September 29th [Boston MA] – Business leaders and concerned citizens came together to testify in support of clean local energy at a public hearing held by the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy. Dave Conna of LS Energy Associates (member of Associated Industries of Massachusetts) and Progressive Asset Management’s David Schreiber spoke alongside CABA’s Executive Director, Michael Green.
Massachusetts is at an energy crossroads, faced with the decision to continue sourcing our energy as usual from polluting fossil fuel sources, or investing long term in clean local renewables. The hearing addressed this issues, with bills heard that would affect the solar industry’s net-metering caps, subsidize large hydroelectric power from Canada, support offshore wind and put a fee on ratepayers to finance new natural gas pipelines. The hearing lasted for over seven hours, with Governor Baker as well as other important administrators and legislators testifying. The CABA panel spoke with testimonies from David Schreiber and Dave Conna. Speaking on behalf of CABA, Michael Green testified that “as local business leaders in Massachusetts, we want to support policies that will help our state reach cost competitive clean energy while also continue to provide opportunity for investment in our local economy.”
Two of Governor Baker’s bills were heard, one relative to the net metering caps on solar energy and the other relative to importing hydroelectric power from Canada. The former would temporarily raise net metering caps in the Commonwealth but does not describe what a new long term policy framework for solar would actually look like. The later of Baker’s bills would give require utilities to engage in long term contracts for hydroelectric power. This is a controversial issue seeing how the power would almost certainly be imported from Quebec, Canada. Commenting on this, Green explained that it “does not make sense for Massachusetts, which has no fossil fuel extraction or large hydro to tap into, to send money out of state for foreign energy, especially while we are not fully taking advantage of our local clean energy resources.”
While Governor Baker reaffirmed his “commitments to energy efficiency and clean energy [as a state]” one wonders how strong those commitments are. Baker’s solar bill would switch net-metering credits to “market-based” ones, effectively ending long term investment in solar since investors can not predict the price of electricity ten – twenty years down the road. Baker’s recommendation for large scale hydro has it’s own host off issues, as large scale hydro projects have questionable environmental benefits and disincentivize investment in Massachusetts’ own local clean energy economy. While Massachusetts needs to act now in order to meet our Global Warming Solution Act’s commitments, we can do so while still taking advantage of our own local clean energy resources and supporting our local economy.
Local business owners all have the power to influence the path that Massachusetts will take to meet its energy and climate goals. A clean energy future for Massachusetts is what’s at stake during these hearings and lawmakers need to hear the voice of small business.