190th Session Wrap Up: Energy Legislation
As we wrap up yet another legislative session, my office has worked to provide recaps on the vast array of subject areas that I have worked on and voted on in the Chamber. Below is an overview of the energy legislation that the House voted on July 12, 2018. We voted on a total of four pieces of legislation and passed all four.
The bills did not contain everything that I wanted, but it moved the ball forward. Now there is a House and Senate Conference Committee formed to resolve differences (and hopefully improve the final product). The end of the session is quickly approaching. I hope that these bills (with potential improvements through the conference committee) will help Massachusetts reach its clean energy goals.
H.4738 – An Act to increase renewable energy and reduce high-cost peak hours
Topic: Renewable Portfolio Standard
Summary: This bill increases the renewable energy standard annual rate increase from 1% to 2% by July 31, 2019 and reduces the high-cost peak hours, which could result in substantial savings. Increasing the state’s renewable portfolio standard has been a top priority of mine. The renewable portfolio standard is the percentage of renewable energy from new sources that energy companies are required to buy or produce. It is currently at 13% and that percentage increases 1% per year. It is key to Massachusetts achieving substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
RPS – I worked with my colleagues in the Progressive Caucus to organize behind Representative Kay Khan’s amendment #29 to increase the RPS increases to 3% year. I was disappointed that the amendment was not adopted. Because of our efforts, though, the increase from 1% to 2% was shifted from December 31, 2020 to July 31, 2019.
Gas Pipelines – I was proud to co-sponsor a number of amendments filed by my colleagues to address the issue of pervasive and environmentally destructive pipelines in Massachusetts. Representative Kulik filed Amendments 11, 12, & 13 to address these issues by prohibiting a pipeline tax on electric ratepayers, establishing standards for approval of gas capacity contracts, and guaranteeing public intervention rights at the Department of Public Utilities. I was disappointed that these were not included in the final version.
Environmental Justice – I was pleased that Representative Vincent filed the environmental justice amendment, Amendment 24, similar to a piece of legislation that I co-sponsored. This would establish an Environmental Justice advisory council to provide recommendations to the Baker administration. Again, I wish that the measure was included in the final bill. There is still pending legislation that accomplishes the same purpose as this Amendment that I will continue to support.
H.4737 – An Act relative to expanding resource efficiency in the commonwealth
Topic: Energy Efficiency
Summary: This bill creates energy and water efficiency standards for 10 new products in the Massachusetts General Laws under the Massachusetts Appliance Efficiency Act. The standards were derived from EPA Energy Star and WaterSense standards as well as California’s efficiency standards. The bill states that none of the included products may be sold in the state after January 1, 2020 unless they meet these new standards. Massachusetts is a nation and international leader regarding energy efficiency and this bill provides the opportunity to continue to hold that position.
H. 4739 – An Act to improve grid resiliency through energy storage
Topic: Energy Efficiency
Summary: This bill established the Energy Storage Innovation Research Institute within the MA Clean Energy Center as well as an energy storage testing facility that will serve as a resource for companies developing energy storage systems. It instructs the Department of Energy Resources to study the use of mobile storage technology for emergency response to extreme weather events or power outages. Finally, the legislation mandates that distribution companies must file an annual System Resiliency Report with the DPU. Improving energy storage is key to fully taking advantage of renewable sources, such as solar. I hope this bill encourage further development of this technology.
Gas Leaks – I was happy to co-sponsor Amendment 15 by Representative Barber. This amendment instructs DPU to establish uniform standards for gas companies to identify and measure lost and unaccounted for gas by location, quality, and source. It also allows DPU to grant regulatory waivers to allow gas companies to develop innovative projects to reduce lost and unaccounted for gas. I am pleased to report that the amendment was adopted as written.
H.4749 – An Act relative to energy efficiency
Topic: Energy Efficiency
Summary: This bill expands the types of efficiency programs that can be included in the “electric efficiency investment plan” and the “natural gas efficiency investment plan” under current regulations. It also changes the formula by which the cost-effectiveness of the programs is calculated.