Twin States Clean Energy Link selected as part of Biden-Harris Transmission Facilitation Program

WALTHAM, MA – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced Twin States Clean Energy Link, National Grid’s proposed transmission project to support New England’s climate, clean energy, and energy security goals, has been selected as one of three projects nationwide to receive investment through the U.S. Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Transmission Facilitation Program. The project has received unprecedented support from community members and key stakeholders across New Hampshire, Vermont, and across New England.

“This is an important step forward for Twin States as we work to make the project a reality for the region,” said Stephen Woerner, New England President, National Grid. “DOE has recognized the significant economic and environmental benefits of this project to New England communities, residents and businesses and we’re grateful for this recognition from our federal partners. This project would be a win for the New England region, and we thank our stakeholders and the many route communities for their strong support. We look forward to working with DOE on the next steps in the TFP process and continuing our deep engagement with the communities and our regional partners to bring this project to fruition.”

“To realize the full benefit of the nation’s goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035, we need to more than double our grid capacity and President Biden’s Investing in America agenda puts us in position to do just that,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “This historic effort to strengthen the nation’s transmission will drive down costs for American families and deliver thousands of good paying jobs for American workers—helping communities keep the lights on in the face of climate change-induced extreme weather events.”

Through DOE’s Transmission Facilitation Program, a $2.5 billion revolving fund to help overcome the financial hurdles associated with upgrading and building new, large-scale transmission lines, DOE is entering into capacity contract negotiations with three interregional transmission line projects that will strengthen grid resilience and reliability and enable the addition of more clean energy resources to the grid. Through capacity contracts, DOE will commit to purchasing a percentage of the total proposed capacity of the eligible transmission line. By offering capacity contracts, DOE increases the confidence of additional investors, encourages additional customers to purchase transmission line capacity, and reduces the overall risk for project developers. Therefore, Twin States remains subject to finalizing contractual arrangements and investment plans. National Grid will continue to engage with DOE in the coming months on various aspects of the project to identify the best path forward through the Transmission Facilitation Program and secure maximum benefits to our communities and the region.

Twin States will deliver clean energy from Canada, including hydropower, to New England to support the region’s carbon reduction goals and increase the supply of affordable clean energy. As a bi-directional line, Twin States will enable clean energy producers in New England, such as offshore wind, to export excess capacity to Quebec during times of lower domestic demand, providing a critical boost to the region’s clean energy economy.

The project is projected to lower costs for customers across New England, creating more than $8.3 billion in wholesale energy market cost savings over the first twelve years of operation alone, according to an independent market assessment based on current project estimates. The proposal is unique in that it utilizes roadway burial and existing transmission corridors in Vermont and New Hampshire to deliver 1,200 MW of clean energy directly to where it’s needed most, while unlocking new renewable development potential in the region.

Twin States is projected to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new property tax revenues to host state cities and towns through which the line passes. It is also projected to contribute millions more in lease payments to Vermont and New Hampshire for underground burial of the lines along state roadways.

In addition, as part of the consideration for the project, National Grid and Citizens Energy Corporation are assembling an innovative $260 million community benefits program, of which at least 40% will be dedicated to disadvantaged communities throughout New England. The project is expected to create 1,200 well-paying jobs during construction. The reduction of electricity bills for customers and businesses across New England is expected to create significant economic growth, generating an estimated average of 3,700 jobs per year across the region.

“We are excited to partner with National Grid on the Twin States Clean Energy Link to help build a greener and more resilient grid,” said Citizens Energy President Joseph P. Kennedy III. “By linking renewable energy generation to population centers while providing benefits to host communities, we are innovating the model for building much-needed transmission projects. We appreciate the commitment of President Biden to building out the clean energy grid of the 21st century through supporting projects like Twin States.”

National Grid is working closely with communities and local economic development partners to understand how the project’s benefits program can best support local needs. As part of this process, National Grid has held dozens of public presentations, open houses in route communities in both states and other listening sessions to understand how Twin States can maximize its benefits for the region, beyond creating jobs, lowering energy costs, and combatting climate change through reducing our dependence on natural gas to generate electricity. Visit the Twin States website to learn more: Twin States Clean Energy Link | For a Greener New England Grid.

