Blog - Charles River Watershed Association

Good News for Renewable Energy

Posted by Nishaila Porter

8/24/16 12:21 PM

Energy bill signed into law
Barrow Offshore wind turbines

Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm, England.
Source: Andy Dingley, edit Muhammad | CC BY-SA 3.0

On August 8th, Governor Baker signed into law “An Act to Promote Energy Diversity.” While not perfect, the law moves Massachusetts in the right direction by supporting renewable energy.  It will allow Massachusetts to diversify its energy supply and to meet Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reduction mandates imposed under the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA). The GWSA calls for all sectors to reduce GHG emissions by 25% by 2020 and by 80% by 2050. By facilitating the production of hydroelectric and offshore wind power, the energy law will help the Commonwealth comply with these mandates. The offshore wind power will be the nation’s first commercial scale offshore wind farm. These power sources will further advance renewable and clean power technology in Massachusetts. 


The Act also includes a number of provisions including natural gas leak repairs, long-term financing through Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy, contract preferences to projects that include hydropower or other renewable resources and evaluation of energy storage by the Department of Energy Resources.

Why it matters

As climate change impacts grow, it is critical that we continue to do everything we can to reduce GHG emissions and sequester carbon. The Paris Climate Conference’s long-term goal is to reduce emissions within a range that will keep the increase in global average temperature well below 2°C by 2020. The energy law moves us in the right direction toward achieving this goal. 

However, work remains because several key provisions were not included in the energy act, specifically creation of home energy ratings and disclosure, and an increase in the obligation of suppliers to purchase renewable energy. But with environmental organizations working together and your help, we can make greater strides to a cleaner future.

Thank you to our members and supporters who contacted their state representatives and senators urging them to support the bill and to the Environmental League of Massachusetts and the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) for taking the lead on this effort. Also a huge thank you to Senator Benjamin Downing (D-Pittsfield) for his leadership on the energy bill.  

Massachusetts Surpreme Judicial Court strikes down "pipeline tax"

In a big win for the environment, the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) last week ruled against the Baker administration’s proposed "pipeline tax," which would have required ratepayers to subsidize the cost of constructing new gas pipelines in MA. In the suit against the Department of Public Utilities spearheaded by CLF, the SJC ruled that the proposed "pipeline tax" was inconsistent with the 1997 Electric Restructuring Act. The decision prevents pipeline developers from transferring the cost and risk of new gas pipelines onto Massachusetts customers. Without this source of funding, proposed pipelines are unlikely to be built—a win for renewable energy. CLF’s victory is a victory for all Massachusetts families and our clean energy future. Thank you to our friends at CLF for challenging this and to the legislators who opposed including the tax in the energy bill.  


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Topics: Legislation and Policy, Environmental Justice

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About Charles River Watershed Association:

One of the country's oldest watershed organizations, Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA) was formed in 1965 in response to public concern about the declining condition of the Charles. Since its earliest days of advocacy, CRWA has figured prominently in major clean-up and watershed protection efforts, working with government officials and citizen groups from 35 Massachusetts watershed towns from Hopkinton to Boston. Initiatives over the last fifty years have dramatically improved the quality of water in the watershed and fundamentally changed approaches to water resource management.