AMC Comments on New England Clean Energy RFP

AMC Comments
on New England Clean Energy RFP

To: Clean Energy RFP Soliciting Parties, via
      Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
      The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources
      Eversource Energy
      National Grid

Cc: Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources

From: Heather Clish, Director of Conservation & Recreation Policy Appalachian Mountain Club

Re: Comments to New England Clean Energy RFP

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the draft “Clean Energy Request for Proposals for Clean Energy and Transmission.” The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) is the oldest conservation and recreation organization in the country, with 150,000 members, supporters, and advocates from Maine to Washington, DC, including more than 43,000 members that live in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Our mission is to promote the protection, enjoyment, and understanding of the mountains, waters, forests, and trails of the Appalachian region. Because successful conservation depends on active engagement with the outdoors, we encourage people to experience, learn about, and appreciate the natural world.dddd

AMC has over 30 years of experience in air quality monitoring and researching the impacts of climate change on the northeastern alpine environment. We have been involved in many energy projects and the relicensing of many hydroelectric dams in New England, including a lead role in many groundbreaking hydroelectric settlement agreements, including agreements for hydroelectric relicensing on the Deerfield River (MA) and Connecticut River (NH) and the Kibby (ME) and Granite Reliable (NH) wind projects.

It is the policy of the AMC that public interest lands in our region should be the choice of last resort for energy and energy transmission projects that would create long-term adverse impacts to the ecological, recreational, and scenic values of these lands. Specifically, these values include managing for natural ecosystem and backcountry recreation values, preserving forests for their carbon sequestration abilities, providing ‘reserves’ that could serve as refugia for ecosystems to adapt to climate change or provide resilience to the impacts of climate change, and protecting recognized outstanding scenic characteristics. When large-scale energy projects occur on these lands, there must be no reasonable alternatives available.

AMC support the states’ goals to procure cleaner energy sources. Since no source of energy generation is environmentally benign, the comments below reflect AMC’s support of renewable energy sources that demonstrably reduce pollutant emissions that incorporate best available technologies to reduce their impacts, and that do not individually or cumulatively greatly compromise recreational and ecological resources of state, regional, or national significance. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by greatly compromising ever shrinking remaining open spaces and riverine ecosystems, particularly when shifted outside of a state’s respective boundaries, is not appropriate or holistic planning and fails to recognize other resource protection policies in place to protect these very resources. In summary clean energy policies should not be applied in a vacuum or trump other environmental protection policies and goals. This RFP can and should better recognize that distinction in its RFP process. AMC’s comments are as follows:

Structure and Implementation of this RFP Process

AMC’s broad comments on the draft RFP go to the troubling framework and structure of this RFP process itself. The fact that the RFP is being designed, drafted, being solicited by, and then overseen by, the very business entities that likely could be applying through the RFP process is very problematic and possibly legally questionable. For example EverSource, acting in a quasi-governmental role in the development of this RFP process, is concurrently seeking to develop a possible transmission line through funds from HydroQuebec that would stand to directly and financially benefit from this proposed RFP process. Furthermore much of the review process is structured to be protected under confidentiality clauses, whereby public transparency and review is further eroded. At a minimum any company that is to be directly involved in the development and bidding under the RFP for either generation or transmission should be appropriately distanced from and not be acting in a quasi-governmental role in the drafting, soliciting or development of this RFP process or its implementation.

A. Definitions of “Qualified Clean Energy” and “Eligible Facility” – Section 1

The RFP cites policies from each of the Procuring States under which this call for proposals is made and entertains to achieve the goals of those policies by using a PPA process that is common to all three states. If the PPA process is to be common to the participating states, than the qualifying power projects should also have a common, and not a state-by-state, environmental review and qualification criteria. For example, the definition of “Qualified Clean Energy” under section 1.2.1 is currently more environmentally protective in Massachusetts than Connecticut. Section 83A of Massachusetts’ Green Communities Act requires that proposals be qualified as eligible to participate in the Renewable Portfolio Standards program. The criteria for MA RPS were established with deliberate attention to appropriate environmental best practices as well as the scale and type of energy facilities that most benefit from the incentives provided by the RPS program. The RFP as written would unfairly stunt the region’s capacity to support more local, sustainable, and environmentally benign hydropower and other energy generation sources, particularly by subsidized imported foreign hydropower that has much less stringent environmental review.

