The State of Massachusetts (MA) in the US is a proven leader in setting effective public policy to drive green energy. Using a two-pronged approach of focusing on both energy efficiency and renewable energy, MA has reduced overall energy use, reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and created green jobs in the private sector.
The green energy public policy Success Story of MA is described below. MA’s road to success has not been completely smooth; we will give a brief overview of the strategies, benefits, as well as the obstacles and Lessons Learned, in implementing an ambitious green energy public policy in MA.
- Subsidize energy audits for homes and businesses; this results in well-planned cost-effective solutions.
- Subsidize energy-saving equipment. The State of MA subsidizes the cost of efficient insulation, air conditioners, light bulbs, and refrigerators, etc. by paying dealers a set amount for each piece of energy efficient equipment they sell. The consumer then buys the reduced-cost equipment from the dealer. For example, if an efficient A/C unit costs the dealer $40 more than an inefficient A/C unit, the State of MA will pay the dealer $45 with the condition that the savings is passed on to the consumer.
- Subsidize pre-approved contractors to perform energy efficient renovations. Home owners and businesses can hire a low-cost contactor to replace their windows, insulate and air-seal their buildings, and install efficient air conditioning.
- State Building Code: Increase standards for energy efficiency requirements. Reward cities who adopt even stricter standards.
Benefits: Decreased electric demand results in avoided costs for utilities since there is no need to build larger power plants and upgraded power lines; therefore, electric rates are not increased. Air quality and GHG emissions are improved.
Lessons Learned: It took several attempts to develop a public policy to bring in profit-driven private utilities as an effective partner in reducing electric demand. In the past, MA had a policy of rebates. The problem with rebates is that the consumer pays a high initial cost first, and then receives a rebate later. The new policy of subsidizing the dealer has eliminated the barrier of high initial cost—consumers are motivated to pay the upfront lower cost of efficient equipment.
Success Story: In 2019, for the ninth year in a row, the State of MA was declared the most energy efficient state in the US by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)
- Require utilities to allow net metering. For example, if you have a rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) system on your house and your house is unoccupied during the day, you can sell your excess PV power back to the utility at a reasonable rate.
- Pre-approve qualified contractors to install PV with net metering.
- Support Community Solar programs, which allow individuals and businesses to invest in off-site PV projects.
- Subsidize the cost of PV
- Support energy storage programs
Benefits: Homeowners and businesses with PV have predictable long-term electric rates. GHG and other polluting emissions are decreased.
Lessons Learned: For net metering, interconnection approvals by utilities are necessary to provide grid stability. The approval process is streamlined by allowing only experienced PV installation contractors to interact with the utility.
Success Story: To date, MA has 2,600 MW of PV and 110 MW of wind power.
Electric Vehicles (EV):
- Subsidize the purchase and lease cost of EVs through rebates
- Give grants to cities, state agencies, and public colleges to acquire fleet EVs and charging stations.
- Subsidize the costs of renewable energy-powered charging stations at work places so employees can charge their EVs, at no cost, during work hours
Benefits: No on-going fueling costs for EV drivers. GHG and other polluting emissions are decreased since gasoline is not being burned.
Lessons Learned: To achieve benefits, EVs must be charged by renewable energy. Planning for state-wide charging stations and EV dealerships must occur simultaneously.
Success Story: MA has over 18,000 EVs on the road; MA population is 6.9 m.
- Provide grants & loans for green energy R&D, manufacturing, and demonstration projects.
2. Support green technology “incubators” for start-up clean technology companies. Connect companies with private investors.
- Support programs to train low-income workers for lower level green jobs such as installation of PV and insulation.
Benefits: Diversified economy and increased employment.
Lessons Learned: Several green energy start-ups which were supported by the State of MA went bankrupt. Strict due diligence and accountability is required so government funds are not wasted on ventures in the private sector.
Success Story: Aggressive public policy has diversified the economy and helped create demand for green energy products and services. MA has over 120,000 jobs statewide in renewables, clean vehicles manufacturing, and energy efficiency. Private companies which produce state-of-the art clean energy technology partner with local universities for R&D.
Note: In MA, power generation and transmission & distribution systems are owned by private businesses. This paper focuses on strategies which could directly be applied in Kuwait. Not discussed are the complex financial incentives and governance of utilities in MA.
Further reading on energy programs in MA:
Regional GHG Initiative https://www.rggi.org/
Renewable Energy https://www.mass.gov/renewable-energy-portfolio-standard
Energy efficiency https://www.masssave.com/
Example of how building owners can quickly assess their buildings for PV potential: https://mapdwell.com/en/solar/cambridge