Articles filed under Energy Policy from Massachusetts
The state Senate unanimously passed an energy bill tonight that was as newsworthy for what it left out as for what it contained. The Senate dropped a controversial House provision that critics say would open ocean sanctuaries to unlimited renewable energy development, including a major windmill project in Buzzards Bay. The Senate also rejected a House proposal to transfer the administration of $25 million in renewable energy funds from the quasi-public Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to a new agency in Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration. The Senate would keep the MTC independent, but it created an oversight panel to report back on its renewable energy programs.
A senate committee blocked a proposal by House Speaker Sal DiMasi to move the Renewable Energy Trust from the control of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. In an energy reform bill filed by DiMasi earlier this year, the trust was put under the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.. ..."We didn't want to blow them up. We did think there should be better collaboration between them and the administration," Panagiotakos said. "The administration will be able to advise and have consent over a small portion of funds."
The massive offshore wind farms proposed for Nantucket Sound and Buzzards Bay generate most of the headlines. But most of the progress in renewable energy in Massachusetts this year will be seen among much smaller turbine projects. The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative estimates that 10 wind turbine projects could be built and connected to the grid in 2008. Nearly all of them, however, are just one- or two-turbine projects.
Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi are heading toward a tussle over state energy policy as the Senate takes up its version of DiMasi's bill to promote "green power" and conservation. ...Murray's measure, which goes to senators for a vote Wednesday, also thwarts several DiMasi priorities in a bill that the speaker called the House's "signature accomplishment" in 2007. Among other changes, the Senate bill scraps DiMasi's $2,000 state income tax break for hybrid car buyers, which Murray said the state can't afford. She also rejects DiMasi's effort to weaken the state Ocean Sanctuaries Act, an environmental protection measure, to clear the way for offshore wind farms such as Boston construction mogul Jay Cashman's planned 120-turbine project in Buzzards Bay and a smaller project off Hull. And Murray also rides to the res ue of the state Renewable Energy Trust, which is funded by a 25-cent-a-month tax on utility bills and has faced widespread criticism for failing to generate significant amounts of renewable energy in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Senate leaders have drafted an energy bill that drops a House amendment to open Buzzards Bay and other ocean sanctuaries to what critics say would be unlimited renewable energy development. The amendment, which was backed by House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, would directly benefit a proposal by Boston developer Jay Cashman to build up to 120 wind turbines in Buzzards Bay. His proposal is being reviewed by the state. ...The House has contended the law as currently written allows traditional electric generating facilities in the sanctuaries, but not renewable energy. Environmental groups disagree, saying only uses like transmission lines and gas lines are allowed in the sanctuaries, except in extraordinary circumstances.
Massachusetts Senate leaders have drafted an energy bill that drops a House amendment to open Buzzards Bay and other ocean sanctuaries to what critics say would be unlimited renewable energy development. The amendment, which was backed by House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, would directly benefit a proposal by Boston developer Jay Cashman to build up to 120 wind turbines in Buzzards Bay. His proposal is being reviewed by the state. Individual senators could always move to amend the bill to include the House's proposal, but Senate President Therese Murray, D-Plymouth, doubted it would end up in the Senate's final energy package.
Governor Deval Patrick's administration proposed several changes to state environmental-protection laws yesterday that could help speed construction of offshore wind-power farms, including the controversy-plagued Cape Wind project that Patrick strongly backs. ...One major change would be to declare cables conveying power from offshore renewable-energy projects - including wind farms and hydroelectric generating units - to be water-dependent. That designation would get those projects speedier, more favorable consideration by department regulators, who are required by Chapter 91 to apply heavier scrutiny to nonwater-dependent projects in protected waterfront and river areas.
Planning Board chairman Gary Gilbert said his board has begun that exploration, which will include hiring a consultant and visiting wind facilities. Gilbert has prepared a draft bylaw, but "the board is not ready to go through that yet because they want to learn about the general subject matter first," he said. "It's new to many people on the board." Board of Selectmen chairwoman Sue Thorne said she supports developing a comprehensive wind bylaw "as long as there are reasonable and sensible guidelines. By having a bylaw in place, it gives any applicant an opportunity to be aware of what the parameters are" for building a tower to harness wind energy.
Eight Southeastern Massachusetts lawmakers have requested a meeting with House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, saying they are concerned about the way in which an amendment was slipped into an energy bill to open most state coastal waters to renewable energy development. ...The amendment to the speaker's energy bill would remove a major hurdle before a proposal by Boston developer Jay Cashman to build up to 120 wind turbines in Buzzards Bay. The wind farm is currently under state review. ..." we are extremely concerned over the circumstances surrounding the amendment which dramatically altered the Ocean Sanctuaries Act," they wrote. "As legislators that represent coastal districts, we are troubled by the way the language was included in the consolidated amendment and media reports surrounding the adoption of the amendment." "The language was not part of the original amendments filed that were made available to the House members before the deadline. Transparency has been the hallmark of your speakership and this seems inconsistent with the high standards under which you operate the House of Representatives."
Our leaders on Beacon Hill, who are clearly more knowledgeable about the law than engineering, are steadily moving toward enacting legislation that would require "greenhouse gas" emissions caps that are 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. ...To put this knee-jerk legislation into perspective, if we assume (somewhat unrealistically) that we can derive 25 percent of our total energy production from wind, solar and other renewable energy sources, the proposed caps would require that we reduce our energy consumption to one-fourth of what it was in 1990 by the year 2050. Of course if the exodus of productive citizens and industry that are currently leaving the state continues, we might get there by default. But then enacting ill-conceived policies that forces production overseas where efficiencies are lower would actually increase the world's "carbon footprint."
