Mass. Senate Passes Key Upgrades to Green Communities Act

On April 5 the Massachusetts State Senate unanimously passed key energy legislation that advances the state’s efforts to lead the nation in the clean energy sector, as detailed by Janet Gail Besser’s blog for the New England Clean Energy Council. I agree with Besser’s assertions that by acting overwhelmingly on S2214, An Act Relative to Competitively Priced Electricity in the Commonwealth, Bay State legislators have demonstrated their shared belief that the innovation economy is a critical tool for the region’s economic development and for the state’s job-creation efforts.

Passage by the Senate sends the bill to the State House of Representatives, where members will likely take up legislative debate in the coming weeks.

S2214 strengthens important tenets of the landmark Green Communities Act (GCA), which Governor Patrick signed into law in 2008 as nation-leading energy efficiency and clean technology legislation.

To date the GCA has provided hundreds of millions of dollars of net benefits to electric and gas ratepayers in Massachusetts, primarily through smart investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy. These investments have helped reduce energy waste and have lowered reliance on imported fossil fuels while promoting clean technology jobs.

Among the key provisions outlined in Besser’s blog, S2214 achieves the following:

  • Preserves a framework for Massachusetts to enhance its nation-leading energy efficiency policy;
  • Expands net metering opportunities, providing energy users with an incentive to install renewable generation and the ability to save on their energy costs;
  • Opens net metering to anaerobic digestion, a renewable technology that reduces organic waste going to landfills, provides local economic development and reduces greenhouse gases;
  • Extends and expands long-term contracting for renewable energy, reducing financing costs to developers and thereby reducing costs to energy customers; and
  • Resolves property tax issues for solar projects, facilitating residential, commercial and industrial deployment of a technology whose costs are coming down.

I believe strongly that the Senate’s passage of S2214 is an important next step for our state. Do you agree?

Jay Staunton is Vice President, Account Services, at Greenough.