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Lawmakers Reach Accord on Energy; Health Jobs Bills Down to Wire

Posted by John Regan on Jul 30, 2012 8:56:00 AM

Beacon Hill lawmakers reached tentative agreement on an energy bill over the weekend, but a health cost measure and jobs bill important to employers remain unresolved as the Legislature races toward the end of formal sessions Tuesday at midnight.

Massachusetts LegislatureThe energy bill reported by a House-Senate conference committee includes a provision supported by AIM that would resolve inequalities under which commercial and industrial ratepayers foot an increasing percentage of total electricity costs despite using a declining share of power.

The bill would also require utilities to procure competitively by 2016 an additional 4 percent, or 7 percent total, of its peak-load power needs from renewable sources through long-term contracts of 10 to 20 years. The annual payment for utilities entering into those long-term contracts for renewable energy would drop from 4 percent to 2.75 percent.

The bill would separately give state regulators the power to determine whether a power-generation facility is needed in Salem.

Debate on the energy bill is scheduled for today.

“The rate rebalancing will lower costs over time for commercial and industrial electricity users,” said Robert Rio, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs at AIM.

“The conference committee has produced a balanced bill and we urge the full House and Senate to pass it.”

A separate conference committee working on a landmark bill to control the cost of health care had issued no report as of this morning. The House and Senate have passed differing versions of a measure designed to eliminate more than $150 billion in medical costs over 15 years by paying doctors for outcomes instead of procedures, closing the imbalance between low-cost and high-cost medical providers, and providing inter-operable electronic medical records by 2017.

AIM supports an aggressive cost-control target, calling upon the health care industry to reduce the growth of medical spending to two percentage points below overall state economic growth.

There has also been no word from lawmakers hammering out a jobs bill that would improve the schedule for companies making estimated tax payments, invest in research and development, authorize more than $1 billion in borrowing for energy efficiency investments, and provide tax-credits to start-up enterprises.

Topics: Massachusetts Legislature, Health Care Costs, Issues, Energy

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