Massachusetts energy bill — what it includes, what was omitted in the final bill

Following months of debate, Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill today that will bring offshore wind power to Massachusetts, but does not address other key energy issues.

Ben Hellerstein, State Director for Environment Massachusetts, issued the following statement:

“Any day we can help bring offshore wind energy to Massachusetts is a good day. But when it comes to clean energy, there’s a lot that state leaders have left undone.

“The Governor and legislative leaders have taken a key step to allow wind turbines to spin off the coast of Massachusetts, and they deserve our commendation. Offshore wind is poised to provide enough clean energy to power hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts homes, reducing the carbon emissions that fuel global warming.

“But global warming is an urgent problem, and it calls for bold steps towards 100 percent renewable energy, not half measures. Unfortunately, officials failed to act on key opportunities to double the growth of renewable energy and stop proposed gas pipelines.

“For today, we’ll celebrate a major step towards tapping into Massachusetts’ tremendous offshore wind resources. But tomorrow, we’ll renew the fight for 100 percent renewable energy for Massachusetts. We’ve certainly got a lot of work ahead of us.”

The bill, passed just minutes before the end of the legislative session last week, will require utility companies to enter into long-term contracts for 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind power. These contracts are widely seen as necessary to enable the construction of offshore wind farms off the coast of Massachusetts.

The legislation is silent on many other energy issues. A version passed by the Senate in June would have doubled the rate of growth of clean energy and prohibited the use of public money to pay for the construction of new gas pipelines, but those provisions were omitted from the final bill.

Last Thursday, Environment Massachusetts released a new report, Renewable Communities, highlighting Massachusetts cities and towns that are leading the way towards 100 percent renewable energy. The report argues that a statewide commitment to 100 percent renewable energy would help drive progress in reducing carbon emissions and continue Massachusetts’ legacy of leadership in addressing climate change.