Support for Twin States Clean Energy Link

Mashpee’s Wampanoags are Saving Sustainably

Mashpee’s Wampanoags are Saving Sustainably

By: Peter C. Roby

At the Mashpee Wampanoag headquarters this week, tribal elders considered ways to go solar while saving money and combating climate change. Tuesday’s lunch-and-learn meal disseminated information about saving on electric bills with the JOE-4-SUN community solar offering by Citizens Energy, as well as rooftop solar options through Boundless Energy.

Shakira Askew, the coordinator of federal fuel assistance efforts for the Wampanoag, said many tribal members have already subscribed to JOE-4-SUN, which also visited in March. She brought Citizens Energy back to give seniors another opportunity to learn about the community solar program alongside rooftop solar options.

“The JOE-4-SUN program has been excellent and all I’ve heard is great things,” said Askew, “So many tribal members have saved money.”

Renewable energy offerings were one example of the curated resources that the sovereign tribe shares with its citizens at these twice-weekly gatherings. Seated around folding tables, elders leaned into their discussions when school-aged youth played irreverently in the other half of the gymnasium.

“It’s really wide-ranging, pretty much all of the things that elders would need,” explained Askew after listing off the range of basic assistance, public health and cost-saving services offered at Tuesday-Thursday lunch-and-learn meals.

Emerging from the kitchen, where she helped prepare 92 meals for elders to eat on-site and at home, Sonya Avant said she signed up for JOE-4-SUN months ago to rein in rising energy costs.

“I was on a budget, but I would miss,” said Avant, a Wampanoag member. “My electric bill—I couldn’t afford to pay it.” She continued, “I got a lot of help from JOE-4-SUN.”

As a low-income community solar initiative, JOE-4-SUN generates electricity from utility-scale, ground-mounted solar arrays around the state and sends the power to the electric grid. Generally, JOE-4-SUN subscribers receive discounts on their electric bill, saving an average of $300 a year. But members of the federally recognized Aquinnah and Mashpee bands of the Wampanoag Tribe receive additional discounts thanks to Citizens Energy’s partnership with Vineyard Wind. The offshore wind developer is now building the largest sea-based wind farm in the United States off the coast of Massachusetts.

“For the Wampanoag, JOE-4-SUN is a straightforward savings program with no strings attached—no fees, no new utility, no change in rates, no installations,” said Citizens Energy’s Tess McKenna. Citing strong interest at the lunch in Mashpee, she said 15 people signed up. “If you aren’t sure if you qualify, call us up and our customer service team will help you find out. It only takes ten minutes to apply and you’ll save at least $600.”

Another attendee, Pauline Peters has been subscribed to JOE-4-SUN for months. She attends both weekly lunch-and-learn events before joining Wôpanâak language classes in the afternoon.

“I was telling everybody that I signed up when they were here before,” she said. As a proponent of renewable energy, Peters, a retired pediatric nurse, also has solar panels on her roof. When “you get to be older,” she said, “you need all the help you can get.”

Sherry Peters, no relation, finished applying to the community solar program by submitting a copy of her utility bill. She also quizzed the Boundless Energy team on the specifics of their offering and left satisfied that both options could tame rising electric costs. “There’s just so much that you get from Social Security,” she said, “There’s just so much you get from pensions.”

At 26, Dyani Barbosa shared Peters’ apprehension for rising costs of living in and around Mashpee. But, she praised cost-savers like JOE-4-SUN with counteracting those trends. With “just prices of everything and inflation,” she said, “it’s just helped a lot with our finances.”

“I love my home and I don’t plan on leaving,” Barbosa continued. But “trying to find places to rent around the Cape—it’s ridiculous,” she said.

Barbosa sympathized with tribal households raising children, saying community solar credits from JOE-4-SUN meant “less costs to worry about, less stress off your back too, especially if you have a big family and a lot going on in your household.”

Alongside the community solar offering, tribal citizens were presented with rooftop solar options. Browning Medina, the Massachusetts Energy Specialist for Boundless Energy, said his company was helping homeowners to assess and finance rooftop solar panels. He recounted conversations with tribal members about how to “cut down on the emissions that we are causing to this land” by harnessing “more energy that The Creator has provided for the Wampanoag tribe.”

Medina was confident in his ability to provide residents savings with no upfront cost. “I, normally, can save homeowners 25 to 50 percent on their energy bill,” he said. Attending their first lunch-and-learn, his company collected tribal members’ contact information to follow up in the future.

