Collected by Office of State Senator Will Brownsberger, February 18, 2017.
NOTE: In most instances, summaries were derived from conversations with or texts prepared by the offices submitting the bills (or advocacy organizations).
I. PRICING BASED BILLS
Carbon Pricing: An Act Combating Climate Change (SD1021 – Senator Barrett)
An Act to Promote Green Infrastructure, Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and Create Jobs (HD1504 – Rep. Benson)
ELM supports the development of a carbon fee and rebate system designed to reduce the carbon content of the fuels we use in our homes, businesses, and vehicles. Both of these bills would place a fee on the carbon pollution that results from burning fossil fuels. The fee would increase over time, be collected in a special fund and rebated directly to all households and businesses. The rebates would be designed to minimize the economic impact on low and moderate-income residents and rural residents who typically drive longer distances. In the Senate bill, all revenue collected would be rebated. In the House bill, 20% of the revenue collected would support a Fund for Green Infrastructure which would invest in transportation, resiliency, and clean energy projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, prepare for climate change impacts, and create local economic development.
II. SOLAR FOCUSED BILLS
An Act to allow equal access solar net metering projects (HD1674 – Hecht)
Under current DPU rules, only one solar net metering facility is allowed per parcel of land. For those that co-own, co-tenant or have multiple utility accounts associated with a single parcel of land, which includes many condominium owners, small businesses, farmers, and public housing authorities, this DPU rule can make it prohibitively burdensome to install solar projects. This legislation would allow an exemption to the “single parcel rule” for small net metering projects, creating more equal access to solar for more low-income residents, middle-class homeowners and small businesses.
An Act relative to low income solar (HD3130 – Hecht/Smizik)
This bill would also help to equalize access to solar for low and middle-income residents. It would allow municipalities and government entities to distribute net metering credits to publicly assisted housing or its residents and still retain full retail rate net metering credit value, exempt low-income ratepayers from any minimum monthly reliability contribution, and exempt from the net metering caps municipal and government projects that distribute 100 percent of their net metering credits to publicly assisted housing or its residents.
An Act relative to solar power and the green economy (SD1632 – Eldridge, HD2157 – Mark)
This bill establishes a Commonwealth Solar program to continue the development of solar photovoltaic technology throughout all sectors of the Commonwealth through an acceleration of the renewable portfolio standard and elimination of the net metering caps for all technologies. Additionally, the measure establishes a statewide solar target of 25% by 2030.
An Act Relative to Net Metering (SD1365 – Senator Pacheco)
We support removing the existing caps on solar net metering (currently set at 7% of a utility’s peak load). This is a key step for meeting the requirements of the Global Warming Solutions Act, providing stable and long-term incentives for the development of renewable resources, and continuing robust growth in renewable energy sector jobs.
III. NATURAL GAS FOCUSED BILLS
An act clarifying authority and responsibilities of the Department of Public Utilities (SD1727 – Eldridge, HD3204 -Kulik)
This bill would enhance the review of pipeline capacity contracts and address other needed reforms identified over the course of previous and ongoing proceedings related to gas infrastructure projects. This legislation would codify the SJC’s ruling prohibiting electric ratepayer financing of gas pipelines; ensure the public’s ability to intervene at the DPU; protect ratepayers against self-dealing by energy conglomerates; enhance protections for landowners and conservation areas; and hold gas utilities to high standards regarding the capacity they are allowed to contract for.
An Act relative to protecting consumers of gas and electricity from paying for leaked and unaccounted for gas (SD1113 – Eldridge)
IV. ENERGY EFFICIENCY BILLS
An Act further promoting energy efficiency and green jobs (HD2792 – Smizik)
Creates a program similar to the Commonwealth’s nation-leading natural gas efficiency program. This program will include an oil heat efficiency fund and trust to oversee development and administration of cost-effective energy programs for residential heating oil customers.
An Act relative to expanding resource efficiency in the Commonwealth (HD3395 – Smizik))
This bill updates the energy efficiency standards for certain appliances to align with federal standards. Minimum energy efficiency standards save customers money on energy bills while reducing energy and water waste.
An Act Relative to Energy Efficiency (HD1487 – Benson)
This bill would insert a new sentence in to MGL c.25, Section 21(b)(2), which would allow for expedited installation of mini-splits in oil heated homes.
An Act Relative to Home Energy Efficiency (SD860 – Senator Donnelly
The energy costs associated with operating major purchases like cars and homes should be transparent. We are all familiar with the stickers on cars clearly indicating the efficiency of the car as expressed in miles per gallon. Homebuyers should have as much information about the costs of operating homes, as car buyers do for vehicles. ELM supports legislation that would require home sellers to obtain an energy efficiency rating and disclose it to potential buyers. This could be accomplished via the existing home inspection process or an electric utility program that offers free home energy audits. Such a requirement would incentivize homeowners to make cost-effective energy efficiency improvements, and provide consumers with critical information on what to expect for their future utility bills.
V. COMPREHENSIVE/TARGET-SETTING BILLS
An Act to transition Massachusetts to 100 per cent renewable energy (SD1932 – Eldridge, HD3357 – Garballey)
This bill requires the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) to set binding targets for renewable energy growth in all major sectors of the economy, and issue regulations to ensure that Massachusetts stays on track towards 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.
