Mass. Governor Proposes Hydropower Imports to ‘Stabilize’ Electricity Rates

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker is proposing to gather a coalition of neighboring states to import cost-effective, carbon-reducing Canadian hydropower – all in an effort, he said on July 9, to “stabilize New England’s electricity rates while meeting the Commonwealth’s Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) goals.”

With legislation introduced last week in the State Senate called “An Act Relative to Energy Sector Compliance with the Global Warming Solutions Act,” the new governor announced that he would require Massachusetts utilities to, “jointly, and competitively, solicit long-term contracts for clean energy generation resources and associated transmission together with the Department of Energy Resources.”

Specifically, the legislation is intended to ensure that about 1,200 MWs of hydroelectric power is delivered to Massachusetts, so that the Commonwealth can meet the greenhouse gas emissions goals – a reduction of 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and a reduction of 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 – that are a pivotal part of the GWSA, passed in 2008.

“Although electric distribution companies can procure hydroelectric power under existing law, they have not done so yet, and it is highly unlikely that they will absent legislation authorizing long-term contracts,” Baker said.

The legislation also would authorize and encourage regional collaboration. Connecticut and Rhode Island currently have explicit statutory authority for utility companies to enter into these sorts of long-term contracts, Governor Baker pointed out. “This legislation will bring Massachusetts in line with our neighbors, and enable us to work together to diversify our energy generation mix—in both Massachusetts and New England as a whole—in a cost-effective manner.”

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