Join us for the ISO New England Consumer Liaison Group (CLG) meeting on June 4

Friends! 

We are reaching out to invite you to the next ISO New England (ISO-NE) Consumer Liaison Group (CLG) meeting on June 4, 2024 12:00-3:30pm at Holyoke Community College Kittredge Center in Holyoke, Massachusetts. 

ISO-NE is the independent, nonprofit organization charged with managing the New England electrical grid and wholesale markets. They accomplish this with our ratepayer dollars (the electric utilities forward portions of the bills we pay to (ISO-NE). This meeting is a great opportunity for New England ratepayers to get some answers to questions we posed last meeting about their demand response markets, begin a discussion about the meaning of “reliability,” hear about new developments at ISO-NE, and bring any other questions we have for the grid operator. It’s also a great opportunity for those who gather in-person to be together and experience the joy we create when we show up together!

For the June CLG meeting, ISO-NE reserved a room with only 100 seats, despite the fact that hundreds of ratepayers have been engaged in recent CLG meetings. In response, help us to pack the room in Holyoke (and the online meeting platform) to show ISO-NE that we will not be silenced!

Recently, ISO-NE has been pressured to silence ratepayer voices, and we could argue that senior management at the grid operator have collaborated in this effort directly. 

In early April, two people wrote a letter to an executive at ISO-NE demanding that the grid operator either rein us in or abolish the CLG. The authors are a powerful member of NEPOOL (the industry and utility-controlled official “stakeholder group” that exerts significant control over ISO New England) and an anti-renewables activist affiliated with the Texas Public Policy Foundation.  A week later, ISO officials reprimanded the CLG Coordinating Committee members we elected for emailing ratepayers about the importance of conservation demand response. You can read about what the state of New Hampshire’s Consumer Advocate had to say about this series of critiques directed at the Consumer Liaison Group here.

These tactics are evidence that we’re disrupting business-as-usual in a way that troubles industry insiders. We need you (and your friends) to help us keep the pressure on! 

Last week, ISO-NE submitted a filing to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) arguing that our comment (signed by over 4,000 people) opposing their recent Forward Capacity Auction results was “outside the scope” of the proceedings. The implication is that FERC will not hear claims that ISO-NE is acting in violation of the rules that govern their operations. Does this mean that the rules don’t apply to ISO-NE? Join us June 4th, and you can ask them yourself!


HOW TO REGISTER

If you have never attended a meeting hosted by ISO-NE, you will be directed to make an account here. You’ll need to have the login information from that site when you register for this and future meetings. 


Once you have an account, you can register for the CLG Meeting here.Choose in-person attendance or online attendance (via WebEx), then click “Request” at the bottom.It is our goal to fill the room (there are 100 in-person seats total)If you can’t get to Holyoke, Massachusetts on a weekday afternoon, it’s still important to register to attend online. These registrations alone are evidence that people care about what is happening at ISO-NE.If you join in-person, lunch is provided from 12:00-12:30pm. The online portion (and in-person programming) begins at 12:30pm.

 IMPORTANT: In-person registration closes at noon on Wednesday, May 29th. Online registration closes at noon on June 4th.

The registration system maintained by ISO-NE is frustrating. Please stick with it, and if you have trouble, reach out to Marla for help 781-475-0996 or marla@climatedisobedience.org

Please note that we won’t get a record of your registration (ISO-NE does NOT share that information with us, so you may receive a text message from us inviting you to attend after you’ve registered.).REMEMBER: every expression of interest from the residential ratepayers of New England in these meetings is another piece of evidence to ISO-NE that they are no longer invisible to the general public. Help us demonstrate to ISO-NE that as long as they receive hundreds of millions of ratepayer dollars to conduct their business (and they control billions more through the design and management of wholesale electricity markets), they should expect our presence, our questions, our feedback, and our demands for a swift, just transition of the grid.

Thank you for showing up with us! We hope to host a zoom session for those who want to get an orientation to ISO-NE, CLG, and the meeting agenda. Stay tuned for details, and see you in Holyoke (and online)!
Keep it coming!
-Marla Marcum for the No Coal No Gas Campaign

Invitation to a community conversation

Climate Action Now invites you to a virtual community conversation on May 13 about the future of our Regenerative Farming, Forests and Food Systems Group (RF3). Our intention is to bring together people who have worked with us over the years and to encourage new voices and leadership as we envision the next chapter of our work.

