Category: Off Shore Wind

190th Session Wrap Up: Energy

190th Session Wrap Up: Energy Conference Report

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 conference report which worked out the differences between the house’s energy legislation and the senate’s energy legislation

H.4857 – An Act to advance clean energy

  • Establishes the requirement of utilities and municipal aggregates to jointly prepare an “energy efficiency investment plan.” [similar to House legislation]
  • Creates an annual increase of 2% for the Renewable Portfolio Standard by January 2020.
  • Establishes a Clean Peak Standard to incentivize electricity generation at times when the grid is at its highest demand and therefore most vulnerable to reliability issues. It is designed to incentivize installation of renewable resources in conjunction with storage systems to ensure that the Commonwealth will not only be increasing its overall usage of renewable sources of electricity through the RPS program, but that those resources can be utilized to provide energy at periods of high-demand to resuce reliance on natural gas and other non-renewable resources that typically get deployed during high-demand periods.
  • Requires DPU to develop regulations requiring gas companies to annually report how much gas is lost and where those leaks are.
  • Establishes an energy storage target of 1000 Megawatt hours by December 31, 2025; includes a feasibility study for a mobile emergency battery storage system for emergency response to extreme weather events or outages.
  • Creates a study of necessity, cost, and benefits of requiring electricity distribution companies to procure 1,600 MW of additional offshore wind capacity, beyond the 2016 requirements, by 2035.

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.

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.

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.


To read the full text of the conference report, click here.

House Panel Polling Energy Bill with Hydro, Offshore Wind Initiatives

By Matt Murphy

Utilities would be required to solicit and purchase a combined 2,400 megawatts of renewable hydro and offshore wind power through long-term contracts under a House energy bill that began moving through committee on Monday.

The bill, which is being voted on by members of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, would direct utilities by next January to solicit contracts of between 15 to 20 years for the purchase of 1,200 megawatts of delivered hydropower.

By July of next year, utilities would be required to solicit similar long-term contracts for an additional 1,200 megawatts of “nameplate capacity” offshore wind, according to a copy of the bill obtained by the News Service. Projects eligible for the contracts would be restricted to those operating in a “competitively solicited federal lease area,” according to the bill.

“I personally think what we’re doing obviously is diversifying our energy portfolio. This is, no question, a very aggressive energy and environmental bill that will reduce carbon and meet our (Global Warming Solutions Act) goals and focuses on trying to jump-start offshore wind and create a viable opportunity for a potential supply chain and other economic growth across the Commonwealth,” said Rep. Thomas Golden, co-chair of the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee.

Baker has been pushing since last year for the Legislature to authorize the solicitation of hydropower that could be imported from Canada as a means to address the retirements of multiple fossil fuel plants and Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in the coming years.

The governor has pitched hydropower as a clean energy source that could help meet the state’s baseload energy capacity needs without jeopardizing its carbon emissions reduction goals, or subjecting the state to volatile prices on the spot energy market.

Committee members have until Tuesday at 11 a.m. to vote on the bill, and Golden said he expects it to be debated sometime in June.

One of the major differences between the House proposal and the bill filed by Baker last summer is the requirement for utilities to purchase the renewable energy. Baker has said repeatedly that one of the strengths of his bill is that if the proposals turn out to be too expensive, utilities wouldn’t have to buy the energy.

Golden said that under the bill the Department of Public Utilities and the Department of Energy Resources would still have a role to play in reviewing rates.

“I think we’re going to be OK on price. I think it will work itself out, and DPU and DOER are going to be up to the task to figure this out,” Golden said.

According to Golden, while the bill does not include a requirement for any land-based wind purchasing, utilities would be allowed under their procurement of hydropower to include onshore wind in the mix to get to 1,200 megawatts if they choose.

The bill also does not speak to the future of solar energy after lawmakers spent the better part of the past six months negotiating a lift in the cap on solar net metering. Solar advocates have now started to report that the new caps are already close to being reached in the National Grid service territory.

Golden said there will be time and opportunity for members to propose additions to the bill, whether related to energy efficiency, solar, energy storage or other measures.

“There’s still plenty of opportunity in the future, either on the floor and through Ways and Means,” Golden said.

[Further SHNS coverage developing]