Sunday, August 03, 2008

Forging a clean energy future for Massachusetts

Over the past eight years, a growing number of state governments have stepped in to fill the vaucum created by the Bush Administration's deplorable lack of leadership on energy policy and have forwarded innovative strategies and policies to support the development of clean energy technologies and related jobs. California, New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts being among the most prominent examples of this kind of state leadership.

This past week the Deval Patrick Administration and Massachusetts legislature put the final touches on a truly comprehensive and innovative package of bills designed to provide the Commonwealth with the tools it needs to strengthen its position in the rapidly expanding global clean energy economy. (GW)

Massachusetts legislature racks up major accomplishments in clean energy

New England Clean Energy Council
August 1, 2008

Vaults Commonwealth to the Forefront of States in Energy Policy; Sets Stage for Dramatic Growth of the Regional Clean Energy Sector

In the legislative session concluded yesterday (7/31/08), House Speaker Sal DiMasi, Senate President Therese Murray, and members of the House and Senate—working closely with Governor Deval Patrick, Secretary Ian Bowles, and members of the administration—have enacted the most comprehensive set of laws in the nation to promote clean energy solutions and accelerate our region’s clean energy economy.

These policy initiatives, encouraged and supported by the New England Clean Energy Council, will have a tremendous impact on the local development and commercialization of clean energy technologies, and will help to make Massachusetts a paragon of clean energy innovation and thought leadership.

A summary of the bills passed by the Massachusetts legislature:

Green Communities Act

Requires the state's electric and gas utilities to invest in energy efficiency before turning to more costly supply from power plants.
Spurs the development and installation of high-efficiency lighting, cooling, and industrial motors.

Allows utilities to engage in long-term contracts for renewable power; permits utility ownership of solar power generation.
Promotes development of renewable energy projects and new renewable technologies.

Increases the Renewable Portfolio Standard to 15% by 2020, with an additional 1% per year thereafter.
Helps create market stability and financing opportunities for renewable projects, such as wind and solar power. Places Massachusetts at the forefront of states with an aggressive RPS, lessening our use of fossil-based electricity—and our dependence on imported power.

Increases the net metering cap from 60kW to 2 MW.
Incents small-scale solar and wind by increasing the cap on power that can be sold back into the grid from “behind the meter” deployments.

Oceans Act

Allows the development of wind, wave, and tidal power generation in state waters.
Spurs investment in the development and deployment of renewable energy technologies offshore. Part of nation’s first comprehensive oceans management plan.

Clean Energy Biofuels Act

Provides first-in-the-nation state gas tax exemption for cellulosic biofuels
Spurs demand for next-generation, non-food-based ethanol under development by nearly a dozen Massachusetts-based companies.

Mandates biodiesel blending for all on-road diesel and home heating fuel sold in the state, starting at 2% by volume in 2010, and reaching 5% by 2013
Builds a market for renewable diesel alternatives. Home heating oil provision is a first-in-the-nation requirement.

Global Warming Solutions Act

Mandates an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2050, and a 2020 reduction between 10% and 25%
Will spur the development and adoption of low-carbon technologies in all sectors, including transportation, buildings, and industrial processes. This represents the most stringent GHG cap in the nation.

Green Jobs Act

$68 million initiative establishes a Clean Energy Technology Center.
Offers public/private governing board for a range of clean energy

Authorizes several key programs for accelerating the region’s clean energy economy:

Provides preliminary funding for a Clean Energy Seed Grant Program, designed to stimulate clean energy research and new venture creation.
Fills critical funding gap for researchers and small businesses through a public/private partnership between the State and the private sector.

Authorizes exploration of funding for a Clean Energy Fellowship Program, designed to transition executive talent into the clean energy sector.
Addresses critical shortage of experienced entrepreneurs in the clean energy space.

Provides preliminary funding for a Green Jobs Initiative, designed to seed job training programs at area schools and training organizations.
Ensures that the Massachusetts workforce is prepared to serve growing clean energy economy.

Additional clean energy accomplishments:

Decoupling Order

Per order of the DPU, utility revenues no longer tied to the volume of electricity or gas delivered.
In combination with Green Communities Act, ensures that utilities pursue energy efficiency instead of maximizing energy sales.

Commonwealth Solar

Establishes a rebate program designed to support adoption of solar power.
Spurs regional solar industry to meet Patrick Administration’s goal of 250MW of solar power by 2017.

Taken together, these represent a tidal wave of forward-thinking policy initiatives that will position Massachusetts as a clear leader in the drive to confront and address the energy challenges facing our nation and the world as a whole.


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