news roundup 8/12/22

Energy news: August 12th, 2022

After a year of uncertainty about climate legislation, the Senate finally passed the Inflation Reduction Act last week, which, if signed into law, will represent the United States’ largest investment in climate action to date. The House is slated to vote (and likely pass) this bill later today – so stay tuned! 

Because we covered some of the highlights of this bill in our last news roundup, this week we’ll discuss some other recently passed climate bills that you may not have heard about amidst the excitement of the Inflation Reduction Act. All in all, it’s been a really great month for clean energy from a policy perspective.

Massachusetts signs massive climate bill into law

Despite recent speculation of a veto, Governor Charlie Baker signed the “Act Driving Clean Energy and Offshore Wind” bill into law yesterday, representing a huge investment in clean energy by the Commonwealth. The bill is extremely comprehensive and will significantly bolster Massachusetts’ green economy. Here are some of our favorite highlights:

  • Currently, net metering is capped at 10 kW for single-phase solar systems (which includes most residential systems) – the bill increases this cap to 25 kW, making larger systems eligible for net metering. It also now allows properties with two or more solar systems to net meter. 
  • Includes several provisions to expand the clean energy industry workforce, with many plans specifically geared towards supporting low-income, minority, and women workers.
  • Currently, Massachusetts’ electric vehicle (EV) rebate is set at $2,500; this bill will increase this amount to $3,500 for any new or used vehicle that costs less than $55,000. It will also add another $1,000 rebate if you trade in your gas-powered car or truck. Lower-income residents will be eligible for an additional $1,500 rebate on any new or used EV purchase. 
  • Includes new incentives for agrivoltaics (especially for farms supporting pollinators).
  • Invests in off-shore wind development and eliminates the cap, which stipulated that new wind offshore projects must provide cheaper electricity than previous projects.
  • Bans the selling of any new gas-powered or diesel-powered vehicles in the state after 2035.
  • Establishes groups and councils to develop strategies to strengthen the electricity grid and expand EV charging infrastructure
  • Allows some cities and towns to prevent all new and majorly renovated buildings from including fossil fuel hookups (with some key exceptions). 
  • Stipulates that biomass isn’t a renewable energy source and therefore can’t be included in certain incentive programs or count towards Massachusetts’ renewable portfolio standard (RPS). 

If you’re interested in learning more about the bill, check out this article by wbur which does a great job covering the key things you should know. 

Biden passes major climate bill

Earlier this week, President Biden signed into law one of the most significant climate bills to date – and no, we’re not talking about the Inflation Reduction Act (yet). The “CHIPS Act” includes significant investments towards climate research to enhance clean energy industries. Specifically, it provides $67 billion (about 25 percent of its total cost) towards clean energy growth over the next five years. 

The bill focuses on a long-term strategy toward decarbonizing the economy through research and development in lower emissions technology. It garnered bipartisan support, easily passing through Congress last month. According to the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), the CHIPs Act, the pending Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed last year would cumulatively reflect a $500 billion investment in the climate. 

A histogram entitled "A $500 Billion Investment in a Green Economy." It shows that federal climate-related spending in the 2020s will more than triple spending in the 2010s. In the 1990s and 2000s, federal climate spending did not exceed $10 billion.

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About Emily Walker

With over five years of experience in environmental science and clean energy, Emily is an expert in solar, battery, and energy management technology and policy. She holds a Master of Science in Environmental Science and Policy from Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science and Biology from Colby College. Emily is always looking for ways to live her life more sustainably and is currently in the process of electrifying her home.