The Northeast faces an urgent need to make its energy system cleaner, more affordable and more reliable. The region's reliance on fossil fuels has a negative impact on both the environment and the economy. Billions of dollars leave the local economy each year to purchase fossil fuels that are mined and processed in other parts of the world, while escalating energy prices hurt businesses and consumers alike. Burning fossil fuels produces greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) which experts agree must be dramatically cut by mid-century to prevent the worst effects of climate change.
To achieve a sustainable, low-carbon energy future, it is crucial to use energy as efficiently as possible.
In fact, by expanding efficiency investments, studies show that we can reduce “load growth” to zero in the near term, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and minimizing the need to build new power plants. And every dollar spent on efficiency programs —whether for lighting upgrades or the purchase of more efficient furnaces— saves customers $4, while providing local jobs and keeping money from leaving the region to buy fossil fuels. ENE promotes policies that:
Increase investments in energy efficiency as a resource.
Energy policies newly adopted in Connecticut, Maine and Rhode Island and pending in Massachusetts call for states to purchase all cost-effective efficiency before buying traditional supply.
Increase energy efficiency of buildings.
Energy use in residential, commercial and industrial buildings produces almost half of the region’s greenhouse gas emissions. Given that the region’s building stock is aging, and many buildings will be replaced or retrofitted in the next 30 years, there is a tremendous near-term opportunity to reduce building energy use.
Increase efficiency of appliances and commercial equipment.
Setting minimum standards removes the market barrier to more efficient products, and also provides consumers with a wider variety of energy efficient appliances and equipment from which they can choose.
In addition to reducing demand, it is important that the region find low-carbon ways to produce energy. ENE promotes policies that clean up supply by:
Reducing emissions from current power plants.
One of the most effective solutions for cleaning up existing power plants is instituting cap and trade programs, like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which use market mechanisms to put a price on carbon and require a slow but sure reduction incarbon emissions from large coal, oil and gas power generators.
Commercializing and deploying no-carbon and low-carbon energy sources.
States and provinces can devise policies to help spur the development of new and underutilized clean energy technologies, such as renewable energy (i.e., wind, solar or biomass), Combined Heat and Power (CHP), and clean distributed generation. Policies that can enhance the development of clean energy include renewable portfolio standards, such as those established by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine, and strengthened siting and permitting processes for new plants.
ENE's Energy Projects
- Building Codes and Standards
- Connecticut Climate and Energy
- Eastern Canada Climate and Energy
- Energy Efficiency
- Federal Energy Policy
- Heating Oil Efficiency
- Maine Climate and Energy
- Massachusetts Climate and Energy
- Regional Energy Reform
- Rhode Island Climate and Energy
- Utility Incentive Reform: Decoupling