Acadia Center

Developing a clean energy economy that offers real world solutions to the climate crisis.

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About Acadia Center

The Acadia Center (previously Environment Northeast) has been fighting climate change since its incorporation in 1998. A powerful player in the research & advocacy arenas, the Acadia Center’s work helps to improve America’s energy and transportation usage while reducing carbon emissions and mitigating climate change. While most of their work focuses on the northeastern states, the research, advocacy, and policy they’ve helped shape have been used as guidelines for similar policies nationwide. The Acadia Center has become a go-to information source for publications such as The New York Times, Bloomberg, NPR, and more.

Why We Chose to Feature This Organization

Acadia Center is an intelligent institution staffed with economists, lawyers, and scientists. They have produced a plethora of original research regarding clean energy and its role in mitigating climate change.

When we first began researching Acadia Center, we were overwhelmed by the breadth of information included in their various reports. However, once we started reading, we felt optimistic about the road ahead. They have the power to take complex data and make it easier to understand, without being so watered down that it felt like we were reading “Clean Energy for Dummies.”

Climate change isn’t an easy topic to discuss, let alone to solve. It is a very complex problem that requires collaboration between vastly different sects of society: scientists with specialized doctorate degrees, elected politicians who decide our laws and policies, economists who forecast the future, and even religious leaders such as the Pope, who decide what is morally and ethically sound. Acadia Center helps our cause by bridging the knowledge gap between climate scientists, economists, and policymakers. They know what steps need to be taken to reduce emissions and curb climate change, and they scream it loud and clear via their reports and advocacy efforts.


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The Acadia Center works with governments, businesses, and consumers to push for policies that would help to mitigate climate change. They believe that realizing the impact of advocacy takes time, and therefore participate in not only the creation of policies and procedures, but also in regulatory proceedings, reviewing official budgets, plans, and rates, and sitting on stakeholder councils and numerous relevant committees. Below are a few important initiatives that the Acadia Center has advocated on behalf of:

Carbon Pricing:

The Acadia Center developed a “Fund for Green Infrastructure” proposal which suggested that carbon pricing revenue should be reinvested into public transportation, adaptation, and clean energy. They wrote about the importance of a carbon tax in SouthCoastToday  magazine.

Energy Procurement and Natural Gas Pipeline Subsidies:

In order to change the status quo and continue to lower our emissions, renewable energy options must be considered before we construct new ways to utilize fossil fuels. When the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) requested new pipeline expansion projects as the only means for providing an increase in energy to consumers, the Acadia Center fought back. Together with five clean energy providers, they submitted a case to DPU arguing that clean energy alternatives must be considered before electric providers could develop new pipelines.

Electric Vehicles

The Acadia Center has advocated on behalf of numerous electric vehicle policy proposals, including H.B. 6030, An Act Concerning Zero-Emission Vehicles in Connecticut and H.B. 6031, An Act Concerning Electric Vehicles. They begin their testimony with statistics: in order to meet the necessary 80% reduction in emissions in the electric generating sector by 2050, a widespread adoption of electric vehicles is crucial. In order to do this, barriers to electric vehicle adoption must be removed through both financial and non-financial incentives for customers, including rebates and/or sales tax exemptions, reduced electric rates at night (non-peak) for EV charging at home, property tax exemptions, and preferential parking and access to car share lanes.  Consumer-friendly policies required include expanding “EV capable” sections in parking garages, implementing nation-wide standards for charging stations, providing “open access” stations (no membership-only charging stations, ability to pay easily, creating a public database of available charging stations, etc.), and enforcing EV only parking spots.

However, in order to have a sizable impact on the adoption of EV vehicles, policies must be implemented at the state level. Such necessary policies include creating or continuing EV task forces, creating utility policies that benefit EV usage, building up charging infrastructure, raising awareness of the benefits of EV usage, and leading by example using electric vehicles in government vehicle fleets.

One of the Acadia Center’s most important activities is producing quality research. Performed in-house, their research and analysis have impacted state, federal, and private sector environmental policies and have influenced consumer behavior. They have researched topics such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and carbon pricing, renewable energy, and the negative aspects of natural gas pipeline construction.

Carbon Pricing

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI):
Launched in 2009, RGGI was the first North American market-based approach to cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the electric sector via a cap and trade system. The RGGI includes nine participating states: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.


