Senator Lesser Votes for Innovative Clean Energy Solutions

BOSTON- Senator Lesser voted on June 30th in favor of S.2372, An Act to Promote Energy Diversity, which passed the Senate 39-0. This omnibus energy bill will diversify the state’s energy portfolio by securing additional clean energy from wind, water and other sources, and help the Commonwealth reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent global warming. “The Senate’s energy bill will make Massachusetts a national leader in clean, renewable energy, open our economy to new clean energy jobs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the threat of global warming,” said Senator Lesser. “The elements of this bill aimed at promoting more wind-power, hydro-power, and home energy efficiency will create new jobs in Western Massachusetts and protect our environment.”

The Senate bill, authored by Sen. Benjamin Downing (D-Pittsfield), requires that electric distribution companies contract with offshore wind developments and hydropower providers. The bill requires that all distribution companies jointly and competitively solicit proposals for long-term contracts with offshore wind developers for up to 2,000 megawatts of aggregate nameplate capacity, and with hydropower providers for up to 12,450,000 megawatt-hours. This could mean up to  2 million homes powered by wind and up to 2.8 million homes powered by hydropower in Massachusetts.

The Senate bill further requires the Department of Energy Resources to establish a home energy rating and labeling system, which would score homes based on their energy consumption, costs and greenhouse gas emissions. When a home is listed for sale, the score would be disclosed and a home energy audit would be required. The score and audit would act like the miles-per-gallon measure on a car: allowing home buyers to make an informed decision about the energy efficiency of their homes.

An amendment sponsored by Senator Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville), which passed the Senate unanimously, will ensure that taxpayer dollars do not go towards subsidizing natural gas pipelines. The amendment states that the Department of Public Utilities can't force electrical ratepayers to subsidize new natural gas pipelines.

Another amendment, sponsored by Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), requires that road crews report and repair gas leaks when they encounter them during excavations and establish a longer-term plan of repair to ensure public safety.

The Senate’s bill will now be reconciled with the House version before being sent to the Governor.