August 14, 2012

Gov. Deval Patrick signs energy bill into law

This week, Beacon Hill Roll Call records local representatives' votes on five roll calls and senators' votes on two roll calls from recent legislative sessions.

Changes in the State's energy laws (S 2395): House 149-6, Senate 38-0, approved and Gov. Deval Patrick signed into law a bill aimed at reducing the high cost of electricity in Massachusetts and creating more competition.

Specific provisions would end the current long-term contract program under the Green Communities Act by December 2012. It would also require investor-owned utilities to competitively bid proposals from renewable-energy suppliers for long-term renewable-energy contracts; increase the overall net metering cap from 3 percent to 6 percent, thus doubling the existing limits on municipal and privately owned projects that generate their own renewable energy; increase from six to ten months the time Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has to review rate cases; and prevent the DPU from approving rate case settlements more than once every six years.

Supporters said the average 14.24 cents per kilowatt hour in Massachusetts is well above the national average of 10 cents and is the seventh-highest in the nation. They noted the bill would make several changes to bring costs down and called it a jobs bill that would allow Massachusetts companies to hire more employees by reducing energy costs.

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