Both the RI and CT hydropower provisions essentially allow a look across international boundaries to determine hydropower as a “qualifying clean energy” but avoid the reciprocal need to look across the international border at those sources’ negative environmental impacts to riverine and boreal forest ecosystems or greenhouse gas emissions (e.g. methane emissions from new reservoirs), which can and are significant. The result is a strong likelihood that “Clean Energy” goals will be met by exporting all associated negative environmental impacts and creating an uneven playing field for other sources that may have to undergo more comprehensive and balanced permitting processes.

Recommendation -Section 1.2:

Revise the definition of “Qualified Clean Energy” as follows. “Qualified Clean Energy” means i.) energy produced by a generating resource qualified to produce Class I1 or New (collectively, “Tier 1) Renewable

1 Class I generating resources must have a Guaranteed Commercial Operation date on or after January 1 2013 for Massachusetts. For Connecticut it must occur on or after July 1 2016 but no later than December 31, 2020

Energy Credits (“RECs”)2 under the Renewable Portfolio Standard (“RPS”) statutes of at least one of the [add] most environmentally protective Procuring States (“Tier 1Qualified Energy”), or ii.) energy by a generating resource that meets the requirements of (i) except that it is located in a non‐contiguous control area.S or iii.) energy produced by a hydro resource, including those that meet the requirements of either Section 4 of Connecticut PublicAct 13‐303 or Chapter 39‐31 of the General Laws of Rhode Island (“Hydropower Resource”)3.

Recommendation – Section 1.2.4:

Revise this Section to read: An Eligible Facility must satisfy the criteria in the Procurement Statutes of one of the [add] most environmentally protective of the three Procuring States. The Evaluation Team will consider bids for other types and quantities of Qualified Clean Energy if submitted in the form of Qualified Clean Energy Via Transmission Under a Performance‐Based Tariff Containing a Qualified Clean Energy Delivery Commitment under Section

In summary the RFP should apply the definition and criteria of clean energy and eligible facilities that is the most environmentally protective among the states and is common to all of the Procuring States’ enabling statutes, not just one.

B. Factors to be Assessed in Qualitative Evaluation – Section 2

While section 2.3.2 states that the purpose of qualitative criteria in the proposal evaluation is to “permit evaluation of state specific factors, including reliability, economic and environmental impacts,” specific factors related to environmental impacts are not explicitly described. Proposals for energy facilities and transmission often vary greatly in their potential for environmental impact. Instead of potentially exporting impacts that would be unacceptable or below standards within the Procuring States, environmental criteria should be assessed as part of the proposal evaluation.


AMC recommends adding the following criteria to the list of qualitative factors that must be assessed, recognizing that collaboration with the states’ natural resource agencies may be required:

• Eligible project Impact Assessment, including: • Extent to which the energy facility or transmission proposal is co-located with other built infrastructure or in a landscape that is already dominated by development. • In the case of hydropower facilities, the extent to which the project ensures adequate river flows, and protects water quality, fish passage, watershed system integrity, cultural resources, and recreation. • Extent to which the project avoids impact to natural or recreational resources of state, regional, or national significance, especially those that have been protected for primary purposes that conflict with energy development. • A full “life cycle analysis” of greenhouse gas emissions for the procurement source as the basis of comparison and acceptance be required. For example a new relatively large hydropower project flooding boreal forest loses not only the sequestered biomass in the elimination of the forest, but may emit the most potent greenhouse gas, methane, for decade(s)4.

2See M.G.L.c.25A § 11F(c), Conn. Gen. Stat. § 16-1(26) and R.I. G.L. § 39-26-2(15) 3 See Conn. Gen. Stat. § 16-1(a)(53)]; R.I. G.L. §39-31-5. 4

AMC recommends that the last bullet on page 23 be revised to read: “Other qualitative factors that mayust be considered by the Selection Team are summarizeDd as follows:”

The AMC also has concerns that the transmission component may be open ended to all generation sources, though bid, reviewed and permitted under the guise of meeting state Clean Energy policies. The RFP acknowledges that it is inviting bids for transmission even though the Procurement Statutes only address generation. FERC Order 888 requires open access to lines that are not merchant lines, and it is therefore unclear how an independent proposal for transmission would ensure the delivery of clean energy. As such, these transmission lines could be used to deliver fossil fuel generated power in part, or whole, over time, though reviewed and permitted as a “Clean Energy” project. This RFP should legally clarify and prevent that possibility, or drop the transmission component.

Thank you again for the opportunity to comment.

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