on marginal land can also be close to climate neutral in their net effects. If planted on former cropland where carbon has been depleted by repeated cultivation and lack of organic matter inputs, such crops can even sequester additional carbon dioxide by rebuilding soil carbon levels. There may be some potential for willow, poplar and switchgrass crops in New England, though energy uses need to compete with the high returns from commercial and residential development, land uses with a decidedly negative carbon footprint. Expansion of electricity from biomass combustion can also have unintended effects on other energy users. Aggressive expansion of subsidized biomass electricity could drive up the cost of heating with wood, a use that actually converts more of the energy embedded in the wood into useful form (60-85% depending on technology, compared to 20-25% for electricity generation), and often requires less 18

The NREL data illustrated in Figure 16 indicate that 1.8 million tons of waste are available each year from primary and secondary mills in the three states, but the analysis does not distinguish between utilized and available material. Nationwide, 98.5% of mill residues are already utilized (Smith et al. 2007).

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processing and transportation energy as well. See the Heat/Process section for more information on wood fuels for space heating. Aside from impacts on source forests, greenhouse gas emissions, and competing wood uses, social and environmental effects of biomass electricity facilities include: • Emissions of fine particulates and other pollutants that are health hazards; • Increased truck traffic for frequent delivery of chips; • Use of large volumes of water for steam and cooling, similar to any combustion-based generator; • Large volumes of ash that may be land-filled if beneficial land spreading is impractical. “The Other Biomass” – Methane From Livestock Manure and Landfill Gas Some of Vermont’s larger dairy farms generate electricity from biogas produced by fermenting manure. Following the lead of the pioneering Foster Brothers farm in 1982, the state now supports 9 farm methane projects producing about 12.6 GWh/year and 15 others are proposed that could produce up to 55 GWh/year. One of the state’s large utilities, Central Vermont Public Service, offers Cow Power to customers, with part of the price premium passed to participating farms with digesters. As an added bonus, the digestion process also reduces pollution from spreading of raw manure with its readilysoluble nutrients. If all of the state’s larger farms housed digesters, this source could provide up to 2% of the state’s electricity, but the Vermont Department of Public Service (2011) assumes that capturing only 10% of this potential would be practical. Though New Hampshire and Maine lack large dairy industries, all three states can use a similar technology to tap landfill gas for electricity. Vermont has three active landfill gas electricity facilities totaling 11 MW capacity, New Hampshire has six totaling 14.5 MW, and Maine has two totaling 7 MW. Electricity generation from these facilities was not available (US EPA 2010), but if they operated at 75% of capacity they would generate about 213 GWh/year, less than 1% of the total electricity used. US EPA has identified five other landfills in New Hampshire and Maine that contain more than 1 million tons of waste and could support an electricity operation, so the total contribution could well double if all were developed. Landfill methane capacity may shrink over time, however, if more organic materials are recycled or composted. Both farm and landfill generators produce power on-demand, so they are a valuable part of the renewable electricity mix. These biomass resources would release greenhouse gases even if not used to generate electricity, and their combustion converts methane to carbon-dioxide which has less global warming effect, so their use for energy may be considered carbon neutral or even carbon-reducing.

Distributed Electricity from Renewable Resources Given the cost and environmental challenges presented by large-scale centralized energy development and long-distance transmission, renewable electricity produced at the site where it is used is generally a preferable alternative. Smaller generating units may lack economies of scale, and hence could increase the purely financial costs of electricity. Yet reduced environmental damage, more rapid and predictable

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permitting, shorter construction times, and avoided transmission investments and line losses could reduce the disparity in energy cost, and total jobs per kWh are likely to be greater. Policies and financial incentives to drive investment in small scale energy development are piecemeal and typically found at the state and local level. At the very smallest scale, net metering allows customers with their own electric generating equipment to run their meter backward, essentially selling energy to the utility at the retail price during times of surplus, and buying electricity at a similar price when use exceeds production at that site. Grid-tied systems for intermittent power like wind and solar can avoid the time and expense of maintaining large battery banks to store energy. Net metering programs as currently designed have built-in limitations which restrict potential growth in this electricity source. Utilities typically do not pay customers for any excess electricity generated over the course of a year, which discourages systems that produce more power than the owners themselves use. Customers also typically continue to pay a monthly service fee which is not recoverable through electricity generated. Individual facility size and total net metered capacity are often capped for fear of destabilizing the grid with multiple unpredictable sources. As utilities and state policy-makers gain experience and confidence in this energy source, some of these restrictions are being eased and this approach to power production continues to grow. Vermont currently allows projects up to 500 kW with the total capped at 4% of each utility’s capacity. As Figure 18 illustrates, net metered projects in Vermont have surged in recent years, reaching nearly 11 MW of installed capacity by 2010 (Vermont Department of Public Service 2011). Operating at typical capacity factors, these installations may produce nearly 15 GWh, or about 0.22% of Vermont’s electricity use. Net-metering growth is more modest in New Hampshire with total capacity at 3 MW and limits at 1% of each utility’s capacity. In 2010, New Hampshire increased the size cap for net metered installations from 100 kW to 1 MW and provided for installers to negotiate with utilities to purchase power beyond what is used on-site. Both the larger size and the ability to sell surplus power greatly expand net-metered potential. Like New Hampshire, Maine has a modest number of net billing arrangements - 673 participants with a total of 3.2 MW of capacity. 19 Net-metered units in Maine produced nearly 3.7 GWh of electricity in 2009, still less than 0.02% of statewide use. Maine’s current cap is 0.5% of each utility’s capacity, so there is plenty of room for growth in the program (Maine PUC 2011). Maine’s maximum unit size is 660 kW, but most facilities are less than 10 kW.

19

The USDOE EIA (August, 2010b) drastically under-reports net metering in Maine at only 14 projects in 2008. Such inconsistent information makes it difficult to assess the success and growth of renewable energy and energy efficiency programs.

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Figure 18 Growth of Net Metering Capacity, Annual Increment and Cumulative Total Vermont New Hampshire

Vermont Department of Public Service 2011, New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission 2011

At a slightly larger scale of distributed generation, there is a smattering of combined heat and power (CHP) plants at institutions and industrial facilities across the region, though most of these are fueled with natural gas or other fossil fuel. In Maine, this form of distributed energy has a long history at forest products manufacturing facilities that generate power from waste wood and black liquor (a byproduct of the pulping process) and also use the heat for processing. More such projects fueled with woody biomass are emerging at colleges, hospitals, and other institutions across the region. The most efficient CHP facilities are sized to make full use of all the heat, with electricity essentially a byproduct generated from boiler steam. Such facilities can convert up to 90% of the energy in the feedstock into useful electricity and heat. At a larger scale again, “feed in tariffs” can encourage small independent power producers to develop electricity projects with supply contracted to utilities at a guaranteed price. In 2009 Vermont instituted an experimental standard offer program that guarantees favorable prices over a long contract term for renewable electricity from small (<2.2 MW) power producers. The initial offer attracted proposals for 207 MW of capacity in the first 8 hours, well over the initial cap of 50 MW. There has been some opposition to this program, since it subsidizes small operations that lack economies of scale, raises prices for consumers and businesses, and if projects sell RECs to other states it may not increase Vermont’s overall reliance on renewable energy. On the other hand, these smaller projects are usually constructed on farms, at landfills, or near existing businesses, so impacts are minimal and permitting usually proceeds quickly – both of which lower overall cost.

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Table 6 Initial Bids for Vermont’s Feed-In Tariff Technology

Initial Contract Price (and 2010 formula price) ($/kWh)

MW

Capacity Factor

Capital Cost

Capital Cost per Effective MW (million $/MW)

Solar PV Biomass/biogas (50% efficiency) Small wind

$0.30 ($0.24)

14.3

$ 65,854,950

0.3

$15.4

$0.125 ($0.12-0.14)

13.0

$ 74,520,000

0.9

$6.3

$0.20 ($0.21-0.23)

8.1

$ 24,210,000

0.3

$10.0

Large wind

$0.125 ($0.11-0.12)

-

-

-

-

Hydroelectric

$0.125 ($0.12-0.13)

7.8

$ 32,340,750

0.25

$6.9

Farm methane

$0.16 ($0.14-0.15)

3.1

$ 23,265,400

0.8

$9.4

Landfill gas

$0.12 ($0.09-0.10)

1.7

$ 8,238,780

0.9

$6.1

47.8

$ 228,429,880

Total

Vermont Public Service Board 2009

Maine has tried a similar approach with its Community-Based Renewable Energy Pilot Program for intermediate-scale solar, wind and hydro at a guaranteed price of $0.10/kWh. As in Vermont, the total capacity for Maine’s pilot program is limited to 50 MW, but prices are lower. The overwhelming initial response to such programs indicates the untapped capacity to generate energy locally. If fossil fuel prices incorporated all external costs and hidden federal subsidies for fossil fuels were eliminated, moderate-scale renewables would be poised for rapid growth.

Transportation Transportation is responsible for about one-third of New England’s total greenhouse gas emissions 33% for New Hampshire (New Hampshire Climate Change Policy Task Force 2009), 44% for Vermont (VTrans 2008) and 40% for Maine (Maine DEP 2008). Reducing reliance on fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions from transportation relies on three complementary strategies: driving fewer miles, using less fuel per mile, and shifting to lower-GHG power sources for vehicles. The first two are demand-side options, and the third requires a shift to more renewable sources.

Transportation Efficiency Following California’s lead, Vermont, Maine, and several other states have adopted greenhouse gas emissions standards for vehicles (which would be met primarily by making vehicles more fuel efficient). These efforts were tied up in litigation for several years, but in 2009 federal standards were established which will match these state standards beginning in 2012. Hybrid gas/electric vehicles developed todate have been expensive to purchase and maintain, so that fuel savings take a long time to repay the initial cost. Consistent industry-wide standards would raise the bar for all passenger vehicles and encourage innovation that benefits from economies of scale to lower costs. Even without regulatory standards, consumers may voluntarily choose more efficient vehicles with the right incentives in place. The potential for dramatic shifts in consumer behavior is illustrated by past responses to spikes in fossil fuel prices.

