Senate Passes an Act to Promote a Clean Energy Future
The Massachusetts Senate unanimously voted to pass S.2545, An Act to promote a clean energy future. This legislation represents a firm stand by the Senate to ensure a healthier, cleaner Commonwealth for future generations of Massachusetts residents. Most importantly, the policies enacted in this legislation will have measurable benefits in the health of the global environment.
This legislation is a forward-looking plan that prepares Massachusetts for the inevitable obstacles that will come with climate change. The policies and programs will protect public health, increase the use of renewable energy, reduce greenhouse emissions, implement a price on carbon, and create jobs in the innovative green-energy economy.
“With the unanimous passage of the clean energy bill, the Massachusetts State Senate has taken a major step forward in the effort to fight climate change and accelerate our shift away from fossil fuels,” said Senator Jason Lewis. “The imminent threat of climate change demands urgency from our leaders and policymakers, and I’m proud that my colleagues stepped up to the challenge and took bold action to protect the environment, promote the Massachusetts green economy, and empower our communities.”
The legislation raises renewable portfolio standards, lifts the cap on solar net metering, authorizes additional hydropower and offshore wind procurement, establishes market-based greenhouse-gas emission limits, and implements statewide energy storage goals.
Senator Lewis also sponsored a successfully adopted amendment which requires the Energy Facilities Siting Board, the state review body for utilities projects, to consider local public health as a potential impact when major energy infrastructure projects are proposed. This means that the EFSB must weigh not only cost of these projects, but also the health of neighborhoods and communities for projects like the proposed Eversource transmission line in our district. Senator Lewis has been actively involved in addressing neighborhood and community concerns regarding this project.
Specific policy changes include:
- Increasing the percentage of Class I renewable energy that must be purchased by retail electric suppliers under the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard from an additional 1% annually to an additional 3% annually.
- The legislation requires the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs to establish market-based compliance mechanisms to maximize the ability of the Commonwealth to achieve its greenhouse gas emission limits for: (i) the transportation sector not later than December 31, 2020; (ii) the commercial and industrial building sectors not later than December 31, 2021; and (iii) the residential building sector not later than December 31, 2022.
- Requiring the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs to adopt statewide greenhouse gas emissions limits for the years 2030 (35% and 45% below the 1990 emissions level) and 2040 (55% and 65% below the 1990 emissions level), and a plan to achieve those reductions.
- Requiring the 2030 emission limit to be adopted no later than 2021 and the 2040 emissions limit to be adopted not later than 2031.
- Requiring the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs to issue a plan to achieve the 2050 emissions limit.
- Requiring the Department of Energy Resources to establish an energy storage system target program to achieve a statewide energy storage deployment target of 2,000 mega-watts by January 1, 2025.
- Removing the net metering cap for non-governmental solar net metering facilities.
- Eliminating the current sunset date of December 31, 2020 for the regulations promulgated under the Global Warming Solutions Act.
- Creating a joint procurement taskforce consisting of the Department of Energy Resources, the Attorney General and representatives of the distribution companies, to conduct a review of the clean energy procurements.
- Allowing the Department of Energy Resources to recommend solicitations and procurements for more than 9,450,000 megawatts-hours of clean energy generation, and to recommend offshore wind energy generation solicitations and procurements of up to 5,000 megawatts of aggregate nameplate capacity by December 31, 2035.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.