$13.5 Million for the Massachusetts Green Communities Act

$13.5 Million for the Massachusetts Green Communities Act

October 2, 2008 10:16
by J. Wylie Donald


The New Massachusetts Green Communities Act

by Leigh Gilligan, Esq.

The blogosphere has been filled with commentary on RGGI’s auction of the first U.S. greenhouse gas allowances - the first in the nation - on September 25.  Unsurprisingly, state authorities are delighted.  Today Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Laurie Burt noted the robust reception of the first auction of CO2 allowances.  About 12.5 million allowances were available; they sold at $3.07 each.  Massachusetts received $13.5 million from this effort; all of which will be used for energy efficiency and energy conservation efforts pursuant to the Green Communities Act,  signed by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick last summer.  Under the Act, the DEP and Department of Energy Resources were directed to coordinate participation in RGGI.

The Act is  a law intended to promote energy cost savings and renewable and clean energy technology development throughout Massachusetts.  Described by the State as a “comprehensive energy reform bill” that “puts Massachusetts in the lead nationally,” the law is intended to lead to a reduction in electric bills, increase the use of renewable energy and stimulate the clean energy industry currently being cultivated in Massachusetts.

Some highlights of the Green Communities Act include:

·        Green Communities Program.  A program to provide $10,000,000 per year (statewide) in technical/financial assistance to cities and towns to promote creation of renewable and alternative energy facilities and to promote energy efficiency generally.

·        Increasing Utilities’ Renewable Energy Purchases.  Utilities and other electric suppliers are required by the Act to obtain renewable power equal to 25% of sales by 2030 (4% by 2009, 15% by 2020).

·        Benefits from RGGI Implementation.  The law directs Massachusetts continued participation in RGGI and provides for the use of at least 80% of auction proceeds (revenues from the regional power plant CO2  cap and trade program) for use in promotion of utility energy efficiency programs (like home energy audits).

·        Expanding Utility Investment in Energy Efficiency.  The Act sets out measures intended to increase utilities’ investments in energy efficiency measures to meet increased demands, with a goal to reduce electricity demand and pass cost savings on to rate payers.

·        Energy Efficient Buildings.  New buildings will be required to meet an updated energy efficiency code (the International Energy Conservation Code or IECC), with specific directives for state buildings and substantial renovation projects.

·        Energy Efficient Vehicles.  The Act calls for the state government vehicle fleet to contain at least 50% hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles by 2018.

The RGGI auction produced $5 million to jump-start the Act through funding of grants and technical assistance programs.  This is a good start and we will be watching closely to see if the promise of the Act is met.

            You can view the Act (Chapter 169 of the Acts of 2008)(Commonwealth of Massachusetts) in its entirety at www.mass.gov/legis/laws/seslaw08/s1080169.htm.

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