Affordable Hydro and Wind. For our future.
The Massachusetts Clean Electricity Partnership is committed to the delivery of affordable, clean and reliable energy to the Commonwealth. Our coalition is hard at work to ensure that electric customers in the Bay State will have a plentiful, sustainable supply of clean energy resources for generations to come.
Everybody in Massachusetts benefits when we have access to affordable renewable energy resources that are competitively priced with power generated by carbon emitting fossil fuel plants.
Affordable. Reliable. Clean. The future of clean electricity has never looked brighter.
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Electricity – where does it come from?
You flip a switch and the lights come on. You plug your mobile phone into the wall and it powers up. You may heat your home or cook your meals with electricity. Electricity is a modern world resource that allows all of us to communicate, educate, explore and more – even if you don’t think of where this resource comes from or how it’s generated.
So how is electric power created?
Electricity often starts with energy, which is generated when a fuel resource is used to produce heat or energy. The power that is created is harnessed to produce force – such as heated steam – that spins turbines. In some facilities, gravitational force powers turbines. The whirling turbines are connected to magnets surrounded by copper inside a generator, which stimulates the rapid movement of electrons around the magnet. The electrons are channeled into wire, becoming what we call electricity.
Newly generated electricity moves from its generation source along a wire to a transformer, a machine that increases the electricity’s voltage (the force of an electrical current.) Here, the electricity is collected and distributed along high-voltage transmission lines into a network of smaller power substations, and then flows to homes, businesses, schools, street lights and more. This is what is commonly known as the “power” or “electricity” grid.
Electricity – what's the problem?
For much of the modern age, people across the world have used fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and oil to generate power. All of these fuels, which are finite, must be ignited to create heat that can be harnessed to generate electricity. Unfortunately, this burning of fuel creates mass quantities of greenhouse gases (GHG.) According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), electricity generation based on fossil fuels such as coal or natural gas accounted for 32 percent of the United States’ total carbon emissions (also known as greenhouse gas emissions) and has remained the nation’s single-largest source of carbon dioxide emissions.
In the 21st Century, the world’s electricity challenge is to continually develop power resources that can produce heat or energy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which are linked to observed climate changes over the past 70 years. Greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere, where they impact the global climate by trapping warmth. NASA, among many scientific research organizations, has amassed verifiable data that shows how climate change associated with greenhouse gases is causing significant changes across the world, including warming of oceans, rising sea levels, shrinking glaciers and significantly more extreme weather events, such as hurricanes and so-called ‘super storms.’
Electricity – why should it be clean?
Scientific research about the link between greenhouse gas emissions and power generation has led to an increased global focus on ‘clean’ electricity. Clean electricity is generated through a broad array of technologies and unlike power that is generated by way of fossil fuel combustion, does not involve mass-scale carbon dioxide emissions that can lead to significant harmful impacts on Earth’s environment and humans. Clean electricity stands in contrast with fossil fuels because it releases much smaller quantities of carbon into the atmosphere.
Can Massachusetts get electricity that is clean and reliable?
Clean electricity is generated from a broad array of natural resources, including fast-flowing water (hydropower), sunlight, wind, rain, tides and geothermal heat. Clean electricity is often called ’alternative‘ energy, though use of that term is rapidly declining as this form of power becomes commonplace.
Many clean forms of electricity are also ’renewable’ because they are generated from sources of power that occur naturally and are continuously replenished – unlike fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and oil, which are finite resources. Clean electricity is considered safe because it does not involve combustion of volatile compounds.
What is the importance of clean electricity to Massachusetts?
Clean electricity is not only important to Massachusetts’ residents and businesses; it plays an important role across the globe in reducing humanity’s “carbon footprint,” both here and around the world. Clean electricity ensures long-term energy security and reliability for future generations because in most cases, it can be continually replenished and also helps to reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels imported from foreign nations.
As an emerging sector of the regional and national economy, clean electricity continues to attract sizable levels of investment and create economic activity. These assets are used to build and maintain clean electricity generating facilities and infrastructure —adding jobs and income to local cities and towns.
Why is clean, affordable and reliable hydro and wind electricity important?
Massachusetts electricity customers presently enjoy several direct benefits from clean electricity generated from resources such as hydro and wind power. Future generations stand to benefit even more because these types of energy resources are affordable, reliable and sustainable.
To continue building a clean electricity grid, leading environmental scientists and advocates agree that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts must utilize a diverse array of generating resources. The addition of clean, reliable and affordable North American electricity supplies to the Bay State’s energy portfolio from sources such as Canadian hydropower, on-shore wind power and off-shore wind has been envisioned for several years as a sound and sensible solution.
What is "base load" electricity?
Many people ask, what happen to clean electricity when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining? The answer is “base load” electricity, which is the minimum level of power needed to satiate around-the-clock energy needs. By definition, base load electricity must continuously available 24 hours a day, every day of the year, for transmission into the region’s electricity grid. All of New England’s six states share a single network of power lines and transmission equipment.
