Massachusetts Has Chance to Think Big, Move Forward Toward Clean Energy Future

Statements by Ken Kimmell, President, Union of Concerned Scientists in Cambridge

Published May 23, 2016

BOSTON (May 23, 2016)—A draft of the highly anticipated omnibus energy bill from the House was made public today in Massachusetts.

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

“Massachusetts has been a clean energy leader for years and we’re pleased to have the state gearing up for its next big step forward on this front. The bill would make important progress on key areas for Massachusetts’ energy future, including support for hydro power and offshore wind—a clean energy technology with incredible economic potential, especially for the states that lead rather than follow.

“We can do more and we need do more, however, to secure Massachusetts’ energy future. This bill needs to have a stronger commitment to renewables of all sorts, including offshore wind, to build a more diverse and stable energy portfolio for the benefit of the state and its electricity consumers. It also should strengthen the state’s renewable portfolio standard and help to limit the role of natural gas, as Massachusetts is already in the danger zone for dependence on that particular fossil fuel, which can cause major price swings that show up on household utility bills.

“This bill offers Massachusetts a chance to think big and serve as a national model in the energy revolution currently underway.”

A recent UCS analysis titled Massachusetts’s Electricity Future: Reducing Reliance on Natural Gas through Renewable Energy shows the state can embrace a suite of renewable energy policies that can get it to more than 50 percent renewable energy by 2030. That move would cut the region’s over-reliance on natural gas for electricity generation, lower power sector carbon emissions, improve public health, and create strong economic development opportunities—particularly from launching the offshore industry—all at modest cost.

Another UCS assessment from 2015 found Massachusetts is one of only eight states in which natural gas makes up over half of its in-state electricity mix. Unless the state takes corrective action, this number is expected to grow as 70 percent of the state’s projected near-term power plant additions are natural gas-fueled.