Massachusetts is at a pivotal moment in building a long-term secure energy system that is efficient, low-cost, and low-carbon. Experts estimate that New England will need to replace about 6,300 MW of capacity by 2020, an amount equal to about 20% of current capacity. Moreover, electricity rates are skyrocketing because of our over dependence on natural gas. In 2013, Massachusetts used natural gas to generate 63% of its electricity and supply 52% of its heating needs. This over dependence on a single source of energy, especially one known for its severe price volatility, places the state’s ratepayers in a high-risk position.
Some propose to solve this problem by building new gas pipelines. However, initial results of a state sponsored analysis identified other lower emission alternatives such as additional energy efficiency; large and small CHP; ground source heat pumps; and other resources that would cost effectively meet reliability demands. When combined with new wind and hydro imports, we believe that these alternative sources offer the best choice to ensure reliability, diversify our energy supply, reduce energy price volatility, and meet our GHG emissions’ obligations.
One part of the answer will be energy efficiency. Despite being number one in energy efficiency for the fourth year in a row, there is much more that Massachusetts can do to reduce its future energy needs. Huge gains in efficiency remain to be harvested with policies that will improve current energy efficiency programs for the commercial and industrial sectors; implement a Building Asset Rating system; adopt a new building stretch code; support PACE legislation and acknowledge the real cost of CO2 with a market-based solution.
Another part of the solution will be to find new renewable and alternative sources of energy from within the Massachusetts’ clean energy sector, which has experienced consistent double-digit job growth and is now a $10 billion industry that accounts for 2.5% of gross state product.
We will urge Governor-elect Baker to lead the way with ambitious goals such as
meeting 20% of the state’s electricity needs from solar energy by 2025; obtaining up to 2000 GW of offshore wind power by 2025; importing 2400 MW of clean energy from a combination hydropower and wind; and ensuring grid resiliency with new incentives for storage and microgrids.
These and other initiatives should help the state meet its future energy needs with cost-effective solutions that also reduce emissions. We know from experience that it is possible to cut GHG pollution and reduce energy use while simultaneously growing both population and the economy.