Lawmakers want to give cities, towns power to require net-zero buildings Jan. 20th, 2022 --- The Salem News

The chairmen of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, Sen. Michael Barrett and Rep. Jeffrey Roy, said before the hearing that they were concerned that the Baker administration has not yet produced a draft of the municipal opt-in net-zero stretch energy code that last year’s climate law requires to be in place by the end of this year.

The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs “told the public to expect a draft of the code by last fall. But something’s happened. It’s not seen the light of day, and we hear some developers want it weakened,” Barrett and Roy said in a joint statement.

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Lawmakers want Baker to move faster on new code for green buildings Jan. 19th, 2022 -- WBUR

The law requires the Baker administration produce a draft of this “stretch” energy code by the end of 2022, but legislators said they were expecting one sooner.

“[The Baker administration] told the public to expect a draft of the code by last fall. But something’s happened. It’s not seen the light of day, and we hear some developers want it weakened,” said Sen. Michael Barrett and Rep. Jeffrey Roy, chairmen of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, in a statement. “On the off chance the stretch energy code either does not emerge soon, or emerges but departs from legislative intent, we’re looking at contingency steps the Legislature may want to take.”

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All around Massachusetts, cities and towns want to go fossil fuel free. Here’s why they can’t. Jan. 18th, 2022 --- Boston Globe

The state’s new climate legislation aimed to do just that, and required the state to come up with a new building code that would allow cities and towns to move ahead.

The Baker administration promised a draft by fall 2021 but failed to deliver. And now some climate-concerned legislators want the administration to answer for it.

“Each additional day of delay means one day less of public discussion,” said Senator Mike Barrett, who cochairs the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, which is scheduled to discuss the delays — and what to do about them — at a hearing Wednesday. “The clock is ticking down, and Baker’s people know it.”

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TUE Committee to Revisit Local Options for Curbing Gas- and Oil-Heated Buildings For Immediate Release

The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy (TUE) holds a hearing tomorrow, at 10 a.m., on S.1333 and H.2167, companion bills to allow cities and towns to require that new residential and commercial buildings built within their boundaries be “all-electric.”

The bills’ definition of an all-electric building says it must involve “no natural gas, heating oil or propane plumbing or equipment.”

S.1333 and H.2167 were heard originally by a separate legislative body, the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government, which earlier this month discharged the bills to TUE without recommending either approval or rejection.

“To reach our climate goals, we need to begin constructing buildings that do not rely on fossil fuels for heating,” Senator Mike Barrett and Representative Jeff Roy, TUE Co-Chairs, said in a brief statement.  “To this end, the 2021 Climate Act obligates the Baker Administration to promulgate a new ‘municipal opt-in stretch energy code’ that includes a set of ‘net-zero building performance standards.'”

“EEA told the public to expect a draft of the code by last fall.  But something’s happened.  It’s not seen the light of day, and we hear some developers want it weakened.  On the off chance the stretch energy code either does not emerge soon or emerges but departs from legislative intent, we’re looking at contingency steps the Legislature may want to take.  Tomorrow’s hearing is sure to touch on these issues.”

In addition to S.1333 and H.2267, which would mandate an all-electric municipal opt-in process statewide, TUE will hear testimony on five home rule bills — submitted by Acton, Arlington, Brookline, Concord, and Lexington — that seek to do the same for their respective jurisdictions.  Several other late-filed and referred bills will be heard, as well.

Below is the link to the hearing notice and to where a recording of the hearing will be posted afterwards.

https://malegislature.gov/Events/Hearings/Detail/4169

END

Baker administration changes the rules on offshore wind and clean energy Jan. 12th, 2022 --- Cape Cod Times

Committee co-chair Sen. Michael Barrett was critical of removing the price cap. Barrett felt that with only two bidders in the last round in which both received contracts, and just a handful of developers on the East Coast, there was too little competition to ensure a lower price without a cap.

“We are stuck in a situation where we’re going to have to deal with a very small universe of potential players,” said Barrett, who noted that with no price limit on their bids, New York, Connecticut and New Jersey energy contracts were 43%, 68%, and 100% higher, respectively, than what Massachusetts obtained with an upper limit on pricing.

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Sweeping offshore wind bill headed toward House Jan. 12th, 2022 --- CommonWealth Magazine

Sen. Michael Barrett of Lexington, the Senate chair of the Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy Committee, has raised concerns about removing the cap at a time when the state is relying more and more on low electricity prices to bolster its climate change efforts. He has done price comparisons showing that Massachusetts procurements for offshore wind are priced well below those of other states where price caps do not exist.

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How much should offshore wind cost? Look to Massachusetts Jan. 12th, 2022 --- Energy Wire

At least one influential opponent — state Sen. Michael Barrett, a Democratic co-chair of the joint committee — counters that erasing the price requirement would be unnecessarily risky for Massachusetts ratepayers, however. “Massachusetts consumers are better off with constraints on project prices,” Barrett wrote in a Jan. 10 letter to the governor.

