Massachusetts state legislators are hoping to follow in the footsteps of California this month with a bill that would require new commercial and residential buildings to be equipped with solar panels.
Democratic Senator James Eldrige, and Democratic representatives Jack Lewis and Michael Connel, jointly filed bill S.1957 entitled “An Act Increasing Solar Rooftop Energy” in both the state Senate and House on Sept 16, 2019.
If approved, the legislation will make changes to Massachusetts building code within a year to require all new buildings to have minimum construction standards for solar panel systems. The energy requirements for solar systems will be dictated by the type of structure each building is classified as, with single-family homes needing a system that would be large enough to meet 100% of its energy needs.
In 2018, California approved a similar mandate requiring solar on all new construction, which is scheduled to roll out Jan 1, 2020. The California Energy Commission expects the bill to increase the upfront development costs of new homes by $9,500 while saving homeowners on average $19,500 over the life of the system. California’s mandate is part of an initiative to produce at least 50% of the state’s energy from renewables by 2030.
Likewise, Massachusetts has similar goals with regards to renewable energy production in its crosshairs. The state hopes to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80% in 2050, according to the states Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2020.
“At just under 3% of the U.S. economy and 1.2% of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, Massachusetts could not, on its own, stop global climate change even if it reduced statewide emissions to zero instantly,” the state website reads. “However, Massachusetts is in a position to show the way to a clean energy economy – and reap direct benefits in economic growth – through the development of smart, targeted policies that reduce emissions by promoting greater energy efficiency, developing renewable energy, and encouraging other alternatives to the combustion of fossil fuels.”
To help meet these goals the state already has several solar incentive programs in place. The Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target Program, which started in Nov 2018, pays solar energy system owers a fixed block-rate per kilowatt-hour of solar energy produced. Once blocked thresholds are fulfilled, the subsequent tier of kWH rates declines.
Massachusetts’ latest bill is what many environmentalists and solar proponents hope will soon become a trend on the state level to take ownership in the fight against climate change. Together with states such as California that are gearing up for its 2020 Solar Mandate to take place, the future’s looking bright.
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