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  • Writer's pictureClaire Miller

What is in the Senate Climate bill

Credit to Jess Nahigian, MA Sierra Club for writing this.


On Monday, June 17, the Senate released a 96 page climate bill, to be voted on Thursday, June 20. With amendments due at 5pm on Tuesday the 18th, advocates scrambled to understand the bill and, working with Senators, introduce missing, critical pieces. After the federal holiday on Wednesday, the bill was brought up in session on Thursday, June 20. In response, a Republican senator used a parliamentary maneuver to delay the bill by one day, a maneuver he could use up to three times. This pushed the vote to Tuesday, June 25th, when the bill was debated and finally passed with a vote of 38-2.


Advocates worked tirelessly to support amendments that would strengthen the bill, as well as oppose amendments that would weaken the bill. The good news and bad news is that a limited number of good amendments passed, while all of the bad amendments did not. Now, the Senate passes the baton in the House, which has been cooking up its own climate bills. The House must deliver strong, equity-centered climate action.


We’re very disappointed in the Senate’s decision not to include provisions with a specific equity focus, including a strong definition of a cumulative impacts analysis when making siting decisions and a halt on gas expansion that would prevent projects like the Springfield Longmeadow pipeline. The House now has an opportunity to lead on environmental and climate justice.


Please join us as we rally with the young leaders at the MA Youth Climate coalition on Saturday, June 13th 1pm on the Boston Common.


Some highlights of strong provisions in the Senate bill….


It directs the DPU to consider climate goals, the risk of stranded assets, and alternatives when evaluating expansion of gas distribution service to a new territory if such proposals 1) don’t comply with state law on greenhouse gas emission reductions, 2) don’t protect ratepayers from the cost of stranded assets, and 3) if an alternative to gas service is available.

It gives the DPU the power to refuse a new customer request for gas services if an adequate substitute is available or if such service interferes with meeting the Commonwealth's greenhouse gas emissions limits.

It requires gas companies to make an annual plan for retirement, repair, or replacement of the gas distribution system that demonstrates how the plan is consistent with the companies’ climate compliance plans. It encourages the development of alternative, non-emitting energy, particularly networked geothermal energy. It phases out (over the next five years) the special financing arrangement for gas companies doing pipe replacement.

It electrifies the commuter rail, with a special focus on the Fairmont Indigo line, and requires the MBTA create a specific plan to electrify, by 2030, the remainder of the commuter rail fleet for all commuter rail lines.

It removes biomass from the definition of “non-emitting energy” for municipal light plants, which was set to be added in 2026.

It creates guidance and recommendations for communities, with public input, for small energy infrastructure approval

It creates a fund to assist communities with siting processes.

It requires procurement solicitations to include certification and disclosure information on labor standards that would be used in the bid

It creates a commission to measure and monitor the impact on fossil fuel workers and industries and examine ways to increase access to employment, training, transition, and workforce opportunities in clean energy industries and related fields.




See below for a full list of pieces of the bill (doesn’t include amendments) —-------------


You can also find a writeup of the bill here – willbrownsberger.com/senate-energy-bill-passed-2/

Buildings


Requires the Director of Facilities Management to make provision for and recommend to the Commissioner of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance energy conservation energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions reductions and requires the Division to evaluate the potential of increasing energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in each building owned or leased by the Commonwealth.

Updates the membership of the Energy Efficiency Advisory Council to include the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center.

Authorizes the Board of Building Regulations to consider energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reductions in embodied carbon.

Clarifies that certain refrigerants identified by federal regulations are acceptable for use within the Commonwealth.

Gas

Amends the definition of “gas company” to authorize the sale and distribution of geothermal energy.

Requires the Department of Public Utilities to consider whether the expansion of gas service territory is reasonable and in the public interest.

Requires the Department of Public Utilities, in assessing a petition to order a corporation to supply gas service, to consider the public interest in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and whether there are adequate substitutes for gasfired services.

Requires gas companies to file plans with the Department of Public Utilities with annual targets of infrastructure measures and decommissioning proposals, including timelines for remedying leak-prone infrastructure.

Authorizes the Department of Public Utilities, through November 1, 2030, to approve and reconcile reasonable and prudent costs for recovery not to exceed a percentage of a gas company’s most recent calendar year total revenues.

Repeals the requirement that the Department of Public Utilities authorize gas companies to design programs to customers which increase the availability, affordability and feasibility of natural gas service for new customers.


Siting

Requires the facility siting division within the Department of Public Utilities to maintain a clean energy infrastructure dashboard.

Updates the funding sources for the Department of Public Utilities Energy Facilities Siting Board Trust Fund.

Establishes a Department of Public Utilities and Energy Facilities Siting Board Intervenor Support Fund to provide funding for intervenor support in Department and Board proceedings.

Establishes a Division of Public Participation within the Department of Public Utilities to assist individuals, local governments and community organizations with business before the Department.

Establishes within the Department of Energy Resources a division of clean energy procurement and a division of clean energy siting and permitting.

