Barring any roadblocks, the Legislature could be on its way toward passing an admirable clean energy bill that could be of considerable benefit to the state.
The bill recently passed by the House is a good one, and the Senate bill is better. Conference committees can be hazardous for legislation but ideally the bill that emerges before the end of the session July 31 will look most like the Senate one.
The Senate bill that was debated Friday would establish a goal for utilities to sign long-term contracts for 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind energy, compared to 1,500 megawatts in the House, and 1,500 megawatts from other renewable energy sources, including hydropower, compared to 1,200 in the House. A recent state Supreme Judicial Court ruling siding with environmentalists who sued the state for not setting strict greenhouse gas limits as required by a 2008 state law has made this legislative effort imperative.
An analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists asserts that increased imports of hydropower and wind power will result in lower, more stable energy bills, in part by lowering reliance on fossil fuel plants. A Massachusetts Clean Energy Parnership study found that this additional clean energy will also reduce the use of older, inefficient power plants in the state, further reducing energy costs.
There will also be a dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, which are fueling global warming and climate change.
Governor Charlie Baker has put forward his own clean energy proposal with an emphasis on bringing hydropower down from Canada. That is ambitious and time-consuming but the sooner the effort begins the better. The Legislature's efforts coincide with the governor's, and ideally the bill that emerges is along the lines of the Senate bill and will get to the governor's desk in the month ahead.