A law recently enacted by the Massachusetts legislature and signed by Governor Charlie Baker will increase the use of renewable fuels to produce electricity, allow the development of more offshore wind farms, enable more technologies to qualify for energy efficiency incentives and increase the use of technologies that store electricity. It is the third clean energy law enacted in Massachusetts since 2016.

Passed by a vote of 150-1 in the House of Representatives and 36-0 in the Senate on July 31st, the last day of formal sessions this year, “An Act to Advance Clean Energy” (H. 4857) was the product of a conference committee tasked with reconciling significant differences between one large Senate bill and four relatively modest House bills. The resulting compromise aligns more closely with the House legislation than the omnibus bill passed by the Senate, but its significance should not be underestimated.

Continue Reading Expansion of Clean Energy Policies Continues

It has been over two years since Governor Baker enacted the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) Program, and nearly one year since the state’s Department of Energy Resources (DOER) released its final set of proposed regulations for the program. In our latest SMART update, we take a look at where the program currently stands and what energy providers can expect next (read our previous updates here and here).

Continue Reading Update on Massachusetts SMART Program: Where Are We Now?

On February 7, the Baker-Polito Administration announced that Massachusetts has installed more than 2,000 megawatts (MW) of solar electricity through 78,646 projects across the state. The achievement represents the culmination of various projects that make Massachusetts a leader in clean energy and energy efficiency and help the Commonwealth meet greenhouse gas reduction requirements set out by the Global Warming Solutions Act.

Continue Reading Massachusetts Achieves Milestone with over 2,000 Megawatts of Installed Solar Capacity

After releasing a request for proposals in March 2017 seeking long-term contracts for clean energy projects, on January 25 the Baker-Polito administration selected the Northern Pass Hydro (Northern Pass) project to move forward to contract negotiations with Massachusetts’ electric distribution companies in an effort to bring over 1,000 megawatts of electricity to the Commonwealth. Less than a week later, the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee defeated those plans, voting unanimously to deny a certificate to Eversource Energy, the utility responsible for developing the project. Now, the administration is giving Northern Pass a second chance to gain approval from New Hampshire regulators, but they have chosen a “back-up” project should Northern Pass fail once more.

Continue Reading Administration Gives Northern Pass a Second Chance for Energy Procurement

On November 1, the Baker-Polito Administration awarded $3.7 million in grants to increase the adoption of cost-saving clean energy technologies by Massachusetts low-income residents as part of the Commonwealth’s Affordable Clean Residential Energy Program (ACRE).

Continue Reading Baker-Polito Administration Awards $3.7 Million in Grants for Clean Energy Technology

On October 31, 2017, the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development heard testimony on six bills introduced this session addressing the use of non-compete agreements in Massachusetts. Each of the bills includes provisions that would place restrictions on the use of non-competes, with the aim of introducing more fairness to a dynamic skewed against workers, as Representative Lori Ehrlich argued in her testimony. Business interests claim non-compete agreements hurt innovation, a topic that became a focus of the hearing. The committee also considered arguments to update the state’s trade secret laws as well as to include language in the legislation that provides for strong garden leave and notice provisions in order to induce companies to reduce the use of non-competes. The bills are expected to remain before the committee until after the new year. The Massachusetts House and Senate passed bills to limit the use of non-competes last year, but negotiations between the branches broke down in conference committee. To learn more, please follow the link to our partner page at ML Strategies.

For the seventh consecutive year, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) named Massachusetts the most energy-efficient state in the United States. The council’s 11th annual report, released September 28, 2017 in the wake of recent extreme weather events, highlighted the importance of energy-efficiency as a tool to help communities recover from storms and economic shocks. While many states, such as Idaho, Florida, and Virginia made vast improvements over last year, Massachusetts continued to pave the way for sustainability through continued leadership in energy-efficient transportation policies and utility-sector energy efficiency programs.

Continue Reading Massachusetts Named Most Energy Efficient State for Seventh Consecutive Year by American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

The most effective local clean energy projects result from thorough, targeted, and well-supported research that puts the needs of the surrounding community at the forefront. To support such research efforts in Massachusetts, the Baker-Polito Administration awarded $661,000 in Municipal Energy Technical Assistance (META) grants to 56 cities and towns across the Commonwealth earlier this month to research, develop, and implement clean energy projects.

The META grants, a function of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources’ (DOER) Green Communities Division, were allocated to designated “Green Communities” ( municipalities, regional school districts, and water/wastewater districts) to support more informed clean energy decision-making through localized studies and data analysis. This support will include the services of expert consultants and contractors to assist with a diverse array of local energy projects. META grants are funded through proceeds from Alternative Compliance Payments under the Massachusetts Renewable Portfolio Standard.

The Green Communities Division of DOER strives to help all 351 Massachusetts cities, towns, and regional planning authorities find clean energy solutions that reduce long-term energy costs and strengthen local economies. The division provides technical assistance and financial support for municipal initiatives to improve energy efficiency and increase the use of renewable energy in public buildings, facilities and schools. In order to become a designated Green Community, and in turn become eligible for grants that finance local energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, a municipality must meet five key criteria: 1) provide as-of-right siting in designated locations for renewable/alternative energy generation, research & development, or manufacturing facilities; 2) adopt an expedited application and permit process for as-of-right energy facilities; 3) establish an energy use baseline and develop a plan to reduce energy use by twenty percent within five years; 4) purchase only fuel-efficient vehicles; and 5) set requirements to minimize life-cycle energy costs for new construction; one way to meet these requirements is to adopt the new Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS) Stretch Code.

The projects and studies funded this year will include solar photovoltaic site evaluation, heating system replacements, ASHRAE Level II audits, technical analysis of energy use at drinking water and wastewater facilities and technical assistance with Green Community reporting and application. These studies promise to incentivize wide-scale energy efficiency and catalyze critical partnerships between Massachusetts communities and clean energy providers that can help these communities meet both short- and long-term energy goals.

On August 23, the Baker-Polito Administration awarded $455,000 in grants to seven early-stage researchers and companies developing clean energy technologies as part of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s (MassCEC) Catalyst program.

Continue Reading Baker-Polito Administration Awards $455,000 in Grants to Clean Energy Innovators

On August 23, Massachusetts joined the eight other states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in announcing a plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by an additional 30 percent by 2030 relative to 2020 levels. The nation’s first market-based regulatory program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the RGGI counts Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Massachusetts as members. Since 2009, the initiative has employed a cap-and-trade program to lower emissions, and the proceeds from the pollution permit auctions are used to support energy efficiency programs in the member states. This most recent plan would lower emissions by more than 65 percent since the initiative’s inception.

Continue Reading Massachusetts Joins Other States in Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Announcing Plan to Reduce Emissions by Additional 30 Percent over 2020 Levels