New England Geothermal Policy Update, Review, and Next Steps: Massachusetts

     

This is the first piece on geothermal lobbying efforts that I’m completing in addition to other industry communications and research efforts. In the next few weeks, I’ll be publishing information on the current state of policy and next steps in Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut and New York as well.

The goal of outling the current policy and legislative space in Massachusetts has a few very specific goals.

  • We are an industry with a limited amount of time and money (at the moment) but a HUGE amount of potential. Thus, we need to be razor sharp about where we apply our efforts.  This cannot be another full time job for anyone. However, we need to make ourselves a seat at the table. I think we can do this by creating the right relationships and being useful.
  • Because we have a limited amount of resources, providing a simple, clear and straightforward overview of what is happening in each state will allow us to use our resources in the most effective manner.
  • This is a living document that will be used to keep track of pieces of legislation that are being created, hearings beings had, or bills that have been passed that impact our industry. We’ll use it to keep track of key legislatures and other stakeholders that can be our an ally. We’ll look for allys that agree and have goals that overlap with geothermal: Geothermal provides the lowest cost of thermal energy, it directly replaces heating oil, it can be installed FAST, it creates 100% local jobs across the whole supply chain, and eliminates air and water pollutions issues associated with burning oil.
  • We’ll use it to understand which other organizations we need to create relationships with in order to impact the policy that is being created that will affect geothermal.
  • The process also outlines next steps for our industry in Massachusetts.
  • As always, if I missed anything, or you’d like to add something in terms of bills, studies, legislatures, or other stakeholders please email or call me cwilliams@heatspring.com, 917 767 8204.
  • Also, if you’re commissioning a large residential or commercial geothermal project in one of these district PLEASE LET ME KNOW, so we can invite a Senator who represents the district where the job is happening and create a press opportunity to show them that the technology is being used, it’s creating local jobs, and saving property owners tons of money. These are the district we’re focusing on, see more information on this below.
  • 1st Plymouth and Bristol District
  • Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin District
  • Middlesex and Worcester

Bills

  • SB2395 – Passed
  • Citation for SB2395: http://www.malegislature.gov/Bills/187/Senate/S02395
  • Section 46 is most critical to us with underlined sections that are more critical:
  • SECTION 46. The executive office of energy and environmental affairs, in consultation with the department of energy resources, shall study whether any alternative energy development, as defined in section 3 of chapter 25A of the General Laws, that generates useful thermal energy shall be added to the list of alternative energy generating sources that may be used to meet the commonwealth’s energy portfolio standard for all retail electricity suppliers selling electricity to end-use customers in the commonwealth under section 11F½ of said chapter 25A. For purposes of this study, “useful thermal energy”, shall mean energy in the form of direct heat, steam, hot water or other thermal form that is used in production and beneficial measures for heating, cooling, humidity control, process use or other valid thermal end use energy requirements and for which fuel or electricity would otherwise be consumed. The executive office of energy and environmental affairs shall submit a report of its findings not later than January 1, 2013 to the clerks of the house of representatives and the senate who shall forward a copy of the report to the joint committee on telecommunications, utilities and energy.
  • SB2768 – Green Communities in 2008 – This is an old bill, but it will be key to understand who support it because they will likely have open ears to ground source heat pumps.

What SB 2395 bill says, in a nutshell

  • SB 2395 says that Massachusetts DOER will do a renewable thermal study and they will send results to energy committee by January 1, 2013. This means that the geothermal industry needs to establish relationships and get involved with both the DOER and the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utility, and Energy. Our primary goal right now is simply exploratory and to create relationships with both those organizations.
  • When reaching out it’s key that we understand the impact that the language around “retail electricity suppliers” will have around the analysis and their understanding of geothermal, as the technology largest benefit in the Northeast is replacing fossil fuel use for space heating and shaving peak cooling demand. What this means is that from the government’s perspective, they may only be interested in the technology for shaving peak demand from cooling, even though it has a huge heating benefit. Or, they might just be interested in it’s benefits for replacing oil use for heating.

Key Policy Makers and Why These People Matter

These legislatures have been identified because they get it. They understand investing in renewable energy equals spending less money on importing fuel, that it means local jobs quickly, and that it means more money in the pockets of property owners and less air and water pollution in sensitive regions.

