Climate Policy Alert: Update on the Final MA Climate Bill
Written by Isabella Gambill, Senior Policy Advisor on Climate, Energy, & Resilience
In the final days of the extended 2019-2020 Massachusetts legislative session, on Sunday, January 3rd, 2021, the climate conference committee released S.2995 or the Bill Creating a Next-Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts, a landmark climate bill that is the most comprehensive piece of climate and clean energy legislation since the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act. The Massachusetts legislature voted to pass S.2995 on Monday, January 4th, thereby sending it to Governor Baker’s desk to sign into law. Although the legislative session officially ended at midnight on Tuesday January 5th, Governor Baker has between now and January 14th to sign S.2995 and any other bills remaining on his desk.
There are many elements of S.2995 that A Better City fully supports such as the science-based emission reduction targets, environmental justice commitments, and renewable energy accessibility and procurement measures. However, there are other elements that we think require further deliberation to understand their full implications. To that end, we sent a comment letter to Governor Baker last night urging him to consider vetoing certain bill components. As it stands, the Next-Generation Roadmap Bill commits Massachusetts to:
- Economy-wide emissions reduction interim targets of 50% by 2030, 75% by 2040, and net zero by 2050.
- Establishment of five-year emission reduction sublimits.
- The establishment of sector-specific targets.
- Establishment of a net zero stretch energy code, shifting the governance of the stretch code to the Dept. of Energy Resources and away from the Board of Building Regulations and Standards.
- Appliance energy efficiency standards, which would match California’s appliance standards and likely bring Massachusetts back to our #1 ranking in energy efficiency.
- Alignment with Mass Save and 3-Year energy efficiency plans for utilities.
- An updated mandate for the Department of Public Utilities to prioritize safety, security, reliability of service, affordability, and notably, equity and reductions of greenhouse gas emissions to meet emission reduction targets.
- Expansion of offshore wind in Massachusetts, thereby increasing the Commonwealth’s total authorization portfolio to 5,600MW.
- An increase to the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) by 3% each year for 2025-2029, ensuring that at least 40% of the State’s electric power will be renewable by 2030.
- Expansion of accessibility to and procurement of solar energy, particularly around low-income solar. The solar provisions also exempt businesses and other large customers from the solar net metering cap to allow them to install solar systems larger than 25 kilowatts on their premises.
- Funding for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to establish the Clean Energy Equity Workforce and Market Development Program. The annual $12M in funding to MACEC will come from energy efficiency dollars within the Department of Public Utilities.
- Provisions targeting natural gas utilities and enhancing natural gas safety. These include standards for gas distribution maps and records, whistleblower protection to utility employees, strengthened gas company plans for addressing aging and leaking infrastructure, new regulations for the training and certification of utility contractors, and increased penalties for safety violations and failure to restore service after emergencies.
- Fuel cell property tax exemptions to help incentivize hydrogen power.
- Numerical benchmarks for adoption of electric vehicles, charging stations, solar technology, energy storage, heat pumps, anaerobic digestors, and more.
- Establishment of market-based compliance mechanisms, with timelines for different sectors to identify their compliance mechanism.
- Enrichment of state climate policy to promote and protect “natural and working lands,” sources of carbon sequestration.
We will be watching the developments of the Next-Generation Roadmap Bill closely over the coming days. For any questions or more information on the Next-Generation Roadmap Bill please contact Isabella Gambill Senior Policy Advisor on Climate, Energy, & Resilience at A Better City.