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BREAKING NEWS: MA Senate Energized To PASS Omnibus Energy Bill

EmmamHowe MA, United States 0 Ratings 33 Discussions 1 Group posts

Posted by: EmmamHowe // Marketing/Green Policy Development

Yesterday evening, in an unprecedented unanimous 39-0 vote, the Massachusetts Senate passed their version of the Omnibus energy bill. The bill requires utilities to solicit long-term contracts for at least 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2027 as well as purchase a minimum of 12,450,000 megawatt-hours of clean energy from hydropower and other clean energy sources such as onshore wind, solar, geothermal, and energy storage. The bill also doubles the annual rate of increase in the state's Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, which requires utilities to obtain a minimum amount of their electricity from renewable sources like solar and wind.

Though many feel this a “landmark bill” that will help define “Massachusetts’ clean energy future,” it is still important to keep things in perspective. “None of us should think that any one bill is going to solve the climate crisis here in Massachusetts, in New England, or beyond," stated Senator Ben Downing, the Senate chairman of the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee. "The steps that are in this bill are necessary, but they are not sufficient. We have more work to do, both as a body here and future legislatures will have more work to do. The bill's supporters said Massachusetts has grown too dependent on natural gas to meet its energy needs and are hoping this bill will allow for an influx of jobs in the renewable energy industry.

But not everyone was completely satisfied by all aspects of the bill, as there were more than 30 amendments up for debate ranging from pleas to include Solar energy provisions to Senator Jamie Eldridge’s proposal that would require gas distribution companies to repair gas leaks ranked as "Grade 3," or non-hazardous leaks, that were exposed during road construction and identified as having a "significant environmental impact."

Yet many believe the Senate version of the bill is more favorable than the House version. In fact, Minority Leader Bruce Tarr said one of the crucial changes the Senate made to its bill was adding a requirement that the state develop a "comprehensive energy plan" every three years, reflecting energy needs, demand and the best strategies for meeting that demand.

With several major differences between Senate and House versions of the bill, legislators now face the difficult task of drafting a compromise bill. The convening of the two legislatures will likely provide an array of broader policy differences, and with formal sessions ending for the year on July 31, it is crucial now more than ever that they reach an agreement and fast in an effort to comply with the state’s greenhouse gas emission reduction requirements and make MA truly a “green monster.”

Thus, there is still a long way to go, and we need to make sure that as the House and Senate bills go back into committee to be finalized, the parts of the bill, which hold MA to greater renewable energy standards will be here to stay. With all of this momentum, we can’t stop now! Email your State Senators and State Reps today to encourage them to push the green legislation forward!

For more information as well as links to find your State Reps and Senators:
http://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/ci_30079621/mass-senate-passes-renewable-energy-bill
https://malegislature.gov/People/Search

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