Electricity Cost Study Shows Benefits of Continued Investment in Massachusetts Clean Energy Initiatives Outweigh Costs
Return from Patrick-Murray Administration's energy efficiency and renewable energy investments include growing a new industry adding companies and jobs to the Massachusetts economy, securing the Commonwealth's energy independence, improving air quality, and reducing fossil fuel combustion
The report, "Recent Electricity Market Reforms in Massachusetts: A Report of Benefits and Costs," was prepared by the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED), in consultation with the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), as required by the Economic Development Reorganization Act signed by Governor Deval Patrick last year. It notes that the Commonwealth, like most New England states, has historically paid more for electricity due to its lack of indigenous energy sources. Looking at a range of administrative, legislative, and regulatory changes put in place over the past four years to reverse that trend, the report, which was filed with the Legislature today, examines the costs and benefits of these changes on customers' electric bills and on the state's economy as a whole.
"Massachusetts, like our New England neighbors, has been a high cost energy state for decades, vulnerable to the wide price swings of the global energy market," said Secretary of Housing & Economic Development Greg Bialecki. "Recognizing the need to secure our energy future and lower costs, we have pursued an innovative agenda over the last four years that promises to move Massachusetts to the next generation of clean energy technologies. We will continue to closely monitor the impact of these policies and strike the right balance between the costs and benefits to businesses and ratepayers."
The report looks at four categories of recent changes to the state's energy landscape - energy efficiency, renewable and alternative energy, clean energy imports, and innovation and sector development. Once fully implemented in 2015, the initiatives are expected to yield total benefits to electric customers of $2.5 billion - nearly two and a half times as great as the $1.1 billion invested to implement them.
"The Commonwealth has positioned itself as a national clean energy leader over the past four years - building a vibrant new clean energy sector, setting nation-leading targets for energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reductions, and vastly expanding deployment of renewable energy," said Secretary of Energy & Environmental Affairs Richard K. Sullivan Jr.. "This report clearly indicates that the investments we are making are prudent; we are on the right path."
Relying on well-established cost-benefit methodology which has been adjudicated in numerous Department of Public Utilities cases over the years, the report found that, when compared to the estimated $8.4 billion spent on electricity in Massachusetts in 2009, the resources committed to implement new energy market policy initiatives are modest and promise direct benefits to ratepayers and the Commonwealth at large.
Chief among the benefits that accrue from these policies are economic development and job creation. Massachusetts saw clean energy employment increase 65 percent between 2007 and 2010, for example, with more than 11,000 people currently employed in the sector. In the solar energy sector alone, Patrick-Murray Administration policies such as the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center's Commonwealth Solar rebate program and a Solar Renewable Energy Credit program authorized by the Green Communities Act have helped solar employment more than double since 2007 while the number of solar companies has grown from about 30 to 200.
Likewise, the Commonwealth's nation-leading energy efficiency programs - calling for investment of $2 billion over three years to lock in $6 billion in savings for ratepayers - have fueled a doubling in employment in the energy efficiency sector.
Other benefits associated with the clean energy investments include:
• Increasing the Commonwealth's energy security and independence
• Keeping energy dollars in Massachusetts (much of the approximately $8.4 billion now spent on electricity goes out of state)
• Improving the environment, including better air quality by reducing fossil fuel combustion
• Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in support of Massachusetts' nation-leading target to cut emissions by 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.
To read the full report click here .