Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Massachusetts Lawmakers Reach Late-Night Compromise on Energy Bill

This hydro dam in Baie-Comeau, Quebec, could benefit from provisions of the energy bill that passed through the state Legislature on Sunday. (Credit: Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press/AP/File) Click to Enlarge.
In the frantic final hours of the legislative session Sunday night, House and Senate leaders agreed to a compromise energy bill that would spur big utilities to buy large amounts of electricity generated by wind farms and Canadian dams, but could also lead to moderate rate hikes.

The compromise bill, reached with just hours to go before lawmakers adjourned from formal sessions for the year, hewed more to the House proposal:  a streamlined approach that would shift the state’s energy mix to include more hydro and wind power.

The Senate had proposed a much wider array of energy measures, but many of those didn’t make it into the final bill.

The compromise calls for the big utilities to buy up to 1,600 megawatts of off-shore wind energy.  The language, however, would freeze out the controversial Cape Wind project from competing for those contracts.

The bill also calls for big utilities -- namely Eversource and National Grid -- to buy up to 1,200 megawatts of clean energy from the north, likely either hydropower from Canada or electricity from wind farms in northern New England and upstate New York.

Supporters say the bill could help the state meet its aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goals while diversifying the energy supplies as a number of older power plants shut down.  The bill could also help create an entirely new industry in the state, as offshore wind developers use the contracts required by the bill to finance wind farms many miles to the south of the New England coastline.

“This is a huge victory for off-shore wind both for our environment and our economy,” George Bachrach, president of the Environmental League of Massachusetts, said in an e-mail.  “It’s also a victory for diversifying our energy portfolio away from fossil fuels by adding both wind and hydro.”

Read more at Lawmakers Reach Late-Night Compromise on Energy Bill

No comments:

Post a Comment