Friday, August 29, 2008
Green Corner: Moving out of the Energy Stone Age
In his July 2 OpEd in the Boston Globe heralding the passage of the Green Communities Act, Governor Deval Patrick notes that we didn’t leave the Stone Age because we ran out of stone, but because “humankind had a better idea.” Today’s “better idea . . . by choice and necessity” is a shift from the age of fossil fuel to a new age of clean, renewable energy sources as our best hope for addressing the energy related environmental and economic challenges we face. Massachusetts is positioned to leap into the clean energy age through its participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and recently enacted, innovative state energy legislation. This comprehensive and wide-ranging legislation, some of which is first in the nation, will propel Massachusetts into a new age of energy generation and promises to move us closer to the goal of greater environmental and economic security. See www.mass.gov and http://tiny.cc/Uw9Nm.
Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)
RGGI is a cooperative effort by 10 Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states to reduce regional carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. RGGI states will work collaboratively to develop a unified strategy for reducing emissions. Implementation of a market-based emissions trading system and mandated emissions guidelines for utilities are key features. Recently enacted state legislation will maximize the benefits of this regional partnership. More information can be found at www.rggi.org/index.htm.
Green Communities Act (GCA)
The primary goal of the GCA is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs in business and residential sectors through rigorous energy efficiency measures and expansion of renewable energy options. The bill requires that: • utilities invest first in energy efficiency when the cost of doing so is equal to or less than buying new energy or building new power plants; • utilities enter into a 10-15 year partnership with renewable energy companies to help developers obtain financial backing. This legislation removes a previous restriction barring utilities from owning solar electric panels, freeing utilities to purchase and rent solar equipment to businesses and residences. Equipment rental will help utilities recoup their investment and lower installation costs for consumers. Other benefits to consumers will include rebates and incentives for customer upgrades to energy efficient appliances and the ability of customers to sell excess wind or solar power they generate to the grid. In addition, towns will be eligible for grants and technical assistance. See http://tiny.cc/sDkUK.
The Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA)
The GWSA (www.mass.gov/legis/bills/senate/185/st00/st00534.htm) is viewed as the legislative muscle needed to ensure that emissions standards are seriously pursued and met. Signed into law by Governor Patrick on August 13, the GWSA will include the following key provisions:
• enforceable caps on greenhouse gas emissions for 2020 and 2050 with financial penalties of up to $25,000 a day for violations;
• collaboration with neighboring states to establish regional low carbon fuel standards;
• EPA monitoring and reporting of industry/business emissions;
• creation of a green building revolving loan fund to provide low interest financing for projects that exceed efficiency codes. The Green Jobs Act This legislation ensures funds for clean energy technology research and development and training of workers for this sector. The Clean Energy Biofuels Act This act will actively promote use of non-food based, cellulosic biofuels by: • setting “mix’” standards for use of biofuels in diesel and home heating fuel;
• providing a gas tax exemption for non-food based biofuels;
• establishing low carbon fuel standards.
The Oceans Act
The Oceans Act supports development of wind, wave and tidal power while safeguarding state waters. ∆
© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito