MA Senators Brief Local Chambers on New Energy Legislation

Sen. Pacheco

Sen. Pacheco

“Clean energy is a $11.4 billion part of Massachusetts’ economy—and growing,” Sen. Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton) told Local Chambers of Commerce the day after his committee introduced new energy legislation to help Massachusetts diversify its energy sources and satisfy corporate demand for more renewable energy.

Sen. Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester)—co-sponsor of S.1885, a bill aimed at accelerating solar energy development—joined Sen. Pacheco in telling Local Chambers that there is also a need for Massachusetts to do more to advance solar energy.

Sen. Tarr

Sen. Tarr

“We don’t want capital to migrate to other states because of lack of opportunity in ours,” Sen. Tarr said.

The Senators addressed local chamber leaders from across the state in a briefing call co-sponsored by the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce, South Coast Chamber of Commerce, and Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy.

“We were once the whaling capital of the world. Now New Bedford has been tapped as a prime location for offshore wind development,” said Rick Kidder, President and CEO of the South Coast Chamber. The South Coast Chamber has supported increasing renewable energy and the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) a key element of the new Senate legislation.

States Competing To Be The Nation’s Offshore Wind Hub

Massachusetts passed legislation in 2016 aimed at being the nation’s hub for offshore wind and attracting the investment and new jobs associated with this. But many states along the eastern seaboard, including New York, New Jersey, and Maryland, are competing with Massachusetts to be the offshore wind and solar energy hub. Rhode Island built the first offshore wind farm in the country.

“We want to embrace a clean energy future where Massachusetts is number one in offshore wind,” said Sen. Pacheco.

The Senate omnibus energy bill (S. 479) would set new targets for emission reductions, pursue energy storage technology, and grow the amount of renewable energy utilities purchase through the RPS from 1 to 3 percent. Read more about S.479.

Clean Energy Jobs

He added that the policies that have been put in place to advance clean energy over the past decade have contributed to:

  • 109,000 clean energy jobs,
  • 7,000 new companies, and
  • $11.4 billion in investments in the state.

Pointing to solar energy development, Sen Tarr told chamber leaders that due to restrictive policies on solar energy, there is a risk that solar projects could be stalled because of what are known as net metering caps, or limits on the excess amount of energy that can flow back to the grid if left unused by the owner of a business or home that uses solar panels.

“It’s important to economic development that we not have a stoppage in these projects,” he said. His bill, An Act Regarding Net Metering (S.1885), would increase the cap from 7 to 8.75 percent in an effort to keep the jobs and investments in the state.

Local Chambers have been active in supporting solar energy, offshore wind, and increasing renewable energy. Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy will continue to keep you informed as these issues move forward.