Massachusetts has long been a leader on clean energy and climate policy. From establishing the first state-level caps on power plant pollution, to participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) reducing carbon pollution in nine northeast and mid-Atlantic states, the Commonwealth has developed innovative approaches to promoting clean energy. With over $20 billion dollars spent on fossil fuel imports each year, producing clean energy locally and reducing energy waste make sense.

On energy efficiency, Massachusetts’ first in the nation savings levels are the result of a mandate to purchase all cost-effective efficiency and the Energy Efficiency Advisory Council stakeholder structure that supports these investments. Both are policy innovations that Acadia Center helped establish in the state through the Green Communities Act. Moving that policy from concept to law involved bringing together a non-traditional and highly effective alliance that Acadia Center helped facilitate, which included green justice groups, business and industry, consumer representatives, and others.

Acadia Center is continuing work to keep Massachusetts at the leading edge of climate and energy policy. The Commonwealth’s Global Warming Solutions Act requires 25% reductions in climate pollution by 2020, measured against a 1990 baseline, and an 80% reduction by 2050. In order to achieve these targets Acadia Center advocates for market-based measures to price carbon pollution, through RGGI and by extending carbon fees across the rest of the economy.

Complementary policies help advance grid-scale renewables such as wind and distributed resources like rooftop solar. Due to falling costs, onshore wind is now competitive with traditional fossil fuel power plants, but developing wind resources and transmitting clean electricity to customers requires policy support new approaches like pairing wind with hydroelectricity or energy storage to provide round-the-clock supply. Distributed solar provides not only clean energy, but can avoid the need for power from traditional power plants and expensive, rarely-used utility infrastructure overbuilt to meet peak energy demands.

Updating utility regulations and modernizing the power grid will help facilitate the adoption of renewable energy and capitalize on growth areas like energy storage and smart energy management, while keeping Massachusetts at the forefront of the transition to a clean energy economy.