THE SAUGUS ADVOCATE – FRIDAY, JANUARY 8, 2021 Page 7 Rep. Wong supports climate change bill targeting net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 S tate Representative Donald H. Wong recently supported a comprehensive climate change bill that establishes short- and long-term targets designed to help Massachusetts reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050. Senate Bill 2995, An Act creating a next-generation roadmap for Massachusetts climate policy, was enacted by the House of Representatives on a vote of 145-9 on January 4. The bill, which was negotiated by a six-member legislative conference committee, represents a compromise between two earlier versions of the bill passed by the House and Senate. Senate Bill 2995 is now before Governor Charlie Baker for his review. Senate Bill 2995 requires the Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), in consultation with the Department of Energy Resources (DOER), to adopt greenhouse gas reduction targets in five-year increments beginning in 2025, with the goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Each of these targets must be accompanied by a comprehensive, clear and specific roadmap plan for reaching these goals. Under the bill, statewide emissions must be reduced by 50 percent compared to 1990 levels in 2030, by 75 percent in 2040 and by at least 85 percent in 2050. Senate Bill 2995 also accelerates the Class I Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard that requires electric utility companies to increase their renewable energy purchases. A 2018 law established a target of 35 percent renewable energy purchases by 2030, but Senate Bill 2995 increases this target to 40 percent by 2030 and requires annual increases of one percent for each subsequent year. Wong noted that the final bill does not include a controversial carbon tax proposal that was previously endorsed by the Senate. It also does not authorize the state’s participation in the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), which was a concern when the House first debated the bill last July after some advocates falsely claimed the legislation would provide for a backdoor increase in the gas tax. Representative Wong said he would have opposed the bill if it contained either of those provisions. Senate Bill 2995 establishes a new Clean Energy Equity Workforce and Market Development Program within the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) that will be funded at $12 million annually. This program will provide workforce training, educational and professional development, job placement, startup opportunities and grants promoting participation in the Commonwealth’s energy efficiency, clean energy and clean heating and cooling industries. The bill also includes funding authorization for the research, design and evaluation of pilot programs designed to promote energy innovation. Senate Bill 2995 also addresses the issue of gas pipeline safety by requiring gas distribution companies to maintain accurate and timely records of any Grade 3 leaks that, upon reinspection, are upgraded to a Grade 1 or 2 leak. The state’s Department of Public Utilities (DPU) will be responsible for establishing regulations regarding the maintenance, timely updating, accuracy and security of gas distribution company maps and records. Gas companies will also be required to file plans to address aging or leaking natural gas infrastructure within the Commonwealth. In addition to requiring DPU to establish rules and regulations regarding contractor certification and whistleblower protections for public utility employees of gas and electric companies, Senate Bill 2995 also directs DPU to establish a publicly accessible database on all gas provider customer complaints it receives, and to develop a process for investigating and responding to complaints in a timely manner. The bill also increases the fines DPU can impose on a gas or electric company for violating acceptable performance standards for emergency preparation and restoration of service. The bill doubles the maximum fine from $250,000 to $500,000, and it allows DPU to impose a maximum combined penalty of up to $50 million for a series of violations. Wong said the climate change bill also: • Updates state energy effiBanking with a hometown touch. Open a free checking account with no monthly fees, and get access to Mobile Banking, Bill Pay and other features. 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COM ciency standards for common household and commercial appliances • Expands offshore wind procurements by 2,400 megawatts for a total of 5,600 megawatts, and shortens the frequency of procurements from 24 months to 18 months • Establishes a greenhouse gas emissions standard for all municipal lighting plants and requires them to achieve 50 percent non-carbon emitting electricity by 2030, 75 percent by 2040 and net zero emissions by 2050 • Codifies “environmental justice populations” based on annual household median income, minority population and percentage of households lacking English language proficiency, and requires an environmental impact report for all projects located within one mile of an environmental justice population, or within five miles of an environmental justice population if the project is likely to cause air quality damage • Establishes a Low-Income Services Solar Program to provide solar energy technology to nonprofit organizations offering support services related to food security, homelessness and emergency shelter • Amends the definition of a Class I net metering facility to allow small municipal buildings with a generating capacity of less than 60 kilowatts to install rooftop solar • Incorporates the use of natural and working lands – including forests – to promote natural carbon sequestration Right by you. 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