Massachusetts bills aim to promote efficient appliances, net-zero housing

(Energy News Network, 12 Jul 2019) The pending legislation includes proposals to encourage heat pumps and to bring energy efficiency to low-income residents.

The Massachusetts state Legislature has advanced a flurry of bills that would boost energy efficiency in the state, helping it reach ambitious emissions reduction goals and solidifying its position as a national leader in energy efficiency. 

“My committee has given positive reports to these four bills that begin the very, very tough job of actually getting future emissions down,” said Sen. Michael Barrett, chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy, which advanced the bills. “It is critically important that we insist on real mitigation.” 

Earlier this month, the committee sent the four bills to the Senate Ways and Means Committee, the next step toward passage. The legislation includes proposals that would create a program to convert low-income housing into energy neutral buildings, enact energy performance standards for large buildings and a range of appliances, and encourage the adoption of heat pumps for heating and cooling. 

Barrett’s committee reported favorably on the bills relatively early in the legislative session, which some see as a positive sign. 

“I would say I am optimistic,” said Ben Hellerstein, state director for advocacy group Environment Massachusetts. “There’s more than a year left in session, there’s lots of time to move them forward.”

Massachusetts had been named the most energy-efficient state in the country by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy for eight consecutive years. Yet there is still appetite for further action. The state has set an aggressive goal of reducing emissions 80% by 2050. Emissions from residential, commercial, and industrial buildings, which account for about 35% of the state’s total, are some of the toughest to reduce and therefore must be targeted with clear, concrete action, Barrett said. 

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Energy News Network, 12 Jul 2019: Massachusetts bills aim to promote efficient appliances, net-zero housing