Brief

Massachusetts Senate unanimously approve energy bill for 2 GW of offshore wind

Dive Brief:

  • Massachusetts senators voted 39-0 last week to seek long-term contracts for 2,000 MW of offshore wind resources, expanding on a House measure and likely setting up a conference committee to find a compromise between the two measures.
  • The House measure, passed last month, required utilities to contract for 1,200 MW of imported Canadian hydroelectricity and for 1,200 MW of offshore wind. The Senate version expanded on the hydro commitment, calling for 1,500 MW of renewable power that could include a broader range of technologies.
  • The New England Power Generators Association said the bill would lead to "dramatic" price increases and would depress local energy innovation and investment.

Dive Insight:

Massachusetts lawmakers are backing expanded renewables and offshore wind projects, but the only question is: how much?

The Berkshire Eagle reports a conference committee to find common ground between the measures is likely, with the Senate's version going significantly beyond the House. Whichever clean energy mandate is adopted, however, generators in the region are objecting.

"We are extremely disappointed and concerned about key provisions in this energy bill, which carves out nearly 50 percent of Massachusetts' electricity market in the form of subsidized long-term contracts," New England Power Generators Association President Dan Dolan said in a statement to the news outlet. "Not only will this lead to a dramatic increase in electricity costs for Commonwealth businesses and consumers, it will hurt local energy innovation and undermine billions of dollars in new investments being made here today."

According to MassLive.com, an amendment to the bill blocks utilities from charging customers for the construction of new gas pipelines. "Massachusetts ratepayers should not be subsidizing the corporate bottom line," Sen. Pat Jehlen (D) told the outlet.

The Senate's version goes beyond the House's hydro requirements and includes energy storage, solar and onshore wind projects. The bill also includes efficiency measures, such as requiring an energy audit when a home is put up for sale. 

And MassLive.com also reports the Senate's version doubles the rate of increase in the state's Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard. The news source points out the two chambers needed multiple months, earlier in the legislative session, to pass a solar energy bill, while the looming legislative conference will tackle a broader range of issues. The legislative session ends July 31.

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Filed Under: Solar & Renewables
Top image credit: Wikimedia Commons