Since 1997, an organization called “ISO New England” has managed the regional electricity grid, working to ensure a safe and reliable flow of electricity into homes, businesses and public entities. To provide competitively-priced electricity around-the-clock, ISO New England has relied on coal and nuclear facilities to fulfill the region’s base load electricity requirements. This has accounted for between 35 and 40 percent of the region’s entire electricity consumption.
The recent or pending retirement of coal-fired power stations in Holyoke, Salem and Somerset, along with the recent announcement that the nuclear-fueled Pilgrim Power Plant in Plymouth will soon close, has created a void in the market for base load electricity. In particular, Pilgrim Power Plant accounts for approximately 14 percent of Massachusetts’ total electricity needs. Pilgrim also accounts for 80 percent of Massachusetts’ carbon-free electricity because nuclear plants do not generate carbon emissions.
What can clean, reliable "base load" electricity do for Massachusetts?
With a growing need for base load electricity, Massachusetts’ government officials and ISO New England regulators need reliable, clean and cost effective North American electricity resources that are available around-the-clock.
Safe, reliable and cost-effective base load electricity is readily available by way of North American hydropower stations in Eastern Canada. Massachusetts has enjoyed benefits provided by clean, reliable North American hydroelectricity resources in Canada for several years.
Currently, North American hydroelectricity provides approximately nine percent of Massachusetts’ total electricity consumption. Customers in the Bay State benefit because hydropower is a stably priced, reliable, clean source of energy.
What else will clean, affordable and reliable electricity do for Massachusetts?
Massachusetts is recognized as a national leader in providing electricity customers with the largest possible supply of cost-effective clean energy.
The Commonwealth has worked for years to provide cleaner sources of electricity. The efforts include the 2003 Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, the Green Communities Act of 2008, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008, as well as goals set forth in the MA 2020 Clean Energy & Climate Plan. Together, these plans mandate legal requirements for utility companies to dramatically increase the Bay State’s access to clean electricity through 2050.
Massachusetts adopted these programs, in part, based on the availability of North American hydropower as an affordable means of achieving public health and environmental benefits.
For example, the MA 2020 Clean Energy & Climate Plan specifically advocates for expansion of hydropower electricity from Canada because this clean electricity can be produced for a relatively low cost and with no need for government subsidies. New clean and reliable hydropower from Canada is expected to provide enough clean power to satisfy 15 percent of Massachusetts’ electricity needs.
Can Massachusetts do without clean, affordable and reliable electricity?
Adding more clean, affordable and reliable electricity to the grid is not a choice for Massachusetts. By law, utility companies are required to provide additional clean electricity each year. For example, the Global Warming Solutions Act requires an 80 percent reduction in levels of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 by way of reduction or elimination of fossil-fuel electricity.
How will Massachusetts’ customers get more affordable, reliable clean electricity?
This year, the Massachusetts Legislature will consider proposed legislation that will allow local utility companies to seek competitive bids from hydro and wind electricity suppliers. Several state leaders, including Governor Charlie Baker, envision new laws that will deliver enough clean electricity to power 2.4 million homes in the Bay State.
Governor Baker has described clean electricity reform as a linchpin of the Commonwealth’s economic future, one that is needed to ensure long-term stability and affordability for electricity customers as well as to address climate change.
Numerous elected leaders, including Governor Baker, State Senator Ben Downing, Representative Patricia Haddad, as well as environmental advocates, industry trade associations and energy sector companies believe new laws will ensure ongoing access to a supply of clean, affordable electricity. This approach would free Massachusetts’ electric customers from fuel price volatility, a problem that has bedeviled Bay State electricity customers in recent times during high-demand periods of the year.
Massachusetts’ customers save money by adding more affordable, reliable clean electricity?
Currently, Massachusetts electricity customers are burdened with some of the nation’s highest power prices. During last winter’s extreme weather events, electricity prices rose sharply, including by nearly 40 percent in a single month.
Initial projections indicate that Massachusetts’ residential and business electricity customers will achieve millions of dollars in long-term savings from an increase in clean electricity in comparison with electricity that is generated by fossil fuel power plants. The savings will be achieved by allowing Massachusetts’ utility companies to competitively bid new sources of clean, reliable electricity. Competition among various clean electricity suppliers will not only achieve savings, it will ensure price predictability.
By accessing clean, reliable and affordable North American electricity that is supplied through competitive pricing, the region will enjoy lower wholesale energy prices. At the same time, increased access to clean, reliable and affordable electricity will ensure that Massachusetts remains a leader in environmental and air quality.
What can I do to bring more affordable, reliable clean electricity to Massachusetts?
The Bay State’s bold shift away from a fossil-fuel powered power grid to clean, reliable and affordable electricity resonates deeply with Massachusetts residents who continue to overwhelmingly support new policies that allow for more clean electricity in the Bay State.
Do you want more affordable, reliable and clean electricity in Massachusetts? If yes, click here [insert link to call to action page with automated zip code legislator message] to let your local legislator know where you stand on the issue of affordable, reliable and clean electricity in Massachusetts.
Thanks to your help, the future of affordable, reliable and clean electricity in Massachusetts has never looked brighter.
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