Massachusetts Climate Bill
Legislation & Policy | April 6, 2021 | Posted by Jill McLaughlin
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Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed Senate Bill 9 – An Act Creating a Next Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy – into law on March 26th. Below, our North Andover Managing Director James Manzer discusses what it means for Massachusetts:
ReVision Energy applauds the 191st and 192nd Massachusetts Legislature for their continued focus on passing a “bill creating a next-generation roadmap for Massachusetts climate policy.” There are a number of really exciting provisions included in this bill. It doesn’t create an immediate solar surge in Massachusetts, but instead builds a landscape of confidence and stability for the solar industry. In the past we’ve dreaded the “solar rollercoaster,” where big incentives creates a rush in demand one year, followed by a crushing reduction of incentives the next year. This new bill means that Massachusetts’ solarcoaster ride will be more like the Tea Cups, and less like the Kingda Ka Roller Coaster at the Topsfield Fair.
One very exciting aspect to the new Climate Bill amends the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act to address environmental justice by defining “environmental justice populations” and providing new tools, protections, and public input opportunities for these communities. It also acknowledges the fact that the residents most impacted by pollution are disproportionately those with the fewest means. Prior to this bill, pollution standards were held to one household or business; your pollution was measured separately from your neighbors, meaning everyone in the neighborhood could all be polluting simultaneously. Massachusetts will now start collecting the impacts of all pollution in the state, and will regulate the total pollution emitted. It acknowledges that pollution is aggregate, and typically where you find one entity creating harmful pollution you find multiple entities. Those who live nearby often don’t have the means to relocate, let alone address the pain and suffering caused by long-term exposure to these sites.
The new Climate Bill establishes statewide emissions limits, with a goal of Net Zero emissions by 2050. It will also establish interim emissions goals every five years. Instead of only legislating the power industry’s emissions, it will expand these limits to the transportation, commercial, industrial, manufacturing, residential energy (heating and cooling), and natural gas sectors of the Commonwealth’s economy. For the first time this bill requires locally-run municipal light plants, of which there are 40 across Massachusetts, to meet emissions standards, legally binding them to procure 50% of their electricity from non-emitting electrical sources by 2030 and achieving those Net Zero emissions by 2050.
The administration is mandated to create a local Net Zero “stretch energy code” that municipalities will have the option to adopt for new-construction buildings. Recent analysis shows that this stretch code for new-construction would lead to an additional 2,300 megawatts of solar in Massachusetts by 2045. If you are building a new home or building in Massachusetts reach out to ReVision Energy today so that we can help you navigate these new stretch energy codes!
We call on the Governor and his administration to put the steps to meet the goals set forth by the legislature quickly. We’ve got a lot of work to do.