Thought Leadership

Mapping the Road to Decarbonization in Northeast Energy Markets


By Center for Sustainable Energy

November 20, 2019

CSE leaders joined in discussions about reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transforming energy markets in the Northeast at the Renewable Energy Vermont (REV) 2019 conference in October. The largest renewable energy conference in Northern New England, REV focused this year’s agenda on achieving 100% renewable energy, highlighting equitable and affordable energy solutions.

Evaluating Electric Vehicle (EV) Rebate Efficacy

Senior Principal Advisor for Transportation Brett Williams spoke about the design, outcomes, and impacts of electric vehicle incentive programs in California, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York – four of the statewide programs administered by CSE. For example, he presented program data characterizing vehicle replacement rates, emissions reductions, consumer demographics, and the influence of rebates on adoption across those four states.

Among other findings, Williams reported that rebates have a significant influence on new car shoppers who purchase or lease an electric vehicle, with roughly 90% reporting their incentive was moderately to extremely important to making their acquisition possible, and around 50% saying it was essential. Similarly, rebate recipients place great value on the importance of federal tax credits for electric cars, with more than 50% indicating the credit was extremely important.

Strategies for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Karen Glitman, Director of Transportation and Infrastructure Markets, spoke about cap and invest systems to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. These market- based systems are in place in California, Quebec, and in state’s covered by the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). These three systems served as case studies and reveal the value of establishing economy- wide systems which California and Quebec operate compared to covering only the electric power generation system which RGGI covers. In Vermont electric power generation is responsible for 10% of GHG emissions, with r transportation and heating/cooling sectors producing 70% of the state’s GHG emissions. She compared the results of more comprehensive cap-and-invest systems in California and Quebec to the potential impacts within Vermont. Glitman said estimates reveal that by 2030, $147 million of revenue could be generated in Vermont through expanded cap-and-invest programs. These funds could be put to use in supporting program that would reduce Vermonters energy costs, increase economic development and improve public health.

Driving Energy Transformation

CSE’s leadership and experience in decarbonization-related programs is valuable and replicable for various opportunities in the Northeast. CSE Northeast Director John Livermore explains, “Our partnerships with business leaders, system operators, architects, builders, manufacturers, engineers, scientists and policymakers position us to leverage results from one state program to the next. CSE empowers energy transformation by using research and experience to assist states with meeting ambitious energy efficiency goals.”