The climate and energy bill sitting on the governor’s desk contains two policy sections that could open the door to clean energy procurements involving onshore wind from Maine and nuclear power from Connecticut, according to one of the key drafters of the legislation.
Rep. Jeffrey Roy of Franklin, the House chair of the Legislature’s Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy Committee, said the sections are designed to help the state begin exploring new ways to procure clean energy to meet emission targets, particularly if the Maine Supreme Judicial Court upholds a referendum vote blocking a transmission line importing hydroelectricity from Quebec.
The two sections are worded broadly, and don’t mention Maine or Connecticut. Senate and Baker administration officials said they were unfamiliar with any specific plans for procuring clean energy from Maine or Connecticut.
Roy, however, said the sections give state officials flexibility to work with other states in contracting for clean energy. He said the sections were drafted with Maine and Connecticut in mind.
One section directs the Department of Energy Resources, in consultation with the attorney general’s office, to decide by December 31 whether to enter into a long-term contract for clean energy from projects coming on line this year or later. Roy said a proposed onshore wind farm in northern Maine’s Aroostook County could fit the bill.
The other section directs the secretary of energy and environmental affairs to conduct a study by March 31 exploring regional or multi-state efforts to procure long-term contracts for clean energy or participate in market-building efforts by the operator of the New England power grid to find ways to reduce emissions.
Roy said the section could open the door to procurements of nuclear power from Millstone Station in Connecticut. Millstone supplies a large amount of the region’s carbon-free energy but is facing competitive pressures from cheaper gas-fired power plants.
Connecticut’s two utilities purchased nearly half of the plant’s output under 10-year contracts that began in 2019. Roy said Massachusetts may decide to do the same.
Contracting with Millstone would not lead to the generation of new carbon-free energy, but it would give Massachusetts the ability to claim the clean energy as its own in terms of meeting emission targets. To qualify, however, Massachusetts law would have to be changed to qualify nuclear power as renewable.
Weezie Nuara, state policy director for New England at Dominion Energy, the owner of Millstone, said the Massachusetts provisions are vaguely worded.
“It’s not exactly spelled out,” she said of the provision’s intent. “But we’re excited to be part of the conversation.”
Dan Dolan, president of the New England Power Generators Association, is interested in the same provision, suggesting its reference to market-building mechanisms might be something his members would favor. For example, he said many of his members favor a carbon tax.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding