If legislation being considered in Boston this session passes, Massachusetts could become the first state to require 100 percent renewable energy usage.
Companion bills HD.3357 and SD.1932 would require the Commonwealth to have all electricity powered by renewable sources—such as wind, solar, and hydropower—by 2035 and all heating, transportation, and other energy sectors from renewable sources by 2050. Some cities and private companies have made moves toward 100 percent renewable energy, but Massachusetts would be the first state to do so.
WAMC Northeast Public Radio reported that while the bill establishes a long-term outline for scaling up to 100 percent renewable energy throughout the economy, the specifics of implementation would be up to state regulatory agencies. There is also no cost estimate attached to the legislation, and in a conference call with reporters on the legislation, questions went unanswered about who would pay to convert homes from natural gas or oil heating sources to electric heat pumps or something else. The majority of homes in the Commonwealth currently use natural gas or oil, and the state would likely have to create incentive programs to help homeowners with the switch, according to Environment Massachusetts State Director Ben Hellerstein.
Massachusetts already has some of the highest energy costs in the nation, and small businesses need access to reliable, affordable energy in order to keep costs down. This will be an issue to watch this year.