Massachusetts and Rhode Island have both announced plans on how they intend to spend funds coming from the national Volkswagen “dieselgate” settlement. We’re seeing some solid ideas on how the states can use the VW settlement money to reduce air pollution from diesel fuel. This development is akin to turning swords into plowshares. While it’s horrible that VW deceived governments throughout the world about emissions from its diesel engines, there will be two lasting benefits from the settlement. Firstly, car-makers appear to be reducing their commitment to new diesels, as VW’s experience highlights the impossibility of making low-emission diesel vehicles. Secondly, the VW settlement money will help greatly to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles.
Here’s some news! Our organization has legally changed its name to Green Energy Consumers Alliance, Inc. This single new name better reflects our nonprofit mission: to harness the power of energy consumers to speed the transition to a low-carbon future.
By way of history, Mass Energy Consumers Alliance (Mass Energy) and People’s Power & Light were once two separate nonprofit organizations. Mass Energy actually began as the Boston Fuel Consortium in 1982, while People’s Power & Light started in 2002. Pursuing similar missions, we merged in 2006 as Energy Consumers Alliance of New England, but continued to operate with separate brands in each state until this week.
Massachusetts lawmakers vote to pass H.4857, An act to advance clean energy. The final bill was released from conference committee late Monday afternoon.
With less than a month to go in the legislative session, several clean energy bills have yet to be decided. The following could use an extra push to get over the finish line.
Earlier this month, Boston's Mayor Walsh called for cities around the country to explore a group purchase of renewable energy, apparently for municipal buildings and streetlights. The hope is that a lot of purchasing power could support the construction of large-scale and low-cost clean energy. According to news accounts, the cities might jointly buy from one or more facilities that could be located anywhere in the U.S. Boston City Hall plans to finalize a list of partnering cities and issue a request for information to renewable energy developers late in the summer.
Earlier this week, the Massachusetts Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change released a comprehensive omnibus energy bill, An act to promote a clean energy future: to protect our public health, create jobs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The bill is a compilation of several pieces of legislation filed this session, including the important RPS & the Appliance Efficiency Standards bills, but it also reflects public input provided during a series of Clean Energy Conversations that Committee Chair Marc Pacheco hosted throughout the spring and summer. Several of the bills have received favorable recommendations from the joint energy committee of the House and Senate (read more about this below).
Our members and friends are surprised at how easy it is to get the information you need to consider solar on the Mass Solar Connect web platform (powered by EnergySage), without a big sales pitch or a big demand for research or study. More than 300 people have now signed up for Mass Solar Connect information and we're getting great feedback. (Rhode Islanders, we'll soon be offering you a similar program, but until then you can use EnergySage for great information and solar shopping.)
Massachusetts is one of a few states allowing cities and towns to aggregate consumers for the purchase of electricity. In the last year, we have seen a good number of communities take the opportunity to do just that in ways that are bringing on significantly more renewable energy than required by state law. The first to commit was Melrose, followed by Dedham. Both started their programs in January 2016. But this year, many more are following suit in the world of “Green Municipal Aggregation” or “Community Choice Energy”. This summer, programs are starting in Arlington, Brookline, Cambridge, Lexington, Somerville, Sudbury, and Winchester.
An Analysis of the Massachusetts Renewable Portfolio Standard, prepared by Synapse Energy Economics and Sustainable Energy Advantage, demonstrates that increasing the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard by 2% to 3% per year better positions the state to comply with the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA), while reducing costs to consumers and creating jobs.