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Table 7 below shows a trend toward purchase of more efficient vehicles during a time of rapidly increasing gasoline prices (from $1.90 to $3.29 per gallon during the period shown). Some researchers have found a rebound effect as owners of more efficient vehicles respond to a lower cost-per-miletraveled by driving more miles (Hymel et al 2010). This effect is stronger for low-income vehicle owners or when fuel prices are high. Any rebound effect did not erase gains for Vermont during this time, however, as total vehicle miles traveled simultaneously decreased from 7.7 million to 7.1 million, and use of park-and-ride lots for commuters and ridership on public bus routes and trains also increased (Kenyan et al. 2009). Table 7 New Car Purchases in Vermont Car Type Basic Economy Upper middle Mini sport utility Full-size pickup Sport utility

Efficiency (mpg) 2004 33 5,514 23 5,864 21 3,903 19 8,204 18 6,329 Kenyan et al. 2009

2008 5,779 4,278 4,109 5,401 4,162

% Change 2004-2008 +5% -27% +5% -34% -34%

Aside from vehicle technology, miles per gallon can be affected by the way those vehicles are driven. In the Boston metropolitan area (which stretches from southern New Hampshire to Rhode Island) 61 million gallons of fuel were wasted in 2007 due to traffic jams (Bureau of Transportation Statistics 2010) – accounting for about 537,000 metric tons CO2e of GHG emissions. Larger cities have reduced fuelwasting traffic congestion by synchronizing traffic signals and encouraging flexible work schedules or telecommuting. Ultimately, reducing congestion will depend on more widespread changes like reducing sprawl and improving public transit. Since rural northern New England is fairly traffic-jam-free, fuel efficiency improvements are hard to achieve by reducing congestion or improving public transportation, but lowering speed limits and reducing idling by school buses and tractor trailer trucks are options for more rural areas.

Renewable Energy for Transportation Given the difficulty of changing behaviors and technologies, fuel-switching appears to be the easiest way to reduce GHG emissions from transportation. Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states are exploring a “lowcarbon fuel standard” similar to state-level renewable portfolio standards for electricity (http://www.nescaum.org/topics/low-carbon-fuels). Such a standard would encourage conversion to electric vehicles or non-fossil-fuel sources like biogas, biodiesel, or ethanol. The electric vehicle option requires new vehicles, a network of charging-stations, and greatly expanded electricity production, which exacerbates the challenges of meeting electricity demand from renewable sources. The net GHG effects depend upon the electricity source – electric vehicles powered by coal-fired electricity would emit more GHGs through their life-cycle than standard gasoline-fueled vehicles. Since liquid biofuels could be distributed through existing channels, and could even be burned in existing vehicles, the biofuel option appears to have potential. Oilseed crops require limited processing as sources of biodiesel. A recent study estimated that corn and grass lands freed up by a shrinking dairy industry in Vermont could yield enough oilseeds to produce about 5 million gallons of biodiesel per year, The Wilderness Society

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(Stebbins 2008), about 1% of Vermont’s total diesel and gasoline usage. With fewer cultivable acres, Maine and New Hampshire have even less potential, and expanding cultivation on marginal land risks increased erosion and nutrient runoff. Forestland acres far exceed cropland in our region, so wood is by default a key resource if we want to produce fuels locally (note that electricity and heat providers are eyeing this same resource.) Various processes to produce gases, oils or alcohols from wood feedstocks are currently in the research or demonstration phase. Many of these processes use incomplete combustion to convert wood to a gas or a liquid, which can then be burned in an engine to produce mechanical energy. Gases produced from incomplete wood combustion (or pyrolysis) are sometimes called “producer gas” (a mixture of carbon monoxide, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, methane, and other gases produced at relatively low temperatures) or more pure “syngas” (mostly carbon monoxide and hydrogen produced at higher temperatures and with supplemental oxygen). Using gases directly in vehicles would require conversion of gasoline or diesel engines; liquid biofuels would make for an easier transition. Liquid bio-oils that can substitute for diesel may be produced from wood by condensing pyrolysis gases. The Fischer-Tropsch process was first invented in Germany in the 1920’s and provided much of that country’s fuel during WWII. Since it requires multiple combustion and gas-cleaning steps, the capital cost is high and the overall efficiency low, but the technology is well known and predictable. Fermentation of wood to produce cellulosic ethanol also appears close to commercial feasibility, with a few demonstration plants operating throughout the country. Major obstacles include the difficulty of fermenting the more resistant wood compounds such as lignin, and the high capital cost of facilities. Mascoma Corporation, of Lebanon, New Hampshire, which operates a pilot cellulosic ethanol plant in Rome, New York, recently made a breakthrough by modifying yeast and bacteria to ferment wood to avoid energy-intensive pre-processing steps. Liquid biofuel facilities must be very large in order to be economically feasible, and even then depend upon government subsidies to be competitive at current fuel prices. Capital costs are approximately $185 million for a plant producing 60 million gallons/year of cellulosic ethanol (about 3% of gasoline use in VT, NH and ME) and over $300 million for a Fischer-Tropsch process plant producing 30 million gallons/year of biodiesel (about 3% of these states’ diesel use) (NESCAUM 2010). Like electricity, converting a solid fuel like wood into more convenient form requires extra energy input. See the “Putting It All Together” section for some comparisons of wood energy conversion efficiency.

Heat and Industrial Processes Within New England’s residential sector, the lion’s share of energy goes toward space heating, so restricting attention to the electricity sector misses most of the opportunities for individual decisions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition away from fossil fuel use. Heat energy is often reported in Btu, and may be the “high heating value” (the energy released during combustion, including the energy generated if water vapor from combustion is condensed back to a liquid – a process that does not occur in most combustion equipment) or the “low heating value” (energy from combustion The Wilderness Society

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that is actually captured for use, with the energy embodied in the water vapor lost in flue gases). Net heat energy yields (compared to the theoretical gross amount contained in the fuel) may be further lowered due to use of energy in processing and transport of fuels and inefficient capture of combustion heat. Figure 19 Energy Use by Households in New England, 2005

USDOE EIA 2005

Heating of buildings and water, plus direct fuel use for commercial and industrial processes (which are difficult to separate from space heating since they use many of the same fuels), are responsible for 41% of Vermont’s fossil-fuel emissions, 26% of New Hampshire’s, and 42% of Maine’s (US EPA 2009). Space heating in northern New England is dominated by fuel oil, with some natural gas utilized near pipelines and LP gas delivered elsewhere. As for electricity and transport fuels, lower overall use, increased efficiency, and fuel switching are all viable alternatives to reduce GHG emissions from space heating.

Heat and Processing Efficiency As for electricity and transportation, demand-side investments in efficiency can be some of the least expensive alternatives for reducing emissions from fossil fuel heat and industrial processing. 20 A recent study of building efficiency potential indicated that, due to a combination of winter weather and age of housing stock, Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire are the three states with the greatest potential energy savings per household by 2050 if new buildings met more stringent energy efficiency standards than recently constructed ones (Prokopetz and Sargent 2010). Home weatherization programs have existed in most states since the first energy crisis of the 1970’s, but participation is often limited to low-income households and progress is slow. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) supported a rapid expansion of weatherization programs in New England.

20

Passive solar heating incorporated in building design may also be considered an efficiency measure, but we’ve classified it under alternative sources in the “Renewable Energy for Heat and Industrial Processes” section.

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Vermont’s program, for instance, treated only about 1,500 units in recent years, but with $16.8 million in ARRA funds that number increased to 1,800 in 2009, with energy savings of about $2.51 for every $1.00 spent (USDOE EERE 2010). The Button Up New Hampshire program received $24 million in ARRA funds to weatherize at least 2,600 homes over three years. (The annual budget is typically $2 million and number of homes treated declined from 1,295 in 2006 to 674 in 2008). Maine’s Home Energy Savings Program received $41 million in ARRA funding, treating 725 homes in the first year at an average heat energy savings of 36%. Maine has a higher percentage of homes heated with fuel oil than any other state (80%), and its aging housing stock makes weatherization even more critical (Efficiency Maine Trust 2010).

Even before ARRA, Efficiency Vermont’s mandate was expanded to include non-electricity energy savings (mainly heat and process equipment) for businesses as well as households. In its first full year of 2009, investments reduced energy consumption by 83,000 million Btu. A study that led to establishment of this program predicted potential energy savings of 12% after ten years of program investments (this study included process improvements for industrial applications as well as building envelope and appliance improvements that reduced space and water heating needs). Table 8 Returns on Efficiency Investments by Fuel Type, Vermont Energy Efficiency Savings by Fuel Source Oil Propane Kerosene Wood Total

Energy Efficiency Investments (Private Plus Public) $107,651,232 $35,883,950 $6,542,484 $10,011,226 $160,088,893

Public B/C Ratio 21

Cumulative Energy Savings by 2016 (million Btu) 4.02 18,535,362 4.18 4,196,334 3.42 932,120 4.04 1,983,857 4.03 25,647,673 GDS Associates 2007

Energy Savings as Percent of Consumption Forecast for 2016 14% 8% 6% 14% 12%

Cumulative GHG Emissions Reductions (tons CO2e)

1,868,595

A similar study for New Hampshire predicted that cost-effective efficiency measures could reduce the projected 2018 use of natural gas, oil and propane by 16%, with the majority of savings associated with insulation or more efficient space heating (GDS Associates 2009). Beginning in July, 2010, Efficiency Maine’s mandate was also expanded to include home efficiency improvements like insulation and efficient windows, and improved heating systems including wood heat, as well as commercial and largescale projects. Environment Northeast (Howland and Murrow 2009) estimated the economic impacts of investing $27.2 billion 22 in a range of efficiency measures for electricity, natural gas, and unregulated fuels over 15 years in the six New England states. This level of spending would capture all cost-effective (less costly than supply) efficiency options, and the peak annual savings compared to business-as-usual energy use during the modeling period would be 26% for electricity, 21% for natural gas, and 28% for unregulated 21

B/C ratio includes total benefits and total costs, discounted at 7.975%, including the assumed 50% subsidy paid by the state’s taxpayers, perhaps through a fuels surcharge. The B/C ratio for the individuals and businesses who make efficiency investments would be 7.9 overall (lower for the residential sector, higher for the industrial sector). 22 All dollar figures for this study are expressed in 2008 dollars.

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fuels. Total economic activity over a total model period of 35 years (extended to capture the full effects of all investments) would increase by $299 billion, generating $132 billion more household income and 1,392,000 additional job-years of employment. Most of the benefits derive from energy savings, which free up consumers and businesses to spend on products and services with higher local multipliers compared to largely-imported energy supplies. These net savings are significant despite the fact that consumers pay the costs of the program through their energy bills (hence have less to spend), and those making energy improvements also pay a share of costs (also reducing alternative spending).