  1. Electricity providers who use fossil fuels to generate their plants are required to buy pollution permits from an ever-decreasing supply.
  2. One permit is required for each ton of carbon dioxide emitted.
  3. Revenue collected from the purchases of these permits is re-invested into renewable energy, energy efficiency, and/or consumer programs that benefit consumers, such as installing solar panels on community college campuses.


Since its launch in 2008, participating states have seen a 40% reduction in carbon dioxide and other pollutant emissions from power plants vs. a 25% reduction seen in non-participating states. Proving that cutting emissions and economic growth can go hand-in-hand, RGGI economies grew 4.3% more than non-participating state economies. They have also seen a 6.4% reduction in electricity prices, while non-participating states have seen an increase of 6.2% (RGGI – Outpacing the Nation).

The Acadia Center has published numerous reports & analysis on the RGGI. One important work of note is The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative: A Model for the Power Sector. This report was published parallel to the EPA’s Clean Power Plan and argued that adhering to the RGGI would be an effective strategy for complying with the new plan’s regulations. Further proof of the RGGI’s success can be found in the RGGI A Successful Carbon Pricing Program report.

Clean Energy and the Negative Consequences of Natural Gas Pipelines

In their report The Missing Energy Crisis, originally published in CommonWealth Magazine, the Acadia Center argues that New England is at a crucial crossroad in their energy sector, where the decision between increasing natural gas or adhering to carbon emission reduction goals must be decided. The Polar Vortex in 2013/2014 led to a stark increase in demand for energy and a corresponding increase in natural gas prices. Expecting the next winter to have equally high prices, requests were made for new natural gas pipelines to be built in order to increase access to natural gas and thus lower prices. Instead, the winter of 2014/2015 saw a decrease in natural gas prices, thanks to incremental reforms in the region’s power market that allowed for better use of existing resources, energy efficiency improvements, and investments in clean energy. Despite the lowered costs, new pipeline construction was still being considered.

New England is seeing increased competition from renewable energy providers, and new technologies such as energy storage and smart energy management systems are giving consumers the opportunity to optimize their energy performance. This helps lessen the need for investing in increased natural gas infrastructure that would rarely be used except in the case of extreme demand peaks. Investments in upgrading the infrastructure and improving energy efficiency would be beneficial, installing two new pipelines would not. The installation of the proposed pipelines would be expensive (8B), and the possibility of meeting carbon emission reduction goals would be obsolete, as the new pipelines would lead to a 78% increase in natural gas capacity. As it stands, 2013 levels of natural gas usage for heating, power, and industry already use up the entire “budget” for greenhouse gas emissions, leaving no room for emissions from the transport sector. With the pipeline expansions and large increase in natural gas capacity, by 2039 emissions would be 103% more than allotted. In order to reach the 80% emissions reduction goal, we need to replace fossil fuel usage with solar, wind, and other renewable technologies.

Modernizing our Energy Grids and Systems

Consumer trends show that renewables are gaining popularity: In 2013, the world added more capacity for renewable power than they did for coal, natural gas, and oil combined. Unfortunately, regulations are not up to speed, and still benefit fossil fuel burning power plants and electric grids built in the late 1800s. The Acadia Center has outlined how we can build and upgrade our energy system so that it that supports the economy and environment in their report Utility Vision.

While admittedly ambitious, UtilityVision provides a framework for modernizing the current power grids. The main components of the plan are: Merging traditional engineering and infrastructure solutions with customer-side energy technologies, establishing fair rates & revenue structures for consumers, increasing the role of regulators in grid planning, and aligning utility incentives with consumer and environment goals. This plan brings together utility business models, ratemaking, and customer-side energy resources, allowing for a modernization in the way we plan, manage and invest in the power grid.

EnergyVision provides a framework for achieving more efficient energy use while accelerating economic development, cleaning the air, and giving consumers greater control over energy costs while providing deep reductions in greenhouse emissions. These can be achieved through the following components: utilizing market-ready technologies to electrify buildings and cars, modernizing electric power grids, increasing investments into renewable power, and maximizing investments in energy efficiency.


Acadia Center

Daniel Sosland

President & Founder

Experience and Education
  • Attorney at Conservation Law Foundation
  • Juris Doctor degree from Cornell University
  • Bachelor of Arts in History and Literature from Brown University

Acadia Center

Jamie Howland

Director of Climate and Energy Analysis Center

Experience and Education
  • Design Engineer, and Consultant for Hewlett Packard
  • B.S. in Engineering & MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • M.S. in Environmental Management and Engineering from Yale

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