MA House Passes Energy Bill with Some Important Provisions, Senate Version Must Still be Stronger

Statement by Ken Kimmell, President, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Jun 9, 2016

BOSTON (June 9, 2016)—The Massachusetts House of Representatives passed an energy bill yesterday that the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) says is a good start that hopefully the Senate will build upon.

Below is a statement by Ken Kimmell, the president of UCS and former Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner and Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative chair.

“The House bill would be a step in the right direction for ramping up the state’s use of renewable energy, particularly hydropower and offshore wind. But we need to think bigger. The amount of offshore wind called for should be doubled. We should aim for at least 2,000 megawatts, since the bigger we go, the more the price will come down.

“And we need to take better advantage of our land-based renewables. New England wind farms offer solid prospects for steady, low-cost power in the near term. Transmission has been a key constraint, and the bill’s provision requiring long-term contracting for power and transmission would help unlock those resources. But the bill requires proposals with other renewable energy sources, including wind, to also include hydropower. The Senate should decouple the technologies and let them compete in whatever combination they want. The Senate should also require utilities to bring more renewables online faster than what the state’s renewable portfolio standard currently requires.

“We desperately need to get more renewables into the mix because far too much of electricity generation in Massachusetts comes from natural gas—more than 60 percent last year. That overreliance creates price and availability risks. And natural gas is still a fossil fuel that contributes to climate change.

“Thankfully the bill doesn’t tie electricity ratepayers to more natural gas infrastructure. The Senate should go a step further by blocking the state Department of Public Utilities from approving utilities’ request to charge ratepayers for more pipelines.”