energy

Sarah Tan / WCAI

With its rushing current and ever-changing tides, the Cape Cod Canal has become the country’s first test site for a new kind of renewable energy source. Researchers at the University of Rhode Island and the Marine Renewable Energy Collaborative hope that soon they'll be able to add tidal energy to the list of renewable energy sources, and the canal could be the place where companies test prototypes. 

A protest this weekend at the site of a proposed natural gas power generator on the Cape Cod Canal highlights the controversy surrounding the rise of natural gas. Some say it’s an improvement over other fossil fuels, and a necessary bridge to a more renewable energy system. Others say it’s still a fossil fuel, and we should be investing in solar instead.

Some of the bills under consideration in Mass. would encourage electric vehicle use.
Wikicommons/http://bit.ly/2vxO7cC

When the U.S. withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord in June, it marked a pause in federal action on clean energy. But individual states have already been taking the lead in this area for some time.

The Northeast Clean Energy Council (NECEC) has just put together a wrap-up of legislation that has come out of the 2017 sessions in the six New England States.

In Massachusetts, about 100 energy-related bills were filed in the last legislative session.  

Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Project is currently one of the largest energy storage systems in Massachusetts.
Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Project

Massachusetts is pushing hard on the renewable energy front, with more than 1600MW solar installed and a target of 1600MW offshore wind energy by 2020. Since sunshine and wind don’t always match consumer demand for electricity, the Commonwealth has set a goal of 200MWh of energy storage capacity by 2020, and is putting more than $10 million into energy storage research and demonstration projects.

Incorporating renewable energy and improving grid performance are some of the challenges before ARPA-E, a federal agency tasked with revolutionizing our energy system.
Kenueone https://goo.gl/Jo62kw / CC0 Public Domain

Eight years ago, ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy) was founded to be the DARPA of energy research – a place where the best and brightest could find funding for high risk, high reward ideas with the potential to revolutionize our energy system. President Trump has said this is a job for the private sector, and has proposed zeroing out the agency. Now, a new report from the National Academy of Sciences weighs in on whether ARPA-E is living up to expectations.

Since August, several thousand Native Americans have been camping in the path of a proposed oil pipeline in North Dakota. They are concerned that the Dakota Access pipeline will threaten their drinking water and their sacred sites. It is the single largest protest by Native Americans in more than 100 years. Earlier this month, President Obama temporarily halted construction on the pipeline for the section near the Standing Rock reservation, though the company is allowed to build other parts of the project. The protesters say they are staying put.

http://bluewave-capital.com

Lighting has changed a lot since 1850. New Bedford has been in the thick of things, every step of the way. It began with the moniker “the city that lit the world,” earned with its leading role in the whaling industry. Later, the Whaling City became a hub of electrical manufacturing. Today, New Bedford boasts more solar power per capita than any other city in the continental United States. Still, the city is struggling to move beyond the legacy of pollution and economic challenges left bygone industries.

John Miller, Executive Director of the Marine Renewable Energy Collaborative
MRECo

The non-profit Marine Renewable Energy Collaborative recently announced plans to build a tidal energy test site in Cape Cod Canal, the first of its kind in the United States. The hope is to catalyze the development of a new generation of smaller, more efficient tidal energy devices that could benefit coastal and island towns around the globe.

Eversource

Liquid natural gas provides roughly 59 percent of New England’s electricity. Demand for this resource, which is piped in from out of state, has grown in recent years, but construction of new pipelines hasn’t kept pace.

Rupa Shenoy

On a cold but sunny day last month, about a hundred people rallied in front of the Massachusetts State House, hoisting signs that read “Green the grid,” “Clean energy now” and “No future with fossil fuels.”

“We’re talking about our children’s future,” shouted Kelsey Wirth into a megaphone. Wirth is founder of the group Mothers Out Front, which has one goal:  “To ensure that Massachusetts is making the right energy choices for the sake of our children’s future,” she said, “and that means choosing clean and renewable energy every time there’s a choice to be made.”

Rob Benchley

Keeping an island 30 miles off the mainland supplied with fuel and electricity is hard enough, and on Nantucket, there’s also the need to account for the seasonal population that creates a short but significant surge in the demand for energy. It's a complex energy system that is constantly evolving with advances in technology and transportation.

Brian Morris/WCAI

There are a lot of upsides to plug-in electric vehicles, which is why state and federal officials are pushing hard to bring them into the mainstream. The technology promises to help reduce our reliance on imported petroleum products; the cars can be charged overnight or at times when the electric grid is less taxed; and they produce zero tailpipe emissions.

What's On This Electric Bill, Anyway?

Nov 20, 2014

Utility company officials don't usually make house calls. But NStar spokesperson Michael Durand agreed to sit down with an NStar customer and talk about her electric bill. So we introduced Durand to 72-year-old Barbara Meehan of Wareham.

UGArdener / flickr

Boothbay, Maine has a message for end-of-the-line towns around New England: you could make the whole grid stronger.

Steve Junker / WCAI

Here’s a question for you: how much electricity did you use last month? That’s not how much did you pay on your electric bill – but how much electric power did you use?

If you're serious about using less, a good place to start is to understand how much you already consume.

In Falmouth I sat at the kitchen table with Ben and Kellie Porter and their two young children, as Ben opened his laptop to examine the family electric bill.

“It was 600 last month, 700 in July," he said. "Middle of the winter it was down to 400.  So between 600 and 400. Then July - big month.”   

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