Energy Bill 2018: A Letter to the Quincy Sun

August 16, 2018

Dear Editor:

Last month, our state legislature enacted a bill that will help Massachusetts lower its emissions of greenhouse gases and slow the climate change that has been causing or exacerbating devastating hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, record-breaking wildfires in the West, and sea level rise that contributed to the flooding from which we’re still recovering here in Quincy.

Most notably, the new bill will allow the state Department of Energy Resources to double the amount of offshore wind energy procured for Massachusetts ratepayers compared to previous legislation. It also modestly accelerates the growth of renewable energy as a component of the electric power used by the typical Bay State consumer.

Quincy Climate Action Network would like to thank our statehouse delegation—Sen. John Keenan, and Reps. Bruce Ayers, Tackey Chan, and Ronald Mariano—for supporting this useful legislation.

At the same time, however, we can’t help noting that the new bill lacks the strength and scope of a Senate version that was watered down dramatically in conference committee. Unlike the Senate bill, the final bill fails to incentivize electric vehicle use; lift the cap on net metering that is impeding the growth of commercial solar operations; and strengthen efficiency standards for appliances. Most disappointingly, perhaps, the new bill doesn’t move the state’s electricity supply to 100 percent renewable until 2095, far beyond the lifespan of most of us. The Senate version, by contrast, would have gotten us to that crucial goal almost 50 years sooner!

In a hopeful sign, Marc Pacheco, of Taunton, who chairs the state senate’s Global Warming and Climate Change Committee, vows to keep pushing for stronger energy policy in the legislative session that begins next year. Speaking to the Boston Globe’s Margery Eagan, Pacheco said the just-passed legislation represents a small advance, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough. “Sometimes,” he said, “I feel like I’m banging my head up against a wall. . . . We’re not talking polar bears anymore but public health.”

QCAN shares Pacheco’s sentiments.

David Reich, Board Chair
Quincy Climate Action Network