Renewable Energy for Heat and Industrial Processes Residential use of firewood for home heating is sometimes overlooked as a wood energy use that provides jobs for local firewood entrepreneurs. A recent Vermont study found that firewood use in the state increased from 686,000 green tons per year in 1997 to 788,000 in 2008, over one-third of the total wood volume harvested in the state (Vermont Agency of Natural Resources 2010). At an estimated 1 to 2 million green tons yearly, nearly 83% of wood cut in Massachusetts is used for fuel (Manomet 2010). National data sources for 2008 report that wood provided less than 4% of the residential energy to heat space and water in southern New England, and 5% in northern New England (USDOE EIA June 30, Table S4), so once again data inconsistencies make planning difficult. 23 The wood percentages for commercial sector thermal energy are about half those for residential, except for Maine at 7% due to high use of wood waste by the wood products industry. Wood heat is a known technology with recent improvements in combustion efficiency at the home scale and pollution controls at the commercial scale. Using wood for residential heat may also change consumer behavior to increase energy savings. A Massachusetts study during the 1970’s oil price spike found that households heating with wood saved 40% more energy than would be predicted by directly converting fossil fuel Btu to wood Btu (Cady 2010). Researchers attributed the extra savings to rooms near the stove being maintained at a comfortable temperature while the remainder of the house is allowed to cool. Temperatures also tend to drop overnight as the stove burns down. The end result duplicates the effect of timed thermostats and zone heat designed to do the same thing on purpose. Wood pellets are a more user-friendly form of wood heat than cordwood, though they require more energy to process, transport, and dry. Sufficient economies of scale for manufacturing seem to emerge at a plant size of about 100,000 tons of pellets per year. To maximize overall processing and transport efficiency, it makes sense for plants to be located near sources of wood, with a customer base as near as possible to the plant. A greenhouse gas assessment of pellet manufacturing shows most emissions are due to transport from the pellet plant to a retail facility and on to the individual building, though this analysis did not include the considerable energy required to dry wood before pelletizing (Unnash and Riffel 2009). 24 If all the proposed wood pellet facilities in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine shown in Figure 17 above were actually built, they would provide over 9 trillion Btu of wood heat – enough to heat about 90,000 homes - and require 1.4 million green tons of wood (see “Putting It All Together” for 23

Thermal uses are not reported directly, but can be roughly estimated based on fuel sources. Natural and LP gas for cooking, clothes drying, and other uses would be included. 24 Based on before-and-after moisture content and energy required to heat and evaporate water and heat generated by burning wood, emissions from drying would exceed all other life-cycle emissions added together.

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an assessment of cumulative wood energy demand). Significant numbers of households in New England use wood for heat, and the number has increased in recent years (see Figure 20). Figure 20 New England Households Using Wood Heat, 2010

Source: US Census American Community Survey 2010

Along with wood, solar is another source of heat with a long history and modern variants. The energy crisis of the 1970’s spawned many experiments with active solar design. Such a system might pump air into an underground heat sink to carry excess daytime and summer heat over to the following night and winter, while providing cooling at the reverse times. Solar collectors filled with antifreeze may feed radiant floor heating coils or run through a heat exchanger to warm household water. These technologies have relatively high costs, and maintenance can be a burden for liquid-based systems if leaks develop or coils freeze. Passive solar building design may be considered an efficiency measure (since it reduces the use of energy for heating and cooling), or as an alternative heat source for new buildings (since it substitutes solar gain and natural ventilation for other energy sources). Siting homes with abundant south-facing windows and protection from winter winds is as old as the first New England settlements. More recent passive solar heating approaches include: •

• •

Exposing the longest side of the building to the sun and concentrating windows on the south side, with very few on the north when heat is the highest priority (even without heat sinks, such “solar tempering” can lower heating needs by at least 10%); Insulating well and sealing against air leaks to keep heat in during winter and out during summer; Using double- or triple-glazed low-emittance windows that control energy transfer across multiple panes of glass (either maximizing light and solar gain while minimizing radiant heat loss in cold climates or minimizing both solar gain and radiant heat transfer while passing high levels of visible light in hot climates); Incorporating masonry or liquid heat sinks that store energy when the sun shines and release it at night or on cloudy days (allows use of twice as much south-facing glass without over-heating the living space);

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• • • •

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Attaching a separate sun-space with window angles oriented for maximum winter gain, and vents that transfer heat into the house in winter (providing up to 20% to 30% of heating needs) but vent to outside in summer; Using an open floor plan that allows heated or cooled air to circulate freely; Arranging internal uses to place most-used rooms on the south side (in cool climates), allowing north-side rooms to be cooler and darker; Overhanging the eaves above windows, with widths that allow low-angle winter sun to enter while reducing summer heat gain; Arranging operable windows, thermal chimneys, and possibly external wing walls to maximize natural ventilation and cooling.

When new homes use passive design from the ground up, features such as insulation and windows may require little additional cost compared to current building standards. The design elements listed above may add 10 to 20% to the cost of a new building, while reducing heating and cooling needs by up to 50% compared to the average home (Vermont Department of Public Service 1993). Geothermal energy is just emerging as a space heating alternative in this region. In the most common geothermal heat pump design, sun heats the soil or underground water, the heat is transported into a building via liquid piped through trenches or a deep well, and a heat pump transfers the energy to warm the house. Pumping water and compressing it to extract heat requires electricity (about 1 kWh for every 4 kWh of heat delivered), so like the electric vehicle option for transportation, this solution increases renewable electricity challenges by shifting demand from oil or gas to electricity. The ultimate environmental impact of geothermal heat depends upon the electricity sources. If the power is generated from coal, such a system may have greenhouse gas emissions similar to those from an efficient natural gas furnace. The footprint of a geothermal system may be about four times the square footage of the building being heated. If that area was previously forested, cutting the trees will emit CO2, but the area can be revegetated once the lines are buried. A vertical well system has a very small footprint but has higher initial cost and requires more energy to run a more powerful pump. Large buildings heated by geothermal or air-source heat pumps include: the College of Education and Health at University of Maine Farmington, the Community Education Center at University of Southern Maine, student residences at Bowdoin College, Gorham Middle School in Gorham, ME, Blackpoint Inn in Scarborough, ME, Leddy Center for the Performing Arts in Epping, NH, Putney School field house in Putney, VT and a state office complex under construction in Bennington, VT.

Putting It All Together – Selected Costs and Benefits of Renewable Energy The previous sections outlined potential and impacts of several alternative energy options with significant potential for New England. This final section directly compares energy options in terms of their financial costs, job potential, greenhouse gas emissions, land disturbance, and pressure on forests providing fuel wood. If energy use continues to grow, requiring additional renewable energy The Wilderness Society

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development, the impacts will likely grow more severe and the costs higher as the easiest and least controversial sites will be developed first. A full accounting of costs and benefits will promote policies that support the greater social good, including increased efficiency investments that become costeffective as energy prices rise. This paper assembles data on many, but not all, costs and benefits of the various technologies.

Direct Financial Costs The renewable electricity mix of the future will depend partly on relative financial costs. Figure 21 shows predicted costs for commercial-scale electricity, with pale blue bars illustrating the cost after federal tax credits at 30% of construction costs (currently slated to expire at the end of 2012 for wind and 2013 for other technologies). This chart is not specific to New England, and it assumes a standard set of large-scale technologies, so relative costs may differ for region-specific projects 25. EIA predicts that hydro and wind will be the least costly renewable electricity options, followed by geothermal and biomass, with off-shore wind and solar as the most expensive (USDOE EIA December 16, 2010b). However, expansion of hydro-electricity in New England would likely be limited to retrofits on existing dams and micro-hydro approaches not included in this chart. Biomass is in limited supply in this region, and the greater efficiency of heating applications may justify prioritizing those uses. Solar thermal and geothermal also have little potential here as new electricity sources, though both may be viable options for space heating. Figure 21 Projected Costs by Electricity Technology, 2016

DOE EIA Annual Energy Outlook 2011, December 16, 2010

Consistent with relative costs, most new electricity capacity in New England in recent years has been natural gas combined cycle. If new shale gas deposits follow the most optimistic predictions, natural gas prices in this region may actually fall over the next decade, but serious environmental questions about 25

Costs vary by region and those shown are for the lowest- cost region, generally not the Northeast. Biomass is advanced gasification combined-cycle, geothermal is hydrothermal sites in the western U.S., hydro is at least 1 MW from existing or new dams, wind is grid-connected with large turbines, solar thermal is 50 MW power tower, solar PV is 5 MW tracking flat panel.

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groundwater and other impacts could drastically change projected supply and hence relative costs. Likewise for other conventional technologies, including the full set of environmental costs in the accounts would make renewables appear much more competitive. Most renewable technologies would be more expensive at a smaller scale under a distributed generation model, but the differences are not as stark as often assumed: • •

Solar PV systems of 750 kW or larger cost about 25% less than those smaller than 2kW, with most of the difference in non-module installation costs (Wiser et al. 2009). For wind, costs per installed MW drop about 33% when project size increases from 0.1-5MW (a grouping that includes very small turbines) to 5-20MW (mostly large turbines in small clusters). Costs actually increase again as projects approach 50MW or above (Wiser et al 2010), though higher capacity factors for larger turbines make up for some of the cost difference. Larger biomass plants have lower capital costs per KWh produced, but operating costs may not follow. For larger plants, fuel would need to be transported further and ash may be treated as toxic waste rather than fertilizer. Smaller facilities are also better able to capture waste heat to dramatically increase efficiency. One case study found power costs 13% lower at a 10MW sawmill CHP facility than a stand-alone 100MW plant (Carlson 2009). Small-scale hydroelectric projects exhibit strong economies of scale, with median construction costs for micro-hydro (<100 kW) at about $37,576 to $49,015 per kW – compared with “mini” (100 kW to 1 MW) at $5,615 to $11,637 and small-scale (1 to 30 MW)at about $1,896 to $4,989 per kW (Kosnik 2010).

Table 9 shows slightly lower costs from a 2008 Vermont-specific study (Concentric Energy Advisors 2008) and also compares conventional alternatives (note that wind and biomass costs are only slightly above the natural gas combined cycle option, while coal and nuclear are inexpensive but not likely to fly politically in Vermont). Vermont’s standard offer rates for renewable energy (Table 6), which cover developer costs including a generous rate of return on capital, are generally well above these cost estimates, which could help explain the overwhelmingly positive response to the program. Table 9 Comparative Costs by Electric Generating Technology, Vermont 2008 Technology Capacity (MW) Levelized All-In Cost ($/kWh) Solar PV 5 $0.246 Wind 50 $0.078 Wood, stoker 50 $0.075 Wood, fluidized bed 50 $0.070 Coal, gasification combined cycle 640 $0.057 Natural, gas combined cycle 560 $0.054 Nuclear 1,350 $0.054 Concentric Energy Advisors 2008

The wind power estimates in Table 9 assume capital costs at $1,999 per kW of installed capacity, approximately the same as national average costs over the past several years. As indicated in Figure 22, however, all but one wind project built in New England in recent years have experienced construction costs well above the national average (yellow dots are costs of individual projects built, while the red line is national average cost) . Because of wind’s low capacity factor, high construction costs have a disproportionate impact on total electricity cost from this source. It also appears that operating costs in The Wilderness Society

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our region may be higher than expected as wind farms age. Beyond its financial cost, wind (and to a lesser extent solar) may also be less valued by electric utilities due to intermittent supply. Figure 22 Construction Costs for Wind Farms by Region, 2007-9

Wiser and Bolinger 2010

Energy Jobs •

On the benefit side of the energy equation, each energy alternative provides different numbers of jobs, which may be concentrated in the manufacturing and construction stage or sustained throughout the life of the equipment.

