The New England states are considering whether to expand large hydropower imports into New England with the New England States Committee on Electricity (NESCOE) anticipating submitting a report on possible options to New England’s governors by the end of the year.

According to NESCOE, land-based and offshore wind resources will be largely responsible for meeting the region’s renewable energy goals and transmission upgrades will be needed to make larger quantities of wind energy deliverable in the years ahead.

Transmission lines to bring large hydropower into New England should be planned to allow wind power to tap into those lines to bring clean energy from remote regions to population centers. This will allow for the most economic use of the lines as wind and hydropower can complement each other to achieve a higher utilization rate on the transmission lines

“Renewable energy like wind and solar can work together with hydropower and, if done in a smart way, that combination can help move the New England States towards a clean energy future,” said Francis Pullaro, Executive Director of Renewable Energy New England, Inc., (RENEW).  Large-scale hydropower may play a role in making long distance transmission upgrades more economic allowing additional wind energy to be brought online. Wind and hydropower can work together to keep consumer electric rates down, reduce pollution, and improve electric reliability by diversifying our energy mix.

RENEW encourages the states to consider that hydropower contracts should reduce emissions beyond what would otherwise happen in a business as usual case.  “To count towards climate change goals, it is essential that any hydropower contract actually reduce emissions and not simply shift emissions around the region.  This could happen if states are simply importing hydroelectricity that would have otherwise served Canadian load or the load of another U.S. state.  States should ensure that their hydro contracts have strong safeguards to measure and verify legitimate, new emissions reductions,” said Pullaro.

RENEW welcomes the opportunity to work with the states to find ways to lower the cost of new transmission, possibly using large-scale hydropower, to support increasing the amount of variable renewable resources like wind energy and/or provide cleaner and more reliable balancing power.

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