Mass. Announces Priorities, Advisers for Office of Energy Transformation
Consumers Energy
Massachusetts’ new Office of Energy Transformation will focus on cutting peaker plant emissions, eliminating the state’s reliance on the Everett Marine Terminal LNG import facility, and financing distribution grid upgrades that minimizes costs.

Massachusetts’ new Office of Energy Transformation (OET) will focus on cutting peaker plant emissions, eliminating the state’s reliance on the Everett Marine Terminal LNG import facility, and financing distribution grid upgrades in a way that minimizes costs to ratepayers. 

Gov. Maura Healey (D) created the office in March as a subset of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA). The OET is led by Melissa Lavinson, former head of corporate affairs in New England for National Grid, one of the major gas and electric utilities in the state. 

The Healey administration’s July 3 announcement about priorities also described an advisory board for the OET, which features more than 60 members representing a wide range of interests, including utilities, generators, state and local government, climate and environmental organizations, labor, and tribes. 

In a press release, Healey called the new office “an invitation to everyone impacted to come to the table, bring solutions, and make real commitments to move us forward.” 

EEA Secretary Rebecca Tepper noted that the Department of Public Utilities’ recent order on the future of natural gas in the state “set the stage for the transition from gas to electricity, making Massachusetts the first state in the country to require its utilities to prioritize electrification. … We launched the Office of Energy Transformation and Advisory Board to take on this big challenge.” (See Massachusetts Moves to Limit New Gas Infrastructure.) 

Tepper said the office’s three key priorities represent “tangible next steps in ending our reliance on some of the most costly and dirty fossil fuel infrastructure and ensuring that our ratepayers and environmental justice communities are kept at the heart of this transition.” 

The OET and its advisory board will be tasked with charting a course through some of the state’s most pressing challenges of the clean energy transition: how to meet increasing electric demand without increasing reliance on natural gas, and how to electrify heating without dramatically increasing electric rates. 

The power grid’s reliance on generation from natural gas has increased substantially over the past couple of decades, rising from 15% of New England’s electricity in 2000 to 55% of generation in 2023. Overall, natural gas is responsible for more than three-quarters of power-sector emissions in New England. 

This increase has continued in recent years despite the proliferation of renewables, with natural gas generation emissions increasing in 2023 relative to 2022 and on track for another year-over-year increase in 2024. (See NEPOOL Holds Summer PC Meeting amid New England Heat Wave, Climate Protests.)  

This year, the DPU authorized contracts between Constellation and the state’s gas utilities to keep the Everett LNG import facility operating into 2030 to preserve the winter reliability of the state’s gas network. In its approval, DPU also required the utilities to make annual reports on their efforts to reduce their reliance on Everett. (See Massachusetts DPU Approves Everett LNG Contracts.) 

Dan Dolan, president of the New England Power Generators Association, told NetZero Insider the administration “rightfully” is focusing on the issue of Everett “immediately, and not letting it linger.” 

Regarding the OET’s priority of cutting peaking emissions, Dolan applauded the administration’s collaborative approach to considering a range of potential solutions, including battery storage, hydrogen or renewable natural gas. 

“I give the administration a lot of credit for how they have at least initially set this up, and it’s certainly something we’re excited to work on with them,” Dolan said. 

Mireille Bejjani, co-executive director of the New England environmental justice organization Slingshot, said she is “excited about the focus on the Everett Marine Terminal and peaker plants.” 

“We can’t just be continually kicking the can down the road, we have to make a plan for how we’re going to get off of gas,” Bejjani said, expressing hope the OET and its advisory board will provide a forum for charting this path.  

Activists in the state have been vocalizing concerns that Everett ultimately will be replaced by a gas capacity expansion to the region; Enbridge has a capacity expansion proposal — dubbed “Project Maple” — that could come in service around the end of the decade. (See Enbridge Announces Project to Increase Northeast Pipeline Capacity.) 

Some activists have sounded alarm bells about several near-term upgrade projects along Enbridge’s pipeline network, alleging they could help the company expand its gas capacity into the region. Enbridge has said the upgrades are needed to preserve gas reliability (CP24-49 and CP24-21).

“My hope is that, through having this advisory board and intentionally and proactively planning for the transition away from Everett, we’re closing the door to Project Maple,” Bejjani said. 


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