On Monday, August 8, 2016, Massachusetts Governor Baker signed into law legislation aimed at promoting energy diversity within the commonwealth. Highlights of House Bill No. 4568, An Act to Promote Energy Diversity, include the following:
- The Department of Public Utilities is authorized to require electric distribution companies to include small hydroelectric facilities (2 MW or less) in their net metering programs.
- Distribution companies are required by June 30, 2017 to “jointly and competitively solicit proposals for offshore wind energy generation.” If the proposals are “reasonable,” the distribution companies are to enter into “cost-effective long-term contracts” to meet a schedule to procure approximately 1,600 MW of aggregate nameplate capacity by June 30, 2027.
- Distribution companies are also required by April 1, 2017 to “jointly and competitively solicit proposals for clean energy generation” which is defined as hydroelectric generation and new Class I renewable portfolio standard eligible resources (e.g. solar, wind, geothermal, small hydropower). If the proposals are “reasonable,” the distribution companies are to enter into “cost-effective long-term contracts for clean energy generation for an annual amount of electricity equal to approximately 9,450,000 megawatts-hours.”
- The Massachusetts Development Finance Agency is directed to develop a “commercial sustainable energy program” and to issue property-assessed clean energy (PACE) bonds in order to facilitate the implementation of energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements on private commercial and industrial property.
- The Department of Energy Resources is authorized to develop targets for electric companies to procure energy storage systems and to establish a carbon reduction research center to investigate, among other things, fuel cells, energy storage, and increasing the efficiency of fossil-based fuels.
- A nuclear decommissioning citizens advisory panel will be convened to discuss issues related to the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station’s decommissioning planning activities. The panel is to hold quarterly public meetings starting on or about June 1, 2017.