Table 10 provides a general comparison of jobs generated by alternative electricity technologies. The numbers reported here are average annual full-time-equivalent jobs per year over the expected lifetime of the project. Jobs per GWh are a useful metric when choosing among alternative technologies that could produce an equivalent number of GWh over time. 26 Construction, manufacturing, and installation jobs are generally concentrated at the beginning of a facility’s life-cycle, so installing new facilities at a moderate pace over a long time period would provide more stable employment and justify training a local labor force rather than importing specialists. •

Solar power jobs are heavily concentrated in the construction and installation phases, with very few ongoing maintenance jobs. Nonetheless the labor-intensity of installation, spread out as small facilities are constructed over many decades, makes distributed solar a good employmentbooster. Most wind jobs are also provided during the intensive construction period, with only about 6-10 permanent jobs per 100 MW capacity (Flowers 2010). For the commercial wind farm model, construction jobs may be filled mostly by imported specialized crews. A distributed wind model, like distributed solar, would spread jobs out enough to provide a more stable local employment base. Community wind also provides more local jobs during both construction and operations phase, compared to wind projects initiated by absentee investors (Lantz and Tegen 2009).

26

Jobs per GW of capacity would understate jobs from low-capacity-factor technologies like solar, wind and hydro because more capacity is needed to produce the same flow of electricity. See “Land-Based Renewable Electricity Sources” for an explanation of capacity factors. In Table 10, capacity factors and plant lifetime are used to convert construction jobs per GW of plant capacity (which all occur before the plant begins operating) into person-years per GWh of electricity produced over the plant’s lifetime. One person-year consists of 2000 hours.

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Woody biomass electricity provides more permanent on-going jobs, perhaps 50 plant jobs per 100 MW. Because of the need to harvest fuel continually, biomass could generate an additional 65 jobs in the woods and for trucking (Timmons et al. 2007). 27 Hydroelectric facilities are roughly equivalent to wind in jobs/MW with about 6 to 21 workers per 100 MW of capacity to maintain and operate dams and turbines (Navigant Consulting 2009). 28 It is difficult to estimate jobs provided by demand-side investments, since they vary from home conservation improvements to replacing appliances that may be produced far away, but these investments tend to be labor-intensive and would likely be sustained over many years as individual homes and businesses make improvements. Table 10 Jobs Provided by Energy Technology Construction, Manufacturing, Installation (personyears/GWh) 0.71

Total Jobs Over Facility Lifetime Capacity Equipment (personEnergy Technology Factor Life (yrs) years/GWh) PV (2 kW distributed)* 21% 25 0.85 Efficiency& 0.47 Biomass (100 MW co-fire)* 85% 25 0.05 0.01-0.06 0.04-0.22 0.10-0.33 Wind (37.5 MW)* 35% 25 0.05 0.03 0.00 0.08 Hydro (<10MW)# 50% 100 0.02 0.03 0.00 0.05 Coal* 80% 40 0.03 0.03 0.06 0.12 Natural Gas@ 85% 40 0.03 0.01 0.07 0.11 Sources: *Singh and Fehrs, 2001; @Kammen et al. 2004 (corrected 2006), #Navigant 2010, &Erhardt-Martinez and Laitner 200829 Operations and Maintenance (personyears/GWh) 0.14

Fuel Processing (personyears/GWh) 0.00

Energy efficiency is not a well-defined segment of the economy, so job estimates depend on the specific type of investment. The most labor-intensive energy efficiency activities are weatherization and insulation of buildings. Jobs associated with efficient appliances or vehicles depend upon where manufacturing is located, though sales and service would also provide some employment for imported equipment. ASES and MISI (2008) estimated that energy efficiency provided 3.7 million U.S. jobs in 2008 and renewable energy 218,000. The number of direct, indirect and induced jobs resulting from spending $1 million on energy efficiency (16.7 jobs for building retrofits, 22.3 jobs for mass transit) or renewable energy (13.3 jobs for wind, 13.7 for solar, and 17.4 for biomass) is roughly triple the number of jobs from spending on fossil fuel energy (5.2 for natural gas and oil and 6.9 for coal) (Pollin et al 2009). Within the 27

Low-labor biomass is for mill residues and urban wood waste; high-labor biomass is for switchgrass or willow crops; biomass from forest residues might be in the middle of this range. 28 Hydro jobs are calculated from data for new facilities at existing dams without hydropower. 29 Erhardt-Martinez and Laitner (2008) estimated that the U.S. made energy efficiency investments of $300 billion in 2004 which generated 1.6 million jobs ($43 billion and 234,000 jobs for just the portion of spending that represents a premium for energy-efficient equipment compared to conventional). This investment saved 1.7 quads (498,000 GWh) of energy, resulting in 0.47 jobs per GWh saved. Goldman et al. (2010) estimated that 6.3 jobs are created for every $1 million invested in energy 30 efficiency, in reasonable agreement with the 5.4 estimated by Erhardt-Martinez and Laitner. Boreal forests store about 50 metric tons of carbon per hectare in vegetation (IPCC 2001). If 90% of this vegetation is removed prior to flooding, 25% wood is transformed into long-lived wood products (small logs from northern forests have high processing losses when turned into framing lumber of panels, and a large proportion may be used for short-lived products like paper), and the rest is released as carbon dioxide, then clearing for a northern reservoir would release 50*3.667*0.75=138 metric tons/hectare or 13,800 g/m2 of CO2e.

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energy efficiency industry, Energy Services Companies (ESCOs) are evolving an innovative new model based on selling services rather than products. These companies are paid based on measurable decreases in energy use, allowing clients to finance improvements through savings over time rather than making large up-front investments. Because energy conservation is so labor-intensive, and because a high proportion of the work can be performed within the U.S., shifting subsidies away from fossil fuels and toward energy efficiency and renewable energy would increase total employment.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions One major environmental motivation behind renewable energy development is to slow global warming caused by burning fossil fuels. Despite previous simplified assumptions that all renewables are â&#x20AC;&#x153;carbon neutralâ&#x20AC;?, recent science and a growing consensus around life-cycle assessment techniques provides better information about actual GHG impacts. Figure 23 shows results from an International Atomic Energy Agency review of multiple life-cycle GHG assessments for alternative energy technologies (Weisser 2007). More recent reviews for wind and hydro power by Radaal et al. (2011) generally agree with the emissions magnitudes shown here, though inclusion of all reservoir emissions (including tropical) increases the GHGs released by hydroelectric facilities. The raw numbers for intermittent sources like wind and solar do not include any emissions from extra reserves required to provide secure supply. Combining those sources with storage would provide services roughly equivalent to the more biddable sources, though storage would also likely require some level of GHG emissions. Sections following the chart describe greenhouse gas emissions sources by specific technology. Figure 23 Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Alternative Electricity Technologies

Adapted from Weisser 2007.

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Biomass Biomass life-cycle assessments often omit emissions from wood or other plant combustion, under the assumption that these are always carbon neutral. However, a decrease in forest carbon stocks, compared to a without-biomass baseline, will cause a corresponding increase in atmospheric CO2 (see Manomet 2010). If some or all of the wood-derived carbon dioxide represents a net addition to the atmosphere, the biomass emissions shown in Figure 23 would be higher. In the extreme, if none of the wood carbon released during combustion is recaptured by living plants, biomass combustion emissions may be as much as 1.5 times those from burning coal and 4 times those from natural gas. Solar Like all energy facilities, solar installations require fossil fuels to manufacture, transport and install the panels and associated equipment. Total life-cycle emissions are well below those from fossil-fueled facilities, however. A life-cycle assessment of a 3.5 MW solar PV plant in Arizona 30 estimated GHG emissions at about 7 g CO2e/kWh of electricity (Mason et al. 2006). A global review put the range of GHG emissions from solar PV at 19-59 g CO2e/kWh (Jacobson 2008). (See Figure 23 for more GHG emissions comparisons.) Inland Wind Wind, like other renewables, is often promoted as a carbon-neutral energy source, but the full story is much more complex. Clearing and blasting for turbine sites, access roads and power lines, concrete footings, and equipment used for manufacturing, transport, construction, and dismantling, will all release greenhouse gases. 31 Based on one wind manufacturer’s life-cycle emissions estimates (Vestas 2006), each kWh produced over a 20-year wind turbine lifetime will emit 9 g of CO2e. 32 Yet even if the GHG impacts are doubled to account for New England’s rougher terrain and longer shipping distances, the GHG impacts of wind are far lower than the roughly 450 g CO2e/kWh for electricity from natural gas (see Putting It All Together for a comparison of life-cycle GHG emissions). Hydroelectricity Hydro power has traditionally been treated as “carbon neutral” but recent science challenges that assumption. The World Commission on Dams (2000) concluded that emissions from reservoirs may amount to as much as 28% of the total global warming potential from GHG emissions worldwide. These

30

Boreal forests store about 50 metric tons of carbon per hectare in vegetation (IPCC 2001). If 90% of this vegetation is removed prior to flooding, 25% wood is transformed into long-lived wood products (small logs from northern forests have high processing losses when turned into framing lumber of panels, and a large proportion may be used for short-lived products like paper), and the rest is released as carbon dioxide, then clearing for a northern reservoir would release 50*3.667*0.75=138 metric tons/hectare or 13,800 g/m2 of CO2e. 31 Each turbine requires about 2-4 acres of clearing, more if access roads and new transmission lines are long (3 * 125 =375 metric tons CO2e per turbine). Each 1.5 MW turbine foundation uses about 200-400 cubic yards of concrete (300 * 0.23 = 69 metric tons CO2e per turbine). Each gallon of diesel fuel burned during manufacturing and construction releases 0.0028 metric tons CO2e. 32 Vestas assumed a capacity factor of 41% for this LCA – emissions per kWh have been adjusted to reflect New England’s typical 30% capacity factor. Vestas manufacturing facility uses mostly renewable energy sources, so manufacturers using more fossil fuel energy would have increased manufacturing emissions. This study did not include energy for road or transmission line construction or carbon losses from clearing of vegetation. The LCA also assumed that most components are recycled when dismantled, so the GHG savings compared to virgin materials were subtracted from the total.

