Energy Bill Would Bring More Renewables to Massachusetts Consumers

A bill that could significantly increase the amount of renewable energy used by Massachusetts consumers is poised to pass the state legislature in the final days of the current session. 

The bill would require utilities to buy an additional 4% of their peak load power from renewable sources. Power companies would secure electricity from wind, solar, and smaller hydro facilities through long-term contracts with energy suppliers. If the law is passed, 7% of the state’s energy would come from renewable sources by 2016.

Robert Rio is a spokesman for the Associated Industries of Massachusetts. He says the bill is a  compromise between environmental and consumer interests. He praised the bill’s creation of a joint bidding process, which would require multiple utilities to bid on energy from new renewable facilities. Rio says that’s a needed update from the state’s Green Communities Act of 2008.

“This compromise legislation will delete the section which allows individual negotiations, and will now require all renewable power to be competitively bid. By doing this, we end up with cheaper, cheaper power, and we can buy more of it.”

Rio says the new solicitation requirements will help avoid costly, controversial projects like Cape Wind . The bill also has the support of environmental groups which say it will make renewable energy sources more competitive with low-cost fossil fuels like natural gas over the long-term. For New England Public Radio, I’m Henry Epp.