Government has always played an indispensable role fostering the growth of renewable energy resources. Just as one city or state can have tremendous impact, the effect of that involvement is magnified when multiple agencies share a common vision.

In New England, three states have taken a collective approach to energy planning and are seeking renewable projects with a regional service area. Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts are working with utilities to receive solicitations for clean energy projects that would service all three states.

Their goal is to leverage their collective purchasing power to attract clean energy projects that will offer customers the lowest possible rates. The results of that collective bidding process have been dramatic.

Recently, regulators announced they had received more than 50 solicitations, and "given the complexity of the analysis and the volume of bids," they need more time to make a thorough evaluation. Regulatory approvals are expected later in the year. Projects include solar, wind, hydropower and fuel cell power generators.

This multistate commitment dates back several years. New England Governors issued their first joint statement on regional energy issues in December 2013. In April 2015, they re-affirmed that commitment.

“We plan to continue to work to seek out economically beneficial infrastructure solutions to New England’s power system challenges,” according to a statement in April 2015. “We are committed to working as a region to advance New England’s shared economic, energy, and environmental goals.”

The need for this shared planning vision was underscored by the New England ISO, the region’s power system operator. The agency explained, also in 2015, that New England is challenged by a lack of natural gas pipeline infrastructure and is losing non-gas power plants. Both of these factors threaten power system reliability, leading to greater use of costly and polluting fuel oil.