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emissions are lower for colder climates where decomposition rates are slower, but as the climate warms the rates for boreal areas could rise. Emissions from hydroelectric facilities fall into several categories: •

• • •

Dissolved gases diffuse out of reservoir water into the air. In cool climates like Canada’s boreal north, typical emissions from this source might be about 1,000 g CO2e/m2 (World Commission on Dams 2000). Methane is released as shoreline vegetation and flooded sediments decompose. Recent work to measure methane “micro-bubbles” has increased estimates of emissions from the latter source. Bubbling of CH4 from sediment accounted for 0.8-1.5% of total emissions for Hydro Quebec’s Eastmain-1 reservoir (Teodoru et al. 2010). The churning of tailwaters releases dissolved gases, which amounted to 0.5-6% of total CO2 and 12-30% of total CH4 for Eastmain-1 (Teodoru et al. 2010). After dams are decommissioned, decomposing exposed sediments may release about nine times the total emissions released during the years of dam operation (Pacca 2007). Emissions from construction (0.0028 metric tons CO2 per gallon of diesel fuel burned) and concrete used in dam construction (0.3 metric tons/m3) would add slightly to the above emissions estimates. One review estimated these infrastructure emissions at about 5% to 10% of total emissions (Raadal et al. 2011). Finally, net emissions must be compared to those from the undisturbed landscape. The beforeflooding landscape at Eastmain-1 was a slight net emitter of GHGs; post-flooding emissions quickly peaked at well above this level and declined gradually over time (Teodoru et al. 2010). Reservoirs in landscapes that are net carbon absorbers would have high net emissions. This analysis did not include emissions from forest clearing that occurred before flooding, which could add another 10% or more to lifetime reservoir emissions. 33

33

Boreal forests store about 50 metric tons of carbon per hectare in vegetation (IPCC 2001). If 90% of this vegetation is removed prior to flooding, 25% wood is transformed into long-lived wood products (small logs from northern forests have high processing losses when turned into framing lumber of panels, and a large proportion may be used for short-lived products like paper), and the rest is released as carbon dioxide, then clearing for a northern reservoir would release 50*3.667*0.75=138 metric tons/hectare or 13,800 g/m2 of CO2e.

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Figure 24 Sources of GHG Emissions from Reservoirs

Tremblay et al. 2005

Substantial uncertainty remains concerning immediate and long-term GHG emissions from specific reservoirs, but enough evidence exists to rethink previous assumptions of “carbon neutrality”. Emissions may be quite high immediately after flooding, but decline to a lower relatively stable level within a decade (Steinhurst et al. 2012). Despite that early peak, hydro power does release fewer greenhouse gases than fossil fuels over reservoir lifetimes. If Labrador’s Smallwood Reservoir emits 176 kg CO2e/MWh, coal would release about 6 times as much CO2 and natural gas 3 times as much. 34 Runof-river hydro (no impoundment) GHG emissions are perhaps 15% of those from hydro reservoirs (Raadal et al. 2011).

Land Disturbance If we exploited all of our energy resources to the maximum extent feasible, we would lose a significant area of wild mountains, forests and waterways to large-scale energy development. Although overlyambitious biomass energy expansion would affect most of the forested landscape across northern New England, and some additional land would likely be cleared for roads and landings, most of these lands would at least remain in forest cover, however depleted. Other energy options would to varying degrees convert natural cover to roads and foundations and transmission corridors, more or less permanently. Conversely, if we exploited our potential for energy efficiency and conservation to the maximum extent feasible, we would save many of those same places from the development that attends new energy production and electricity generation. The amount of energy obtainable per area of land or water has been termed the “power density” or “energy density” of a technology. Energy densities estimated by two sources are shown in Table 11 below.

34

The surface area of Smallwood Reservoir is approximately 6,000 km2 or 6 billion m2, so at 1,000 gCO2e/m2, emissions associated with the 34 million MWh of power generated would be about 176 kg/MWh. Life-cycle emissions for electricity from coal are approximately 1.2 million g CO2e/MWh, so coal electricity would emit about 7 times as much as hydroelectricity. Natural gas life-cycle emissions are about 40% those of coal.

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Table 11 Energy Density by Renewable Technology Energy Source Hydro reservoir Biofuels crops Forest biomass Wind turbine footprint Solar panel area

Ausubel (2007) 0.005

Jenkins (2010) watts/m2

0.12 1.2 5 to 6

0.2 0.1 2 20

Another recent study (McDonald et al. 2009) used the inverse measure – land area disturbed per terawatt-hour (trillion watt-hours) produced per year – in an assessment specific to the United States. Figure 25 Land Area Disturbed per Unit of Energy

Adapted from McDonald et al. 2009 (original shows ranges)

It is important to recognize some of the limitations of this study: •

Area disturbed is a blunt measure. Effects that this metric fails to capture include the degree or permanence of disturbance, effects on water and atmosphere, off-site impacts like fill from mountain-top coal removal, and risk of catastrophic impacts like nuclear accidents or the global warming impacts of fossil fuels. This study assessed only crop-based biomass technologies, which dedicate 100% of the land area to annually-harvested energy crops. Forest-based biomass operations require a larger land base and yield less energy per acre, but also produce many co-products. Forest-based woody biomass might affect up to 9 times more land area than switchgrass or willow crops, though less intensively. 35 Biomass energy from waste sources, on the other hand, would have a much smaller footprint.

35

We might assume, as for the biomass crops, that current uses are displaced by new energy use. According to FIA data, recent forest growth across Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine has averaged about 2.4 tons per acre per year, or about 593

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The comparisons are mostly for large-scale commercial installations. Some technologies â&#x20AC;&#x201C; such as rooftop solar, geothermal heat and home-scale wind â&#x20AC;&#x201C; would disturb less land as smaller distributed installations because panels, turbines, or underground pipes could be located within an existing development footprint. Land disturbed by transmission lines is also not included, and these disturbances would be greater for large centralized facilities than for distributed. Despite its limited scope this study reinforces the importance of incorporating environmental impacts in discussions about energy choices.

Energy Return on Energy Invested Calculating the Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROI or EROEI) allows for a comparison of energy alternatives. Fossil fuels have long dominated the energy picture largely because they deliver such large quantities of useable energy with minimal energy expenditure for extraction, processing and transportation, but most high-EROI sources have been depleted and we are now turning to low-EROI alternatives such as tar sands. As indicated in Figure 26, some renewable energy technologies (such as hydroelectricity) compare favorably with most fossil fuel sources available today, and firewood also stacks up as a fairly efficient energy use. (The figure also indicates why there are so many pressures resisting a reduction in coal use.) Figure 26 Energy Return on Energy Invested for Common Energy Sources

Adapted from Hall and Day 2009. 2

tons/km (this includes total live tree volume, not just the part typically considered merchantable for uses like sawlogs and pulp). A modern electric generating facility could convert 593 green tons of wood into about 4.15x10-4 terawatt-hours of 2 electricity, for a land-use intensity of about 2,409 km per terawatt-hour. If we assume instead that current uses of wood 2 (about 2 tons/acre or 494 tons/km ) continue into the future, and about 74 tons of existing logging wastes (15% of current 2 harvest) are unutilized and can be used without ecological harm, then only (593-494)+74=173 tons/km of new material would -4 be available on a sustained basis. 173 green tons of wood would yield about 1.21x10 terawatt-hours of electricity, for a land2 use intensity of about 8,264 km per terawatt-hour.

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Woody Biomass Supply and Cumulative Energy Demand “The global requirement for land-based photosynthetic plant material rose from 20 to 25 percent from 1995 to 2005... By 2050 humans will require more than 55% of the photosynthetic production on land if people consume as much per person as North Americans do now.” 36 “Green plants in the United States collect about 53 exajoules of energy per year from sunlight. Americans consume slightly more than twice that amount.”37

In terms of relying on plants for energy, food and shelter, humankind is fast approaching the level of use that will leave little surplus to support other life-forms. In the United States, we have already far surpassed that level, and can only sustain our lifestyle by importing from less affluent places. 38 Though a surplus of plant material may exist in some geographic locations, clearly absolute biophysical principles will place ultimate limits on energy sourced from growing plants. Net primary productivity derived from satellite data show that the U.S. may have sufficient forest-derived material to meet 2022 cellulosic ethanol targets set by the Energy Independence and Security Act (Smith et al. 2012), which would result in biofuels supplying about 7% of total transportation fuels. This estimate does not account for possible expanded use for electricity or space heating, and achieving this level of production would require expanding active forest harvesting to 20% more acres and doubling current harvest rates. Even if we accepted the impacts of such intensified resource use, further expansion would be unlikely. Subsidies which encourage new energy development can have unintended consequences for competing resource users, whether those are economic entities or other species. Expanded use of wood energy, in particular, has raised concerns about forest sustainability across the region. In Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, about 7 million green tons of wood are currently burned or processed into pellets each year in existing biomass energy facilities. Another 2.3 million tons or so provide firewood for home heating (Northeast State Foresters Association 2007) 39 - and additional amounts are used to heat community and small commercial buildings. If every proposed biomass energy facility in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine depicted in Figure 17 above were actually constructed, and all purchased their fuel from within these three states (a realistic assumption on balance since the surrounding states and Canadian provinces are also building wood energy plants), they would together require another 3.7 million tons of wood fuel. According to modeling for the proposed Low Carbon Fuel Standard, manufacturing biofuels from wood feedstock in these three states could utilize another 4.3 to 11.7 million green tons of forest-derived woody biomass, 36

Imhoff M., Bounoua L., Zhang a P. and Nemani, Rama. December, 2010. Satellite Supported Estimates of Human Rate of NPP Carbon Use on Land: Challenges Ahead. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and Ames Research Center, http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/505659main_NPP_pressbriefing_slides_MLI.pdf. 37 Pimentel, D. and Patzek, T. 2006. Green Plants, Fossil Fuels, and Now Biofuels. BioScience 56(11): 875. 38

The calculations above don’t even reflect the carbon debt incurred by agricultural systems that deplete soil carbon, which requires energy-intensive fertilizers and irrigation to replace services that high-carbon soils provide for free. 39 NEFA provides estimates for Vermont and Maine at 1.7 million tons. Comparable data are not provided for New Hampshire, though timber tax is paid on about 150,000 to 200,000 green tons of firewood logs and a recent NEFA update estimates that about 625,000 green tons of cordwood may be used for wood heat in New Hampshire when wood cut by home-owners themselves is included.