The state’s climate goals, which include a 50 percent greenhouse gas emissions cut by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050, envision a massive shift from gas cars and building heat appliances toward electric technologies, he wrote, making controls on the price of electricity especially important in coming years.

Other Northeastern states have often agreed to pay far more for offshore wind, ranging up to about double the per-kilowatt rate in Massachusetts, Barrett noted in the letter.

The price requirement had been successful in bringing new jobs and investment to the state, Barrett told the governor during the latter’s appearance before the joint committee yesterday. Baker supported the requirement five years ago, when the economics of offshore wind were far less well-established.

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Energy panel readying offshore wind proposal; price cap may fall in pursuit of broader benefits Jan. 12th, 2022 --- South Coast Today

Senate co-chair Michael Barrett was skeptical of the idea of outright elimination of the price cap when Baker filed his bill and on Monday evening released a letter he sent to Baker and Theoharides asking that they stop their push to lift the price cap.

“The cap protects everyone in Massachusetts who pays a monthly electric bill,” Barrett wrote. He added, “To respond to global warming, we need to go all-electric with respect to both our cars and our heating systems. Which means we need to boost our overall consumption of electricity, in the teeth of the region’s high per-unit costs. It’s a sensitive time to be asking legislators to drop a legal safeguard for their constituents.”

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Voluntary fund contributions on Massachusetts income tax return form Jan. 12th, 2022 --- WWLP.com

Sen. Michael Barrett, a Lexington Democrat, has filed a bill that would add a new option for taxpayers to give to a United Nations fund supporting developing countries vulnerable to climate change. But he’s also calling for a more regular review of the existing options taxpayers have to make donations through their tax filings.

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Offshore wind policy fight takes center stage Jan. 11th, 2022 --- CommonWealth Magazine

Sen. Michael Barrett of Lexington has outlined his position previously — that reaching the state’s emission goals hinges on electrification of transportation and heating and low electricity prices make that task possible — but the footnoted letter dived into the details.

Barrett said the state’s procurements have attracted respectable onshore economic development — including the promise of a transmission cable factory at Brayton Point in Somerset — while keeping the price of offshore wind electricity well below the price in every other state. He noted Massachusetts prices have been 43 percent, 68 percent, and 100 percent less than similar deals in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, respectively.

Removing the cap, Barrett said, would put Massachusetts at the mercy of a handful of offshore wind companies that he described as an oligopoly. “We can’t count on competition to substitute for a price cap,” he said.

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Baker pushes big change in offshore wind pricing Jan. 11th, 2022 --- WBUR

State Sen. Michael Barrett, the co-chair of the Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, argued the cap has kept the price per kilowatt-hour from Massachusetts projects lower than in neighboring states, like New York and Connecticut.

“My request to you is that you not walk away from the wisdom that has assured us getting a break today,” he told Baker.

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Baker urges state to pass offshore wind investment to help meet climate goals Jan. 11th, 2022 --- Boston Globe

House chair of the Legislature’s energy committee, Representative Jeff Roy, supports removing the price cap. But his cochair, Senator Mike Barrett, pleaded against it, arguing it could cause electricity prices to jump and thereby put ratepayers at risk.

He noted New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, none of which have caps on the price of offshore wind projects, have each paid much more for offshore wind than Massachusetts has so far. For instance, while power from the Commonwealth’s Mayflower Wind project will come with a cost of $58 per megawatt hour, New Jersey is paying twice that much for energy from its Ocean Wind project.

“I want to ask the two of you whether you want to run the risk of these kinds of figures if we simply jettison the cap altogether,” Barrett said, addressing Baker and Theoharides.

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Barrett to Baker: Please Support Price Caps in Offshore Wind Deals

Senator Mike Barrett, Senate Co-Chair of the Legislature’s Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, is asking Governor Charlie Baker to drop his Administration’s push to lift price caps on offshore wind deals.

“The cap protects everyone in Massachusetts who pays a monthly electric bill,” Barrett writes. A Baker bill that abolishes the cap, among other things, is set to be heard tomorrow by the Committee.

“I strongly support clean energy in general and offshore wind in particular,” Barrett writes. “I take exception, however, to your proposal to abolish the cap. … I think you were right the first time, in 2016, when you supported legislative language imposing just such a cap, and the
second time, in 2019, when you suggested lifting the cap for just a single round and reimposing it for later rounds.”

Barrett, a legislative leader on climate issues, is concerned that “ratepayers could be confronted with unnecessarily steep electricity bills, associate them with climate policy, and rebel against
both.”

“To respond to global warming,” he says, “we need to go all-electric with respect to both our cars and our heating systems. Which means we need to boost our overall consumption of electricity, in the teeth of the region’s high per-unit costs. It’s a sensitive time to be asking legislators to drop a legal safeguard for their constituents.”

