Progress toward 2020 GHG Emissions Reduction Goal

Three strategies are expected to deliver most of the emission reductions in Energy Generation and Distribution: the import of clean power from outside the region, the retirement of 2 coal plants in the Commonwealth and growing renewable energy generation in New England through the Renewable Portfolio Standard.

In order to implement the first strategy, Massachusetts has been leading an effort under the New England States’ Committee on Electricity (NESCOE) for regional procurement of renewable energy from large hydroelectric, onshore and offshore wind projects.  Federal rules for power plants combined with low natural gas prices have resulted in announcements of closures for two of Massachusetts’ coal-fired power plants—Somerset and Salem Harbor Station.  Emissions reductions associated with replacing generation from these plants with electricity from natural gas plants will likely meet estimates from the 2020 Plan. Growth in wind and solar energy spurred on by the expanded Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) has been highly successful. Construction on the 360 MW Cape Wind project could begin in 2014, if final legal challenges are resolved.  Finally, in April 2013, Massachusetts and 8 other states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which caps CO2 emissions from large power plants, revised the emissions cap downwards, to a limit of 91 million tons.

Progress Compared to GHG Emissions in the State

GHG emissions from electricity usage have shown a significant decrease since 2008, reflecting the impact of increased renewable energy generation, a shift to less carbon intensive fossil fuel generation, and programs supporting electric energy efficiency. There is a large gap between the actual electricity use sector GHG emissions (solid line) and the emissions level attributed to the Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2020 (“2020 Plan”) strategies (dotted line) because of coal plant shutdowns that were not announced at the time the 2020 Plan was adopted.

2020 Plan Strategies for GHG Emissions Reduction

Strategy (with link to
background information
from the 2020 Plan)
Expanded Renewable and Alternative Portfolio Standard pdf format of rps.pdf
 HighRenewable energy generation in New England is increasing sufficiently to meet RPS requirements. GHG emission reductions are on track.
More Stringent Power Plant Rules pdf format of power-plants.pdf
HighCoal plant closures, and emission reductions due to replacement of generation with natural gas, on track as anticipated in 2020 Plan.
Clean Energy Imports pdf format of clean-energy-imports.pdf
MediumMA leading efforts for regional procurement of renewable energy. GHG emission reductions expected in future years as per 2020 Plan.
Developing a Mature Market for Solar Thermal Water/Space Heating pdf format of solar-thermal-market.pdf
MediumMassCEC is running a successful solar hot water program, but market growth has yet to accelerate in order to meet the target. (see also Supplemental Strategies below)
Clean Energy Standard pdf format of clean-energy-standard.pdf
 MediumIn line with the CECP, MA agencies are finalizing their analysis of the opportunity to introduce a Clean Energy Standard.
Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) pdf format of rggi.pdf
HighRegional CO2 emission cap reduced. RGGI auction proceeds funded more than $164 million in energy efficiency and renewable energy measures.
Off-Shore Wind pdf format of rps.pdf
MediumMA successfully deploys infrastructure for offshore wind development such as the Wind Technology Testing Center and the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal. MA is poised to be the first US state with an offshore wind park (Cape Wind).


Supplemental Strategies for GHG Emissions Reduction

Supplemental StrategyPotential for GHG Emissions ReductionsNotes
2 million metric tons CO2eThis supplemental strategy provides incentives for heating and cooling by sunlight, biomass, biofuels, biogas and heat pumps.
UnknownThis supplemental strategy transforms the power grid to accommodate high penetration of distributed and variable generation, storage, electric vehicles, to manage peaks and reduce line losses.