The climate-change plan and proposed carbon dioxide emission standards announced today by President Barack Obama represent one of those rare occasions when new regulation may benefit Massachusetts employers.
The reason - Massachusetts ratepayers and employers have already borne the brunt of stringent Massachusetts-only carbon standards and taxes that have resulted in the highest electric rates in the country. Now that other states are faced with increased costs and regulation, Massachusetts businesses may see some competitive relief.
AIM has long supported action at the federal level to level the playing field for Massachusetts customers. Depending on the programs included in the Obama plan and how they are structured and financed, Massachusetts ratepayers could actually benefit from several elements.
The blueprint has several priorities:
- Carbon dioxide emission standards for new and existing power plants and development of clean energy
- New mileage standards for trucks and buses and advanced transportation technologies
- New energy efficiency standards and investments
- Other programs related to reduce hydroflourocarbons and methane, both very potent greenhouse gases and related to federal agencies
Massachusetts power plants are already the cleanest in the country, and because the Obama plan focuses on coal-fired power plants, any emission reductions are unlikely to have much of an impact in the Bay State. Massachusetts only has one significant coal-fired plant left (Brayton Point in Somerset) and it is already complying with the most stringent emission limits in the country. Federal standards will probably have little cost impact on operations here.
Savings could also come to ratepayers from new federal efficiency standards and energy efficiency programs, which may eliminate ratepayer financed subsidies. Ratepayers currently pay more than $700 million per year to finance energy efficiency programs in Massachusetts that provide rebates for equipment upgrades. To the extent that federal initiatives duplicate the Massachusetts programs or render them unnecessary, it may reduce costs for consumers.
Research on new energy technologies and carbon-capture technologies may also result in money being directed to universities in the area.
A properly designed national program could benefit Massachusetts ratepayers while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. AIM will work with state and federal agencies to make sure that the programs are cost-effective and use taxpayer and ratepayer money to get measurable reductions.