MASS SAVE NEEDS TO BE BROADER, DEEPER AND MORE ACCOUNTABLE!
Speak out: Thursday, April 5 at 6pm in Springfield
Submit written comments: by email. See below.
We are facing a climate crisis with rising temperatures and sea levels, megastorms and droughts caused by the burning of fossil fuels. We need to cut our greenhouse gas emissions now, and by doing so, improve our air quality, our health and our energy bills.
Massachusetts is a nationwide leader in energy efficiency and conservation, which are the most cost-effective and potent means of decreasing emissions. Our energy efficiency programs are known as Mass Save, which uses the dollars taken from our electric and gas bills to fund weatherization for our houses and replacement of inefficient furnaces, refrigerators, air conditioners and lightbulbs.
It is a great start, but the electric and gas companies that make up Mass Save CAN DO BETTER, allowing us to better cut pollution, fight climate change and meet the challenges of the Global Warming Solutions and Green Communities Acts.
Energy experts are calling for:
- Accountability. Overall energy efficiency (EE) goals for the program should increase annually and be aggressive and science-based. These goals should generate penalties for the utility Program Administrators who do not reach them. Performance incentives should be tied to not only meeting, but exceeding the goals. Goal attainment must be assessed by measured results- actual energy savings– not just on estimates. These actual outcomes need to be reported to the public in a way that is easy to understand, so that we know where our dollars are going and how much of an impact they are having.
- Serving those in need. Better outreach must be made to low income and non-English-speaking households, households with disabled, elderly and people of color. Pilot programs should be designed and tested to see which are most effective in reaching those in greatest need. This should be coupled with transparency about the services that these households are actually receiving from Mass Save. Furthermore, there should be an “opt-out” policy, assigning audits to all those low income customers who qualify for LIHEAP and any discount utility rates. These customers could be offered the option to opt-out of such services, and not be burdened by having to request the energy auditing services themselves. Energy audit results from these customers should be reported, along with a listing of the remedial actions taken and the energy savings that resulted.
- Expansion of coverage. More moderate income people (up to 120% of median income) should qualify for full subsidies of all energy saving measures. These households often cannot afford to pay the remainder of the cost of the upgrades that are not subsidized by the program
- Better serving renters. Mass Save should publicly engage landlords in discussion of the benefits of energy efficiency and explore ways to grant rights to their tenants who pay their own utility bills such that the tenants can institute energy efficiency measures on their own. We suggest that the utility could prepay for such improvements and could be repaid over time through the utility bills.
- Redefine cost-effectiveness. Energy assessments and subsidized energy efficiency (EE) upgrades must be more comprehensive and science-based than the limited ones now provided. EE measures should be included that may take more than seven years to pay back in cost savings or that provide health benefits to the household and neighborhood. Contractors should be given some leeway to expand their work once on the site, according to their determination of what EE measures would have continuing benefit. Additionally, energy efficiency measures that reduce peak demand (and thus lower demand for the dirtiest, highest cost electricity) should be covered.
- Transparency. Communities should know how many households have been served each year, how many low and moderate income households were served, how many households were served in which English is not a primary language, and what specifically what services were provided. In addition, customers should be surveyed about their satisfaction with the services, and the broader population should be surveyed to determine barriers to using the Mass Save program.
- Air source heat pumps. Energy efficient air source heat pumps should be made available and heavily subsidized for those houses already benefiting from energy efficiency measures, including those households presently using gas, oil, coal or electricity for heat.
Every year, Mass Save is unable to spend all the money taken from our bills to fund energy efficiency. Mass Save needs to work more effectively, broadly and deeply, and with more transparency and accountability.
Please take your comments to the Mass Save Listening Session, 6 pm, Thursday, April 5 at the UMass Center, 1500 Main Street, Springfield. We want to pack the room and want all to speak out for our right to health and sustainability through energy efficiency. If you are interested in carpooling from the north, meet at 5pm at the Sheldon Field lot in Northampton.
Whether you are able to go to the hearing or not, please submit your comments by email by sending to: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and DOER.ENERGY@state.ma.us . In the subject line, put “Written statement for Energy Efficiency Advisory Council”. Then ask for confirmation that it will be distributed to councilors.