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Overly Impacted and Rarely Heard: Incorporating Community Voices into Massachusetts Energy Regulatory Processes

Advocates representing environmental, community, and consumer advocacy groups call for the Commonwealth’s energy regulatory agencies to implement a range of short and long-term changes to provide meaningful opportunities to participate in proceedings.

The Attorney General’s Office convened a Stakeholder Working Group (SWG) to identify barriers to meaningful participation in proceedings at the Commonwealth’s energy regulatory agencies, the Department of Public Utilities and the Energy Facilities Siting Board, and to propose solutions to overcome these barriers. The SWG issued its report on May 4, 2023. In its report, the SWG set out specific recommendations for the DPU and EFSB to adopt that would improve public engagement and ensure that agency proceedings, deliberations, and decisions reflect the voices of the public – especially residents in underserved communities who may be most impacted by the agencies’ decisions.

The DPU oversees utility rates, as well as safety, reliability, and spending by public utilities. The EFSB is charged with approving and siting energy infrastructure and facilities. Decisions made by the DPU and EFSB affect the lives of everyone in the Commonwealth, from electric and gas bills, to energy efficiency and electric vehicle programs, to the siting and development of energy facilities.

The AG’s Office is similarly committed to advocating for improved public participation at the agencies. AG Campbell’s Office recently made several similar recommendations in comments filed in March on the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs’ Draft Environmental Justice Strategy, as well as in ongoing proceedings that the DPU and EFSB opened to improve public participation in their proceedings. Last month, AG Campbell led a multistate coalition urging the federal government to meaningfully engage communities in distributing grant funding.

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