In 15 days, on July 31, the formal session for the Massachusetts Legislature will end – meaning that the House and Senate have two short weeks to approve the FY2019 State Budget and pass important legislation.
The Legislature continues to work on completing the FY2019 State Budget and is contemplating several pieces of legislation that are priorities for MAPC, including housing production and zoning reform legislation and several environmental and energy related bills. If these don’t pass this month, they’ll have to be reworked, resubmitted, and debated again during the 2019-2020 session.
Environmental Bond Bill
Last week, the Senate took up and passed S.2591, an environmental bond bill which authorizes the state to borrow up to $2.19 billion to be directed towards climate change, environment and natural resources protection over the next five years.
- Transportation priorities
- Provides $55M for the Complete Streets program which provides funding for cities and towns to invest in road improvements that ensure access for all road users including transit riders, drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. The Senate also requires that 33 percent of funding be allocated to municipalities with an average median household income below the state average.
- Expands the popular MA Electric Vehicle Incentive Program (EVIP), which provides funding to municipalities to install charging stations for electric vehicles, and would create a matching grant program for employers to install charging stations. For more information on installing electric vehicle charging stations, check out MAPC’s Roadmap to Install EV Charging Stations.
- Provides $25M in new funding for trail projects in the Commonwealth.
- Restores funding to $32M to establish a Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) revolving loan fund. By transferring development rights, communities are able to shift development densities to achieve both open space and economic goals.. Municipalities will be able to use this tool more frequently and easily with the establishment of the revolving loan fund – a tool championed by the late Representative Chris Walsh – that has the full funding amount proposed by the Governor.
- Codifies portions of Governor Baker’s executive order on climate adaptation and language supported by the MA Climate Change Adaptation Coalition (which MAPC is a member of) including:
- Provides $75M in funding for the municipal vulnerability preparedness grant program (MVP) which provides support for cities and towns in Massachusetts to plan for resiliency and implement key climate change adaptation actions for resiliency.
- Requires state policy be consistent with the State Hazard Mitigation and Climate Adaptation Plan
Next, the environmental bond bill will go to a conference committee comprised of members of the House and Senate. A conference committee is charged with finding consensus between the proposal put forward by the Senate and the one put forward by the House in June (H.4613).
House Energy Bills
The House took up several energy bills last week (H.4737, H.4756, H.4739, and H.4749), taking a different approach from the Senate, which passed an omnibus energy package last month. Among the provisions included in the House bills passed last Thursday are:
- Increasing the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which tells electric companies what percentage of their sales must come from clean power. With the RPS currently at 13 percent, the bill calls for it to be raised one percent annually until 2019, two percent annually from 2020-2029, and one percent annually from 2030 on. This would bring the standard to 35 percent by 2030.
- Creating consistency among gas utilities when they report gas leaks, an important next step toward eliminating gas leaks. Leaked natural gas is not only a public health concern and a burden on ratepayers who currently bear the cost of the lost gas, but also a significant contributor to climate change. MAPC identified best practices to address gas leaks more effectively and expeditiously through a federal DOT-funded study – read more about it here.
- Establishing a first-in-the-country clean peak standard to make sources of clean energy (such renewable energy generation and energy storage) available during seasonal peak periods when our electricity grid has to tap into expensive and dirtier sources of energy to meet customer demand.
- Increasing energy and water efficiency standards in the Commonwealth for a specific set of appliance types.
These four bills are now in the Senate for consideration.
We are continuing to urge the Legislature to pass robust climate and energy legislation this session that includes the following energy priorities:
- Expanding access to clean energy by removing the net metering cap for renewable energy sources, requiring equitable distribution of solar incentive programs to communities facing barriers to access, and allowing anaerobic digestion renewable technologies to qualify for net metering
- Increasing the renewable portfolio standard (RPS), which will both keep pressure on electricity suppliers to purchase more renewable energy and incentivize continued job growth
- Addressing Monthly Minimum Reliability Charge (MMRC). Without legislative action, the DPU’s approved MMRC on new residential and small commercial net metering customers will go into effect on December 31, 2018. This unprecedented demand charge, which would impose a higher charge for energy used during a net metering customer’s highest 15 minutes of energy consumption per month and would largely effect customers with solar, is a first in the nation.
- Establishing greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals for 2030 and 2040 to supplement the mandated 2020 and 2050 thresholds set by the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) and chart a clear path to an 80 percent reduction by 2050.
- Further securing the state’s pathway toward meeting the 2050 emissions reduction mandate of the Global Warming Solutions Act by establishing a structure for the Commonwealth to set an appropriate price on carbon for emitting sectors beyond the electricity sector
- Expanding energy efficiency in Massachusetts by establishing standards across a wider range of new consumer product types
Please contact Leah Robins, Senior Government Affairs Specialist | firstname.lastname@example.org | 617-933-0710.