“Thanks to last month’s announcement on third-round contracting,” Barrett adds, “we now know the cap has prevented neither the developers nor our coastal cities from coming out of contract negotiations as winners. Importantly, the cap ensures that families throughout the state win,
too.”

As for the job implications, he writes, “Though it’s extremely early in the industry’s build-out in Massachusetts — preparations for the first project, Vineyard Wind I, have only just begun — it’s possible to take a preliminary tally of associated economic development activity,” Barrett writes.
“Judging from the positive reactions from all around Massachusetts, including your office, it’s hard to argue that the price cap has stifled job creation.”

Barrett’s letter also lists the wholesale electricity prices set in the Massachusetts deals shaped by the cap and compares them to the prices set in comparable deals struck in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, none of which featured price caps.

“The numbers make the Massachusetts approach look very good,” Barrett concludes.

 ###

Barrett to Baker: Please Support Price Caps in Offshore Wind Deals FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Senator Mike Barrett, Senate Co-Chair of the Legislature’s Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, is asking Governor Charlie Baker to drop his Administration’s push to lift price caps on offshore wind deals.

“The cap protects everyone in Massachusetts who pays a monthly electric bill,” Barrett writes.

A Baker bill that abolishes the cap, among other things, is set to be heard tomorrow by the Committee.

“I strongly support clean energy in general and offshore wind in particular,” Barrett writes.  “I take exception, however, to your proposal to abolish the cap. … I think you were right the first time, in 2016, when you supported legislative language imposing just such a cap, and the second time, in 2019, when you suggested lifting the cap for just a single round and reimposing it for later rounds.”

Barrett, a legislative leader on climate issues, is concerned that “ratepayers could be confronted with unnecessarily steep electricity bills, associate them with climate policy, and rebel against both.”

“To respond to global warming,” he says, “we need to go all-electric with respect to both our cars and our heating systems.  Which means we need to boost our overall consumption of electricity, in the teeth of the region’s high per-unit costs.  It’s a sensitive time to be asking  legislators to drop a legal safeguard for their constituents.”

“Thanks to last month’s announcement on third-round contracting,” Barrett adds, “we now know the cap has prevented neither the developers nor our coastal cities from coming out of contract negotiations as winners.  Importantly, the cap ensures that families throughout the state win, too.”

As for the job implications, he writes, “Though it’s extremely early in the industry’s build-out in Massachusetts — preparations for the first project, Vineyard Wind I, have only just begun — it’s possible to take a preliminary tally of associated economic development activity,” Barrett writes.  “Judging from the positive reactions from all around Massachusetts, including your office, it’s hard to argue that the price cap has stifled job creation.”

Barrett’s letter also lists the wholesale electricity prices set in the Massachusetts deals shaped by the cap and compares them to the prices set in comparable deals struck in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, none of which featured price caps.

“The numbers make the Massachusetts approach look very good,” Barrett concludes.

END

Rally held in Concord to mark anniversary of Jan. 6 riot at U.S. capitol Concord Wicked Local

“Given the stakes, it’s fair to say the nation itself will be on the ballot. But while this is true, it is not the only thing that is true. The nation will be on the ballot again in 2024. And 2026. And 2028. The divisions that haunt the United States are not going to heal in any one election cycle,” Barrett said in his speech. “Now there are those who say that we face nothing less than the death of American democracy in 2022. I respectfully disagree. You could say we face the essence of American democracy in 2022. Because nothing is more essential to democracy — this year and every year — than our striving to move a country of 329 million closer to being the best possible version of itself.”

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Massachusetts’ biggest climate wins and losses of 2021 Boston Globe

In 2022, the most important thing to watch is the ground game.  The heart of the matter is the shift from high-level goal-setting to ground-level execution.  Time to electrify our cars, trucks, and buses; electrify our homes and businesses; and green the grid. 

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Local leaders returning from UN climate summit say MA needs local action for clean, green Wicked Local

Barrett, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Energy, was a key sponsor of the Massachusetts Net Zero climate action legislation, signed into law earlier this year. 

Reigning in climate change and keeping the anticipated temperature increase at the targeted, agreed upon 1.5 degrees centigrade, depends on local advocacy.  Barrett said the greening of the electrical grid, weaning from fossil fuels in the production of electricity, greening of new construction, both residential and commercial and industrial and the transportation sector, is the state’s challenge. 

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Our view: Records should be made public Gloucester Daily Times

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would unseal all public records after 90 years that were kept on individuals with mental or physical disabilities and who lived in places like the Fernald School and other state institutions. Currently those records are sealed under health privacy laws, or heavily redacted if they are released.

Sen. Michael Barrett, who filed the Senate version of the bill, said there is a need to retain some privacy for individuals, “but there also needs to be research and truth telling,” he told the news service.

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