Disappointed with an Energy Bill that Does Not Match Urgency of Climate Change

The following is a July 30 press release from the Sierra Club:

The Massachusetts House and Senate Conference Committee released a compromise energy bill on July 29 that includes the following provisions: boosts the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) annual increase to 2 percent from the current 1 percent starting in 2020, but declines back to 1 percent in 2030; authorizes 1,000 megawatt hours of energy storage and 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind; and expands energy efficiency offerings within the MassSave program. Previously, the House leadership refused to take up Representative Kay Khan’s amendment to increase the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard by 3% a year, over the current 1%/year. Bob DeLeo’s and Jeff Sanchez’s House booted it — in spite of the amendment’s co-sponsorship by 41 representatives.*

The bill falls far short of what the State Senate passed in June, and is much closer to the legislation passed by the House of Representatives. The Senate bill eliminated the cap on solar net metering as well as new solar charges recently imposed by Eversource, boosted the Renewable Portfolio Standard rate of increase to 3 percent a year, and mandated 5,000 megawatts of offshore wind. In contrast the compromise bill does not reduce existing barriers to solar energy, despite Massachusetts losing approximately three thousand solar jobs in the last year. It also includes a new “clean peak” standard which incentivizes waste incineration.

In response, Emily Norton, Sierra Club Massachusetts Chapter Director and Deb Pasternak, Chapter Chair, issued the following statements:

“With this bill the Massachusetts legislature took baby steps on clean energy legislation when what is needed are giant strides,” said Norton, “The world needs Massachusetts to be leading the transition to a clean energy economy, and instead we are offering half measures and timidity. The headlines are dominated locally and around the world by heat waves, drought, wildfires and flash floods, and the White House and Congress have turned the federal government over to fossil fuel lobbyists. We had an opportunity to be bold and grow jobs, improve public health, stabilize energy costs and reduce the fossil fuel pollution that is warming the planet, and instead Beacon Hill has sided with the status quo of fossil fuel and utility companies, over the innovation clean energy and high tech economies. I fully expect there will be electoral implications from what we have seen here today.”

Pasternak said, “Aside from knocking Massachusetts behind other leading states in addressing climate change, this bill fails to capitalize on the benefits of developing a regional clean energy economy. This energy bill is a missed opportunity that effectively kills more solar jobs rather than promoting good-paying, local jobs.”

*Note added by Green Newton