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Massachusetts Legislature Passes Compromise Energy Bill

Last Sunday, the Massachusetts Legislature passed a compromise energy bill to significantly increase electricity produced by renewable energy sources. The state’s utilities will be required to purchase power from on and offshore wind farms, as well as power from hydroelectric dams located largely in Canada. Governor Baker is expected sign the bill in short order, as he has strongly supported purchasing imports of clean energy. To learn more about this bill, read on!

In a compromise between the House proposal and a more aggressive Senate provision, the bill will guarantee contracts for 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind energy and 1,200 megawatts of hydroelectricity from Canada and onshore wind energy. Taken together, these contracts will eventually provide about one-third of electricity consumed in Massachusetts annually for up to 20 years.

The bill, H.4568, includes several additional provisions that directly affect the operations of utility and energy companies in the state:

  • The bill requires utilities to develop a plan to repair leaks in natural gas pipelines.
  • If practical, state utilities must procure large-scale energy storage systems by 2020.
  • Small-scale Massachusetts hydropower facilities (up to 2 MW) will benefit from guaranteed revenue from “net metering.”
  • The bill enables waste-to-energy plants and fuel cells to earn “alternative energy credits” worth about $20 per MW hour for their energy production.

While some were disappointed that farther-reaching Senate initiatives were rejected during final negotiations, the energy bill has many supporters across the legislature and among state environmental advocacy groups, including New England Clean Energy Council Executive Vice President Janet Gail Besser, who commented that the legislation creates political stability for renewable energy companies and investors in Massachusetts.

As a result of this legislation Massachusetts will have a cleaner supply of electricity and will likely see less volatility in the cost to generate it.

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