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April 15, 2014

Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Mark Sylvia Speaks Regarding Commonwealth’s Energy Efficiency Initiatives

Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) Commissioner Mark Sylvia appeared on Friday, February 15, at an electricity restructuring roundtable that convened in Boston to explore the state of energy efficiency initiatives in New England.  In his presentation, Commissioner Sylvia reported on the progress to date that has been made pursuant to several ongoing initiatives in Massachusetts to acquire cost-effective energy efficiency resources.  These include:  the Leading by Example” program, which sets aggressive targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions, energy conservation and efficiency, renewable energy, green buildings, and water conservation; the Green Communities Act; the Global Warming Solutions Act; and Governor Patrick’s renewable energy goals.

Commissioner Sylvia cited to a Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) order issued on January 31, 2013, that approved energy efficiency plans of the Commonwealth’s electric and gas distribution companies for 2013-2015.  Commissioner Silva reported that in the aggregate, the plans will provide net benefits for customers of $6.2 billion over the life of the installed measures, which results in approximately three dollars in benefits for every dollar spent.  (DPU Order D.P.U. 12-100 through D.P.U. 12-111.)  This is a 60% increase in net benefits over the 2010-2012 three year plan goals.  The total program investment for 2013-2015 is approximately $2.2 billion (a 24% increase over 2010-2012 goals), which is funded through several sources broken down as follows:  63% energy efficiency reconciliation factor; 22% system benefits charge; 6% regional greenhouse gas initiative; 6% carryover; and 3% from ISO New England Inc.’s Forward Capacity Market.  Among other program highlights, the three-year plans include a framework for a statewide evaluation, measurement, and verification program that program administrators will use to evaluate the energy efficiency programs during the term of the three-year plans.

Other ongoing energy efficiency initiatives in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts include the Building Asset Rating (BAR) pilot.  According to Commissioner Sylvia, the goal of the BAR program is to identify a cost-effective, scalable method to assess “as-built” building and systems.  While the BAR pilot focuses on increased investment in the energy efficiency of commercial office buildings, the Commonwealth also is developing the “Home Miles per Gallon (MPG)” program, which is a residential building labeling pilot.  The Home MPG initiative features an Energy Scorecard, which offers energy efficiency comparisons to area averages, bonus incentives on top of the Commonwealth’s successful Mass Save® incentives, and an option for thermal imaging to allow homeowners to assess their home’s insulation status.

Finally, Commissioner Sylvia reported on the state’s Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, which is an energy efficiency financing mechanism.  Notably, PACE allows municipalities to file a lien on a property that is superior to existing mortgages (with approval from the lenders of the existing mortgages).  The program, which is available only for commercial or industrial properties in participating municipalities, provides financing for eligible energy improvements including electric/gas energy efficiency deep retrofits, the installation of renewable energy systems, and construction of an extension of a natural gas pipe.  More information on the PACE program can be found in a December 31, 2012 study on the PACE program, which is available at http://www.mass.gov/eea/docs/doer/pub-info/doer-pace-study.pdf.

Commissioner Sylvia reported that Massachusetts was ranked No. 1 for energy efficiency in 2011 and 2012 by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, and No. 3 in private clean energy investment.  Massachusetts has nearly 5,000 clean energy firms, 110 green communities, and 305 MW combined of solar and wind installed generation.  Commissioner Sylvia’s full presentation is available at http://www.raabassociates.org/main/roundtable.asp?sel=119.

© 2014 Schiff Hardin LLP

About the Author

Associate

Monica M. Berry concentrates her practice on energy, energy regulation and litigation.

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