Massachussetts Lawmakers Go All-In on Renewables

Illustration. Source: Vattenfall

Massachusetts State Representatives Sean Garballey and Marjorie Decker, and State Senator Jamie Eldridge have filed a bill that would commit Massachusetts to obtain 100 per cent of its electricity from clean, renewable sources like solar and wind by 2035.

The bill, An Act to transition Massachusetts to 100 per cent renewable energy, would require the state to achieve 100 per cent renewable electricity generation by 2035, and phase out the use of fossil fuels across all sectors, including heating and transportation, by 2050.

The new legislation would require the Department of Energy Resources to set binding targets for renewable energy growth in all major sectors of the economy, and issue regulations to ensure that Massachusetts stays on track towards 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050.

The bill is designed to complement and strengthen the Global Warming Solutions Act, passed in 2008, which requires the state to reduce its carbon emissions by at least 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Additionally, the bill would increase the renewable portfolio standard (RPS), a state policy that requires utilities to purchase a minimum amount of their electricity from renewable sources like solar and wind, bringing it up to 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2035.

The bill also directs the Department of Transportation and the Department of Energy Resources to conduct studies identifying pathways towards 100 per cent renewable energy in transportation and the building sector, with particular attention to policies that can expand access to renewable energy and energy efficiency options for low-income communities.

In order to increase access to employment opportunities in solar, offshore wind, energy efficiency, and other clean energy technologies, the bill creates a Clean Energy Workforce Development Fund. At least half of the money from the fund must be spent to benefit residents of Gateway Cities, transitioning fossil fuel workers, and residents of environmental justice communities.

Massachusetts is the first US state to set out offshore wind capacity targets in its new energy legislation. In August 2016, the state governor Charlie Baker signed into law the new energy legislation which calls for development of 1,600MW of offshore wind capacity by 2027.

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