Does Massachusetts Have A Viable Energy Plan?

The current population of Massachusetts is estimated to be 6.93 million. In February 2019, state utilities used natural gas (66.1%), nuclear energy (21.1%) and renewable energy (12.8%) to generate electricity. Hydropower and solar are the primary types of renewable energy.

Massachusetts use of nuclear energy contributes to state’s high electricity costs. In February 2019, the average cost of electricity in Massachusetts was U.S. 23.3 ¢ per kWh, which is the 3rd most expensive price in the United States. The average price of electricity in the United States is 12.5 ¢ per kWh. Concerns about climate change have finally prompted state legislators to accelerate the moved from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

In August 2018, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law a bill promoting clean energy in the state. The bill mandates Massachusetts electric utilities have 35% renewable energy sources by 2030. The bill further mandates the following:
1. Authorizes adding up to 1,600 MW from offshore wind farms.

2. Utilities must measure how much natural gas is leaking from pipelines.

3. Establishes a “clean peak” standard, requiring utilities to use renewable energy during peak power periods.

4. Prohibits utilities from applying a special charge on rooftop solar owners.

The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources has recently released a report recommending the state sign offshore wind contracts for 3,200 MW of offshore wind. The report recommends the state hold offshore wind tenders for 800 MW capacity in 2022 and again in 2024. The tenders would allow companies to bid energy storage with the offshore wind project.

As Massachusetts prepares for a future with offshore wind, the state is bidding farewell to nuclear energy. The Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth, Massachusetts was recently closed after generate power for forty-seven years. The closing of the 680 MW Pilgrim nuclear plant will result in increased greenhouse gas emission from natural gas power plants.

The states of Minnesota, New Jersey and New Mexico have recently developed green energy programs that prioritize the reduction of greenhouse gases. These states have taken the approach of maintaining zero carbon emitting, nuclear power plants, while replacing fossil-fuel plants with wind, solar and hydropower projects. The plan is to then replace nuclear, with renewable energy projects.

In my opinion, the green energy plans of Minnesota, New Jersey and New Mexico will do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 than Massachusetts’s plan.

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