Create tens of thousands of local, community-sustaining green jobs by ensuring that all major new energy infrastructure built in Massachusetts moves our society towards a clean energy future rather than locking us further into fossil fuel dependency.
No New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure
Under the Global Warming Solutions act, Massachusetts has committed to reducing emissions to 80% by 2050. To achieve these targets, all major energy infrastructure investments in MA from this point forwards should be directed to renewable sources alone. We cannot afford to lock ourselves into further fossil fuel dependency by investing in new coal or natural gas infrastructure.
In setting out mid-term goals for the GWSA, Governor Patrick should include a ban on new investments in major coal or natural gas infrastructure like pipelines, power plants, and export terminals. The ban may only be violated if the state demonstrates that it is technologically impossible to meet our energy needs through greater energy efficiency and renewable energy investments.
What Do We Build Instead?
Recommended Policies to Support Full Clean Energy in MA:
The Global Warming Solutions Act requires that the state reduce its GHG emissions at least 80% by 2050. According to the state’s Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2020, we can only reach the 2050 legal mandate if we have close to 100% low-carbon electricity on our grid.
This will require a number of changes, and we have developed a five-point plan to enable us to move to a clean electricity system powered by renewable energy:
- Accelerate regional deployment of renewable energy including land-based wind, solar, offshore wind and biogas.
- Expand the state’s leadership in energy efficiency.
- Upgrade and expand the electrical grid including supporting expansion of transmission to improve regional interconnection.
- Expand existing demand response programs for greater participation from a wider range of customers.
- Implement stronger measures for energy conservation
To support this program, 350 MA proposes five specific policies which will help our state move to a clean electricity system:
1) Governor Patrick has already directed policymakers to study a feed-in tariff for solar photovoltaic power in MA. Feed-in tariff policies create long-term electricity contracts that guarantee price certainty for renewable facilities, from family homes with solar photovoltaic panels on their rooftops to commercial wind farms.
These tariffs have been used with great success in Germany and other European countries. In Massachusetts, our feed-in tariff will be more effective if it includes many types of renewable energy. We recommend that Governor Patrick expand the state’s study and eventual implementation of the policy to include offshore wind, community wind, and biogas.
2) Energy efficiency constitutes much of the “low hanging fruit” for reducing GHG emissions. Yet, because state law says that the electric and gas utilities may only support efficiency measures that are no more expensive than the alternative of providing more energy supplies, there is a danger that continued low natural gas prices will hamper the progress of efficiency. It is essential that this obstacle be addressed.
One way to do so is for the state to set an official price on carbon emissions that recognizes their full long-term costs to society. This price would then be added to the benefits provided by efficiency in reducing the need to burn more fossil fuels, and so would allow the utilities to support a wider range of efficiency measures.
3) We need Governor Patrick to advocate for upgrades to our region’s electrical grid, including expanded transmission. In order to meet our full electricity demand through renewables, we will need to connect Massachusetts with New York and other New England states more efficiently.
In addition to leading a joint effort with other state governments to upgrade the grid, Governor Patrick should support new renewable facilities in our region by rate-basing transmission (guaranteeing a rate of return for utilities) and taking other steps to support developers who want to improve our transmission system.
4) In order to more easily meet our electricity demand with renewable energy and prevent the building of new fossil fuel plants to provide power at times of peak demand, 350 Mass calls on Governor Patrick’s Administration to expand the use of a policy known as demand response, which provides financial incentives to electricity customers to reduce use at times of peak demand. This program has been successful in both Massachusetts and other states, and we need to build on that success.
5) Finally, Governor Patrick should work with the state’s Board of Building Regulation and Standards to amend the state’s building code to require that all new residential and commercial buildings include solar water heating and are suitable for solar electricity (photovoltaic) installation whenever feasible.