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in addition to 1.5 to 3.0 million dry tons of mill and urban waste wood (NESCAUM 2010). Altogether, current and proposed energy uses could draw a total of up to 25 million green tons of wood per year from the forests of these three states, nearly tripling current wood energy use. The current level of logging operations in the three states yields about 7.2 million tons of usable logging residues.40 Some of these residues are already used for energy, some will be inaccessible or off-limits due to landowner preferences, and a generous portion should be left in place to firm up woods roads and protect soil productivity and wildlife habitat; at most, perhaps 3 million additional tons of unused logging residues may be available for energy use each year from current harvest. Wood processing residues are generally fully utilized, either by the plants themselves or sold as wood chips for further processing or energy. That still leaves up to 12 million tons of wood needed by new electric, thermal, and biofuels facilities that would need to come from expanded harvest rather than “waste” sources. More intensive harvesting could slow or possibly reverse the recovery of our region’s forest carbon from levels depleted by past clearing, and might degrade habitat for forest-dwelling wildlife if timber cutting is not carefully conducted. 41 State-level studies of wood biomass availability - including low-grade roundwood as well as logging residues – confirm that sustainable supply falls far short of what would be needed to feed all currently proposed facilities plus a new biofuels industry. An additional 895,000 green tons of woody biomass above current usage may be available for energy use in Vermont (mid-range estimate, Biomass Energy Resource Center 2011), and 2.7 million additional tons in Maine (Maine Forest Service 2008) 42, while northern New Hampshire already has a deficit of low-grade wood supply compared to current usage (Biomass Energy Resource Center 2008). Because wood availability is limited, it makes sense to maximize benefits from its energy content. Figure 27 shows relative efficiencies of common or emerging technologies – when reading the figure keep in mind that gross thermal efficiency can be a misleading figure as it is rare for all waste heat to be captured and utilized. This comparison also excludes the energy required to cut and transport the wood, and energy losses from transforming heat, power, or liquid fuel energy into warm air to heat buildings, lighting or appliance functions, or mechanical forward motion in a vehicle. In general, thermal uses, or electrical or fuel uses that capture and utilized all the waste heat from combustion, are the most efficient. 40

40

Logging residues in this region are about 46% of the wood removed for commercial uses (2007 RPA Table 40 Northeast). 2007 RPA Table 39 reports removals of growing stock at 15.6 million tons for these three states, but much wood in these states is actually sourced from non-growing-stock trees. State wood flow reports indicate nearly this same volume of sawlogs and pulp alone (excluding chips and firewood) – and tops from this part of the timber cut would be the main source of biomass for energy use). The NREL data illustrated in Figure 16 estimate over 4 million dry metric tons per year of forest residue from these three states, but the analysis assumes that 100% can be utilized and includes material from land clearing. 41 See Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences 2010 for a detailed analysis of the greenhouse gas impacts of expanded timber harvest to fuel biomass energy plants. 42 This report estimated that a total of 5.9 million additional tons of low-grade material could be extracted from Maine’s forests, but the assumptions were very optimistic regarding the proportion of non-commercial wood that would be physically accessible and that landowners would agree to have removed, as well as the potential to increase forest growth through intensive management and import wood from neighboring states. We include here the mid-point between low and high estimates suggested by Rob Bryan, formerly of Maine Audubon.

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Figure 27 Efficiency of Energy Conversion by Wood Energy Technology

Source: Adapted from Manomet 2010.

Public Energy Policy Because of their advantages in terms of low cost, high job potential, and minimal environmental impact, demand reduction and distributed generation should be core energy strategies, not just a feel-good supplement to large-scale development. However, if we are to completely phase out fossil fuels such as coal-burning power plants, oil and gas heat, and motor gasoline, larger-scale renewable energy infrastructure will be needed, and public policies guiding development will need to address concerns such as high transmission costs, habitat loss and carbon emissions. Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine all have energy plans in place or under revision, as well as climate and other initiatives relevant to energy policy. •

In Vermont, an updated energy plan covering all sectors, including efficiency, heating, transportation and land use as well as electricity, is due for completion by fall of 2011 (Vermont Department of Public Service 2011). Vermont’s previous energy plan – for electricity only – was completed in 2005. The primary focus of that plan was on reliable supply at low cost, though it did analyze demand-side options and outlined state government actions to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. A comprehensive all-sector plan completed in 1991 included goals to reduce greenhouse gases by 12% and reduce per capita fossil fuel use by 27% by 2000, while reducing energy expenditures from 6.0% of household income in 1990 to 4.6% in 2000. The state’s first electric energy plan was completed in 1983 and updated in 1988 and both of these earlier plans introduced demandside management as a critical part of energy planning.

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The 25 x 25 initiative, promoted by national agricultural organizations interested in providing renewable energy, was endorsed by both Vermont’s governor and legislature and a state-level steering committee supports its goals. Preliminary Findings (Vermont 25x25 Initiative 2008), identified a mix of technically feasible renewable options but also noted that “environmental and economic impacts of the energy goals and sector development strategies presented are beyond the scope of this report, but should be given careful consideration before adopting policies that support the proposed goals and potential solutions.” The recommendations of Vermont’s Governor’s Commission on Climate Change, released in 2007, also contained many energy-related recommendations, including enhanced demand-side management, improved building codes, and promotion of CHP and renewables.

New Hampshire’s first comprehensive energy plan, released in 2002 (New Hampshire Governor’s Office of Energy and Community Services 2002), was mandated by the legislature to address demand and supply for electricity and natural gas, energy facility siting, alternative energy, and efficiency and conservation. Two years later the legislature established an energy planning advisory board to monitor and update the plan. In 2006, Governor Lynch endorsed the “25 by 25” renewable energy initiative and launched a process to plan for achieving the goal of 25% renewable energy by 2025. New Hampshire’s Climate Action Plan (New Hampshire Climate Action Policy Task Force 2009) recommends many energy-related strategies, including: increased building energy efficiency, promoting new renewable sources, reducing vehicle emissions and miles traveled, and reducing state government energy use.

In 2007-8, Maine state government convened a series of task forces to consider issues facing renewable energy development in the state: a Wind Power Task Force, an Ocean Energy Task Force, a Wood to Energy Task Force, and a Wood Optimization Task Force. In April, 2010, the Maine legislature, following up on Wind Power and Ocean Energy Task Force recommendations, set targets for wind development at 3,000 MW by 2020 and 8,000 MW by 2030 (including 5,000 coastal). The Comprehensive State Energy Plan 2008-9 (Maine Governor’s Office of Energy Independence and Security 2009) took a less piece-meal approach, outlining six major energy strategies: energy efficiency and conservation, renewable energy, transportation and fuel efficiency, improved transmission of electricity and natural gas, state government action, and emergency preparedness. The plan lists many specific actions designed to decrease energy usage or increase renewable supply. Maine was one of the first states to develop a climate action plan (Maine Department of Environmental Protection 2004). Work Groups developed recommendations for transportation and land use; buildings, facilities, and manufacturing; energy and solid waste; and agriculture and forestry.

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Energy Incentives While some aspects of state energy plans can be implemented through direct actions of state government, most energy policy depends upon motivating individuals and businesses to take action. In a predominantly market-based system, prices are a prime motivator. The significant environmental and health costs of energy technologies – which economists call “externalities” –mean that retail prices vastly understate the true costs of energy. When consumers and businesses make energy decisions without regard to these hidden costs, they will too often choose fossil fuels over investments in energy efficiency or renewable energy that generally have fewer external costs and hence may be lower in total social and environmental cost over the long run. An important function of energy policy is to internalize these externalities so that markets reflect the true cost of each option. Aside from imposing high environmental and human costs, fossil fuels are also finite. As producers shift to sources with higher extraction costs, prices will rise – often in unpredictable spikes influenced by speculative trading and political instability in source countries. (Falling natural gas prices due to expanding shale gas hydro-fracking are a temporary exception to this trend, but if all environmental impacts were considered the price would be considerably higher.) In contrast, technologies for increased efficiency and renewable energy will likely become cheaper over time due to innovation and economies of scale. Ideally, a market with perfect information and foresight would promote a smooth transition as renewable sources gradually gain a cost advantage. But it takes time to overcome the inertia of a system developed when fossil fuels were perceived to be low cost and plentiful, and considerable political pressures favor a cheap energy policy that masks true energy cost. Although realistic and increasing energy prices would speed the transition to renewables and encourage conservation, policy makers tend not to favor such a course. Energy policies generally rely instead on subsidies, which can increase overall consumption levels and intensify budget burdens. Public subsidies are economically justified when market failures result in production at less than optimal levels. Investments in efficiency and distributed renewable energy may lag below optimal levels for multiple reasons: • • • •

Many of the benefits accrue to society as a whole or to the environment, not to the individual making the investment; Individual time preferences bias spending toward investments with a fast payback, while lower social discount rates justify investments that produce benefits in the more distant future; Even when rates of return on investment are sufficient, energy users may lack information about the potential for future savings; Capital markets may provide less access to smaller investors with inadequate collateral who stand to gain most from efficiency improvements.

