Legislation includes provisions from 5 of Senator Eldridge’s clean energy bills
BOSTON – State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) joined his colleagues yesterday to unanimously pass S.2545, An Act to promote a clean energy future, a forward-looking plan that prepares Massachusetts for the inevitable obstacles that will come with climate change. The policies and programs will protect public health, increase the use of renewable energy, reduce greenhouse emissions, implement a price on carbon, and create jobs in the innovative green-energy economy.
“Climate change is not a problem for future generations – it’s one of the most pressing issues of our time, and it affects the health and safety of our communities every day,” Eldridge said. “I’m proud to support a bill that takes bold steps to protect our climate future by making serious commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and bring more renewable energy to Massachusetts. This bill also critically will help ensure that all people of Massachusetts can benefit from our growing clean energy economy. I want to thank the bill’s lead architects, Senator Pacheco and Senator Barrett, for forwarding this comprehensive bill, and Senate President Chandler for her leadership in supporting this historic step.”
The legislation raises renewable portfolio standards, removes the cap on solar net metering, authorizes additional hydropower and offshore wind procurement, establishes market-based greenhouse-gas emission limits, and implements statewide energy storage goals.
Eldridge successfully filed the following amendments to strengthen the bill.
The Solar Credits for Public Housing amendment (41) restores net metering credits to the full retail rate for solar projects serving all affordable housing developments. Under current law, privately-owned solar facilities serving residents in affordable housing receive net metering credits at a lower rate than publicly owned affordable housing. Since the legislature cut net metering credit rates for low-income solar in April 2016, virtually no new private affordable housing solar projects have come on line under the new, lower compensation rates. But the amendment will increase access to solar for low income residents, which can help lower their electric bill.
The Low Income Solar Credits amendment (42) would permit all new solar projects to share net metering credits across loads zones. Under the existing net metering framework, it has been difficult to provide shared solar savings to institutions and residents in urban areas where low-income residents and communities of color are concentrated. That’s because net metering credits from a solar project can only be shared with electricity customers served by the same utility company that are in the same “load zone”, and there are few sites for community-shared solar in densely-populated areas. The adoption of this amendment will increase access to low-income and community-shared solar.
The Zero Emissions Vehicles amendment (47) directs the Department of Transportation (DOT) to develop a program to get the state on-track for 25 percent statewide electric vehicle ownership by the end of 2028. It also directs DOT to conduct a feasibility study on authorizing electric vehicles to drive in HOV lanes.
Eldridge also worked with his colleagues to add amendments to the bill that will:
- Allow utilities to develop better tools to identify, measure, and repair gas leaks (5)
- Restore full net metering credits for community shared solar (16)
- Prevent electric and gas companies from passing the costs of building or expanding gas pipelines onto customers (6)
- Require the Energy Facilities Siting Board to consider the public health impacts of projects (9)
- Establish new standards for reviewing gas pipeline contracts and expand intervener rights to ensure that ratepayers are protected (60)
- Set strong interim targets for meeting our 2050 emissions reductions goal under the Global Warming Solutions Act (44)
- Promote environmental justice by ensuring that future incentive programs also benefit communities facing barriers to access to solar energy (43)
An Act to promote a clean energy future will:
- Increase the percentage of Class I renewable energy that must be purchased by retail electric suppliers under the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard from an additional 1% annually to an additional 3% annually
- Remove the net metering cap for non-governmental solar net metering facilities
- Require the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs to establish market-based compliance mechanisms to maximize the ability of the Commonwealth to achieve its greenhouse gas emission limits for: (i) the transportation sector not later than December 31, 2020; (ii) the commercial and industrial building sectors not later than December 31, 2021; and (iii) the residential building sector not later than December 31, 2022
- Require the Department of Energy Resources to establish an energy storage system target program to achieve a statewide energy storage deployment target of 2,000 mega-watts by January 1, 2025
- Require the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs to adopt statewide greenhouse gas emissions limits for the years 2030 (35% and 45% below the 1990 emissions level) and 2040 (55% and 65% below the 1990 emissions level), and a plan to achieve those reductions
- Require the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs to issue a plan to achieve the 2050 emissions limit
- Allow the Department of Energy Resources to recommend solicitations and procurements for more than 9,450,000 megawatts-hours of clean energy generation, and to recommend offshore wind energy generation solicitations and procurements of up to 5,000 megawatts of aggregate nameplate capacity by December 31, 2035
- Create a joint procurement taskforce consisting of the Department of Energy Resources, the Attorney General and representatives of the distribution companies, to conduct a review of the clean energy procurements
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.