Clean Energy Future Act Passed By Senate

After a long day of debate, the Senate passed the Barrett-Pacheco omnibus energy bill on Thursday — significant legislation to continue movement in Massachusetts towards a cleaner energy future.  Addressing climate change is a core priority for me and I am glad to move this legislation forward.

The next step will be action by the House of Representatives.   After that, the branches will need to reconcile their differences and get the bill to the Governor’s desk.  We should expect the bill to continue to evolve.

As mentioned in a previous post, I am most enthusiastic about the provisions that will lead to carbon pricing in the transportation sector.

A summary of the major provisions appears below, excerpted from the Senate press release on the bill:

  • Increasing 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.
  • Requiring 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.
  • Requiring 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.
  • Requiring the 2030 emission limit to be adopted no later than 2021 and the 2040 emissions limit to be adopted not later than 2031.
  • Requiring the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs to issue a plan to achieve the 2050 emissions limit.
  • Requiring 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.
  • Removing the net metering cap for non-governmental solar net metering facilities.
  • Eliminating the current sunset date of December 31, 2020 for the regulations promulgated under the Global Warming Solutions Act.
  • Creating 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.
  • Allowing 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.

This inventory from Senator Pacheco’s office provides a more detailed list.  Provisions adopted by amendment are highlighted in this spreadsheet prepared by Senator Barrett’s Office.  For the complete legislative blow-by-blow, please see the official record here.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

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31 Comments

  1. Terrific! Thank you and the State Senate for forthrightly addressing the needs for reducing our enhancement of the greenhouse effect and for being prepared for the coming climatic and environmental changes.
    I do disagree with you about the wisdom or not of subsidizing renewable energy resources. We don’t have the luxury of waiting; the changes in our energy production-and-use have to happen as soon as possible. Facilitating the growth of renewable energy resources by both subsidizing and carbon pricing is better than by just the one or the other.

      1. It is my understanding that there are no changes in this bill that impact SREC or its successor program.

        Andrew Bettinelli
        Cheif of Staff
        Office of Senator William N. Brownsberger

  2. I appreciate your summary of this important legislation.
    I am curious to know how adequate the 2 GW storage requirement for 2025 is felt to be, and whether this will need to be increased in subsequent years. Presumably, the storage requirement is there to ensure grid sufficiency when a large proportion of energy sources are intermittent (wind, solar).

      1. I have been informed by Committee staff that they felt this was an aggressive but attainable target.

        Andrew Bettinelli
        Cheif of Staff
        Office of Senator William N. Brownsberger

  3. This is amazing and many folks I know are very grateful and practically floored at the positive measures put forth in this bill. Our concern is that House speaker will dilute whatever the corresponding House bill is (representing IOU interests) beyond recognition. Can someone outline the prospects for a similarly strong House bill? Can you outline what should be done (beyond just calling state reps) to bolster chances of this language coming out of the conference/sausage-making committee?
    Thanks very much

  4. I would like to acknowledge your long-standing and on-going attention to this issue. I remember your efforts years ago as vice chair of the House Committee on Climate Change years ago. It’s nice to see finally see some real progress. Thank you for your hard work!

  5. Will,
    Am I correct that this is drastically scaled down – in terms of length – legislation compared to the one that came out of Senator Pacheco’s committee in February? To me it looked like that was a 71 page bill and this is more like 15 pages. May key elements remain, of course. Also, this legislation appears to make munis like BL subject to Chap. 21N.

  6. Again another worthless bill that will cost citizens more money. It seems global warming has now changed to climate change as there isn’t much global warming.
    That way you can blame every storm on climate change.

  7. Clean Energy mandates for Massachusetts citizens as a cure for “Climate Change” is a “boondoggle” and another tax on the poor and middle class to drive them over the edge with no guaranteed returns.

    It was like the City of Cambridge back in the 80s and 90s when put a moratorium of any new parking lots or garages. The theory was that if there were no parking spaces, people wouldn’t drive their cars into Cambridge ergo less dirty emissions. It was to help Cambridge residents have cleaner air to breathe.

    So where were these cars going ? Into Allston near me ! Sometimes parking with one tire up on the sidewalk, in front of fire hydrants, around corners and right up touching peoples bumpers. Where was the enforcement ? (Crickets sound effect)

    Was the dirty auto emissions “magically” being statically held back just over Allston and kept out of Cambridge ? If you think so, you are a fool. Anything you guys do will be like spitting into the Charles River.

