Legislation would make Massachusetts competitive in the development of offshore wind, invest in energy infrastructure and create jobs
BOSTON – In an effort to meet the Commonwealth’s climate goals of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, the House of Representatives last week passed (144-12) legislation to further develop the offshore wind industry in Massachusetts (An Act advancing offshore wind and clean energy – H.4515). The legislation would also modernize Massachusetts’s electrical grid and energy storage infrastructure and create thousands of new jobs. On March 7, the Massachusetts Senate referred the bill to its committee on Ways and Means.
“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 J. Mariano (D-Quincy). “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 thrilled that today the House passed legislation crucial to the development of a strong offshore wind industry in Massachusetts,” said Representative Jeffrey N. Roy (D-Franklin), who is House Chair of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy. He continued, “Massachusetts waters have the greatest offshore wind potential out of the contiguous U.S., and this legislation will ensure that the Commonwealth is prepared to harness that energy while also creating a just and robust local economy, educational opportunities for our residents, and critical upgrades to our energy infrastructure without causing undue harm to our coastal habitats or maritime industries.”
“I am so excited for this movement within the Massachusetts Legislature! It was great to be a part of the passing of this legislation which will have an immense impact on the development of offshore wind in Massachusetts for years to come,” said Representative Jessica Giannino (D-Revere). “This important legislation is vital to coastal communities, like Revere and key to the next decades of Massachusetts energy policy.”
“This bill is about ensuring the future prosperity of our Commonwealth and I am thrilled to have played a hand in its passage,” said Representative Jeffrey R. Turco (D-Winthrop). “There is tremendous potential for the continued development of offshore wind energy here in Massachusetts and passing this legislation is an excellent step in the right direction as we move toward attaining our ambitious renewable energy goals.”
An Act advancing offshore wind and clean energy mandates:
- 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 Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE) high school offshore wind credential training pilot program through which DESE 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 over $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 the Commonwealth’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.