Mass Power Forward Coalition Mobilizes en Masse for Major Energy Hearing

Claire Miller, 781-775-1429, claire@toxicsaction.org

Boston - Mass Power Forward, a new statewide coalition dedicated to fighting for a just transition to clean energy, brought hundreds of people to today’s highly anticipated hearing on energy policy at the State House. Dozens of people from the Mass Power Forward coalition testified at the hearing, including faith leaders, business owners, students, and community members affected by aging coal and nuclear plants and proposed new gas pipelines and compressors. As legislative leadership moves to pass a comprehensive energy bill, coalition members are working to advance legislation that encourages a diverse, clean power mix, removes barriers to solar energy,  protects ratepayers from being forced to subsidize new gas pipelines, supports the growth of the offshore wind industry, expands energy efficiency and energy storage programs, keeps energy dollars in-region, and keeps Massachusetts on track to reduce carbon pollution 80% by 2050.  

The Mass Power Forward coalition, which includes over 100 environmental organizations, community groups, businesses and faith groups, kicked off earlier this month with six simultaneous press conferences in Weymouth, Peabody, Boston, Holyoke, Pittsfield, and Fall River. 

Legislative leaders have indicated that they plan to pass an omnibus energy bill this fall addressing solar, offshore and onshore wind, hydroelectricity, new gas pipelines, and other energy issues. Eleven bills were considered at today’s hearing, including: H.2881 (Rep. Haddad), which would require utilities to buy electricity from offshore wind farms and establish a tariff to pay for the construction of new gas pipelines; S.1757 (Sen. Downing), which would increase the state’s renewable portfolio standard; S. 1965 (Governor Baker), which would require utilities to buy hydroelectric power; and  H.3724 (Governor Baker), which would temporarily alleviate limits on solar net metering while seriously cutting compensation paid to solar projects for municipalities, low-income housing, renters and businesses.

Mass Power Forward advocates identified significant shortcomings with existing bills and called for omnibus legislation that would: support diverse sources of renewable energy, including energy efficiency, solar, offshore and onshore wind; expand energy efficiency and energy storage programs; prohibit public subsidies for gas pipelines and other new fossil fuel infrastructure; and reduce carbon pollution by at least 80% by 2050. Advocates said that an energy policy based primarily on importing gas and hydropower would not be sufficient to meet the state’s climate commitments, ensure environmental protections, and create benefits for local communities.