A new study commissioned by the American Clean Power Association (ACP) has found that additional renewable capacity will lower energy market prices and provide significant cost savings for consumers in New England states. Conducted by Daymark Energy Advisors, the study analyzed the market and environmental benefits of 1,200 megawatts (MW) of incremental land-based renewable capacity for the New England region.
The new study focused on clean energy resources sited in northern Maine, which is the location of most proposed large-scale, land-based renewable projects in the region. Although the modeled projects are located in Maine, the ISO New England (ISO-NE) market is operated and dispatched as an integrated system, and as a result, the wholesale price reduction benefits will accrue across the region.
“This study quantifies the customer savings and environmental benefits of using more clean energy in the Northeast region,” said Moira Cyphers, Director of Eastern State Affairs for ACP. “This is a win-win. Clean energy provides significant cost savings for customers, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and will bring good jobs to Northern Maine – promoting a healthier and more prosperous future for all.”
The report detailed significant market benefits for consumers in Maine as well as in neighboring states. The analysis studied two cases: a “Wind Only” case with 1,200 MW of land-based wind, and a “Wind+Solar” case with 900 MW of land-based wind and 300 MW of new solar. The report utilized this methodology to assess the various benefits of northern Maine renewable energy and transmission development to Maine and Massachusetts ratepayers as well as the ISO-NE region.
As a large source of low-cost, non-emitting energy, the report found that the addition of the renewable projects will reduce the need for the ISO-NE to dispatch inefficient and expensive fuel-fired resources, lowering wholesale energy market prices and providing significant energy cost savings for consumers in New England states.
Long-term contracts for clean energy will protect Maine from the kind of price volatility that has led to recent price spikes in the cost of energy, according to the report. The analysis projected savings of $35 million per year in the “Wind Only” scenario and $25 million per year in the “Wind+Solar” scenario.
Even though the specific resources studied in this analysis are located in northern Maine, the benefits accrue throughout the region. Massachusetts is poised to be the largest beneficiary of these developments: the report projected $129 million per year in the “Wind Only” scenario and $99 million in the “Wind+Solar” scenario.
Overall, the analysis quantified the region’s total savings at $277 million per year in the “Wind Only” scenario and $210 million per year for the “Wind+Solar” scenario.
In addition to lowering costs of energy supply, the report found that addition of clean energy capacity reduces the total regional emissions from the power supply sector, providing significant environmental benefits delivered by the incremental renewable resources. The report projected that the addition of the 1,200 MW of new renewable capacity will result in a reduction of 1.9 million metric tons of carbon emissions every year in the “Wind Only” scenario, and 1.7 million metric tons of carbon emissions reduced in the “Wind+Solar” scenario.
As New England states pursue economy-wide electrification and decarbonization, the report underscores the role northern Maine is playing as a catalyst for progress towards achieving state policy goals, realizing renewable-driven economic growth, and laying the foundation for a clean energy future. Regional integration opportunities demonstrate the potential the Northeast has to unlock both near-term and long-term benefits for consumers.