Solar news: January 8th, 2021

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Happy New Year! In this week’s Solar News Roundup, we’ve got two promising stories from our home state of Massachusetts about how the state plans to keep ambitiously tackling climate change.

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Massachusetts sends new bill to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 to the governor’s desk

A new bill sits on Governor Charlie Baker’s desk in Massachusetts – one that will improve existing statewide climate target legislation. According to the new bill, the state’s renewable portfolio standard will be upped to 40 percent by 2030, and the state as a whole must reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050

Other provisions of note:

  • The state must reduce emissions by 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2030
  • The state must reduce emissions by 75 percent below 1990 levels by 2040
  • Offshore wind targets are increased from 3.2 gigawatts (GW) to 5.6 GW
  • “Environmental justice populations” are defined clearly in order to incorporate equity into climate policymaking

“That one-two combination of a strong net-zero emissions standard and environmental justice protections demonstrates a commitment to making sure we’re listening to the science and that everyone benefits from the clean energy transition,” said Jeremy McDiarmid, the vice president of policy and government affairs at the Northeast Clean Energy Council.

However, the measure doesn’t necessarily provide specific improvements to solar policy and targets in the state. Rather, wind is the big winner of this bill. Solar advocates in the state say there’s still more action needed for solar policy.

“At some point, we’re going to need a more comprehensive effort to help ensure all these clean energy technologies are working in sync to achieve that big goal,” said Dave Gahl, the Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) head of Northeast state affairs. “I would look at this as a sort of down payment on a broader energy transition that’s going to have to take place to reach these goals.”

Following California’s lead, Massachusetts to require all new cars sold in the state to be electric by 2035

The Baker administration added their own climate-related legislation to the mix these past few weeks in the form of electric vehicle targets – they announced a plan right before the new year that would mandate all new passenger car sales in the state be electric by 2035. This is similar to a measure passed by California recently in which the Golden State mandated all new sales of cars in the state to also be electric, but by 2030. 

Massachusetts currently has roughly 30,000 electric vehicles on the road. Officials have set a goal of increasing that number to 750,000 by 2035. The state also plans to support building out supporting infrastructure for electric vehicle charging over the next decade to help facilitate the electric car transition.

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About Jacob Marsh

Jacob is a researcher and content writer at EnergySage, where he focuses primarily on current issues–and new technology!–in the solar industry. With a background in environmental and geological science, Jacob brings an analytical perspective and passion for conservation to help solar shoppers make the right energy choices for their wallet and the environment. Outside of EnergySage, you can find him playing Ultimate Frisbee or learning a new, obscure board game.

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