The Mass Save initiative will expand to help the state meet its emissions targets. Lawmakers say this is not enough.

Mass Save is ready to align its mission with new state law requiring greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 to be at least 50% less than 1990 emissions, and for Massachusetts to achieve net zero carbon emissions d ‘by 2050.

Utilities leaders said Monday, speaking to the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change, that the changes would amount to “a major pivot and expansion” in their energy efficiency agenda, but senators said that the last three-year plan for the mass The safeguard program is not ambitious enough.

The increased focus by Mass Save, an initiative sponsored by the state’s natural gas and electricity utilities and energy efficiency service providers, on reducing emissions is a direct result of the Law on the climate that Governor Charlie Baker signed in March. Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides in July introduced a statewide target to reduce 504,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions from power companies and 341 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions from gas companies over the three-year period from 2022 to 2024.

While traditional energy efficiency measures such as weatherization will remain at the heart of the Mass Save program, representatives of the National Grid program administrators and Eversource said electrification is a fundamental tenet of the program’s 2022-2024 three-year plan. , which was submitted to the ministry. utility earlier this month.

An electric charging station in Montpellier, Vermont (Toby Talbot / AP)

“The [program administrators] recognize the importance of decarbonizing the building sector, and this plan represents a necessary and measurable shift towards electrification and moving away from traditional fossil-fuel based heating and cooling measures, ”the utilities wrote. are managing Mass Save with funding from Massachusetts utility customers in the “PAs will execute this change in a measured and data-driven manner to ensure they continue to meet legal requirements to achieve all Profitable economies that benefit customers and provide opportunities for customers to engage in energy efficiency. “

Energy officials have said that in order to cut emissions quickly enough to comply with the new net-zero climate law, the state will need to renovate around one million homes over the next decade, or around 100,000 households each year. Fewer than 500 households actually made this change in 2020 and the plan that Mass Save administrators presented to senators on Monday would still fall short of that goal.

The senses. Cynthia Creem and Marc Pacheco each raised concerns over Mass Save’s decision to retain incentives for people who switch from a fossil-fueled heating source to a more efficient fossil-fuel-based source, arguing that this defeats the goal of adopting electric heat sources.

“That doesn’t point us towards the goal in terms of decarbonization. We end up subsidizing a fossil fuel system, now you’re talking about another 10 years in this house, at a minimum, where we have a new HVAC system or a heating system. subsidized heating to do the exact opposite of our end goal, and that is to move to a statewide system without fossil fuels, ”said Pacheco.

A Gap Mountain Drilling truck in Brookline drilling for geothermal heating and cooling.  (Bruce Gellerman / WBUR)
A Gap Mountain Drilling truck in Brookline drilling for geothermal heating and cooling. (Bruce Gellerman / WBUR)

Christopher Porter, who heads energy efficiency strategy planning and policy for National Grid, told senators that electrification will be a process and that the three-year plan that DPU is expected to vote on by February represents the first stage.

“We believe the plan puts the Commonwealth on a path to achieving mandatory reductions by 2030 and ultimately net zero by 2050. If you look at the specific number of residential heat pump conversions we are proposing, we don’t those three years have hit that turnaround rate, ”Porter said, referring to the rough goal of 100,000 conversions per year. But what the plan does is align emissions targets with the state and launch a “very deliberate and thoughtful market transformation effort that will really put the Massachusetts market in place for sustainable growth at. long term of electrification “.

Part of that plan to educate people about electrification is to make people more comfortable with the idea that something that traditionally ran on gas would be powered by electricity instead. To do this, the administrators of Mass Save are offering incentives to get people to switch from gasoline lawn equipment to electric models.

“You may not have a customer who is ready for an air source heat pump or who is ready for an electric vehicle, but who demonstrates the benefits of electrification through the incentive purchase of another form of equipment that has traditionally been fueled by gasoline which can now be electrified, we believe, is just another tool in our toolkit to help spark customer engagement and awareness around the benefits of electrification in general, ”Porter said.

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