Talking Points

Talking Points

Governor Baker is offering Hydro-Quebec another helping hand

Governor Charlie Baker’s administration has accomplished something that eluded his predecessor.
David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/File 2017
Governor Charlie Baker’s administration has accomplished something that eluded his predecessor.

When it comes to helping big hydro generators, Governor Charlie Baker accomplished something that eluded his predecessor.

Baker’s administration has already helped guide legislation that would require Eversource and National Grid, the state’s biggest utilities, to seek long-term contracts for hydropower.

But Baker completed something else that Deval Patrick started: a new system that would essentially mandate energy suppliers to buy more hydropower every year.


This “clean energy standard” was included in a grab bag of regulations the Baker administration just released.

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The state already requires energy suppliers to buy blocks of power from traditional renewables, namely solar and wind. The new rules expand the requirement and include hydro and nuclear power in the mix — as long as those generators went online after 2010. There are no new nukes on the horizon. So this addition will almost certainly benefit Canada’s Hydro-Quebec, already in a great position for those long-term contracts.

Martin Suuberg, Baker’s environmental commissioner.

Martin Suuberg, Baker’s environmental commissioner, says the agency expects to discuss possibly making some exceptions to that 2010 rule. Depending on what happens, that could help owners of older hydroelectric dams as well as the Seabrook and Millstone nuke plants. (Pilgrim is due to close in 2019 regardless.)

By 2020, 20 percent of our power should come from these low-emissions sources, including 15 percent from traditional renewables. The numbers keep going up from there.

Suuberg’s goals: reducing the regional grid’s effect on greenhouse gas emissions, while protecting its reliability. These are noble goals. But we’ll likely pay a premium for our power as a result.

Jon Chesto is a Globe reporter. Reach him at and follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.