House leaders: Price key in energy bill
Omnibus legislation will include offshore wind, hydro, gas, and maybe solar
HOUSE LEADERS, OFFERING UP SOME TANTALIZING CLUES about the omnibus energy legislation they are developing, said the bill will emerge sometime around mid-April and deal in some fashion or another with hydroelectricity, offshore wind, natural gas, and solar. The officials described their efforts as a balancing act, promising the package will not increase the average price of electricity beyond what it is now.
Reading between the lines, the lawmakers appeared to be indicating they would back new natural gas pipeline infrastructure to help bring down the price of electricity even as they put forward measures to subsidize hydroelectricity from Canada and offshore wind.
“It’s a balancing act,” said House Majority Leader Ronald Mariano of Quincy. “Hydro comes in at one price per kilowatt hour, wind comes in higher because of the high infrastructure costs. You’ve got to balance this thing out.”
Mariano said that as much as he and his colleagues support the development of renewable forms of energy, price has to be a primary consideration. “We’re in an election year,” Mariano said. “If we come in and we’re 10 to 12 cents higher per kilowatt hour, we’re all going to be looking for jobs.”
Mariano and Golden spoke after they and four of their colleagues (Sen. Marc Pacheco of Taunton and Reps. Patricia Haddad of Somerset, Sarah Peake of Provincetown, and James O’Day of Worcester) spoke glowingly on Monday about a visit to Denmark last year to learn about the offshore wind industry in Europe. The lawmakers gave their presentation as part of a two-day US offshore wind conference at the Inter-Continental Hotel.
Haddad, the Legislature’s biggest offshore wind champion, has been pushing for a special set-aside for the technology. The third-ranking leader in the House said she wants the state to commit to purchasing a significant quantity of offshore wind – as much as 2,000 megawatts over a 10-year period – to help build the industry, which she believes in the long run could produce lots of jobs and lots of power at reasonable prices.
But Haddad, like her colleagues, warned those in the audience that the omnibus energy bill may not be entirely to their liking. “There’s a really big picture here,” she said, noting that pricing has to be reasonable and natural gas is also needed. “We are not walking away from wind, but we’re going forward in a way that’s good for consensus,” she said.
Mariano said the omnibus energy legislation may not be a bill that the audience would love, but it could be one they like. “We cannot come in with a cost that’s going to be a shock,” he said.
Earlier in the day, US Sen. Edward Markey told the conference that offshore wind in the United States is poised to take off. He said offshore wind needs supportive policies at the federal and state level. He said he intends to push for legislation in Congress that would extend the 30 percent investment tax credit for offshore wind through 2025.