Massachusetts has taken preliminary steps to offer customers cleaner, less-expensive energy options during the most-costly times of the year.
During the 2017-18 New England winter, peak period electricity rates reached $247/MWh and energy-generators relied on fossil fuels to handle to peak load. In response, the Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker created a plan to require retail utilities to offer cheaper, cleaner electricity options during peak periods.
Baker outlined proposals for greener, cheaper electricity in the plan, An Act Promoting Climate Change Adaptation, Environmental and Natural Resource Protection and Investment in Recreational Assets and Opportunity, which defines clean peak periods and requires electricity be supplied at $0.005/kWh averaged across annual usage.
Baker’s plan also approves $1.4 billion in spending throughout Massachusetts to safeguard residents, municipalities and businesses from the impacts of climate change.
“To build a sustainable and resilient Commonwealth, we must make strategic investments in climate resiliency and environmental protection across the state and shorelines,” Baker says. “This winter, we’ve been reminded of how critical environmental assets like seawalls and dams are to our communities and how important these proposals will be for safeguarding municipalities and businesses from the impacts of climate change.”
This recent proposal renews Baker’s commitment to clean energy and combating climate change. In 2016, Baker signed Executive Order 569, which created a Massachusetts State Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs to coordinate efforts to mitigate and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In the most recent proposal, peak periods will be limited to 10 percent of operating hours and defined by forecasts from the region’s grid operator. Typically, these periods occur during winter in the evenings. In addition to solar production, offshore wind energy production may be needed to meet these peak needs, and energy storage may also be part of the program.
Along with defining the clean peak period, the proposal indicated the minimum amount of clean peak resources needed and noted alternative compliance mechanism for retail electricity suppliers to meet the standards. The program was slated to run through 2040.