This has been a banner year thus far for positive climate and clean energy policy in Massachusetts.
A major new energy bill mandates large-scale procurement of new renewable resources, including offshore wind, hydropower and other renewables such as on-shore wind or solar.
In addition, Governor Baker issued an executive order directing his administration to develop and implement a statewide, comprehensive climate adaptation plan.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued two rulings that will have significant impacts on climate change. The first ordered the state to fully comply with the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) by implementing important new regulations to reduce emissions. The second effectively sidelined two proposed gas pipelines by ruling that a ‘pipeline tax’ was illegal and that utilities could not charge electric customers for gas pipelines.
Also, the state completed a report on energy storage showing that Massachusetts could generate 600MW of advanced energy storage by 2025, which would deliver about $800 million in system benefits. The Administration complemented the report with a $10 million initiative to provide funding for demonstration projects.
E2 New England contributed to these landmark accomplishments by testifying at hearings; submitting written testimony; meeting with the administration officials and lawmakers; and participating in the Alliance for Clean Energy Solutions (ACES), a broad-based coalition formed to advance clean energy for Massachusetts.
The challenge: Can the state meet its 2020 climate mandate?
Despite these very positive moves, many believe that Massachusetts will fall short of its mandate to reduce emissions 25% below 1990 levels by 2020. At last accounting, the state was 5.3% short of the goal. The Baker administration is counting on Canadian hydropower to make up the shortfall, but it is highly unlikely that this could be available by the 2020 deadline.
New and improved policies needed
E2 will continue to work for new policies that would not only help to meet the 2020 goal, but position us to meet longer term goals of a 40% reduction by 2030 and 80% by 2050. These policies include increasing energy efficiency; increasing the Massachusetts Renewable Portfolio Standard; plugging the worst of the state’s gas pipeline leaks; grid modernization; a new solar incentive program; and placing a price on carbon emissions.
On the regional level, in the electric sector, we support extending the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) with a reduction in the emissions cap of 5% per year from 2020 to 2030. We also support working with other northeastern states in the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) to develop market-based policies to achieve significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution from the transportation sector.