Talking Points

Talking Points

Clean tech will probably push a new energy bill next year

David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

State lawmakers just adjourned for the holidays without any controversial votes on major energy issues.

But they shouldn’t get too relaxed. The clean-tech industry is making a push for another big energy bill in 2018, a potential companion piece to legislation signed by Governor Charlie Baker in the summer of 2016.

That previous bill prompted the state’s big utilities to pursue long-term contracts with “clean energy” suppliers, a measure aimed at drawing more hydropower from Canada. A separate, more targeted provision requires big purchases from future offshore wind farms.


In the race to get that bill done on time, several elements were left on the negotiating table. Among them: a provision that would accelerate the state requirement that utilities draw from increasing amounts of renewable sources for their electricity. One fear in the clean-tech sector is that the new contracts from the 2016 law could crowd out demand for other solar and wind projects in the region.

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Another discarded idea that is getting renewed interest: a requirement for energy audits for homes before they’re sold. The real estate industry won’t like it, but the pro-green forces will argue that these energy efficiency ratings are consumer-friendly.

Then there’s the recurring debate over caps on net metering reimbursements — credits that are primarily used by solar panel owners. The waiting list for these reimbursements is growing in many parts of the state. Expect more fireworks in 2018.

These energy debates aren’t always pretty, or easy to follow. But they’re important: Aside from health care, few issues on Beacon Hill affect as many people and businesses.

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