Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has signed S.2395, legislation that contains several clean energy provisions.
The new law includes the extension of long-term contracts between utilities and renewable energy companies – a measure the governor's office says will keep the supply of renewable energy credits in balance with the growing demand and ultimately lead to cost savings for ratepayers.
The legislation also raises the cap on net metering – a valuable incentive to customers who install renewable energy technologies. Under the new law, the net-metering cap will rise to 3% for both public and private projects. Anaerobic digestion was also added to the list of eligible technologies able to net meter, and the amount of hydropower was also increased.
The legislation also allows for long-term contracts as an incentive for companies that purchase coal-fired power plants and transition them to gas-fired generators, so long as they agree to completely remediate the site. It also creates a task force to help the city of Salem address decommissioning and deconstruction of the Salem Harbor Power Plant; instructs the Department of Public Utilities to open a docket to look at the need for additional capacity; and further extends the commitment of Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative money to help communities address the tax shortfall from decommissioned power plants.
Other provisions of the legislation include the following:
- Enabling more municipalities to install solar panels on community landfills;
- Requiring electric companies to file for rate cases every five years and gas companies to file every 10 years;
- Requiring the Massachusetts Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs' agencies to complete a number of studies to analyze further steps in energy efficiency, as well as the explore other renewable energy sources;
- Establishing a three-year energy-efficiency rebate pilot program for the five largest gas and electric users in each service territory; and
- Adding new members to the Energy Efficiency Advisory Committee.
"This legislation will improve the reliability of our grid, create more competition for energy contracts and address some of the cost-drivers for electricity without compromising our commitment to developing renewable energy resources," says Senate President Therese Murray.
"This legislation builds on Massachusetts' nation-leading clean energy policies and ensures that those policies are advanced in the most cost-effective way," adds State Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, Senate chairman of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy. ‘It will enhance the job growth we have seen in clean energy and energy efficiency, while ensuring ratepayer dollars are being used effectively.’