Saving the planet - one post at a time.

Category: Climate Policy

Massachusetts’ ambitious climate law has taken effect. Now comes the hard part.

The law seeks to establish a net-zero greenhouse gas emission limit by 2050, among other goals.

Three of Deepwater Wind’s turbines stand in the water off Block Island, R.I. Massachusetts’ new climate law requires the creation of an additional 2,400 megawatts of offshore wind. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File

Charlie Baker signs sweeping climate change bill

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts has turned a critical corner in its response to climate change.

A sweeping law signed by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker with muted pandemic fanfare back in March officially took effect late last week, 90 days after the bill signing.

Supporters say it’s now time to get down to the nitty-gritty of making sure the state meets the lofty goals of the law — like creating a net-zero greenhouse gas emission limit by 2050.

The law triggers an initial series of changes throughout 2021 and 2022, according to Democratic Sen. Mike Barrett, co-chair of the Committee on Telecommunication, Utilities and Energy.

Some of those initial steps may seem modest, even bureaucratic, but supporters say they’re critical to helping the state transition to a renewable energy future.

One step calls for the state Department of Public Utilities to consider six factors as it decides electric power and natural gas rates, reviews electric and gas company contracts, and makes policy.

While reliability and affordability remain crucial, the law adds four new criteria: safety, security from cyberattacks and physical sabotage, equity, and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

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Tax credits for wind and solar projects are broken. Congress can fix that.

 

Sheldon Kimber is the CEO of Intersect Power.


Costs for solar and wind energy are the lowest they’ve ever been in the United States, and there’s been a dramatic surge in renewable projects in development. While that’s great news, there’s an enormous backlog of solar and wind projects across the country that are stalled out because of the inefficient way that Washington provides tax credits to our industry. We desperately need a legislative solution.

The costs of wind and solar projects are all upfront, so renewable energy companies have never owed enough taxes to take advantage of the tax credits they’ve been given by the federal government to incentivize wind and solar development. To make use of these credits, companies like mine have to partner with banks to exchange our tax credits for financing. Banks get to reduce their tax liability, and renewable energy companies get to build solar and wind farms. This may sound like a win-win, but it’s not.

When my team calls a bank to get financing, they’re usually told that the bank has already committed to the few customers with whom it has long-standing relationships. In order to convert tax credits into financing, banks need a small army of tax attorneys and energy specialists, and most have very little incentive to respond to all the renewable energy companies that come calling.

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Americans Appear Willing to Pay for a Carbon Tax Policy

The Ilulissat Icefjord, a Unesco heritage site, which is at the intersection of the ice sheet, calving glaciers and rising sea levels.
Credit…Josh Haner/The New York Times

The stumbling block in Congress for confronting climate change has perpetually been the economic challenge. There has been little support for paying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

But now, there is some evidence of a quiet undercurrent of support for a carbon policy, whether it be a tax, cap-and-trade or regulations.

The Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) — which, in full disclosure, I direct — and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research released a poll Wednesday on how Americans feel about various issues related to climate and energy.

One of the questions looked at willingness to pay for a carbon policy. The results, on the surface, are not very encouraging to any of its advocates: 43 percent of Americans aren’t willing to pay anything to fund such a policy.

Most people would infer from this that putting a price on carbon is challenging. And, politically, it is. But buried in the polling data is a striking revelation: Many people are willing to pay real money for a carbon policy. In fact, on average, Americans appear willing to pay more than a robust climate policy is projected to cost.

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