Energy is complicated, but it’s an issue that impacts each one of us.
According to ISO-New England, more than 8,000 megawatts of electricity generation capacity — or nearly 25 percent of the region’s generation fleet — is at risk of retiring by 2020. With that in mind, we cannot afford to wait. The Patrick administration is committed to an energy future that is reliable, secure and clean. To that end, we strongly support H3968 — “An Act Relative to Clean Energy Resources” — that was recently filed in the Legislature.
With so much electricity generation capacity on the verge of retiring, there are no big clean energy projects on the horizon to replace these retiring facilities.
To plan for this shortfall and ensure we remain on track to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, the Patrick administration seeks enactment of H3968, which establishes a framework for bringing clean, reliable energy into our region. Massachusetts electric utility companies would be required to solicit bids for more than 2,400 megawatts of clean energy resources. While the utilities would determine the bids’ cost-effectiveness, the utilities are not required to enter into long-term contracts. Simply put — if the bids are not a good deal, there’s no mandate to sign on.
Critics contend this legislation boxes out solar and wind energy. Critics also call this legislation a rush to judgment. They say market-based mechanisms are the best means to address our energy needs, and that we are financially supporting Canadian corporations. We disagree.
The legislation does not mandate one energy source or another, nor does it pick winners and losers. Rather, it invites all offshore and onshore wind developers, as well as solar and hydro developers, to compete in the bid solicitation process. Given that the legislation invites all clean energy sources to submit cost-competitive bids, it is premature to say that our ratepayers will be supporting Canadian corporations. Currently, the commonwealth receives about half of its energy source from natural gas. That dependence leaves our citizens and business communities vulnerable to price volatility and price peaks. Bringing new sources of clean energy into Massachusetts would diversify our fuel mix and reduce our reliance on a single source of energy.
We are No. 1 in the nation in energy efficiency, and we have also seen 24 percent job growth in the clean energy industry in the last two years alone. We are proud of these accomplishments, but that’s not why Patrick has made a historic commitment to clean energy.
Patrick’s vision for our children has led this administration to aggressive but strategic investments to benefit future generations. Support of H3968 continues that commitment.
Rick Sullivan has been the secretary of energy and environmental affairs in Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration since early in 2011. He started his new job as Governor Patrick’s chief-of-staff on June 9.
This blog post is reprinted from Secretary Sullivan’s op-ed piece in the Boston Business Journal.
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