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Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change Hearing - March 5, 2024
Opening Remarks

Thank you for joining us this morning for the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change’s hearing on Mass Save and the future of Massachusetts’ building decarbonization efforts.


It is an opportune moment to check in on the Mass Save program, the success of which is essential to the Commonwealth’s ability to meet its emissions reduction mandates for 2030 and 2050.


Last week, the secretary of energy and environmental affairs set emissions reduction goals for the 2025-2027 gas and electric plans, as required by the 2021 climate roadmap law.


And before the end of the month, the utility companies and other program administrators will submit initial drafts of their next three-year plans to the Energy Efficiency Advisory Council.


Under the terms of the 2022 climate law, those plans will not be allowed to include any spending in support of new fossil fuel equipment, with some limited exceptions.


As you can see from those recent interventions, the Legislature has shown a consistent interest in reforming the Mass Save program to align it more tightly with our decarbonization goals and mandates. That interest continues this session.


I myself am interested in requiring the program administrators to develop and implement a decarbonization assessment to replace the existing energy assessment.


A decarbonization assessment would help residents understand how to reduce emissions from their homes, not just how to reduce energy usage. It could include information related to wiring and panel upgrades, solar and storage, and EV chargers and electric appliances.


The idea of a decarbonization assessment has also been raised by the EEAC and various policy advocates, and it has been piloted by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. We will learn more about it this morning.


Legislators are also interested in improving Mass Save’s customer service and reducing the number of steps consumers have to take.


I hear every month from constituents who have struggled to schedule a home assessment, obtain a rebate, or even find someone to speak to about these issues. I know that other legislators are also inundated with requests for assistance navigating Mass Save.


We will not succeed in retrofitting millions of buildings if the process involves unnecessary confusion and friction. It is imperative that we reduce the steps that customers must go through to access Mass Save programs and incentives, and that we provide reliable customer service.


Finally, legislators and other stakeholders have continued to show interest in broader structural and governance reforms to the Mass Save program.


Climate Chief Hoffer—in her October report outlining a whole-of-government approach to addressing the climate crisis—wrote that “under the current statutory framework, the Mass Save program is failing to take the steps necessary to achieve the transformative levels of building decarbonization required.”


She called on EEA to develop a “future framework for Mass Save” based on an analysis of how other states have structured their energy efficiency and building decarbonization programs, the proper role for electric and gas utilities, and the cost and benefits that should be allowed.


I believe that primary responsibility for running our energy efficiency and building decarbonization efforts should lie with an entity that is independent of the utility companies, although it may be appropriate for utilities to share some administration responsibilities with another organization, as is done in New York.


EEA has procured a consultant to assist in developing the future framework for Mass Save. I appreciate that the executive office is engaged in this important work, and I look forward to learning more about the timeline and process of its review, as well as the reforms that are on the table. I hope we will take ambitious action.


Achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 will require us to get our approach to Mass Save and building decarbonization right, both in the short- and long-term.


In the short-term, we have to develop a strong 2025-2027 Mass Save plan that invests in and facilitates decarbonization, improves the customer experience, and reaches low-income communities.


In the long-term, we have to find the structure and governance model that will enable Mass Save to rapidly transform buildings all across the Commonwealth.


This morning, we will discuss how to accomplish these two-track objectives. Thank you again for joining us.

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