For Kyle Murray, an energy efficiency advisor to the state, the proposed $5 billion price tag for the next three-year Mass Save plan is both too much and not enough.

Mass Save, the utility company-run energy efficiency program central to Massachusetts’ ambitious climate goals, has helped the state become a top energy saver in the country — money well spent, Murray feels.

But it’s utility ratepayers primarily footing the bill, the same ones who have stared down sky-high electricity and gas increases in recent years.

“The (Mass Save) programs need to be ambitious, they need to probably go further, but we can’t continue to put that on ratepayers,” said Murray. “If we’re going to be a leader and continue to be ambitious, we need to find other ways of financing these programs that aren’t solely on the backs of ratepayers.”

Those concerns reflect sentiments from Murray, the Massachusetts program director for the Acadia Center who serves on the state’s Energy Efficiency Advisory Council, which helps design the Mass Save plan every three years.

Murray said some have advocated unsuccessfully for the use of federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars as supplemental Mass Save funding. He noted the state is currently working on a Clean Heat Standard that would bring in revenue by incentivizing electric heating systems and disincentivizing other polluting fuel types.

“There’s a lot of ways the state could get creative to help deliver on its ambitions,” Murray said.

Creativity is desperately needed, he contends, especially when some talk about pushing the budget even higher to achieve greater climate outcomes, something he’s heard during the ongoing input process for the 2025-2027 plan.

Still, Murray hailed the benefits expected to be generated by the proposal: approximately $13.8 billion, about $3 billion more than the inflation equivalent from the 2022-2024 plan.

“I think it does show that our priorities match up with our ambitions,” Murray said. “We want to be a leader on climate in the Northeast and through the U.S., and we are a leader. These programs all have to be cost-effective, at least deliver a 1-to-1 return for the state. Not only that, we’re going well beyond. We’re expected to get over $13 billion in benefits.”

To read the full article from Mass Live, click here.