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Gov. Deval Patrick, D-Mass., has signed the Green Communities Act, a comprehensive energy reform bill resulting from collaboration with House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, who filed the bill in 2007, and Senate President Therese Murray, who led the Senate to pass its version in January.

"This new law puts Massachusetts in the lead nationally in crafting bold, comprehensive energy reform," says DiMasi. "This law will spark a significant increase in the use of renewable energy that will significantly curtail our use of fossil fuels, improve our environment and save us all money in the long run. Working together, we in the House, Senate and Patrick administration have much to be proud of."

The Green Communities Act requires utility companies to enter into 10- to 15-year contracts with renewable energy developers to help developers of clean energy technology obtain financing to build their projects. The agreements will target Massachusetts-based projects.

The law also makes it possible for people who own wind turbines and solar-generated power to sell their excess electricity into the grid at favorable rates, for installations of up to 2 MW - up from 60 kW.

In addition to these provisions, the new energy law doubles the rate of increase in the renewable portfolio standard from 0.5% per year to 1% per year, with no cap. As a result, utilities and other electricity suppliers will be required to obtain renewable power equal to 4% of sales in 2009 – rising to 15% in 2020 and 25% in 2030, and more thereafter. In addition, the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust Fund, which is administered by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, comes under the direction of a new governing board chaired by the Commissioner of the Department of Energy Resources.

The Green Communities Act gives final legislative approval to the commonwealth's participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Virtually all of the emissions allowances issued under the program will be auctioned, allowing the proceeds to go toward reimbursing municipalities that lose property tax receipts as a result of RGGI mandates, funding Green Communities, providing no-interest loans for municipal energy efficiency projects and promoting energy conservation.

SOURCE: Office of Gov. Deval Patrick



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