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12/17/2020

DEEP Issues Draft Integrated Resources Plan, Connecticut’s First Assessment of Pathways to Achieve 100% Carbon-Free Electric Grid

 

(HARTFORD, CT) – The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) today released the state’s draft Integrated Resources Plan (IRP), a statutorily required recurring assessment of the State’s future electric supply needs and potential means to meet those needs.

This latest IRP marks Connecticut’s first assessment of pathways to achieve a 100 percent zero-carbon electric supply by 2040, as directed by Governor Ned Lamont through his Executive Order No.3 (E.O. 3). Consistent with the Governor’s intent, this IRP focuses in the near term on areas of reform essential to facilitating the transition to a zero carbon electric sector; to ready the grid with modernized transmission systems, to reform the regional wholesale market, and to implement and synchronize policies and programs that promote affordability and equity.

“This plan confirms that a carbon-free electric supply is achievable by 2040 and will anchor Connecticut’s fight against climate change while emphasizing affordability and equity,” said DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes. “Continued focus on regional market reform, modernized transmission, and investment in efficiency, storage, and renewables – guided by robust and transparent stakeholder engagement – will be essential for continued progress towards a decarbonized electricity system that is equitable, affordable, and reliable.”

 Extensive modeling conducted in this IRP validates that the significant investments Connecticut has made over the years in robust clean energy and energy efficiency programs have put the state on a strong path to achieving this zero-carbon goal.  For example, through competitively bid long-term contracts, Connecticut ratepayers are currently supporting over 600,000 MWh/year of operating grid-scale, zero-emission renewables and more than 9 million MWh/year of zero-carbon nuclear resources, equivalent to nearly 65 percent of the electricity consumed by customers of the state’s two electric distribution utilities companies.  By 2025, that percentage is expected to increase to 91 percent, or 24.5 million MWh/year, as new offshore wind and grid-scale solar projects that have been contracted, but not yet constructed, will come online.

The draft IRP is available here.  A public comment period is now open and runs until February 15, 2021.  DEEP will be convening public meetings and hearings to receive public input on the draft IRP.  A notice of this release and the public hearing and comment period is available at this link.

The IRP assesses Connecticut’s current and future electricity supply with respect to six key objectives:

  • Decarbonizing the Electricity Sector
  • Securing the Benefits of Competition & Minimizing Ratepayer Risk
  • Ensuring Energy Affordability and Equity for all Ratepayers
  • Optimal Siting of Generation Resources
  • Transmission Upgrades & Integration of Variable and Distributed Energy Resources
  • Balancing Decarbonization and Other Public Policy Goals

The IRP establishes several priority actions over the next two years, that include:

  • Codify the 100% Zero Carbon Target
  • Pursue regional wholesale market reform and improvements to the transparency and governance of ISO-New England
  • Work with other states to upgrade the transmission system to unlock the potential for additional renewable resources, particularly offshore wind
  • Monitor contingencies to determine whether new procurements of grid-scale renewables are needed prior to 2023
  • Explore retaining Renewable Energy Credits purchased through procurements and public policy programs as a more cost-effective way of meeting the 100% Zero Carbon Target and align Connecticut’s greenhouse gas accounting practices with the Strategies in this IRP
  • Engage in stakeholder processes to develop best siting practices for renewables for incorporation in future procurements, and make permitting requirements more transparent, predictable and efficient
  • Invest in equitable energy efficiency and active demand response
  • Support historic deployment levels for distributed generation resources, with a focus on low-income customers in the residential and shared clean energy successor tariffs
  • Engage in coordinated planning for workforce and economic development.

By law, DEEP is charged to design this plan “in a manner that minimizes the cost of all energy resources to customers over time and maximizes consumer benefits consistent with the state’s environmental goals and standards, including, but not limited to, the state’s greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals.” The plan is “integrated” in that it looks at both demand side (energy efficiency, demand response, etc.) resources as well as the more traditional supply side (generation/power plants, transmission lines, etc.) resources in making its recommendations on how best to meet future electric energy needs in the state. 

Already, Connecticut is making progress in pursuing reform of the wholesale markets, in collaboration with the other New England States.  In furtherance of a statement issued by Governor Lamont and four other Governors, and a NESCOE Vision Statement, calling for regional market reforms, DEEP will be co-convening with the other New England states several technical sessions to engage with stakeholders on wholesale market reform, transmission planning, and ISO-NE governance reform.  These sessions will be held online in January and February 2021 and will be open to the public.  For more information about these technical meetings, visit NewEnglandEnergyVision.com

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