Possible factors in Massachusetts include: uncertainty about changes in solar incentives; caps in some parts of the state on new net metering credits; and concern over a new charge on solar users imposed by Eversource. The report prompted a coalition of pro-solar groups to send a letter to Governor Charlie Baker, seeking his assistance in supporting the industry.
Yes indeed, Baker’s Department of Public Utilities has consistently sided with utilities to add fees to solar installations. To be fair, this is along with Trump’s tariff and tax uncertainty — but remember what was said about Baker’s DPU appointees when they got the gig:
“The administration is clearly putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop on energy policy,” said George Bachrach, president of the Environmental League of Massachusetts. “These are disappointing appointments that will likely represent the interests of the utilities and industries they regulate.”
Meanwhile, when she’s not suing the President, Maura Healey is making a career essentially countering Baker, defending clean energy. To summarize, your AG is taking on this administration in:
- Opposing the Baker admin’s indulgence of utilities’ self-dealing on Northern Pass;
- Opposing novel solar fees;
- clawing back tax savings from utilities;
- opposing putting renewables into an unfavorable wholesale market;
- opposing oil drilling now authorized by the Trump admin.
In case there’s any question: Yes, I want a “thumb on the scale” for clean energy — and not just a thumb, but an elbow, a knee, an anvil. And I’m absolutely positive we can make that a win-win situation for the vast majority of Massachusetts residents. Baker takes the so-called “balanced approach” — and causes MA residents to lose their jobs while committing us to despoiled air and contributing to a climate catastrophe.
But look — as I’m writing, the Senate rolls out its rock ’em-sock ’em clean energy bill (S.479, “An Act to Promote a Clean Energy Future”, for those scoring at home):
— Daniel Gatti (@DanielSGatti) February 12, 2018
Our friend and State Rep candidate Tommy Vitolo has a breakdown in listicle format – Eleven, count ’em, eleven big ideas!
Renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requirement is upped from 1 percent growth per year to 3 percent per year. [baaaamm!] Municipal electric utilities (~15 percent of Massachusetts sales) to be phased into RPS.
- Solar PV net metering caps are eliminated and solar is for all: low-income, renters, environmental justice communities, and public housing. [powww!!]
- Offshore wind: Sets a goal of 5,000 MW by 2035. [zaaapppp! etc]
- Electricity storage: Requires 1,766 MW by 2025, with more by 2030.
- Municipal light plants are explicitly subject to the Global Warming Solutions Act.
- Climate mitigation: Regional dam and seawall funding, nature-based solutions, and impacted communities are granted stronger intervention rights in DPU proceedings.
- DOER must issue regulations to keep Massachusetts on track toward 100 percent renewable energy (not just electricity!) by 2050. Yes, this includes transportation and building sectors.
- Natural gas “pipeline tax” on electric ratepayers is prohibited. Also, gas companies can’t charge customers for gas lost due to leaky pipes.
- Includes more and better rebates for electric vehicles (EVs) and EV chargers, municipal guidance for curbside EV charging, and a requirement that electric companies develop proposals for time-of-use EV charging to encourage off-peak use of the grid. Zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) get perks like better parking spots and access to high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes.
- Building consumption: Residential dwelling energy reporting system will be created and made available to owners. Expansion of energy efficiency (EE) standards to consumer products.
- State pensions must divest from fossil fuel companies, and a Green Energy Development Bank to leverage public and private funds toward clean energy investment is to be created.
And there’s interest in the House, too — does this catch Bob DeLeo’s attention? From Rep. Carolyn Dykema of Holliston, support for the Senate bill:
The two-year legislative session will draw to a close in July, leaving just over five months to pass needed new clean energy laws. As a member of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy, I’ve been a vocal advocate for three initiatives that deserve legislative support. They have strong backing from the public, will create jobs, and will make meaningful progress in addressing climate concerns. These measures will particularly benefit MetroWest, where the renewable energy economy has a significant presence.
Nice! If Governor Baker truly wants to “take a back seat to no one” in renewable energy and climate adaptation, the gauntlet has been well and truly thrown down by the Senate and our AG.