Like those before, this lunch-and-learn offered seniors an invaluable sense of connection to community.

“We are all related,” said Wampanoag member Nancy Rose, likening the tribe’s regular meals to a family dinner. “It’s a lot of laughter, a lot of fun.” Rose credited the tribe’s skillful cooks for the meal-series’ turnout.

Citizens Energy is a Boston-based nonprofit founded in 1979 by former Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II to make life’s basic needs more affordable. It’s distributed over $600 million in charitable benefits over the last four decades. Citizens Energy uses profits from successful energy ventures to benefit the poor.

Special Envoy Joe Kennedy and Diplomats Reflect on 25 Years Since Good Friday Agreement

Source: The Harvard Crimson

United States Special Envoy to Northern Ireland Joe Kennedy III spoke at a gathering Tuesday morning celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement and its lasting impact on peace in Northern Ireland.

The celebration — held at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate — brought together officials from the U.S., U.K., and Ireland to discuss the landmark peace deal, which ended three decades of violence in Northern Ireland between the region’s Catholic Nationalists and Protestant Unionists through the creation of a power-sharing agreement.

Tuesday’s event was co-hosted by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; the Consulate General of Ireland, Boston; the British Consulate General, Boston; and the Northern Ireland Bureau with support from the U.K. government.

The Good Friday Agreement ultimately acknowledged Northern Ireland as a member of the United Kingdom, a recognition that could only be reversed by referendum, ending the brutal sectarian conflict known as “The Troubles.”

“What do the next 25 years hold?” Kennedy asked in his keynote address.

“Children will grow up to unite behind a vision of building one of Europe’s most dynamic energetic economies across a sectarian class and political divisions that pull together and are not drawn apart,” he said to attendees.

The program also featured remarks from George J. Mitchell, the former U.S. Senate Majority Leader; U.S. Representative Richard E. Neal; Lord Johnathan M. Caine, the U.K.’s Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland; and Darragh O’Brien, a member of Ireland’s Cabinet.

“I remember as someone who was not involved in politics in 1998 that morning of the agreement as if it was yesterday,” O’Brien said. “That led that forward for me — as someone who was always interested in politics — was to actually get involved in politics.”

Caine was pressed by Meghan L. O’Sullivan — the director of the Belfer Center who moderated the panel — on the potential role the U.K. would play if Northern Ireland opted to form a United Ireland.

“It’s entirely a matter for the people of Northern Ireland to decide,” Caine said.

“The current U.K. government’s view is that we believe the best future for Northern Ireland is as a part of a strong United Kingdom, but I fully accept other people will have a different view,” he added.

Mitchell, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton as the inaugural U.S. Special Envoy to Northern Ireland, was an active player in the negotiations towards the peace agreement in 1998.

“On the very first day of the negotiations, I said to the delegate that I did not come with an American peace plan,” Mitchell said. “If there is ever to be an agreement, it must be your agreement, and it was. The agreement was written and agreed by the elected representative of Northern Ireland.”

During Kennedy’s keynote address, he reflected on his Irish heritage and great-great grandparents, who arrived at the wharfs of Boston in 1848, after fleeing famine on a “coffin ship” for a better life in America.

“The young couple represented Ireland’s most precious resource and its most valuable export: its people,” Kennedy said.

“It’s a story of a family, a community pulling together rather than being drawn apart,” he added. “For no political, economic, or social advancement was possible for penniless immigrants without communities coming together to forge powerful coalitions that demanded change.”

While Northern Ireland has still experienced sporadic violence, as recently as this spring, Kennedy urged the room of assembled representatives to continue to heal and build upon the work started 25 years ago.

“There is no progress to be made by ignoring our past or living numb to its present,” Kennedy said.

“From Belfast to Boston, we can help build a society where the troubles of the past give the way to triumphs for tomorrow, where children can read about their history without reliving it,” he added.

Kennedy, who was appointed to his current post by President Joe Biden nine months ago, jokingly alluded to his unsuccessful 2020 Senate bid at the beginning of his remarks.

“I just have to say personally, there is no place I’d rather be than with all of you at the floor of the United States Senate,” said Kennedy, who lost in the primary to Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) in 2020.

“One way or another we got there,” he added during the audience’s applause.