    Is this why you guys voted yourselves a big pay raise so you could work “full-time” ? Sitting there, thinking up the next crazy scheme to virtue signal and look like you are doing something ? Then just send us peons the bill.

  8. This is great news. My concern is the House side, since DeLeo is second in donations received, by state officials, from the fossil fuel industry. Will he allow it to go forward? What do we need to do to make sure this important legislation is enacted and not watered down?

    As studies point to new melting in Antarctica, the urgency is greater than ever.

  9. . Boston (and Massachusetts) has some of the best winds for ocean based wind farms which will also serve a sanctuary areas for marine life – giving ocean creatures places that will be undisturbed to grow and flourish – The cape winds project would have done just that but the NOT IN MY BACK yard mentality took over – most who would never even see wind turbines because they were so far from shore. Even out along Boston light we could install wind farms that would provide a beautiful entrance to Boston harbor – only viewable by ship – but no – not in my back yard – so until we get over the hump here and support some of these wind farms – which will benefit the fishing industry as well then all this talk will be nothing but political grand standing like building a wall

      1. It is sad that the misconceptions still abound about wind farms, especially off shore. It has NOTHING to do with vistas or views. That was a red herring from the original Cape Wind project. The destruction of offshore wind farms is vast and multilayered. First: each turbine requires the destruction of one acre of seabed floor: this does NOT mean improving ocean habitat. then there is the trenching required for transmission lines. These lines lose energy so the longer the transmission, the less efficient the process.
        The single turbine on Deer Island killed three osprey this year acc to Tom French of FWS. Offshore there is no knowing the extent of the kill since the dead float away and no one monitors this. CA’s Altamont Pass killed 116 golden eagles a year and has had to alternate rows of turbines running to try to alleviate this. Bird kill statistics world wide our huge. MAS came out with their approval of offshore wind after getting incorrect info on the bird ‘action’ in that area since the observer went out midday when in fact hundreds of long tailed ducks migrate daily through the area at 6 AM and 6 PM. Radar printouts verify the Ferry captain’s observations.

        (The destruction of bats by wind farms is also well documented and the impact of this will be increases in insect transmitted diseases.)

        Wind farm technology is rapidly changing so soon whatever is built to last 25 years will soon be obsolete. Consider the maintenance required, the decommissioning, the disaster if the particular company goes out of business and leaves these structures to rot.

        The Ocean is most valuable as a carbon sink, unspoiled habitat, for fisheries, tourism and general ecological value. Wave generation is a far less destructive use of the ocean for energy. Meanwhile SOLAR is the answer since it can be built closer to the consumer thus transmission is more efficient, built over already disturbed land such as parking lots and buildings is even more efficient and not a waste of open space.

        It is truly upsetting that almost all environmental organizations fall into the trap of lumping solar and wind under renewable energy sources without truly understanding the difference and the impact.

  10. The Senate did the right thing. We have a bicameral governance system. the problem is in the other chamber, and as the saying the fish decomposes at the head first.

  11. Many congratulations to the Senate for passing this bill. The public interest in this issue is huge, as demonstrated by the huge turnout last night for the Climate Change Action panel in Belmont. Now we citizens need to talk with our representatives in the House to get them to focus on this issue. In the longer term, the state will have to move away from very specific subsidies and regulations targeted at specific industries and energy sources, and towards broader carbon taxes, which will give incentives for all businesses and all citizens to make their own choices about how to increase their energy efficiency. This will be easier administratively for the state and also for the businesses affected, and give a more consistent market signal to everyone than a specific subsidy that might change in the next legislative session.

  12. Provision in the bill (as summarized by Sen. Pacheco’s office, I could not find the provision in the bill) that seems odd as stated in that summary:
    “Prevents electric and gas companies from passing the costs of building or expanding gas pipelines onto customers”. So if someone wants to switch from heating oil to gas for his or her home by running a gas pipeline down a new street, the gas company accountants will need to find a way to pay for this that they can argue doesn’t count as being paid for by customers? I think better would be to have a board (e.g. the public utility commission) decide case by case if a proposed new pipeline or pipeline expansion is in the public interest (and if so, who should pay).

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