BOSTON: After a winter in which oil and coal represented more than a third of New England’s electricity demand during prolonged cold snaps, the Massachusetts Senate has proposed legislation that would increase renewable energy in the decades ahead but fail to prevent the continued use of high-emitting, carbon-intensive fuels.
“As well-intended as many of the provisions in the Senate Energy bill are, this is a real missed opportunity to solve the greatest energy and environmental problem of our time: our continued reliance on oil and coal during the winter,” said Robert Rio of Associated Industries of Massachusetts, a founding member of the Massachusetts Coalition for Sustainable Energy (MCSE.)
“By failing to address our clear need for clean, reliable energy today, this bill will only exacerbate the amount of oil and coal we burn, polluting our air and setting our emissions progress back,” added Tim Murray, President & CEO of the Worcester Chamber of Commerce. “In just two weeks last winter we burned more oil and coal than we had in 2016 and 2017 combined – effectively flushing an entire year’s worth of emissions reductions from 1,500 MW of solar energy down the drain.”
A recent report developed for the MCSE by Concentric Energy Advisors and released last month concluded that the fossil fuel burning of oil and coal during this winter’s 14-day cold snap produced more than 1.15 million tons of CO2 emissions, negating the benefit of more than 1,500 MW of renewable solar energy production annually.
A proposed amendment offered by Sen. Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville) that would prohibit the expansion of rate-based natural gas access while continuing the procurement of dirty-burning coal and oil is particularly unwise. “Ratepayers are not only paying to burn dirty fossil fuels now because of policies like this,” said Jack Lank of the United Regional Chamber of Commerce. “They’re paying through the nose and amendment like this just guarantees that will continue to be the case,” added Jack Lank.
“Unfortunately, in the process of writing ‘An Act to promote a clean energy future,’ the Senate failed to do much to prevent the polluting happening today,” said Rick Kidder of the Southcoast Chamber of Commerce, also a member of the MCSE. “With a balanced energy policy that includes access to reliable, clean alternatives like natural gas we could be speeding climate progress, not putting it off.”
“The lack of reliable energy leaves New Englanders paying upwards of a $1 billion in increased costs every year,” said Joseph Bonfiglio, Business Manager of the Massachusetts and Northern New England Laborers’ District Council, also an MCSE member. “Businesses and consumers, including our members, are struggling to keep pace with high energy costs, Hard-working ratepayers deserve access to cheaper, cleaner energy. Unfortunately, this bill does neither.”