Massachusetts energy bill advances without ratepayer savings

Amendment to HB 4377 would have boosted market competition

BOSTON, June 8, 2016 — The energy bill passed today by the Massachusetts House of Representatives, HB 4377, lacks an amendment that would boost competition and make carbon emission reduction commitments more cost-effective. The bill raises barriers to open competition between renewable energy sources and, without amendment, Massachusetts consumers stand to lose out on billions of dollars in savings.

“By failing to allow all renewable energy sources to compete, the Massachusetts House of Representatives is leaving out the most cost-effective clean energy resources, plain and simple,” said Francis Pullaro, Executive Director of RENEW Northeast. “Clean air doesn’t have to come at a high price. With the possibility of a House amendment behind us, I urge the Senate to consider what’s best for Massachusetts ratepayers by adopting similar language in their version of the bill.”

HB 4377 would further cut carbon emissions by building on reduction goals from the previous successful procurements under the Green Communities Act. By tapping into more affordable clean energy, the state’s residents can look forward to cleaner air.

However, the House bill would unnecessarily reduce competition between hydropower and other clean energy sources, including solar and wind energy. In New England, large scale renewable energy resources are the most cost-competitive, with larger wind farms delivering the lowest prices.

The House rejected an amendment that would increase the bill’s cost-effectiveness by creating greater competition among electricity sources. As passed, HB 4377 allows only large hydroelectric generators to compete as stand-alone resources; other renewable resources must be paired with hydro in proposals to supply energy.

The proposed amendment would have allowed land-based wind farms, solar energy, and other renewable resources to bid independently on clean energy request for proposals, as large hydro projects are permitted to do. By freeing all forms of wind power to meet more of Massachusetts clean energy needs, ratepayers would in turn see lower energy prices.

The cost of land based wind power in the U.S. has fallen by 66 percent in the last six years, and wind now rates among the lowest cost sources of energy according to investment firm Lazard.

As the bill moves to the Senate, RENEW urges legislators to amend the bill to allow for competition among clean energy resources.

The U.S. Department of Energy found that by tapping into more wind energy, Massachusetts’s consumers could see $355 million dollars in electricity bill savings. That’s on top of an additional $4.57 billion dollars in savings resulting from lower natural gas prices.

Wind power supports hundreds of well-paying jobs in Massachusetts, including manufacturing jobs at 8 factories around the state, and building wind farms has attracted $220 million to the state’s economy.

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RENEW Northeast is a non-profit association uniting the renewable energy industry and environmental interest groups whose mission involves coordinating the ideas and resources of its members with the goal of promoting and increasing renewable energy in New England and New York. RENEW works to create and strengthen the public policies that will lead to the development and integration of high levels of renewable energy production for the benefit of the region. RENEW strives to be a single, coherent voice for its membership to achieve renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction goals by sharing resources and aligning messages. RENEW takes a leadership role in policy development on renewable energy issues before ISO New England and NYISO, state legislatures, governors, and utility commissions.