Climate bill gained through omission

Lawmakers smart not to ban competitive electricity suppliers

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER in August signed into law  a comprehensive bill to address climate change. The bill includes provisions designed to reach a net zero carbon goal by 2050 by promoting the adoption of electric vehicles, supporting the modernization of the power grid, and expanding support for the development of offshore wind power.

But one of the most impactful steps lawmakers took to address climate change was not something they included — but something they omitted. Specifically, for the second year running, lawmakers declined to adopt a measure favored by Attorney General Maura Healey that would strip Massachusetts residents of the ability to choose the company they buy their electricity from and to direct where that power comes from.

With new sources of clean energy, there is a cost to replace existing energy infrastructure. The climate bill will spread some of that cost across all electricity customers. At the same time, the willingness and ability of customers to contribute to an investment in a clean energy future are not the same for everyone. Some customers may be more willing and able to act beyond the minimum requirements the Commonwealth has imposed on everyone.

Fortunately, there are many choices for customers who prefer their energy dollars to be directed toward cleaner power sources. Retail electric suppliers currently offer the public 100 percent renewable energy options or a 49 percent renewable energy supply product as an alternative to the energy supplied by their local utility company.

Once considered a boutique offering for a handful of customers, clean energy offers now constitute the majority of energy offers available to Massachusetts customers, with multiple suppliers and offers to consider. The Retail Energy Supply Association applauds the Massachusetts Legislature and Baker for preserving retail choice for all Massachusetts electricity consumers and allowing individuals to make their own clean energy choices that meet their individual needs and preferences.

Ironically, one of the best provisions in this climate bill is the one that didn’t make it.

Daniel Allegretti is the national spokesperson for the Retail Energy Supply Association.