Energy LawMassachusetts Moves Forward with New Renewable Energy Regulations

August 26, 20200

In today’s blog post, we’ll take a look into renewable energy regulations updated in Massachusetts, which became the first state to adopt a Clean Peak Energy Standard.

Energy Oversight in Massachusetts: the DOER

The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (“DOER”) develops and implements the state’s energy supply policies and programs. They aim to keep the state’s energy supply diverse, secure, and cost-effective, while pushing toward clean energy and resiliency into the future. The DOER has five Divisions: Emerging Technology (energy storage, clean energy alternatives, etc.), Energy Efficiency, Energy Policy Planning & Analysis, Green Communities (provides grants and technical support to local communities for energy saving and clean energy measures), and Renewable Energy (wind, solar, biomass, clean cooling and heating, etc.).

The Clean Peak Energy Standard

In 2018, Massachusetts passed the Act to Advance Clean Energy. This law included a number of renewable energy actions such as expansion of the Renewable Portfolio Standard (“RPS,” also known as a Renewable Energy Standard/RES) and creation of energy storage targets, offshore wind procurement authority, and the new Clean Peak Energy Standard. The law required the development of several renewable energy regulations. This year, the DOER implemented final regulations, effective August 7, 2020, to give life to the Clean Peak Energy Standard in Massachusetts, making it the first state to fully adopt such a program.

The DOER essentially created the program by utilizing a structure similar to the RPS, which are regulations requiring increased use of renewable resources such as wind and solar for energy production. Over half of the United States, Massachusetts and Rhode Island included, have adopted these RPS/RES renewable energy regulations, but only Massachusetts (so far) has extended the idea in this way to peak energy production.

The Clean Peak Energy Standard requires retail suppliers to provide a minimum percentage of renewable energy-generated sales during seasonal peak periods, and also incentivizes the production of clean energy during these peak periods. To learn more about retail suppliers, click here for a comparison of utility vs. retail energy suppliers/providers; both types of providers exist in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, as the two states are “deregulated energy markets.”

Renewable Energy Regulations: Potential Benefits

So, what might have driven Massachusetts to implement a program that pushes for more renewable energy and stored energy during peak periods? First, peak periods generally cost you, the energy consumer, more money. Time of Use Pricing allows companies to charge more money during hours of high demand. For example, many people are aware of the fact that you pay more per kWh when demand for electricity is at its highest: summer is different from winter, and differs hourly. As it happens, the use of renewable energy to meet demand can shift the peak periods. Using renewable energy regulations, stored energy, and other alternatives to our “normal” energy generation may help offset costs in the long run.

Second, peak periods generate more emissions; more energy going out during these times requires more on/off switching at the generation plants. The plants rely on fossil fuels to run, so they emit more greenhouse gases. Switching to stored or renewable energy during high demand times can also offset the amount of emissions generated annually.

Desautel Browning Law works on a number of energy issues at any given time. Contact us if you have any questions about how renewable energy regulations like these can impact your home or business. We are available by email at and phone at 401.477.0023.

Leave a Reply