Baker files hydropower procurement bill

BOSTON (State House) – Charlie Baker on Thursday filed procurement legislation to boost the state’s supply of hydropower, a goal that the governor says will increase electricity reliability, help grow an alternative to coal and oil power generation, and enable the state meet emissions reduction goals of its Global Warming Solutions Act.

The bill aims to require Massachusetts utilities to “jointly, and competitively, solicit long­term contracts for clean energy generation resources and associated transmission together with the Department of Energy Resources,” according to Baker’s office, and allows multi-state procurement. The bill “does not preclude intermittent renewable energy resources, such as wind, from participating in the solicitation provided the renewable resources is supported by hydropower.”

In a statement, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton said the legislation “strikes a balance between climate and environmental awareness, and Massachusetts’ need for clean, cost­conscience generation resources.”

Baker’s team is still working on a bill to address opioid addiction, as the governor shifts to a non-budgetary legislative agenda. Baker is also hoping lawmakers will act before their summer recess on standalone legislation he’s filed to improve operations at the MBTA.

While most bills filed by the governor arrive in the House, Baker’s team said they filed the hydropower bill with the Senate.

Baker’s office issued its legislation with supportive statements from Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, Boston Harbor Association President Vivien Li, and Senate President Pro Tempore Marc Pacheco (D­Taunton).

The Conservation Law Foundation said it is “troubling” that the bill does not focus on New England clean energy and said the power source would need to be tracked “or else we could end up buying Canadian coal-powered electricity during periods of high demand in the Eastern Canadian provinces.”

“Hydropower needs to be a piece of the puzzle, but it must be added in a way that simultaneously protects our rivers and forests and incorporates alternate renewable energy solutions,” said Greg Cunningham, CLF Vice President for Clean Energy and Climate Change in a statement.

 

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