Massachusetts approves 3-year efficiency plan with first fuel-switching incentives
- The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities on Tuesday issued an order approving the state's 2019‑2021 energy efficiency plan, directing utilities to focus on beneficial electrification and peak demand reduction in the next three years.
- The plan calls for demand reduction programs that will work alongside the state's new Clean Peak Standard, passed last year to increase the use of clean energy sources during times of peak demand. It also includes incentives to homeowners for fuel switching.
- The plan provides a menu of other efficiency efforts as well, including setting out a framework for home energy scorecards, providing incentives for the construction of passive homes and enhancing efforts to reach renters, moderate-income customers and non-English speakers.
Massachusetts is casting a wide net to support efficiency efforts, and officials say the combined electric and gas efficiency plans will wind up saving customers $8 billion, along with cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
The plan was developed "through a comprehensive and collaborative effort" with the the Energy Efficiency Advisory Council, which represents several stakeholders, including the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Housing and Community Development, low-income advocates, and advocates for both large and small businesses and environmental groups, the state said in a Jan. 30 announcement.
Efficiency measures are "the most cost-effective option for ratepayers to lower their energy bills," according to Matthew Beaton, state secretary of energy and environmental affairs. The new plan will have "direct benefits to customers, the environment and the economy," Beaton said in a statement.
It is the first time the state will offer incentives for fuel switching, primarily reducing the number of homes heating with oil and propane, and shifting those to "more efficient and affordable heating fuels and technologies such as air source heat pumps."
The new program represents a change in direction for the state, according to Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Judith Judson.
"This plan supports our efforts to not only change how we supply energy, but how we use energy as we shift our focus to strategic electrification and reducing peak demand in order to create a cleaner electric grid,” Judson said in a statement. "These goals call for significant increase in incentives and access to energy efficiency for homes and businesses that will help us achieve a clean, affordable and resilient energy future for all."
Massachusetts has already been a model when it comes to energy efficiency, named by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy for eight consecutive years as the nation's most-efficient state. And clean energy advocates hailed the state's move last year to institute a new Clean Peak Standard. The program would set baselines for the amount of renewable energy that utilities must provide, but the state is still in the process of fleshing out the details.
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