Go-slow approach could be risky

Article originally appears in CommonWealth, April 15, 2019

The New England region is home to policies aimed at significant reductions in greenhouse gases. Each of the six New England states has renewable portfolio standards that set targets for how much energy should be procured from renewable sources by a given year. These have grown in recent years as the impacts of climate change have become ever clearer. Connecticut has targeted getting 44 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. Massachusetts has similar goals. Several cities in the Commonwealth are going further, targeting 100 percent clean energy within the next 15 to 20 years, a position now being embraced at the state level across the country, including neighboring New York, which is targeting 100 percent carbon-free energy by 2040.

On the heels of the stunningly consumer-friendly price for Massachusetts’ first offshore wind farm, the 800 MW Vineyard Wind project, additional procurements have been made in Rhode Island and Connecticut. New legislative targets are pending that, if passed in total, could see the New England region procuring nearly 12,000 MW of offshore wind energy by 2035. With so much potential renewable energy beckoning, New Englanders deserve to have a clear view of what it could all mean — for our pocketbooks, the environment, and the fundamental reliability of our energy supply. That’s why ISO New England – the region’s electricity system — should study the impacts of a large offshore wind energy infusion. We may learn the economic benefits are so compelling that policymakers push for more wind sooner.

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