The smart money knew the fix was in two years ago when word started circulating that construction mogul Jay Cashman would move to erect a 120-unit wind farm in Buzzards Bay. ...Apparently Cashman is making things right for his wind farm proposal, too. House Speaker Sal DiMasi has not just admitted but declared that he and Jay Cashman are close personal friends as are their wives. Unable to leave well enough alone, the speaker goes on to say that his personal relationship with Cashman has nothing to do with a nasty little piece of stealth legislation he tucked into an energy bill last week. This stealth amendment would allow construction of alternative energy facilities -- read "wind farms" -- in state ocean sanctuaries where such construction has been strictly forbidden until now.
The surprise that one week before Thanksgiving Massachusetts Speaker of the House Sal DiMasi had thrown a last-minute Mickey into a state energy bill was no surprise at all…just business as usual. Well… maybe not so usual. The obvious beneficiary of this maneuver to allow development of “alternative energy” projects within previously protected state ocean sanctuaries is one Jay Cashman, multi-millionaire construction tycoon and close personal friend of the speaker. Cashman has announced his plans to desecrate Buzzards Bay in the name of renewable profits.
Under the guise of supporting clean energy, members of the Massachusetts House have rushed an amendment through the legislative process that threatens the future of Buzzards Bay. It erases part of the ocean sanctuary protection Massachusetts coastal waters have enjoyed for decades, allowing clean energy development - most notably, wind turbines - to be built with a less stringent public review. In a shady move, Rep. Brian Dempsey, D-Haverhill, the House energy chairman, slipped the measure into an energy bill at the last minute. The bill received only a voice vote, with little debate.
Environmentalists and coastal lawmakers are vowing to fight a surprise provision in an energy bill that they say would open up virtually the entire Massachusetts coast to unlimited wind turbine development. The amendment was tucked into a sweeping energy bill that was approved by the Massachusetts House of Representatives with little debate late Thursday. The amendment would allow renewable energy projects like wind power and hydroelectricity in the state's five ocean sanctuaries, which are now protected from development by state law. ..."It's outrageous," said Sen. Robert O'Leary, D-Barnstable. — It blows up a good part of the Marine Sanctuaries Act, and it was done at the eleventh hour.
Massachusetts environmentalists expressed alarm yesterday over legislation they said could lead to construction of Cape Wind-sized wind farms up and down the state's coastline. ...Groups including the Massachusetts Audubon Society and the Conservation Law Foundation said they fear that the amendment, if adopted by the Senate and signed by Governor Deval Patrick, would open the door to almost unlimited construction of wind turbines and other energy equipment in Cape Cod Bay and in waters within 3 miles of the North Shore, the South Coast, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, and the south side of Cape Cod. ...The Senate isn't expected to take up the DiMasi energy bill before January.
Massachusetts would meet at least 20 percent of its energy needs by 2020 with renewable energy such as wind, hydroelectric and solar under sweeping legislation proposed Thursday by House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi. Rep. DiMasi was joined by Gov. Deval Patrick, Attorney General Martha Coakley and Senate leaders as he rolled out the legislation, which is expected to be approved by the House next Thursday. The bill, which was subject to negotiations for 11 months, would require the state to increase its use of renewable energy by five times what it is now.
While paper mills close and Cabletron spins off its remnants out of state, power plants from the Seacoast to Whitefield enjoy the perks of a poorly understood, $100-million subsidy program just for energy producers. It has a bureaucratic name: the forward capacity market. ...An unidentified 600-megawatt, gas-fired power plant project somewhere in Rockingham County is blocked behind half a dozen North Country renewable energy projects in the ISO-New England regulatory queue. The waiting list policy is first-come, first-served. A plant like that would typically pay its host community $4 million or more in property taxes, with few smokestack emissions. But those wind- and wood-fired projects at the front of the line are all in limbo. The Public Service power lines in the region are too small. Most of the players can't even bid into the upcoming ISO auction, because yet-to-be-built plants have to ante millions of dollars as a sort of performance bond. And the ISO doesn't make forward capacity payments for transmission line upgrades.
Quincy is taking the first steps to address the growing possibility of wind power turbines built within city limits, following the announcement by a local construction company that it plans to build a wind turbine on its own property and use the energy itself. ...While the time is right for a city ordinance, said Dave Murphy, the city's chief of operations, it's not yet time to encourage large-scale development of wind power because the city doesn't have a site. The city has been measuring wind speed at the police station on Sea Street, and at a privately owned radio tower inland at Quarry Hills, to assess the feasibility for sites, Murphy said.
Members of a Cape Cod Commission subcommittee voted unanimously today to recommend that the full commission turn down Cape Wind's application to bring its transmission cables ashore in Yarmouth to connect with a substation in Barnstable. Today's vote on "procedural grounds without prejudice" was based on insufficient information about the cabling aspect of the project, according to subcommittee members.
As my public statements make clear, I oppose the Cape Wind project because of the numerous unanswered questions about its impact on local fisheries, navigational safety and the local environment and economy. We are now facing the prospect of a private developer essentially seizing, on a no-bid basis, 25 square miles of public lands and waters. I believe that such a project should not go forward until national standards for off-shore wind farms are in place to protect coastal communities. Even though the Worcester Telegram & Gazette disagrees with me on this issue, it does a disservice to its readers when it ignores the detailed arguments I have made against proceeding with this project.