By Grey Lee, Executive Director
[Note: join our Advocacy Committee on Thursday 8/11/16 at 5:30-7pm at 50 Milk St. RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org]
Over 200 people gathered this afternoon on the lawn at the Kennedy Statue at the Massachusetts State House for the signing of the 2016 Energy Bill.
Political figures from all corners of the legislative process gathered to share responsibility for the bill, H 4568, which as of approximately2:09pm this afternoon was signed into law by Governor Baker.
Comments reflected the consensus across both chambers of the General Court – that this bill will help assert Massachusetts' leadership in energy policy, in procurement, and in financing new energy efficiency projects.
This last note is in reference to the PACE provisions of the bill. Lt. Governor Polito particularly pointed out how the program will enable MassDevelopment to provide bond funding to small and medium businesses who can use the financing to improve their buildings and make their operations more efficient. PACE wasn't exactly a hot topic just a month ago – good thing it moved up on the agenda!
Senator Downing was lauded for his role as a conferee and for his general leadership on energy policy. He was thanked profusely by his colleagues as he will not be seeking re-election this fall. He spoke to our continued need to promote energy efficiency first, optimization of use second, reductions in fossil-fuel generated supply third, and then the build-out of new renewables.
Prior to the Governor signing the bill, Energy & Environmental Affairs Secretary Beaton spoke to the balance, thoughtful, competitive and regional nature of the package. It was important that the legislation “be fair to ratepayers” – although there was no elaboration on what that meant really. It probably means keeping rates from growing rapidly. Good to know that is one of his priorities! He especially highlighted the provisions to promote energy storage technology development where we have leaders in industry and academia.
Governor Baker was able to share how the legislation will enable the Commonwealth to make good on its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to diversify the energy sources used in Massachusetts. This was noted as important considering the retirement of the Plymouth nuclear plant in just 3 years, which has 680 MW of generating capacity. That would be a lot of wind turbines (or efficiency improvements)!
Many hard working people in the sustainability community were there including Austin Blackmon of the City of Boston and Ken Pruitt of the Environmental League of Massachusetts. Congratulations to the many advocates, legislative staff, expert testimony providers and others who helped the elected officials create legislation that, while lacking in some regards, will help us more forward toward a better energy future in Massachusetts.
We will be back in full force for the next session to continue to promote energy policy which will benefit citizens of Massachusetts. We will push for residential PACE and energy transparency, increased requirements for renewables in the electricity grid, more aggressive standards for building performance, and more funding for cleantech innovation for our built environment.