STATE HOUSE – Rep. Josh Cutler joined his colleagues in the State Legislature to pass landmark energy legislation that seeks to protect the Commonwealth’s ratepayers and support clean energy. The bipartisan bill, signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday afternoon, will require utilities to procure 1,600 megawatts (MWs) of deep offshore wind and a total of 2,800 MWs of clean energy overall, the largest amount the Legislature has included in any single bill. To spur the timely infusion of reliable clean energy projects in Massachusetts, the bill will also require distribution companies to conduct solicitations for up to 9,450,000 MWhs of energy from either hydropower, or hydropower and Class I renewable resources.
“With the impending loss of coal and nuclear power, Massachusetts must develop new energy sources while at the same time diversify our energy portfolio,” said Rep. Cutler, a member of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utility and Energy. “The bill signed by Gov. Baker today does both. This is a tremendous step forward to help reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and also protect ratepayers, while providing stability to the marketplace.” “This legislation helps Massachusetts achieve two vital goals — a cleaner and greener environment and energy independence,” said Rep. Thomas A. Golden, Jr., chairman of the Telecommunication, Utilities and Energy Committee.
In his remarks on Monday, Gov. Baker said the new law “will set Massachusetts’ course for the future in a proper and appropriate way to ensure that we continue to reduce our carbon footprint and at the same time deliver reliable and competitively priced energy for the people of this region.”
House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo also lauded the bill, calling it a “smart strategy that will bring stability to costs while expanding opportunities for offshore wind and hydro.” Related provisions of the new law include:
All contract proposals must go through a competitive bidding process;
Contracts must be determined to be cost-effective for ratepayers to be approved;
Stipulates that eligible offshore wind developers must build projects in federally leased waters;
Solicitations may be coordinated with other states or state-designated entities, and may staggered over time;
The length of the contracts shall be for 15 to 20 years
By creating a framework that includes both offshore wind and hydropower this legislation promotes a diverse energy portfolio that will replace some of the power the Commonwealth is losing from older, dirtier sources scheduled to shut down. With a similarly forward-looking perspective, the focus on offshore wind will cultivate a new industry and create jobs here in Massachusetts.
The legislation includes a series of ratepayer protections including a requirement that the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) and the Attorney General jointly-select an independent evaluator to assist the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to determine whether the procurement process is open, fair, and transparent.
The new law also contains language to promote gas leak repairs and development of energy storage technology. It also authorizes the Baker administration to establish a carbon reduction research center at UMass.
The new law also establishes a panel to monitor the decommissioning of the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth. The panel will include 21 members who will review Entergy’s post-closure plans and work to ensure the plant is decommissioned quickly and safely after it shuts down as expected in June of 2019.