Most of New England’s energy efficiency programs directly share the up-front costs of energy improvements, using funding from utility bill surcharges and GHG emissions auctions and increasingly from demand-side bids in ISO New England forward capacity auctions. While subsidies reduce the relative costs of renewable energy, fossil fuels also continue to enjoy a variety of subsidies, many of them hidden in the tax code. From 2002 through 2008, the fossil fuels industry nation-wide received The Wilderness Society

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benefits worth $72 billion from special tax treatment, below-market leases, and research funding - while renewable energy received only $29 billion in time-limited subsidies over the same period, most of that for corn ethanol which has dubious climate benefits (Environmental Law Institute 2009). Reducing unneeded subsidies to a mature fossil fuels industry would not only help speed the transition to renewable energy, it would also help reduce the federal deficit. Some of the savings could be redirected toward efficiency measures that soften the impact of high prices on vulnerable households and businesses by lowering total energy use. Aside from direct cost-sharing, efficiency and renewable energy programs can also use a wide variety of alternative tools. Energy-efficient mortgages supported by federal home lending agencies allow homeowners to afford the extra cost of a new energy-efficient home by adding expected energy savings to their income, which qualifies them for higher mortgage value. Related energy improvement mortgages allow financing of efficiency improvements to be folded into the mortgage without increasing the downpayment. Code improvements and appliance and automobile efficiency standards improve energy performance more widely than voluntary incentive programs, though they may be costly to enforce. Public education and information alone, like US EPAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Energy Star program, can help change behavior and influence purchasing decisions. Table 12 lists some of the policies in place that promote renewable energy sources or energy efficiency in northern New England. Table 12 Renewable Energy Policies in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine - State, Regional, Federal Policy

State/Region/ Federal

Description

Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS)

Requires utilities to supply a targeted percentage of electricity from renewable sources (solar, wind, small hydro, biomass) â&#x20AC;&#x201C; classes and eligibility standards vary

Net Metering

NH, ME (VT voluntary target) VT, NH, ME

Grants/Rebates

VT, NH, ME

-

-

Feed-in Tariff

VT, ME

-

Loans

VT, NH, ME

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-

Distributed generation receives retail rate for renewable electricity supplied to grid up to annual level of use - limits on individual project size and total percent of utility power vary NH requires utility to pay customer for power generated in excess of use VT Efficiency Vermont rebates for efficient lighting and appliances, industrial processing, building envelope improvements VT Clean Energy Development Fund contributes to the Small-Scale Renewable Energy Incentive Program which offers rebates for energy equipment, also offers larger grants and loans for renewable energy development NH PUC rebates for commercial/industrial/institutional solar, solar water/heat, central wood pellet heat, residential PV/wind. NH Electric Coop rebates for geothermal heat pump installation (NH Electric Coop). ME Voluntary Renewable Resources grants (towns and nonprofits), Renewable Resource Fund (research and demonstration) ME Efficiency Maine rebates for efficient lighting, appliances for business, residential, home heating replacements, ME Efficiency Maine rebates for small solar, wind VT Energy Act of 2009 sets standard offer prices for 50 MW of power from small independent producers Maine pilot program for locally-owned wind/solar/hydro, lower guaranteed prices or 1.5 times REC multiplier VT, NH, ME Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) - local option to lend for renewable energy investments, with repayment through property tax assessments (start-up funding through DOE, ARRA).

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State/Region/ Federal

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Description VT Clean Energy Development Fund – loans up to $750,000 for variety of renewables VT Economic Development Authority business efficiency loans NH Enterprise Energy Fund (some grants available); Business Energy Conservation Revolving Loan Fund; Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Business Loan Program - loans for efficiency and renewable energy equipment ME Efficiency Maine small business low-Interest energy efficiency loans New Generation Energy (nonprofit) offers Community Solar Loans for PV/water for businesses, nonprofits, agriculture in New England VT solar PV/ hot water tax credits for businesses/individuals (30%, 7.2% starting 2012), limits on total awarded VT sales tax exemptions for renewable electricity up to 250 kW and solar hot water VT, NH – local option property tax exemption for renewable energy equipment ME community wind sales tax refund Large electric generation facilities that emit GHGs must buy permits, number of permits offered decreases over time, provides competitive advantage to lowemissions energy. Proceeds from emissions allowance auctions (totaling more than $57 million for VT, NH and ME through 2010) are used by most states to subsidize energy efficiency and renewable energy. Would requires fuel distributors to lower the average carbon intensity of fuels mix (similar to RPS for electricity) Requires fuel distributors to offer a percentage of fuels from renewable sources, including special targets for “advanced” fuels (e.g. cellulosic ethanol) -

Taxes

VT, NH, ME

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Regional

Low Carbon Fuels Standard (proposed) Renewable Fuels Standard

Regional

Biomass Crop Assistance Program

Federal

Renewable Energy Tax Credits

Federal

Federal

Matching payments for two years for fuel delivered to a certified energy facility. Payments to establish energy crops and annual payments for harvest up to 15 years. Payments for woody biomass are currently suspended (summer, 2011). Ten years of payments for energy produced from new solar, wind, geothermal (2.2 cents/kWh), or biomass (lower rate) – OR 30% investment tax credit or equivalent cash payment for construction costs Cutoff dates vary by technology Depreciate eligible energy equipment in 5 years

Accelerated Federal Depreciation Energy Efficiency Bonus Federal Immediate deduction for energy efficiency investments as part of Depreciation construction/renovation Consumer Energy Federal Credit for energy efficiency home improvements (10% of cost up to $500), Efficiency and biomass stoves (up to $300), solar, geothermal, wind, fuel cell equipment Renewable Energy Tax Credits Energy Efficient Federal FHA-insured mortgage finances both purchase and energy efficiency Mortgage improvements at one low rate. Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy, http://www.dsireusa.org, and state energy websites.

The combined effect of multiple subsidies can dramatically change the economics of energy investments. Table 13 provides one example of how federal and state subsidies affect costs and returns for an electric generation project – in this case a biomass electricity plant. While substantial subsidies may be justified to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, programs at all levels should be coordinated to ensure that public funds are well spent.

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Table 13 Example: Effects of Energy Subsidies on Project Costs - Biomass Electricity Plant Without Subsidies

Total equity invested

$90 million (50% equity) $45 million

Annual revenue 438 million kWh @ $0.06/kWh

$26.3 million

Initial Investment

Annual operating cost Operations (non-fuel) Wood fuel Net annual revenue

$4 million $16 million $6.3 million

With Subsidies Initial Investment (after production tax credit) Total equity invested

$60 million (25% equity) $15 million

Annual revenue 438 million kWh @ $0.06/kWh REC sales ($30/MWh)

$26.3 million $11.8 million

Annual operating cost Operations (non-fuel) Wood fuel w/ BCAP*(1st 2 years) Wood fuel (year 3 on)

$4 million $10 million $16 million

st

Net annual revenue (1 2 years) $24.1 million Net annual revenue (year 3 on) $18.1 million *Although it is difficult to anticipate the effects of BCAP payments, it is likely that fuel sellers and the fuel user would share the benefits. We assume here that the price without BCAP would be $32/ton, but that the subsidy results in suppliers earning $40/green ton (with half paid by federal tax-payers). Fuel users would pay $20/ton for a net BCAP benefit to the fuel user of $12/ton). Certified BCAP facilities would have a considerable price advantage over unsubsidized wood users like home woodstove users and wood-heated community buildings.

The core message of this paper is that energy policies that promote renewable sources need to be well thought-out and coordinated among all levels of government and across all energy sectors. If eligibility standards fail to prioritize the lowest-impact projects, or if siting review is lax because policy-makers assume every alternative is equally â&#x20AC;&#x153;greenâ&#x20AC;?, the public good may not be well served. Subsidies should only be awarded after a thorough analysis of the full costs and benefits of each project, with scarce resources allocated so as to maximize net benefits.

Facility Permitting As intended, the subsidies that dominate our energy policy to-date are encouraging new energy development proposals across northern New England. If not carefully designed, public programs may encourage energy development in inappropriate places or divert scarce resources from alternative uses that provide even greater benefits. Although each individual facility or transmission line undergoes some level of review at local, state or even federal levels, permitting authorities seldom evaluate the cumulative impacts of multiple new facilities producing and distributing different forms of energy across the region. Concerned citizens or groups may ask for an analysis of cumulative impacts as new facilities undergo permitting review, though each authority has a limited legal scope and some energy impacts may fall through the cracks between defined jurisdictions. 43 On the flip side, permitting processes that create unreasonable roadblocks for new energy development will slow the transition away from highcarbon sources; pre-planning can help bring clarity and avoid delays. The energy facility permitting process, which is fairly similar for the three northern New England states, is summarized in Table 14.

43

The proposed Northern Pass transmission line, for instance, will be permitted by the Department of Energy at the federal level (because it crosses an international border), the Site Evaluation Committee at the state level, and the White Mountain National Forest at the local level for the portion crossing the National Forest, but it is not clear whether any of these agencies will consider impacts of future Canadian hydroelectric developments that will be served by the transmission line.

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Table 14 Energy Facility Siting Process, VT, NH, ME State VT

Permitting Authority Public Service Board (3 members appointed to 6year terms)

NH

Site Evaluation Committee (membership represents key state departments)

ME

Maine Department of Environmental Protection (Commissioner or Board of Environmental Protection), Land Use Regulation Commission in unorganized lands

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Process

Public Input

Section 248 of Title 30 requires a Certificate of Public Good for electric generating facilities, transmission/pipelines, some longterm power contracts. PSB must consider: town /regional plans, alternate sources (including efficiency), grid stability, economic benefit to state, aesthetics, historic resources, air and water, natural environment, public health and safety. PSB conducts a site visit, non-technical public hearing, and formal evidentiary hearings. Emergency procedures permit construction to begin before the full process, but a certificate of public good must be obtained before project completion. Decisions may be appealed to VT Supreme Court. RSA 162-H establishes the Site Evaluation Committee and defines the process for approving energy generation and transmission projects. Expedited process applications must be processed within 9 months. Decisions may be appealed to NH Supreme Court. Maine DEP applies the “Site Law” criteria regarding environmental impacts. In unorganized towns, developers must apply to LURC for rezoning. Expedited wind permitting speeds the process in designated areas by preventing review by local entities.

Interveners submit prefiled testimony and participate in evidentiary hearings. Members of the public may receive notices as an “interested person”, comment during informal hearings, and send written comments to PSB. Hearing schedule posted at www.psb.vermont.gov, documents are available on-line only for “major” projects.

Interveners participate in evidentiary hearings. Members of the public may comment during informal hearings, and send written comments. The Attorney General’s office appoints A Counsel for the Public to represent public interests at hearings. All materials posted publicly at http://www.nhsec.nh.gov Public informational meetings are held prior to filing a DEP application. Interested persons receive copies of materials, may request Board jurisdiction (except for wind projects in expedited area) and may request a public hearing. In LURC jurisdiction, selected stakeholders may be part of the early process, but the first formal public participation occurs at a public hearing. Expedited wind energy permitting process was recently revised to require a public hearing. Decisions may be appealed to the state superior court.