Requires the Department of Energy Resources to: (i) develop resource solicitation plans; (ii) conduct clean energy procurements; (iii) negotiate and execute contracts with clean energy generation and service providers; and (iv) develop regulations for the siting, zoning, review and permitting of small clean energy facilities by local governments.

Requires the Department of Energy Resources to establish standards, requirements and procedures governing the siting and permitting of small clean energy infrastructure facilities by local governments.

Clarifies that applications and petitions for a consolidated permit with the Energy Facilities Siting Board are exempt from certain environmental impact reporting requirements.

Amends the composition of the Energy Facilities Siting Board and updates voting and quorum requirements.

Requires the Energy Facilities Siting Board to promulgate regulations for cumulative impact analysis as part of its review of facilities, large clean energy infrastructure facilities and small clean energy infrastructure facilities in consultation with the office of environmental justice and equity and Massachusetts environmental policy act office.

Authorizes the Energy Facilities Siting Board to issue consolidated permits for: (i) large clean energy infrastructure projects; (ii) small clean energy transmission and distribution infrastructure facilities; and (iii) small clean energy generation and small clean energy storage facilities.

Establishes a process for the Department of Public Utilities to make grants available from the Department of Public Utilities and Energy Facilities Siting Board Intervenor Support Fund to parties that have been granted intervenor status.

Clarifies that appeals of local permitting decisions pertaining to renewable energy and storage projects are under the jurisdiction of the land court.

Requires any electric company, distribution company, generation company, transmission company or natural gas pipeline company to petition the Energy Facilities Siting Board when it seeks to take land, rights of way or easements under eminent domain.

Authorizes an energy storage system that has received a comprehensive exemption from local zoning by-laws from the Department of Public Utilities to petition the Energy Facilities Siting Board to obtain a certificate of environmental impact and public interest.

Extends permits for any renewable generation or energy storage facility that obtained a permit between October 22, 2020, and August 1, 2024, and is experiencing interconnection delays, to August 1, 2029.

Requires the Office of Environmental Justice and Equity to establish standards and guidelines for community benefit plans and agreements not later than March 1, 2026.

Requires the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to establish the methodology for determining the suitability of sites and associated guidance not later than March 1, 2026.

Requires the Energy Facilities Siting Board to promulgate consolidated permit and updated siting and permitting regulations not later than March 1, 2026.

Requires Director of the Division of Public Participation to complete a review of the intervenor financial support program by June 1, 2029.



Just Transition


Equity

Puts into statute an Office of Environmental Justice and Equity within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and requires the Office to periodically update a methodology for determining sites for clean energy facilities.

Clean energy

Expands the definition of “clean energy” to include embodied carbon reduction

Authorizes the Department of Energy Resources to coordinate with 1 or more New England states to consider competitive solicitations for long-term clean energy generation, associated environmental attributes, transmission or capacity.

Requires the Department of Energy Resources to publish resource solicitation plans not less than every 3 years and to consult with the Attorney General to establish a competitive bidding process for clean energy solicitations.



Rates

Requires the Department of Public Utilities to establish discounted rates for moderate-income consumers with distribution companies.

Requires the Department of Public Utilities to promulgate regulations for moderate income discount rate eligibility.




Electricity

Prohibits a competitive energy supplier from executing a new contract or renewing an existing contract for generation service with an individual retail consumer.


Transportation

Authorizes condominium associations to require reasonable measures to facilitate energy savings, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions reductions, including the installation of electric vehicle supply equipment.

Prohibits a historic district commission, board of a neighborhood conservation district or manager or organization of unit owners of an association from prohibiting or unreasonably restricting an individual unit owner from installing electric vehicle supply equipment.

Expands the membership of the Electric Vehicle Intergovernmental Coordinating Council to include the Commissioner of the Division Standards and the Chief Executive Officer of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center.

Requires the Electric Vehicle Intergovernmental Coordinating Council to lead the deployment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Requires the Commissioner of Energy Resources, in revising energy efficiency standards, to allow the use of electric vehicle supply equipment that consumes additional kilowatts per hour.

Clarifies the method by which electric school busses and installation of electric vehicle supply equipment may be procured by governmental bodies.

Authorizes not more than $27M from the RGGI Auction Trust Fund to be made available each fiscal year through June 30, 2027 for the Electric Vehicle Adoption Incentive Trust Fund.

Requires the Department of Public Utilities to open a proceeding to encourage right-of-way or pole-mounted electric vehicle supply equipment not later than July 31, 2025.


General

Adjusts reporting requirements of the Department of Energy Resources and removes the requirement that the Department submit proposed regulations to the General Court.

Authorizes the Board of Plumbers & Gas Fitters to allow variances of regulations to meet emissions limits.

Requires the Massachusetts Port Authority to promote commerce and economic prosperity and prioritize safety, security, resilience, equity and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.


Bad

Expands the definition of “clean energy” to include carbon dioxide removal and nuclear fission.

Requires the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to study the prospects and opportunities for carbon dioxide removal innovation and operations within the Commonwealth.

(Adds carbon sequestration to the purview of the MassCEC)


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