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Market Monitor – Massachusetts Energy Legislation Will Benefit Some, Others Not So Much

Massachusetts has passed energy legislation designed to accelerate the transition to a lower emission economy.

The legislation includes several new programs, revisions or expansion of some existing programs, and a more precise roadmap for the buildout of more renewable generation resources in the Commonwealth.

Expanded EV Programs:

The legislation includes incentives for the purchase of electric passenger vehicles and light trucks and heavy-duty EVs. There is also new interagency coordination for the buildout of EV charging infrastructure and a requirement for electric utilities to establish rates specific to vehicle charging.

Adding rebate structures for heavy-duty vehicles may open up opportunities for municipalities and commercial entities who want to lower their vehicle emission intensity. The coordinated effort to expand the EV charging infrastructure, including goals for installations in lower-income regions, may also provide more actionable and affordable options for organizations looking to add chargers to their properties.

Renewable Generation Additions:

The legislation increases the size limit for net metering cap constraints to allow medium size arrays (rising from 10 kW up to 25 kW) to participate. This increase could result in expanded opportunities for community solar across the state.

New program guidelines for the buildout of offshore wind in the state are detailed, including workforce training, infrastructure investments, and a developer certification process. These could all help streamline the next generation of utility-scale wind projects in Massachusetts and put the Commonwealth at the forefront of offshore wind development.

It establishes an offshore wind tax incentive program for certified offshore wind companies providing up to $35M / yr in tax incentives. It also limits the combustion of biomass to generate energy that would qualify as “renewable” under state RPS programs.

New Reporting Standards:

A new requirement for buildings over 20,000 sq. ft to report annual energy usage but assigns reporting responsibility for energy delivered by a regulated utility to that utility. Any energy (defined as electricity, natural gas, steam, hot or chilled water, heating oil, and propane) consumed by a subject building but not delivered by a regulated utility will need to be reported by the building owner each June for the prior calendar year. Penalties for non-compliance can reach $150/day.

These requirements appear to be in addition to city-level energy intensity or consumption reporting requirements.

Energy Efficiency Program Revisions:

Modifies the current Energy Efficiency programs to expand reporting and accounting requirements for all utilities. The new requirements will increase the need to prove the efficacy of the programs, especially as they relate to low-income ratepayers. These conditions could limit qualifying technologies that provide marginal energy savings from programs as soon as 2025.

Clean Energy Workforce:

A new clean “energy equity workforce training program” is created to provide targeted training for disadvantaged businesses, communities, and citizens to obtain jobs related to the evolving energy industry. Job training programs will be funded using at least $12M/yr transferred from the energy efficiency program funds collected from all consumers’ electricity and natural gas bills. This funding may result in an increase in the current Energy Efficiency Charge (EEC).

Fossil Free Communities:

Allows up to 10 municipalities within the Commonwealth to pilot fossil-free construction and renovation covenants. Participation is subject to a local approval vote and a DPU application process which sets strict guidance on assurances regarding the impacts on affordable housing.

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