An Act Creating 21st Century Massachusetts Clean Energy Jobs (SD2049 – Pacheco)
This omnibus energy bill largely mirrors language passed by the Senate last session. It calls for the procurement of up to 4,000MW of offshore wind generation and up to 12,450,000 megawatt-hours of hydroelectricity. This legislation also calls for a number of other progressive energy solutions, including:
- Elevating the annual RPS increase from 1% to 3% and developing an RPS standard for municipal light plants
- Requiring the development of 2025 and 2030 energy storage goals
- Modernizing the grid
- Promulgating siting standards for solar projects greater than 100MW
- Prohibiting the approval of pipeline projects on Article 97 land
- Requiring the development of a residential PACE program
- Requiring the development of a comprehensive adaptation management plan
- Ensuring the 25% of the state’s fleet of vehicles are zero emission vehicles by 2025
- Allowing a community to enter into a community empowerment contract
- Requiring the development of a comprehensive energy plan for the Commonwealth
- Eliminating the cap on net metering
- Setting 2020 and 2030 greenhouse gas emissions benchmarks
An Act requiring the timely adoption of greenhouse gas emission limits for the year 2030 (SD1402 Brownsberger)
An Act relative to enhancing RPS standards (SD1372 – Pacheco)
This legislation elevate would the annual RPS increase from 1% to 3%. Additionally, this bill would develop a RPS for municipal light boards and municipal electric departments beginning in 2018. The requirements would be as follows:
(1) one-half of one per cent of sales by December 31, 2018
(2) an additional one-half of 1 per cent of sales each year thereafter until December 31, 2025
(3) an additional 1 per cent of sales every year until December 31, 2029
(4) an additional 2 per cent of sales by December 31, 2030 and each year thereafter.
An Act relative to local energy investment and infrastructure modernization (SD1371 – Pacheco)
This legislation would undertake a series of steps to help improve electricity reliability, including:
1) Grid Modernization 2.0: Planning for Local Energy Resources
-Establish a new approach to grid planning that utilizes clean, local energy resources to meet system needs by requiring statewide grid modernization plans, stakeholder participation, and information to accelerate the integration of renewable energy
-Protections for consumers, including low-income consumers from remote shutoff and special cost recovery mechanisms
2) Fair Consideration of Local Energy Resources vs. Utility Infrastructure
-Before approval of significant expenditures, require comparison of utility infrastructure to lower cost and environmentally preferable local energy resources
3) Cap Residential Fixed Charges to Preserve Clean Energy Incentives and Protect Low-Income Consumers
-These types of charges limit consumer control over energy bills, undermine incentives to save and self-generate energy, and disproportionately impact low-income consumers
4) Improve Consumer Incentives with Opt-In Time of Use Rates
-Enable consumers with solar, electric vehicles, or flexible energy demands to benefit from producing energy at times of greatest need or consuming energy when it is cheapest, while improving the overall efficiency of the grid
VI. RESPONDING TO CLIMATE CHANGE
An Act Providing for the Establishment of a Comprehensive Adaptation Management Plan in Response to Climate Change (SD1336 – Pacheco)
This legislation inserts a new chapter 21P into the General Laws. This new chapter directs the secretary of energy and environmental affairs and the secretary of public safety to collaborate and develop a comprehensive adaptation management action plan. This adaptation plan includes:
- A statement setting forth the commonwealth’s goals, priorities, and principles for resiliency, preservation, protection, restoration, and enhancement of the commonwealth’s built and natural infrastructure
- Data on existing and projected climate change impacts including temperature changes, drought, inland flooding, and sea level rise
- An assessment of the preparedness and vulnerabilities in the commonwealth’s emergency response and infrastructure resiliency
- A commitment to the adherence of sound management practices
Further, this plan shall:
- Establish an interagency advisory committee supported by technical subcommittees and staff to carry out the plan
- Provide municipalities and regional planning agencies with the tools needed to conduct inventory and vulnerability assessments by providing technical and financial assistance to conduct planning efforts that consider the effects of climate change on human and natural resources
- Establish and commit to sound management practices which take in to account exiting natural, built and economic characteristics of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable areas and human population
- Compile data on existing and projected sea level rise using best available science
- Produce report documenting the preparedness and vulnerabilities in the Commonwealth’s emergency response, energy, transportation, communications, health and other systems
Additionally, this legislation will encourage and provide guidance to regional planning agencies to address the consequences of climate change. The bill would also establish a regional comprehensive adaptation management plan grant program to aid in the development of adaptation plans at the regional level of government. Further, the passage of this legislation would create a coastal buyback program, which would allow EOEEA to acquire by voluntary purchase properties repeatedly damaged by severe weather, which intersect with ecological services with high potential for buffering inland areas against wind and storm surge.
An Act relative to energy storage procurement for 2025 and 2030 (SD1370 – Pacheco)
This legislation requires the department of energy resources to set energy storage standards for 2025 and 2030.
VII. NUCLEAR DECOMMISSIONING