By Cherie Ching, Advocacy Fellow
Photo Credit: MA Department of Energy Resources
The Green Communities Act, Senate Bill 2768: An Act relative to green communities, was signed by Governor Deval Patrick in 2008 as an aggressive step towards energy efficiency and renewable energy in Massachusetts. This Act requires utilities to increase investment in energy efficiency measures, mandates the design and implementation of three-year state-wide energy efficiency plans by utility companies, and encourages greener buildings through updated codes, education, training and financial assistance.
This Act has enhanced Massachusetts’s efforts in energy efficiency by helping to get over many of the hurdles in the way of green progress. Some of these benefits include expanding investment by utilities; allowing municipalities, businesses and individuals to take advantage of net metering programs and net generation credits; requiring utilities to connect and contract with renewable resource customers to the grid; increasing the percentage of renewable resource generated power by the grid; and allowing for smart meter pilot programs to look into more innovative structures for the current rate system.
In addition to the abundant progress since 2008, the Green Communities program also encourages and supports towns looking into energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy projects. Creating a long-term structure for the green movement, the Act plays a significant role in statewide and national efforts not only for transforming our physical building structures into sustainable communities, but more importantly, our perceptual outlook of turning these policies into concrete action.
The Green Communities Act has resulted in calculable and incalculable benefits for Massachusetts and for the global community as a whole: job creation in the thousands; energy efficiency return on investment in the millions, a cleaner environment, a healthier society, and a clearer conscience which go beyond any calculable satisfaction.
As elaborated in the Boston Globe and the Analysis Group, the Act is projected to consistently increase the level of a greener community, but alongside other fruitful legislation such as the Green Jobs Act (Massachusetts Clean Energy Center) and the Global Warming Solutions Act, passed under the Patrick Administration. However, this positive momentum does not come without cost and complications. The net metering cap has been a hot topic in the recent months, addressing yet another barrier for greening energy resources through particularly solar alternatives and community solar. Our Chapter’s Advocacy Committee is dedicated to seeing Bill S.1770 pass through legislation to satisfy one of the many goals of the Green Communities Act.