NORTH FALMOUTH, Mass. — More than 200 people attended the Northeast Energy and Commerce Association’s 23rd Annual New England Energy Conference last week. Here are some highlights.
Paul Roberti, a member of the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission, on the suspension of the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline project: “The recent decision by Kinder Morgan to suspend its project should not come as a surprise. Why? Because the capacity market … is doing what it’s supposed to do by bringing forth dual-fuel generators. … It’s the economics and the market construct that is driving the decision not to have gas pipelines at this point in time.”
Christopher Recchia, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Service, on the success of the state’s clean energy programs and their impact on development: “We’re at 10 times the amount of solar that we had in 2011, so we’re over 250 MW that’s installed or approved or permitted, with also 100 MW of wind. … Of course, it’s not baseload, but it’s more nameplate wattage than we ever got from [closed nuclear plant] Vermont Yankee,” whose output was sold into the grid and did not serve in-state load exclusively.
New Hampshire Consumer Advocate Donald Kreis said utilities appear to be embracing smart meters and distributed resources, even though they may reduce their revenues. “If you listen to the utilities, you would have no idea that any of them have shareholders. What are the shareholders willing to do, risk-wise, on the way to those double-digit [returns on equity] that utilities crave?”
Kerrick Johnson, vice president of Vermont Electric Power Co., said his state relies on intermittent renewables for at least 18% of its 1,000-MW load. “That’s incredible. That’s something that is very challenging. … This blossoming of distributed generation behind the meter is really impacting us.”
Matthew Morrissey, managing director of Offshore Wind Massachusetts, a coalition of offshore wind developers, on the decreasing prices in Europe, where new projects are coming in at 15 cents/kWh: “We are seeing a sea change in costs in terms of the industrialization of this resource.”
David Littell, principal for the Regulatory Assistance Project, on the development of a “grid of the future”: “I am not sure if New England will have the grid of the future in five years, but I am sure that California will be on the way. … We can watch what they’re doing so we can learn. … New England can get there if it wants to.”
Micah Remley, senior vice president of product for demand response service provider EnerNOC, said customer usage data have little value if the customer cannot respond in real time or if market design does not incent a change in behavior. “We need three things in place: you need the data, you need to get the data all of the time and you need the market design to take advantage of the technology.”
– William Opalka