Regenerative Farming, Forests and Food Systems Community Conversation Monday May 13,  7:00-8:30pm Zoom registration here

Don’t Back Down on Biomass: The Continuing Saga

When Rep. Roy, the chair of the powerful Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy (TUE) Committee visited Western Mass in late March, he acknowledged that TUE is hearing from people across the state about problematic biomass language showing up in a new bill, H.4503 , a bill that TUE reported out favorably and sent to House Ways & Means, where it awaits action.

Meanwhile, the bills the No Toxic Biomass Campaign is supporting just got another extension from TUE – through June 20th- which means our bills are still in play. These bills would end remaining subsidies for biomass in MA (see our website for more info about these bills and co-sponsor lists).  We await a Senate climate bill, which is why contacting Senator Barrett on this issue is important.

Everyone’s advocacy is really making a difference so let’s keep up the pressure!  If you haven’t yet reached out to your legislators or TUE, now is the time.

Current targets – in order of priority at this time:

  • House Ways & Means Chair – Aaron.M.Michlewitz@mahouse.gov, (617) 722-2990
  • Senate TUE Chair – Mike.Barrett@masenate.gov, (617) 722-1572
  • House TUE Chair – Jeffrey.Roy@mahouse.gov, (617) 722-2030

PHONE CALLS TO MICHLEWITZ’S OFFICE IN PARTICULAR WOULD BE GREAT! 

(Or a quick email to all three chairs listed above!!!)

Current asks for these legislators:

  1. OPPOSE sections 8 and 22 of H.4503 (formerly H.3216)

– Please eliminate sections 8 and 22 of H.4503. Section 8 would double incentives for wood-burning furnaces and boilers under the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (APS), giving these polluting heating options preferential treatment over heat pumps, geothermal, and other zero emissions technologies. Section 22 would eliminate a mandated study of the public health and climate impacts of biomass energy.

  1. SUPPORT S.2136/H.3210 and S.2137/H.3211

– We want this year’s climate legislation to eliminate subsidies for wood burning, which is detrimental to public health and the climate. Please advance S.2136/H.3210 and S.2137/H.3211, which would remove ratepayer-funded subsidies for biomass under the municipal light plant greenhouse gas emissions standard and the APS, respectively.

Update:

Last week, the bill we are opposing (formerly H.3216) got a new number and was published on the legislative website as H.4503. The bill language is unchanged from what we previously circulated, with sections 8 and 22 remaining the problematic provisions on biomass. H.4503 was reported out favorably by TUE and sent to House Ways & Means, where it awaits action.

Meanwhile, the bills the No Toxic Biomass campaign is supporting just got another extension from TUE – through June 20th – so they are still in play. These bills would end remaining subsidies for biomass in MA (see our website for more information about these bills and co-sponsor lists).  We are still awaiting a Senate climate bill, which is why contacting Senator Barrett on this issue is important.

BIG PICTURE:  

Between now and the end of the legislative session in July, the House and Senate will be negotiating a final climate package. We need to make sure that the new pro-biomass provisions advanced by Rep. Roy in H.4503 are not included in the final package, and use this opportunity to demand an end to all subsidies for wood-burning energy in Massachusetts!

We continue to push for the removal of biomass from the MLP greenhouse gas emission standard and from the APS.  We are still urging the TUE chairs to report these bills favorably out of committee, and now are also working to stave off the bad language in H.4503 (sections 8 and 22).

When TUE Chair Roy came out to Western Mass at the end of March, he acknowledged that they are hearing from people across the Commonwealth about problematic new biomass language.  So let’s keep up the pressure! 

 If you haven’t yet reached out to your legislators or TUE, now is the time.

We also need calls and emails to Representative Michlewitz, the Chair of the House Ways & Means Committee. Here is the link to an email action alert you can use to write to your legislators, and share with others!!

Back story

Between now and the end of the legislative session in July, the House and Senate will be negotiating a final climate package. We need to make sure that troublesome new pro-biomass provisions advanced by Rep. Roy in H.4503 are not included in the final package.  Let our legislators know that the only sane path is to end all subsidies for wood-burning energy in Massachusetts!

Read the whole story

We continue to push for the removal of biomass from the MLP greenhouse gas emission standard and from the APS.  We are still urging the TUE chairs to report these bills favorably out of committee, and now are also working to stave off the bad language in H.4503 (sections 8 and 22).

The good news is that when TUE Chair Roy came out to Western Mass at the end of March, he acknowledged that they are hearing from people across the Commonwealth about the problematic new biomass language.  So let’s keep up the pressure!  If you haven’t yet reached out to your legislators or TUE, now is the time – and now we also need calls and emails to Representative Michlewitz, the Chair of the House Ways & Means Committee. Here is the link to an email action alert you can use to write to your legislators, and share with others!!

