Cyr successfully proposes three amendments to the bill, including the ‘Community Empowerment’ proposal championed by Martha’s Vineyard residents

(Boston, MA) - Yesterday, the Massachusetts Senate voted to pass S.2545, An Act to promote a clean energy future, sponsored by Senators Marc Pacheco and Mike Barrett. This legislation represents a firm stand by the Senate to ensure a healthier, cleaner Commonwealth for future generations of Massachusetts residents. Most importantly, the policies enacted in this legislation will have measurable benefits in the health of the global environment.

This legislation is a forward looking plan that prepares Massachusetts for the inevitable obstacles that will come with climate change. The policies and programs will protect public health, increase the use of renewable energy, reduce greenhouse emissions, implement a price on carbon, and create jobs in the innovative green-energy economy.

During Thursday’s Senate debate on S.2545, state Senator Julian Cyr offered a “Community Empowerment” amendment (amendment #22, which was unanimously adopted) that would allow municipalities the ability to enter into long-term renewable energy contracts, and provide financing for such projects, on behalf of their residents and businesses.  Before entering into any contract, the municipality must have the support of the community through a democratic process, such as a town meeting vote, followed by a public process to choose the renewable energy project, which would include either boards of selectmen, town councils and/or the community electric aggregator.  Once the renewable energy project is operational, electricity customers in that municipality would see savings on their bills.

“For many of us who live in coastal communities, earlier this year we witnessed extreme weather caused by carbon emissions that have fueled global warming. By passing this bill the Senate provided the leadership needed to fight climate change, while simultaneously addressing our state’s energy needs,” said Senator Cyr (D-Truro). “The Community Empowerment amendment, a homegrown concept conceived by constituents on Martha’s Vineyard, will give towns the power they need to finance, build and receive the benefits of renewable energy projects – a meaningful step forward in the region’s fight against climate change.”

“Vineyard Power Cooperative and their membership are appreciative to Senator Cyr and his staff for their leadership and execution in achieving this milestone and getting this legislation passed in the Senate. We believe in the power of local choice and local empowerment that enables our community to take control of our energy future and will help ensure our community vision of being carbon neutral in home heating, transportation, and domestic electricity by 2050. This is a big win for not only our local island community, who is sitting in the front row to see the effects of climate change and sea level rise, but also for the region and for the Commonwealth,” said Erik Peckar, General Manager of Vineyard Power, the organization who helped craft the language and has been a primary advocate for the bill.