No More Market Basket Bags - MA Votes on Renewables and Plastics

Image of the state of Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Senate on Tuesday approved a bill aimed at expanding renewable energy adoption in the State. The bill is an attempt to help the State meet the ambitious net-zero by 2050 goal it has set for itself. 

The bill focuses primarily on

  • Expediting clean energy projects (wind, solar) by streamlining the permitting and siting process to a maximum of 12-15 months. Massachusetts has seen multiple bills supporting the expansion of renewable energy projects, specifically wind and solar and one of the largest hurdles to project implementation has been cited as the difficulty and length of time it takes to approve sites and permitting. This bill attempts to remove that obstacle by enforcing a timeline, although it is unclear how delays from local and environmental groups in the time leading up to permitting will factor into the equation, as there obviously still needs to be ample time for objections and procedural matters.
  • Expanding EV Charger infrastructure by making the purchasing and permitting process easier for municipal entities, allowing permitting of condo complexes, and extending EV tax credits through 2027.
  • Allow gas companies to pursue expanded geothermal options, as part of the concern around building derived emissions in the State. (More on Geothermal Energy and how the State is looking to utilize it here)
  • The bill also bans “competitive electric suppliers” in Massachusetts. Competitive electric suppliers are companies that offer to save consumers money through collective purchasing programs outside of the main utility supplier (like Eversource or National Grid). The goal of doing so is to save consumers money by allowing for more flexibility in rates and discounts for lower income households. Opponents of the ban argue that alternative (non Utility) electricity suppliers are better able to offer renewable energy options to consumers, as well as keep rates competitive. (more here: MA Bill Seeks to Ban Competitive Electric Suppliers)

Of note also, Massachusetts passed a separate climate/environment related package last week, which updated the State’s “bottle bill” to increase bottle deposits from 5 to 10 cents per bottle, as well as adding the deposit to non-carbonated drinks, alcohol and wine bottles (previously the bill was essentially on soda and beer).

The bill also bans plastic bags at retailers Statewide and mandates a 10 cent charge for paper bags. Depending on your city, you may already be familiar with this setup – different towns and stores have already joined in on this ban as proposed in 2022, but this bill makes it a State wide law.

So perhaps the most important takeaway from these bills for the average person is – enjoy those Market Basket plastic grocery bags while you stock up for the 4th and get some extra drinks before the price goes up!

Happy Fourth!!

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