SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Massachusetts House of Representatives has passed a comprehensive renewable thermal energy bill that will promote the use of clean renewable fuels and technologies for heating and cooling buildings. Passed earlier by the Massachusetts Senate, the bill is expected to be signed by Gov. Deval Patrick and go into effect on Jan. 1, 2015.

SB 2214 provides financial incentives for several thermal renewable energy heating and cooling alternatives. These include geothermal and air-source heat pumps; solar heating; and bio-fuels such as wood pellets, wood chips, renewable bio-oils, or renewable natural gas. By awarding credits to renewable heating and cooling technologies, the bill provides a financial incentive to invest in these technologies.

The Massachusetts Renewable Thermal Coalition, a group representing over 40 businesses and trade associations was the primary advocate for the bill. Leading coalition members include the Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO), the Massachusetts Forest Alliance; the New England Geothermal Professionals Association, the Solar Energy Industries Association, Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas, and the Biomass Thermal Energy Council.

“Passage of SB 2214 is great news, and a huge victory for the geothermal heat pump industry in Massachusetts and across the country,” said GEO President and CEO Doug Dougherty. “We provided technical and financial assistance to the effort, and worked the bill at the grassroots level. In late-July, we called each of our manufacturer members’ distributors and dealers in the state, prompting at least 15 to personally call the chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means in support of the bill.”

According to coalition leaders: “While the bill provides for powerful new financial incentives, it does so without creating new spending. Instead, renewable heating and cooling technologies will now qualify for alternative energy credits under the Commonwealth’s existing Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (APS).”

The Massachusetts APS was established in 2009 to reward businesses and homeowners for installing eligible alternative energy systems. Under the law, retail electricity suppliers must buy alternative energy credits (AECs) to offset the energy they produce using non-renewable fuels, making electricity rates dependent in part on the number of credits available on the market. With more AECs available from renewable heating systems, prices drop, followed by electricity rates.

For more information, visit www.geoexchange.org.

Publication date: 8/11/2014