Massachusetts Governor Duval Patrick just signed a package of renewable energy policies designed to increase home-grown renewable energy and encourage the development of Massachusetts clean energy economy. The multi-pronged policy strategy uses a basket of policy mechanisms including both mandates as well as incentives.
“This legislation will reduce electric bills, promote the development of renewable energy, and stimulate the clean energy industry that is taking root here in the Commonwealth,” said Gov. Patrick last week in a statement.
The Green Communities Act (pdf), which was originally introduced last spring by Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi (D-Boston), requires utility companies to enter into 10- to 15-year contracts with companies to help developers of renewable energy technologies obtain financing to build their projects.
The new set of policies would include the ideal policy vehicle for the Cape Wind project, and that is a substantial increase in the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). Cape Wind is still undergoing final review and a decision should be out before the end of the year. The new RPS requires utilities to provide 4 percent of their electricity from renewable sources in 2009. The requirement will grow to 15 percent in 2020 and 25 percent by 2030.
The Green Communities Act includes a widening of the state's already existing net-metering provisions. The new policy will make it possible for people who own wind turbines or solar systems that generate power to sell their excess electricity into the grid for installations of up to 2 megawatts (increased from 60 kilowatts).
Under the The Green Communities Act, the state will encourage energy efficiency programs in order for them to compete in the open market with traditional energy supply. Utility companies will be mandated to make "all cost-effective energy-efficiency improvements available to them" (I'm not sure how this one will be implemented. Sounds like it could be a little ugly, though).
Utility companies will also offer rebates and other incentives for customers to upgrade lighting, air conditioning and industrial equipment to more efficient models, provided that those incentives are less expensive than generating the electricity it would take to power the older, less-efficient equipment (Amory Lovins would call these "negawatts").