Calling for a 2.4 percent statewide energy consumption and electricity use reduction, the proposal aims to also reduct natural gas use annually by 1.15 percent for three years. Utility customers who aim to conserve energy through insulating buildings and windows, converting lighting from incandescent to fluorescent will receive incentives from a $1.6 billion grant for those making moves toward improved energy management.
In 2008, the Green Communities Act was passed by state Legislature, and energy consumption reductions in Massachusetts were mandated by this act. Initially, no specifications or rules about how these goals would be met were clarified, but late on Thursday, a plan was approved by the Massachusetts state Department of Public Utilities.
Energy advocates, regulators, and utilities workers fussed for many months, planning how to reach a reduction goal of 2.4 percent annually.
Ian Bowles, Massachusetts state secretary for energy and environmental affairs, Ian Bowles stated in writing, “The Green Communities Act established energy efficiency as the Commonwealth’s ‘first fuel’ — what we look to first to power our homes and our economy. We are off and running, pulling out all the stops to cut energy waste, save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in buildings across Massachusetts.”
Funding will be made available for free energy audits and consumer outreach and conservation incentive programs are valued at $600 million annually, up from $150 million in previous years. Consumer purchases of energy-efficient appliances and heating and air conditioning will receive rebates as well.
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