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Massachusetts Governor Signs Comprehensive 'Energy Diversity' Legislation

Aug. 10, 2016
Reduces Ratepayer Costs, Embraces Advanced Technologies and Diversifies Energy Portfolio to Include Hydropower and Other Renewables

The Massachusetts Governor, Charlie Baker, this week signed comprehensive energy diversity legislation into law at the State House. An Act Relative to Energy Diversity (H. 4568) garnered bipartisan support and promotes the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitment to reducing energy costs while strengthening the state’s clean energy economy and progressing toward Massachusetts’ greenhouse gas reduction requirements. 

Consistent with the Baker-Polito Administration’s previously filed legislation authorizing the procurement of hydropower generation, An Act Relative to Energy Diversity (H. 4568) requires utilities to competitively solicit and contract for approximately 1,200 megawatts (MW)  of clean energy generation – base load hydropower, onshore wind and solar supported by hydropower, standalone onshore wind, solar, or other Class I renewable resources. In addition to recognizing the necessity of hydropower generation to provide reliable generation to meet Massachusetts’ energy demand and achieve the greenhouse gas emissions goals of the Global Warming Solutions Act, the legislation signed by Governor Baker allows for the procurement of approximately 1,600MW of offshore wind. The bill is meant to spur the development of an emerging offshore wind industry.

“Massachusetts is taking yet another important step towards a clean energy economy,” said Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy Chairman, State Senator Ben Downing (D-Pittsfield). “We are jump starting two industries - offshore wind & energy storage - that will shape our future, while recommitting ourselves to meeting our Global Warming Solutions Act requirements. More will need to be done, but this effort shows we are up to doing it."

The bill also provides additional support for the Commonwealth’s business community by establishing a commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program. The PACE program, facilitated by MassDevelopment and the Department of Energy Resources, will enable commercial and industrial property owners across the state to finance comprehensive energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades that are repaid through a property tax assessment on their building.

In an effort to enhance ratepayer savings associated with the procurement of renewable energy resources, the legislation authorizes the use of energy storage technologies paired with renewable power generation. Advanced energy storage technologies include batteries, flywheels, thermal and compressed air technologies that allow merchants, utilities, and electricity customers to store and discharge energy as needed instead of purchasing or generating more expensive energy during times of peak demand.  The legislation also directs the Department of Energy Resources to determine if energy storage goals are prudent for the Commonwealth and, if is so, to set a procurement target for 2020. Recognizing the importance that energy storage technology holds for the Commonwealth’s energy market, the Baker-Polito Administration previously announced a $10 million Energy Storage Initiative to study opportunities to support the Massachusetts energy storage market. Massachusetts is now only the third state in the nation to authorize an energy storage procurement goal.

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