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DEEP Issues Final 2020 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 final 2020 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 commits to achieving the zero carbon electric sector goal and demonstrates that it is achievable through multiple pathways that maintain a reliable electric system. 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 be necessary in 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 zero carbon 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.”

To begin implementation of this IRP, DEEP today took the following actions:  

DEEP is also pursuing the following actions towards implementation of IRP recommendations:

  • Ongoing Sustainable, Transparent and Efficient Practices (STEPS) for Solar Development stakeholder process to identify best siting and permitting practices for renewables in Connecticut 
  • Continued push to eliminate, or substantially reform, regional market rules to ensure that resources supported by Connecticut ratepayers are no longer precluded from participating in regional markets 
  • Continued engagement with other New England states and ISO-NE to help develop the transmission planning process called for in the Vision Statement and agreed to by ISO-NE and improve Connecticut’s energy affordability gap 
  • Continued engagement on all energy policy programs to expand access and remove barriers for underserved and overburdened customers to participate in energy programs, including the Equitable Energy Efficiency Proceeding of the Conservation and Load Management plan, which sets goals to characterize the current state of the energy efficiency program and address known equity challenges and barriers

Extensive modeling conducted in this IRP validates that the significant investments Connecticut has made over the years in robust zero carbon 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 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:

  • Establish the 100% Zero Carbon Target as the policy for the State
  • 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 Certificates 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
  • Support the deployment of energy storage systems to support the reliable integration of variable clean energy and avoid fossil peaking generation
  • Phase down the value of biomass Renewable Energy Certificates eligible as a Class I renewable to diversify the State’s Renewable Portfolio Standard

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. 

Go here to view the 2020 IRP.

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