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The MA Omnibus Bill: Will The Senate See A Bright Future For Renewable Energy In MA?

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

Posted by: EmmamHowe // Marketing/Green Policy Development

Today, Thursday, June 30th, the Massachusetts Senate is debating its version of the energy bill that passed through the MA House earlier this month. Whereas the House bill had required electrical utilities to acquire 1,200 MW of offshore wind power by 2027 and 9,450,000 MWH of hydroelectric power by 2022, the Senate’s version, if passed, will require them to purchase 2,000 MW of offshore wind by 2030 and 12,450,000 MWH of “clean energy generation” by 2018. The Senate defines “clean energy generation” more broadly to permit new Class I renewable portfolio standard (RPS) resources to alone qualify for long term contracts. These resources include, Solar photovoltaic, Solar thermal electric, Wind energy, Small hydropower, Landfill methane and anaerobic digester gas, Marine or hydrokinetic energy, Geothermal energy and Eligible biomass fuel. The House bill had required that any of these resources be used in tandem with hydroelectric power.

All in all, the Senate’s legislation is much broader than the House version, which largely focused on offshore wind and large-scale hydro. Some differences include:

- The Senate version drops the controversial “remuneration” charge included in the House bill, which would allow distribution companies to recover up to 2.75% of the annual costs associated with the required procurements

- The Senate’s bill will double from 1% to 2% the amount of renewable energy utilities must purchase under the RPS for compliance years after 2016.

- The Senate’s bill calls upon the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to propagate regulations requiring transmission costs to be included into bid proposals whereas the House’s version had simply allowed their inclusion. The DPU regulations will also permit long-term contracts for clean energy generation resources to be paired with energy storage systems.

- Unlike the House bill, the Senate’s draft will not limit offshore wind eligibility to only those projects completed in federal lease areas—the 742,000 acres of offshore Massachusetts land that was auctioned for commercial wind use by Obama’s Clean Power Plan

- Under the Senate’s bill, Municipal solid waste-to-energy and fuel cell resources will qualify as eligible under the Alternate Energy Portfolio Standard (APS).

- In addition, the bill tasks DOER with determining whether to establish procurement targets for energy storage resources. DOER will need to adopt the appropriate targets by July 1, 2017, and the targets would need to be met by January 1, 2020. The bill would permit utilities to own storage projects as well permit the use of efficiency funds or alternative compliance payments to fund storage projects if the projects provide peak load electric or gas reductions. DOER would also be required to adopt an energy rating system for residential dwellings—a home’s rating, along with its energy audit reports, would be disclosed prior to a sale.

- The bill will create an both an energy efficiency task force as well as a renewable energy finance task force to propose a successor to the state’s current energy efficiency program by June 1, 2017.

- The bill will mandate that DOER conduct a study on grid modernization by October 1, 2017.

-However, the Senate’s draft does not contain the property-assessed clean energy (PACE) financing provisions that were included in the House bill.

Overall, many seem to be in favor of the Senate’s version of the bill over the House’s with Senator Benjamin Downing calling upon MA citizens to “think big,” believing that this is “an energy bill we can all be proud of…, and that re-asserts Massachusetts’s leadership position on energy and climate issues.” The bill seems to have the potential to help reduce MA’s risks of over-dependence on fossil fuels, cut CO2 emissions, as well lower the costs of clean energy across the state. This is all great news, but it doesn’t mean it’s time to throw in the towel. There is still time to voice your opinion on the bill, especially if the bill passes through the Senate today, since both chambers will need to reach a consensus on the legislation before the end of the formal legislative session on July 31. What do you think? Is the Senate version of the bill strong enough? Do you believe it needs to be amended? Will the House and Senate come to a compromise bill before July 31st?

For more information read:
http://blog.ucsusa.org/john-rogers/massachusetts-energy-bill-is-hot-this-week-senate-vote
http://www.masslive.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/06/senate_energy_bill.html

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