What would Section 8 do?  

As currently written, Section 8 would DOUBLE the subsidy for ANY WOOD-BURNING FURNACE OR STOVE that qualifies for the Alternative Portfolio Standard (APS). 

Background:

An Alternative Energy Credit (AEC) is analogous to an SREC, which many people are familiar with, especially if you have solar panels at your own home. (SRECs and RECs are part of the RPS – Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, while AECs are part of the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (APS). Under either of these programs, you receive a credit, ultimately funded through everyone’s utility bills, if you install a qualified technology.

Biomass is part of the “renewable thermal” part of the APS; in other words, section 8 is about wood for heating, rather than for generating electricity. This includes large wood boilers and wood furnaces at institutions such as hospitals and schools, as well as smaller residential units.

Under the current APS statute, one AEC is earned for every 3,412,000 Btus of net useful thermal energy produced by the heating facility.  (Section 8 of H.3216 would cut this number in half, allowing users to earn one AEC for every 1,706,000 Btus of net useful thermal energy produced. This effectively doubles the subsidies paid out to wood-burning heating units.

SECTION 8. Section 11F 1/2 of Chapter 25A of the general laws, as so appearing in the 2022 official edition, is hereby amended by adding the following to the end of Section 11F 1/2 (e): The department shall provide that for facilities generating useful thermal energy by using eligible biomass technologies that also install an electrostatic precipitator or other emissions control device, an alternative energy credit shall be earned for 1,706,000 British thermal units of net useful thermal energy so as to improve air quality.

While the bill mentions electrostatic precipitators, which are only used on very large facilities, it also says, without limiting language, “or other emissions control device.” As someone put it, language this broad is big enough to drive a wood pellet truck through!  We should add that the APS already requires eligible wood-heating appliances to have emissions controls, and that under no circumstances does burning wood “improve air quality.”

What would section 22 do?

Section 22 would get rid of the biomass study that was required under the Climate Roadmap Law: 

SECTION 22. Section 102 of Chapter 8 of the Acts of 2021 is hereby repealed. 

Section 102 of Chapter 8 of the Acts of 2021 states:

The executive office of energy and environmental affairs and its various agencies and departments shall conduct a study within 2 years of the effective date of this act that shall include, but not be limited to: (i) an analysis of greenhouse gas emissions generated and projected to be generated by combustion within the commonwealth of the various categories and classes of biomass fuels; (ii) the public health consequences of said combustion for affected populations, together with estimations of the cumulative greenhouse gas emissions and (iii) public health impacts of said combustion.  To inform the design and conduct of said study, the executive office shall hold not less than 3 public hearings.

The biomass study requirement was included in the Climate Roadmap Law in the context of the creation of the greenhouse gas emissions standard (GGES) for municipally-owned utilities (MLPs). The MLP GGES requires MLPs to source their energy from an increasing percentage of non-carbon emitting technologies, which would be great if it weren’t for the inclusion of biomass in its definition of “non-carbon emitting.” Because of all of our pushback on biomass, the Climate Roadmap Law ended up putting a five-year pause on the inclusion of biomass in the definition, and requiring the biomass study. That five-year pause ends in 2026, and, if H.4503 is passed as redrafted, there will be no study – just a state-mandated “non-carbon emitting” requirement that can be met by burning biomass.

Katy, for PFPI & the No Toxic Biomass Campaign

(413) 320-0747

Action Alert: Biomass Bills at Risk

INDIVIDUALS: Please contact your legislators with this message:

Massachusetts ratepayers should not fund burning trees for energy! A bill emerged from TUE with language that increases subsidies for biomass facilities under the APS and eliminates a biomass study mandated by the 2021 Climate Roadmap Law.Please ask TUE not to include sections 8 or 22 of H.3216 in any legislation going forward. 

Instead, ask them to incorporate the policies of S.2136 /H.3210 and S.2137/H.3211 into the Committee’s climate legislation.

Please put this message in your own words and add at least one sentence about why this is important to you.

*************************************************************************************************************************************

BACKGROUND

The full text of this letter (signed by organizations only) contains detailed background information including citations.

