On March 3, in an effort to meet the Commonwealth’s climate goals of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, the House of Representatives passed by a vote of 144-12 a bill (H.4515) to further develop the offshore wind industry in Massachusetts. The legislation would also modernize Massachusetts’s electrical grid and energy storage infrastructure and create thousands of new jobs.
“I’m immensely proud of the steps that the House took today to ensure Massachusetts remains at the forefront of renewable energy development,” said House Speaker Ronald Mariano. “Not only will this legislation help us reduce our carbon emissions and combat climate change, it will also spur economic development, modernize our energy infrastructure, and create thousands of new jobs in the process. I want to thank Chairman Roy for his hard work in advancing this legislation, as its passage today was undoubtedly a critical step in the right direction.”
“I am absolutely thrilled by this legislation and grateful to my colleagues who championed it,” said State Representative Joseph McGonagle. “This bill is so beneficial to the Commonwealth, first by working towards clean, sustainable energy but also by creating thousands of jobs and giving students the opportunity to learn about this type of technology and environmental science. Massachusetts has always been and now will continue to be a leader on environmental issues and I’m so thankful we can capitalize on this opportunity.”
On March 7 the Massachusetts Senate referred the bill, which is titled An Act advancing offshore wind and clean energy, to its committee on Ways and Means. The bill mandates the following:
- Makes the Massachusetts offshore wind bidding process more competitive by removing a current price cap that requires bids to be less expensive than previous procurements, which has deterred companies from participating in the procurement process. Future procurements would now include economic development, employment and environmental and fisheries mitigation benefits.
- Invests hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade in infrastructure, innovation, job training, supply chain capacity, and transmission upgrades. The legislation consists of tax incentives, grants, loans and other investments.
- Requires utility companies to proactively upgrade the transmission and distribution grid to improve reliability and resilience and accommodate the anticipated significant shift to renewable forms of energy.
- Invests in long-term energy storage to help the Commonwealth’s transition to renewable energy.
- Provides thousands of good-paying jobs with a focus on ensuring access and opportunity for everyone.
- Creates a high school offshore wind credential training pilot program through which the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education would reimburse school districts for each student that obtains the credential.
The legislation creates parity between electric and natural gas, imposing a charge for natural gas consumers to support renewable energy, similar to the charge electric customers currently pay. At a little more than $1 a month for the average customer, this is estimated to collect $23 million a year over the next 10 years to support the Commonwealth’s transition to clean energy. By diversifying Massachusetts’s energy portfolio, Massachusetts will become more energy independent and less reliant on imported natural gas that is susceptible to volatile price spikes, thereby helping to stabilize ratepayer bills in the long term.