Marc Pacheco.  http://www.malegislature.gov/people/profile/mrp0

  • Senate Vice Chair – Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy
  • Senate Chair – Global Warming and Climate Change Committee
  • Senate Chair – Environment, Resources, and Agriculture

Benjamin B. Downing – Pitsfield. – http://www.malegislature.gov/People/Profile/BBD0

  • Senate Chair – Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy

James Eldrigde –  http://www.malegislature.gov/People/Profile/JBE0

  • Vice Chair – Global Warming and Climate Change Committee
  • Vice Chair – Environment, Resources, and Agrculture

If there is another legislative ally that I’ve missed, or a relationship that you have. Please let me know.

Key Legislative Committees.

The below links provide all necessary information on each committee. When they meet, where, hearings schedule and bills that are being voted on.

Key State Organizations

  • Rob Rizzo –  Biomass and Solar Thermal Direct at MA DOER
  • Andy Brydges – Senior Director, Renewable Energy Generation at MA CEC
  • Ben Dodge – Renewable Thermal Project Manager at MA CEC

Key Stakeholders.

Who are other non-profit organizations and industry associations that have a benefit in the rapid growth of the geothermal industry? These are groups that we need to create relationships with and then bring to the table when there is a piece of legislation that we’re working on. If there is another organization that I’ve missed, please let me know.

  • Massachusetts Audubon Society: The Mass Audubon has a clear environmental focus, has a strong brand, and is well known within the state: http://www.massaudubon.org/renewableenergy/index.php
  • The Green Roundtable: Has been involved in policy creation for the city of Boston and the state of Massachusetts for over 10 years.
  • ACCA Massachusetts. A/C contractors will clearly benefit from an increased investment in geothermal.
  • NGWA Massachusetts
  • Massachusetts DEP. Department of Environmental Protection clearly see’s the benefit in burning less oil.
  • Conservation Law Foundation. The Conversation Law Foundation is heavily involved in air and water pollution issues around Massachusetts: http://www.clf.org/blog/clean-energy-climate-change/in-the-push-to-grow-a-much-needed-clean-energy-economy-ma-dep-leaves-springfield-behind/

Next Steps for Policy in Massachusetts

The exploratory study needs to be completed by January 1, 2013 which means it’s likely be worked on, but not completed yet. Right now, we just need to get a better understanding of what is happening within the DOER. I’m already on this.

Our main goal right now is simply to create relationships, not to convince anyone about any technology. When thinking about creating relationships we need to remember the Law of Power #13 “When Asking for Help, Appeal to People’s Self-Interest, Never to Their Mercy or Gratitude”.

How does this apply to geothermal? We’re not asking for favors from the government, we just need to find allys that have our same values and support them. We have piece of technology that produces the lowest cost of energy, can eliminate 100% onsite use of imported oil, creates 100& local jobs, can be installed FAST, and eliminates water and air pollution issues.

Here are our current steps.

  1. Connect with the MA DOER to figure out what they plan on doing for this study and lend NEGPA’s help. The goal in this process is just exploratory, to figure out exactly what is happening.
  2. Connect with the chair of telecommunications industry. Our main goal here is to make a seat at the table so that we have a better view of hearings on the subjects and bills that are being proposed to that could impact the geothermal market. Right now, our plan of action with the legislature is very simple, we need to create relationships with them. At the Clean Energy Conference, Martin Orio and I attended and listened to Marc Pacheco speak. Pacheco really gets it, he understands renewable energy equals jobs, and more money for the local economy. After the talk, Martin went up to speak with him, asked him about geothermal and he responded “oh yes, I heard they’re doing great things in Iceland”. We need to change that! Here’s our simple plan of attack with key legislatures.
  • Invite to NEGPA dinner and have them discuss what they’re working on for local energy issues, importing less oil, and creating local jobs.
  • Invite to them to the commissioning of a geothermal project in their district. This will show them that the technology is being used, creating jobs, and reducings people oil bills. If you’re installing and commissioning a large residential or commercial geothermal project in a district with one of the key areas (see below) PLEASE let me know.

i.     1st Plymouth and Bristol District – Marc Pacheco

ii.     Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin District - Benjamin B. Downing

iii.     Middlesex and Worcester - James Eldrigde

 

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About Chris Williams

Chris Williams works with HeatSpring developing products and managing online content. Chris is a NABCEP Certified Solar PV Installer and an IGSHPA Accredited Geothermal Installer. He has installed over 300kW of solar PV systems, tens of residential and commercial solar hot water systems and 50 tons of geothermal equipment. You can find him on Linkedin
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