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Conclusion The twin goals of converting our economy to run on renewable energy sources and lowering greenhouse gas emissions enough to prevent global disaster will require dramatic action – and soon. The key lesson embedded in this report is that careful planning is critical to the renewable energy transition. Policies that reduce demand, and concentrate new supply in already-disturbed areas, will minimize the need for new energy generation that threatens our region’s last remaining wild landscapes. In the case of New England, much of the demand comes from the population-dense south, where impacts on remote northern landscapes may go unrecognized. Low population density, and consequent lack of political clout, may focus development attention in remote areas, the same places that provide relatively undisturbed refuges for wildlife (and people). Incorporating external costs into the benefit-cost equation when evaluating alternatives can tip the balance toward strategies that minimize environmental damage. •

Efficiency investments that improve the performance of existing energy infrastructure have a reasonably quick financial payback and provide good jobs. Energy reductions of more than 20% are currently feasible across all sectors, and as energy prices rise and new technologies develop further reductions will become attractive. Changes in consumer behavior are more difficult to achieve than technical fixes, but are also low-cost and save energy in the long run. These strategies also reduce environmental impacts from new supply and free up energy dollars to boost spending in other economic sectors. In general, distributed energy generation at a smaller scale poses fewer risks to the region’s remaining intact forests, mountains and rivers than large centralized facilities, reduces the need for costly long-distance transmission, and saves permitting costs thanks to greater community support. If net-metering and feed-in-tariff programs are expanded, households and businesses can take advantage of rising energy prices to boost home-grown energy production throughout the region. Stability through diversity and smart-grid capabilities should allow utilities to better manage dispersed energy generation. Even with effective demand-side policies, new large-scale renewable capacity will be needed to transition away from the energy resources responsible for global warming. Large-scale renewable energy facilities on land or in coastal waters should be carefully sited to avoid degrading our region’s most remote landscapes; some places in our Northern Forest are simply too wild to develop. For heating and cooling energy, tightening up our aging New England building stock remains a top priority. Once energy inputs are minimized, a diversity of solutions can be adapted to each site. Limited wood biomass resources, for instance, can be efficiently employed for space heat in rural areas near the wood source. Smart building design can also provide a high proportion of heating and cooling through passive solar gain and natural ventilation. Short-term transportation options include reducing traffic congestion and vehicle idling, promoting telecommuting and ride-sharing, and reducing speed limits. On the technical side, vehicle fuel efficiency standards and consumer preferences are already increasing average

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â&#x20AC;˘

â&#x20AC;˘

September, 2012

miles-per-gallon. Electric vehicles may offer a future solution if charging can occur during offpeak hours to avoid the need for new electricity capacity. Demand-reduction and dispersed energy production will benefit from shifting price incentives that reflect the total environmental and social costs of energy options. One important step would be to eliminate anachronistic subsidies still offered to the fossil energy industry. Eliminating these subsidies will free up funds to lower the up-front costs of energy-saving or distributed energy investments, helping low-income households and small businesses adjust to the scarce-energy era. The no-regrets policies of reducing energy demand and encouraging small-scale generation also provide the space and time to develop and implement new energy supply options that cause the least long-term damage, rather than commit now to approaches that may soon appear short-sighted. Planning and new construction should proceed with a sense of urgency, but at a pace that allows for assessment and mitigation of the full environmental costs.

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References Aber, John and Matt Frades. March, 2009. The Wood Biomass Wedge in New Hampshire: Data Sources and Basic Approach. Carbon Solutions New England, University of New Hampshire. http://des.nh.gov/organization/divisions/air/tsb/tps/climate/action_plan/documents/032509_nhccptf_ appendix_8.pdf, accessed 12/14/10. American Council on Renewable Energy. August, 2010. Renewable Energy in America: Markets, Economic Development and Policy in the 50 States. Discussion Draft, August 2010 Update. http://www.acore.org/files/pdfs/Renewable_Energy_in_America_Aug2010.pdf, accessed 10/30/10. American Solar Energy Society and Management Information Services, Inc. (ASES and MISI) December 2008. Defining, Estimating, and Forecasting the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Industries in the U.S. and Colorado. http://www.ases.org/images/stories/ASES/pdfs/CO_Jobs_Final_Report_December2008.pdf, accessed 12/2/10. Ausubel, Jesse H. 2007. Renewable and Nuclear Heresies. International Journal of Nuclear Governance, Economy and Ecology 1(3): 229-243. AWS TrueWind. 2003. New England Regional Wind High Resolution. From National Renewable Energy Laboratory at http://www.nrel.gov/gis/, accessed 9/29/10. Barbose, Galen, Darghouth, Naim, and Wiser, Ryan. September 2011. Tracking the Sun IV: An Historical Summary of the Installed Cost of Photovoltaics in the United States from 1998 to 2010. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Biomass Energy Development Working Group. November 8, 2010. 2011 Interim Report - Draft. Vermont Legislative Council. http://www.leg.state.vt.us/workgroups/biomass/BioE_draft_interim_2011_report_for_public_review.p df, accessed 11/30/10. Biomass Energy Resource Center. February, 2008. North Country Forest Energy Project: Wood Heating in Coos County, New Hampshire. Report to the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. Biomass Energy Resource Center. January, 2011. Vermont Wood Supply Study 2010 Update. http://www.biomasscenter.org/images/stories/VTWFSSUpdate2010_.pdf, accessed 4/12/11. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. April, 2010. Research and Innovative Technology Administration, National Transportation Statistics, Table 4-27, http://www.bts.gov/publications/national_transportation_statistics/#chapter_4, accessed 12/21/10. Cady, Ted. 2010. Letter to the Editor, quoting 1980 report Heating with Wood in Massachusetts Households. Northern Woodlands 67: 10.

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Carlson, William H. 2009. Biomass Power as a Firm Utility Resource: Bigger Not Necessarily Better or Cheaper. http://smallwoodnews.com/Docs/PDF/Supply/BIOMASS%20POWER%20AS%20A%20FIRM%20UTILITY% 20RESOURCE.pdf, accessed 4/12/11. CBC News. November 29, 2010. Lower Churchill financing risky: analyst. http://www.cbc.ca/canada/newfoundland-labrador/story/2010/11/29/lower-churchill-financingcouture-129.html, accessed 12/6/10. Concentric Energy Advisors. January 18, 2008. Vermont Utilities Technical and Cost Issues of Generation Alternatives, Phase One of a Two-Phase Report. http://www.greenmountainpower.com/data/Unsorted/CEA_Vermont_Generation_Report__1_18_08_final-20521-1.pdf, accessed 12/21/10. D&R International, Ltd. October 2009. 2009 Buildings Energy Data Book. Prepared for the Buildings Technologies Program, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy. http://www.btscoredatabook.net, accessed 11/2/10. Davulis, John. F ebruary, 2010. Maine’s Green Economy: An Overview of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Sectors. Center for Workforce Research and Information, Maine Department of Labor. www.maine.gov/labor/lmis/publications/Word/GreenEconomyReport.doc, accessed 12/27/10. Delsontro, Tonya, McGinnis, Daniel F., Sobek, Sebastian. Ostrovsky, Ilia and Wehrli, Bernhard. 2010. Extreme Methane Emissions from a Swiss Hydropower Reservoir: Contribution from Bubbling Sediments Environ. Sci. Technol. 44:2419–2425, http://www.internationalrivers.org/files/Extreme%20Methane%20Emissions%20from%20a%20Swiss%2 0Hydropower%20Reservoir.pdf, accessed 11/22/10. Efficiency Maine. 2010. Annual Report. http://www.efficiencymaine.com/docs/reports/EMO16444_AnnualReport_2010.pdf, accessed 12/27/10. Efficiency Maine Trust. December 15, 2010. Heating Fuels Efficiency and Weatherization Fund, Final Report. http://www.efficiencymaine.com/docs/community/EMT_HeatingFuels_Report_Final12_17_2010.pdf, accessed 3/23/11. Efficiency Vermont Annual Report. 2010. http://www.efficiencyvermont.com/pages/Common/AboutUs/AnnualReport , accessed 11/15/10. Ehrhardt-Martinez, Karen and Laitner, John A. “Skip”. May 2008. The Size of the U.S. Energy Efficiency Market: Generating a More Complete Picture. Report Number E083. American Council for an EnergyEfficient Economy. http://www.aceee.org/sites/default/files/publications/researchreports/E083.pdf, accessed 12/17/10.

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Appendix. TWS principles for responsible renewable energy development: Sustaining wildlands and meeting our energy needs For more than 70 years The Wilderness Society has worked to maintain the integrity of America's wilderness and public lands. More than ever before, our nation’s growing addiction to fossil fuels and unprecedented threats brought about by global warming are putting our wildlands at risk. It is clear that to sustain both our wildlands and our well-being, we must transition away from fossil fuels and move to a clean energy future. No single clean energy strategy will achieve this and inaction would be even more destructive. Rather, we must act together to support a comprehensive solution for a sustainable energy future by prioritizing: • Energy Efficiency First: eliminating waste and moderating demand for energy through enhanced conservation practices and more energy efficient technologies, • Right-sized Renewables: rapidly developing and deploying clean, renewable energy technologies at a local scale where people live and work, such as rooftop solar, and large utilityscale renewable energy projects where appropriate, and • Preserve Ecosystem Health: continuing to restore and preserve intact and healthy ecosystems which provide us with clean air and water and refuge for both humans and wildlife. Energy development undoubtedly affects the health, stability, integrity, and beauty of our land and water. This is true for renewable energy development as well as fossil fuel development. The difference is that renewable energy does not emit massive amounts of global warming pollution. With our abundant supply of sun, wind and geothermal heat from the earth, renewables can be a long-term, sustainable energy solution that will help to displace our costly reliance on fossil fuels and lead the nation to a cleaner, more natural and wilder future. In addition to our mission to protect our nation’s spectacular wild places and encourage new energy efficiency and conservation measures, The Wilderness Society is committed to advocating for responsible renewable energy development that is guided by the following key principles: • Brownfields Before Greenfields: land that has already been developed for industrial, agricultural, or other intensive human uses, such as brownfields, should be preferred for development over ecologically-intact public lands, and some lands are not appropriate for any kind of development. • Let the Land Help: renewable energy projects on public lands must avoid impairing the ability of public lands to address the causes and consequences global warming by sequestering carbon and facilitating ecological adaptation. • Minimize Harm: wherever development occurs on our public lands, developers should be required to avoid adverse effects wherever possible and minimize, or in some cases offset unavoidable impacts. The Wilderness Society

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Renewable Energy in the Northern Forest

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• Transmission for the Transition: transmission development on public lands should avoid impacts to important wildlands and support transport of renewable energy over new fossil fuel generation sources. • The Public Cares: When renewable energy projects are proposed, the review process should be open and transparent, with ample opportunities for public involvement. The legal and regulatory processes should be subject to thorough review, with no shortcuts and no unnecessary delays. We believe that creating a future where we can meet America’s energy needs and achieve our land conservation goals is not only possible, but is our responsibility as stewards of the natural world. There is much we can do to shape our clean energy future: curbing consumption, prioritizing responsible development and preserving intact ecosystems will benefit the American people and further our pledge to wildness. For more information about The Wilderness Society’s national renewable energy work, please contact: The Wilderness Society BLM Action Center, 1660 Wynkoop, Suite 850, Denver, CO 80202 (303) 650-5818 blmactioncenter@tws.org or Chase Huntley, Policy Advisor, Energy and Climate Change, 1615 M St. NW, Washington, DC, 20036 (202) 429-7431 chase_huntley@tws.org.

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Northern Forest Renewable Energy Report - September 2012