Ken Kimmell and Daniel Esty
House and senate lawmakers approved a compromise energy bill Sunday night that they hope will pave the way for an offshore wind industry and sharply increase imports of electricity from Canada, but they shied away from more aggressive measures to promote renewable energy and reduce carbon emissions.
The compromise bill surfaced shortly after 9:30 p.m. on Sunday night, the final day of the legislative session. It reflected the priorities of House leaders and the Baker administration while including relatively few of the initiatives contained in the Senate’s more sweeping energy proposal. The compromise bill won the backing of five of the six members on the House-Senate conference committee, with Sen. Marc Pacheco of Taunton refusing to sign.
The legislation, which was approved by the House on a 157-1 vote at 10:37 p.m. and then by the Senate on a voice vote at 11:18 p.m., calls for the state’s utilities to negotiate contracts for 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind and roughly 1,200 megawatts of clean energy – primarily hydroelectricity from Canada, possibly in tandem with onshore wind.
The 1,600-megawatt offshore wind procurement is a compromise between the House (1,200 megawatts) and Senate (2,000 megawatts) proposals. The 1,200 megawatt clean energy procurement matches the House number, and is about 300 megawatts less than the Senate proposal.
Most of the Senate’s energy initiatives fell by the wayside during the last-minute negotiations. For example, a proposal that would bar the state’s electric utilities from tapping their customers for the money to finance a new natural gas pipeline into the region was omitted from the final bill. So was a proposal to double the mandated yearly growth rate for renewable energy.
Reprinted via the CommonWealth Magazine – the News Service is not affiliated with the Alliance