Massachusetts’ 3-Year Energy Plan Prioritizes Energy Efficiency

CodeWatcher Massachusetts energy plan

Massachusetts’ energy plan, broad in scope, aims for greenhouse gas emission reductions, and addresses energy storage and strategic electrification among other advances.

Massachusetts is working on a three-year energy plan, which stipulates, as Samantha Caputo of Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) reports, that the utilities are “obligated to acquire all available energy efficiency and demand reduction resources that are cost-effective or less expensive than supply,” per the state’s Green Communities Act (GCA).

In the Energy Efficiency Advisory Council’s (EEAC) response to the draft plan, the Council stipulates that energy efficiency investments planned under the GCA should reflect the Commonwealth’s long-term greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction requirement of 80% GHG reduction from 1990 levels by 2050, as established in the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) of 2008. To do this, the 3-year plan will have to prioritize cost-effective energy efficiency and demand reduction resources that lead to greater lifetime emissions reductions.

Also, the recently passed Act to Advance Clean Energy has provisions that will impact the 3-year planning process by adding energy storage, active demand management technologies, and strategic electrification as eligible under energy efficiency programs. The Act also adds programs that result in customers switching to renewable energy sources or other clean energy technologies to the energy efficiency plans.

In addition, cost-effectiveness screening is broadened to ensure that programs “obtain energy savings and other benefits with value greater than the costs of the program,” rather than energy savings and system benefits. It also requires that energy efficiency program cost-effectiveness testing be aggregated/screened by sector rather than by measure. By adding the “other benefits” language to the provisions for cost-effectiveness, Massachusetts has the opportunity to include non-energy impacts such as carbon reduction, economic development, and other benefits relevant to public policy goals. It gives the state flexibility when setting their goals and/or obtaining stakeholder buy-in, and it’s an approach other states might want to emulate.