Senate releases comprehensive clean energy legislation

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An extensive clean energy bill released on Feb. 12 by the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change would create more ambitious regulations for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and municipal solid waste, expand clean energy procurement and storage, and eliminate the solar net metering cap and further promote solar generation.
 
The bill would allow the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to promulgate regulations for greenhouse gas reduction that exceed standards set by the international Paris Climate Agreement. It would also expand the definitions in the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act to more directly deal with emissions from all sectors, including transportation vehicles, buildings and structures, and any residential, commercial, institutional, industrial or manufacturing process.
 
The bill allows for the procurement of more offshore wind and hydropower and would expand opportunities for energy storage.
 
Changes to net metering and solar energy generation in the bill include the elimination of the net metering cap for renewable energy projects and establishment of a statewide solar target of 20 percent of total electricity use by 2020 and 30 percent by 2030.
 
The bill would delay the establishment by electric utilities of a “monthly minimum reliability contribution” for net metering customers by a year, to 2020, and would require advanced metering equipment before a customer could be assessed the fee.
 
Regarding municipal solid waste, the bill would require the DEP to establish standards to reduce solid waste to not more than 600 pounds per capita per year by July 1, 2020, and to not more than 450 pounds per capita by July 1, 2024.
 
The bill would establish a comprehensive climate change adaptation management plan, providing a process for local and regional climate vulnerability assessment and adaptation strategy development and implementation. The bill directs the secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs to develop an adaptation management plan grant program to provide financial and technical assistance to municipalities.
 
The energy bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.
 
The Senate has a number of major bills on its agenda to take up before the end of formal legislative sessions on July 31. The MMA will continue to review the energy bill and weigh in on sections that affect municipalities.