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Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretaries Support Hydropower Bill

BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker received bipartisan support from three former secretaries of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Maeve Vallely-Bartlett, Rick Sullivan, and Ian Bowles, for the administration’s efforts to diversify the state’s energy portfolio through the procurement of cost-effective hydropower generation.

The announcement followed a State House meeting between Baker, current Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Matthew Beaton, and his predecessors to discuss the need to stabilize New England’s electricity rates, meet the Commonwealth’s Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) goals, and provide ratepayers with a clean, cost-competitive alternative to coal and oil generation.

“I appreciate the support from our state’s former top energy officials as our administration aims to pursue a balanced, diversified energy portfolio through the pursuit of hydroelectric power,” Baker said. “This endorsement is illustrative of the pressing need to address Massachusetts’ rising energy costs, increase electricity-grid reliability, and reduce carbon emissions to meet the Commonwealth’s energy and environmental goals.”

Added Beaton, “I thank former Secretaries Bowles, Sullivan, and Vallely-Bartlett for their endorsement of the Baker-Polito administration’s legislation for the procurement of hydroelectric power, which will provide needed generation capacity, while positioning the Commonwealth to achieve our Global Warming Solutions Act goals. As part of the administration’s balanced approach to making the necessary investments in our regional energy infrastructure, this legislation strikes an important balance between climate and environmental awareness and the Commonwealth’s need for clean, reliable, cost-effective generation resources.”

In July, the Baker-Polito administration filed Senate Bill 1965, “An Act Relative to Energy Sector Compliance with the Global Warming Solutions Act,” to require Massachusetts utilities to jointly, and competitively, solicit long-term contracts for clean energy-generation resources and associated transmission together with the Department of Energy Resources.

In addition to the benefits this legislation aims to bring to the regional electricity market, clean energy generation will position Massachusetts to reach its ambitious greenhouse-gas-reduction targets, Baker said. A recent update to Massachusetts’ “Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2020” concluded that the Commonwealth is well-positioned to meet, or exceed, a greenhouse-gas-reduction goal of 25% by 2020 through the full implementation of the Baker-Polito administration’s energy policies, which include hydropower and solar legislation.

“The Commonwealth is a national leader in clean energy and has built a world-class clean-energy industry that is increasing homegrown energy and reducing carbon emissions,” said Rick Sullivan, who served as secretary from 2011 to 2014, and currently serves as CEO of the Western Mass. Economic Development Council. “We must build on this success while continuing to work to reduce the high cost of energy for residents and businesses across Massachusetts. Bringing in cost-effective, large-scale hydro and other renewable-energy resources is critical to these efforts.”

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