| ||L to R: E2 Directors Dave Miller,& Berl Hartman; Senator Ben Downing, Chair, Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy; E2 Directors Dianne Callan, Jay Baldwin and Don Reed|
On April 5, the Massachusetts State Senate passed S2214, An Act relative to competitively priced electricity in the Commonwealth that revises the state’s landmark energy law, the Green Communities Act. The Senate bill contains some major improvements, including provisions that will:
-Preserve a framework that has made Massachusetts #1 in the nation for energy efficiency policy
-Expand net metering opportunities, providing energy users with an incentive to install renewable generation and the ability to save on their energy costs
-Open net metering to anaerobic digestion, a renewable technology that reduces waste going to landfills, provides local economic development and reduces greenhouse gases;
-Extend and expand long term contracting for renewable energy, reducing financing costs to developers and thereby reducing costs to energy customers;
-Resolve property tax issues for wind and solar projects, facilitating residential, commercial and industrial deployment of a technology whose costs are coming down.
-Mandates for several important studies that could lead to future legislation such as:
-A thermal REC program similar to the RPS
-A Clean Energy Performance Standard and
-A study of using centralized procurement for renewables and transmission if the state fails to meet its RPS targets.
Broad-Based GCA Coalition is Working to Improve the Bill
Despite the fact that by virtually all measures, the Green Communities Act has been a tremendous success, strong forces were aligned to change some of its most basic elements. CEOs of the state’s largest employers plus the Attorney General felt that the bill was costing ratepayers too much and proposed changes that would have effectively gutted major parts of the bill and changed some of its most important provisions.
The threat to the GCA brought together an unprecedented group of 20+ diverse organizations and companies to form the GCA coalition, which includes E2, the New England Clean Energy Council, and a host of other groups representing business, labor, healthcare, low-income housing, and environmental groups.
E2 played an active role in helping to bring the message to key legislators that the Green Communities Act was working. Our message was “first do no harm” while still pushing for targeted improvements. Through numerous meetings, testifying at hearings, an e2 alert, emails and a meeting with the Governor himself, E2 and others made the case for improving the Green Communities Act.
What could have been a disaster has been turned into a victory – for the time being. But this is just Act 1. We will continue to work to move these positive provisions forward in the House and finally to the Governor’s desk.