Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) signed “comprehensive energy diversity” legislation into law on Aug. 8, which embraces both offshore wind power and hydroelectric imports from Canada.
“Massachusetts is always at the forefront of adopting innovative clean energy solutions, and this legislation will allow us to build on that legacy and embrace increased amounts of renewable energy, including hydropower,” Baker said in a news release.
“The hydroelectric and offshore wind power generation authorized in this legislation will play a crucial role in securing clean and cost-effective energy for the Commonwealth’s ratepayers,” said Lieutenant Gov. Karyn Polito (R).
The New England Power Generators Association (NEPGA), which represents competitive power generators in the region, have argued that Baker’s support for imported hydro power will undermine existing market players.
NEPGA has said it is disappointed that Massachusetts policy will provide long-term contracts “for more than one-third of the Massachusetts electricity market from select suppliers, such as Canadian government-owned utilities and developers of offshore wind facilities.”
The Baker policy, which had supported from key Democrats in the Legislature, counts on tapping about 2,800 MW of non-emitting generation.
Consistent with the Baker-Polito Administration’s previously filed legislation authorizing the procurement of hydropower generation, “An Act Relative to Energy Diversity” (H. 4568) requires utilities to competitively solicit and contract for approximately 1,200 MW of clean energy generation – base load hydropower, onshore wind and solar supported by hydropower, standalone onshore wind, solar, or other Class I renewable resources.
In addition to recognizing the necessity of hydropower generation to provide reliable generation to meet Massachusetts’ energy demand and achieve the greenhouse gas emissions goals of the Global Warming Solutions Act, the legislation signed by Governor Baker allows for the procurement of approximately 1,600MW of offshore wind.
The bill spurs the development of an emerging offshore wind industry to create jobs and represent the largest commitment by any state in the nation to offshore wind.
“We are jump starting two industries – offshore wind & energy storage – that will shape our future, while recommitting ourselves to meeting our Global Warming Solutions Act requirements,” said State Sen, Ben Downing (D-Pittsfield).
Hydro-Québec praises enactment of legislation
Hydro-Québec praised the action in an Aug. 8 news release. With this new law, Massachusetts is better positioned to meet its 2020 GHG emissions reduction requirement under the Global Warming Solutions Act, Hydro-Quebec said.
The measure is innovative as it promotes options for hydropower to be paired with other variable renewable sources, such as wind and solar, to deliver blended renewable products to the marketplace. In this way, Massachusetts has created an opportunity, unavailable until now, to benefit from the flexibility and energy volume offered by large hydropower resources – and increased integration of local renewable resources.
“The action being taken in Massachusetts is bold and ensures that the mechanisms are in place for concrete progress to increase the state’s reliance on clean energy based on competitive processes” said Hydro-Québec CEO Eric Martel. “Hydro-Québec is eager to begin the process of working with Massachusetts to implement the new law and to develop solutions that can meet the goals of the state for clean, stable and reliable sources of electricity.”
“We look forward to further discussing these questions during the upcoming conference of the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers (NEG-ECP) that will convene later this summer in Boston,” Martel said.