Clean Energy Omnibus Bill: MA Senate, February 2018
Initial Summary Prepared by Climate Action Business Association
WHAT DOES THE BILL DO?
Like any omnibus bill this one is ambitious, with provisions that cover nearly every topic in clean energy. Below are the key parts of the bill, along with a list of other important provisions.
- NOTE: Content in the Omnibus bill is based on H3396/S1831 ‘An Act relative to solar power in environmental justice and urban communities’ (Rep. Holmes / Sen. Chang-Diaz) as well as other previously filed bills.
- Environmental Justice and Environmental Justice Populations defined (lines 208-216).
- Incentivizes projects that expand access to communities facing barriers. (195-198).
- Directs the MA Department of Energy Resources to address barriers like income, housing type and language in their program design (lines 195-203).
- Compensation to low-income solar and to community shared solar net metering with a minimum threshold of low-moderate income customers (lines 220-227; 239-242; 245-248; 259-268).
- Ensures environmental justice & low-income communities can benefit from solar energy and other clean energy (lines 280-287; 359-360; 604-612; 632-638).
- Directs the (to be formed) Council for a Clean Energy Workforce to include environmental justice populations as a priority group in policies to promote employment growth and access to jobs (lines 643-657), and to benefit from funding from the clean energy workforce development account (lines 769-779).
- Requires innovative transportation programs to benefit low-income communities (lines 791-800).
- Blocks new gas compressor stations from locating within half a mile of any environmental justice population neighborhood (lines 980-986).
- Prevents “disproportionate impact on any environmental justice population” that could occur as a result of implementing “market-based compliance mechanisms” (such as cap & invest or fee & rebate) to control carbon pollution emissions (lines 1201-1203).
- Protects low-income electricity consumers from negative impacts that could result from grid modernization (lines 1774-1777).
ACCELERATES RENEWABLE ENERGY DEVELOPMENT
- Establishes a 3% annual increase in the Renewable Portfolio Standard (starts line 145).
- Eliminates the current cap on net metering (lines 180-184).
- Reverses the decision from the Eversource Rate Case.
- Expands the state’s ability to solicit large-scale energy procurements.
MOVES THE STATE TOWARDS A PRICE ON CARBON
- Requires the state to adopt a “market-based compliance mechanism” (i.e. cap & invest or fee & rebate) to reduce carbon pollution for the transportation sector, for industrial processes, and the residential building sector (lines 1193-1211).
- Establishes a review process every three years to ensure mechanism is on track to achieve the goals of the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA).
- Mechanism would be phased in between 2020 and 2022.
EXPANDS AND EMPOWERS THE GLOBAL WARMING SOLUTIONS ACT (starts line 1170)
- Sets intermediate emissions targets for 2030 and 2040.
- Aligns the GWSA’s pollution reduction goals with those of the Paris Climate Agreement.
- Municipal light plants would be required to report emission like utilities currently do.
REFORMS PUBLIC UTILITIES
- Reforms the state’s Department of Public Utilities.
- Gives the state Attorney General additional oversight of utilities.
- Reduces the role of utilities in selecting their own procurement projects.
MODERNIZES THE ELECTRIC GRID
- Implements policies that modernize the MA electric grid (starts line 1751).
- Prioritizes local clean energy over expensive long-distance transmission of electricity.
- Expands protections for consumers.
STRENGTHENS CLIMATE ADAPTATION & MANAGEMENT (starts line 2029)
- Modeled on Climate Adaptation Management Plan (CAMP) legislation.
- Establishes a grant program to assist regional agencies in the development and implementation of CAMP.
- Compiles data, reports, and studies to aid state agencies and localities in protecting against climate related vulnerabilities.
- Creates a coastal buyback program.
OTHER IMPORTANT PROVISIONS:
- Enables towns & cities to enter into community empowerment agreements.
- Promotes recycling and municipal solid waste planning.
- Creates incentives for anaerobic digestion.
- Expand Electric Vehicle (EV) usage through new incentives.
- Restricts the expansion of compressor stations.
- Establishes standards for energy efficiency products and buildings.
- Divests state pension system from fossil fuels.
- Establishes a Green Infrastructure Bank.
- Sets ambitious energy storage targets of 1,766 MW by 2025.
- Prohibits a “pipeline tax” on energy consumers.
NEXT STEPS FOR THE BILL
Since the omnibus bill originated in the Senate, it now sits in the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, where must be voted out before being voted on by the full State Senate. After approval by the Senate, it will move to the House of Representatives where it will be go through a similar process. Any changes made by the House must then be reconciled in a Conference Committee by members of both chambers, before being sent to the Governor for approval.
Similar to the 2016 Clean Energy Omnibus bill, this one will likely make it through the Senate without many major roadblocks. The challenge will come from the House, whose stricter hierarchy and opposition to some of the provisions in the bill will make passage in its current form unlikely. Based on previous history, any bill passed by the House will likely lose or water down a number of its ambitious provisions such as the RPS increase, net metering expansion, pension divestment, and more. Therefore it is important to mobilize grass-roots lobbying in both the Senate and the House to preserve the positive language of the bill and strengthen provisions where that is needed.
 Additional analysis by Climate Action Now Western MA