Do not include: SECTION 8. Section 11F 1/2 of Chapter 25A of the general laws, as so appearing in the 2022

official edition, is hereby amended by adding the following to the end of Section 11F 1/2 (e):

The department shall provide that for facilities generating useful thermal energy by using eligible

biomass technologies that also install an electrostatic precipitator or other emissions control

device, an alternative energy credit shall be earned for 1,706,000 British thermal units of net

useful thermal energy so as to improve air quality.

AND Do not include : SECTION 22. Section 102 of Chapter 8 of the Acts of 2021 is hereby repealed.

ORGANIZATIONS: Please sign your organization on to this letter by Wednesday, March 13th.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The full text of the letter signed by organizations (above) contains detailed background information including citations.

Community Conversation in March — Reconvening RF3

Dear friends of the Regenerative Farming, Forests and Food Systems Group (RF3) of Climate Action Now and other earth loving humans:

Let’s gather to envision the next chapter of our work together. Join us for a virtual community conversation on March 18, 2024 at 7pm.

Please complete a short survey, whether or not you can make it to the meeting.

Bring your ideas, passion, and skills as we usher in a new generation of leadership and feel free to forward this invitation to your networks.

We look forward to being with you. Lenore Bryck, on behalf of RF3 

Register here

Survey link

Full Snow Moon Gathering & Eastern Woodlands Social Dance

Rights of Nature for the Long River

Take Action for Smart Solar TODAY, Tuesday, February 6

Those of us who care about forests and agriculture need to send an email to the legislature TODAY!

BACKGROUND

There are two bills that would remove the so-called “solar exemption”  from state law. This exemption practically prohibits towns from regulating industrial solar, 

If the law is changed, towns could protect forests, agriculture, and water systems and regulate solar in reasonable ways, without being threatened by expensive law suits. These bills are:

• S.1319 An Act regarding municipal zoning powers
• H.2082 An Act regarding municipal zoning powers

In Nov. these bills received a lot of support from many of us. HOWEVER, they have not yet been voted favorably out of committee. This is necessary to allow the full legislature to vote. 

ACTION:
• Email the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government. 
• Ask them to vote S1319 and H2082 favorably out of committee.
• When: NOW – before Feb 7!!

INSTRUCTIONS
Email to: 
Senate Chair Oliveira—-   Jacob.Oliveira@masenate.gov
House Chair Fiola—-   Carole.Fiola@mahouse.gov
Senate Vice Chair Kennedy—-   edward.kennedy@masenate.gov
House Vice Chair Sabadosa—-   lindsay.sabadosa@mahouse.gov

You should also cc Jo Comerford and Mindy Domb (if she is your Rep.) on any email you send.

Text:
I support the reasonable regulation of solar and the protection of our forests, agriculture and water systems. Please vote bills S1319 and H2082, Acts regarding municipal zoning powers  favorably out of committee . Municipalities need to be freed from the outdated “solar exemption” so they can reasonably regulate industrial solar. Recent 2023 reports confirm that the Commonwealth needs a vibrant ecosystem as part of its climate action. 

Thank you,
Name
City/Town
Email

Subsidies for Solar – Comment period open til 2/2/24

Mass. DOER (Dept. of Energy Resources) has opened a public comment period regarding the solar subsidy program, SMART and is requesting responses to questions on this document.

Because we know that most large-scale solar developments in forests, on agricultural land, or threatening the environment receive a SMART subsidy, our voices need to be heard if we hope to change the SMART regs . A large response rate might make them pay attention. If nothing else, our recommendations will be documented. 

Thank you to Michael DeChiara for offering these guidelines and attachments to help make this simpler for us to respond.  The following are attached.

  1. Selected questions and possible responses (talking points). Choose what makes sense to you. You can add other thoughts they don’t ask about for question #14.
  2. Michael’s responses, in case this is helpful
  3. Sections of the SMART regs that he thinks are most relevant to comment on
  4. Blank Word file with the questions that DOER’s consultants are asking 

The deadline for submitting written comments on the questions for the SMART review is Friday, February 2, 2024 by 5pm.

Instructions to submit:

Send your edited document via email to:   

Climate Oriented Forest Management Guidelines

The Healey-Driscoll Administration released the report of the Climate Forestry Committee on Jan. 4, 2024 — Recommendations for Climate Oriented Forest Management Guidelines — and related materials.

Here is the link: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/forests-as-climate-solutions#overview-

Here is their “invitation” to respond:

“We invite public comment on this report to inform the state’s implementation of the recommendations. To provide written comment on this report, please do so via the following form: share comments. Comments submitted by January 24th at 5pm will facilitate consideration. If you are limited by length or wish to share attachments, please send materials to guidelines@mass.gov.”

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