Let’s go renewable

More than a quarter of the Massachusetts Legislature has signed on in support of bills that would require the state to obtain all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2035 and the rest of its energy from renewables by 2050.

The goal of reducing reliance on fossil fuels is worthy, but the fact that 53 of the state’s 200 lawmakers are supporting the legislation filed by Sen. Jamie Eldridge of Acton, Rep. Sean Garballey of Arlington, and Rep. Marjorie Decker of Cambridge is also a bit scary.

No one knows how much the bill would cost, what its impact would be on electric rates, or whether it’s even technically feasible to go all-renewable. Backers say the bill’s renewable targets are not just aspirational but achievable, yet the legislation is being filed at a time when electricity prices in Massachusetts are the fourth-highest in the nation and energy policymakers in the Bay State and across New England are divided over whether to build a new natural gas pipeline into the region.

News reports on the bills described renewable energy sources as things like wind, solar, and hydropower, yet those forms of power currently satisfy only a small portion of the region’s electricity needs.

According to ISO-New England, the regional power grid operator, the electricity fuel mix in 2016 was 49 percent natural gas, 31 percent nuclear, 10 percent renewables, 7 percent hydro, and 3 percent coal and oil.

The regional power grid operator recently held an auction to secure commitments to supply electricity between 2020 and 2021. Of the 35,835 megawatts secured, 0.4 percent came from wind and even less from solar, although 720 megawatts of off-grid solar helped reduce overall demand for power.

Under current law, the state is required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Many environmentalists worry the state isn’t doing enough to reach those goals.

In short, shifting to all-renewable electricity by 2035 would be an enormous challenge. Shifting all other energy uses — vehicles, subways, manufacturing, heating, cooling — to renewables by 2050 would be almost impossible.

–BRUCE MOHL


BEACON HILL

House Speaker Robert DeLeo, fresh from engineering a big pay raise for himself and his colleagues, puts a tax hike on the table as lawmakers start to put together a state budget for 2018. (Boston Herald)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

A Boston police detective tops the list of municipal employee earners for 2016, having raked in an astounding $403,000. (Boston Globe) The chairman of the Boston Finance Commission, an independent watchdog agency, calls the overall 5 percent growth in city payroll expenditures “concerning.” (Boston Herald)

Kevin Cullen points out that the terrorists inflicting the most damage in the US are gangbangers like Dominique Finch, a serial shooter now charged with paralyzing a 9-year-old Roxbury girl last October who happened to be in the path of his bullet.

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Chaos continues to envelop the Trump administration as embattled National Security Adviser Michael Flynn abruptly resigned after it was learned he discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador before the inauguration and then lied about it to Vice President Mike Pence. (New York Times) The New Republic’s Jeet Heer says this is likely the beginning, not the end, of the Flynn saga, with the most pressing question being a reprise of the famous Watergate interrogatory, “What did the president know and when did it he know it.”

Steven Mnuchin was confirmed as Treasury secretary by what is becoming the Senate norm with an overwhelmingly partisan vote, with only one Democrat moving across the aisle. (U.S. News & World Report) But senators unanimously approved Obama holdover Dr. David Shulkin as secretary of Veterans Affairs. (Associated Press)

Peter Gelzinis considers the creepiness that is Trump “Minister of Propaganda” Stephen Miller. (Boston Herald)

Trump’s tweet reach is real. (Buzzfeed)

A Stoneham man puts a spotlight on lax White House security measures, posting social media photos of Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe huddling in a publicMar-a-Lago dining room over the weekend firing of a missile by North Koreas and a shot of himself with the presidential aide who carries the “football” case with nuclear codes. (Boston Globe)

The National Review’s David French doesn’t have a lot of use for “anonymous sources” that are offering — in his view, allegedly — inside information at the turmoil in the new administration.

ELECTIONS

Veteran activist Bob Massie, who was the Democratic lieutenant governor nominee in 1994, is seriously considering entering the Democratic contest for governor, saying Gov. Charlie Baker has not shown bold leadership. (CommonWealth)

A former Republican attorney general in New Hampshire says the myth of massive voter fraud there is “like the yeti or the abominable snowman… There is no basis in fact.” (Boston Globe)

A Herald editorial comes down firmly on the side of the reality-based world and calls on Trump and his mouthpieces to put up or shut up when it comes to voter fraud charges.  Gov. Charlie Baker punts on the issue, saying, “I don’t know much about what goes on in New Hampshire.” (Politico)

Joe Battenfeld says City Councilor Tito Jackson is having trouble getting traction in his challenge to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. (Boston Herald)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The Globe pays a visit to General Electric’s idyllic training center near the Hudson River north of New York City.

A Belmont man says it’s indisputable that he invented email when he was 14, but it turns out it his claim is very much disputed. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

State Auditor Suzanne Bump says the Baker administration didn’t need to suspend the Pacheco Law to pursue privatization at the T. The agency is now pushing privatization of core services. (CommonWealth)

The T had the highest commuter rail ridership in its history on the day of last week’s New England Patriots parade in Boston. (CommonWealth)

A sure sign of winter: Keller@Large shaming drivers who don’t clear snow off their cars.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The new owners of a controversial proposed power plant in Brockton have sought a six-month extension on its operating permit from state officials, which would be the fourth extension for the facility (The Enterprise)

Pilgrim nuclear power plant, which shut down because of sea water leaks, is still not operating at full power because of equipment problems. (Cape Cod Times)

It turns out lots of Mish Michaels’s fellow meteorologists are also skeptical of the science claiming humans are the cause of climate change. (Boston Globe)

CASINOS

The Mashpee Wampanoag, still angling to build a casino in Taunton, are hoping President Trump will cut them in when it comes to the tribe’s assertion of Indian gaming rights, despite the president’s history of insensitive comments about Native Americans. (Boston Globe)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A lawyer for Felix Arroyo, who is under suspension by the state Trial Court from his elected post of Suffolk County Register of Probate, says his client faced resistance to efforts to diversity his  staff from long-time employees in an office riddled with mismanagement and cronyism. (Boston Globe)

A longtime member of the Rockland School Committee was arrested and charged with operating under the influence after police say he hit three cars while driving. (Patriot Ledger)

MEDIA

David Leonhardt is worried about the ongoing struggle within Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal. (New York Times)

Playboy is returning to its roots, bringing nudes back to the pages of the 63-year-old men’s magazine after a one-year ban to get people to read the articles. (New York Times)

Northeastern University journalism professor Dan Kennedy explains why the mega-merger between Entercom and CBS Radio involving 244 stations around the country, including some of the top ones in Boston, should matter to listeners here. (WGBH)

Red Sox television commentator Jerry Remy is suffering from a recurrence of lung cancer, but says the prognosis is good. (Boston Herald)

Telegram & Gazette columnist Dianne Williamson offers up her own Valentine’s Day rhymes.