Massachusetts Gov. encourages Canadian hydro in committee testimony

Massachusetts Capital Building

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker testified before a state legislative committee today in support of a pair of bills that could increase imports of Canadian hydroelectric power.

Appearing before the Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, Baker said the state is at a "crossroads" in meetings its goal of reducing carbon emissions 25% from 1990 levels by 2020.

"Absent timely passage of this proposal and the incorporation of at least 1,200 MW of hydropower into our generation mix, it will be very difficult to meet our 2020 goals, which I want to meet," Baker said.

The legislation also encourages other generating sources like solar, wind and natural gas, though the immediate availability of Canadian hydro makes it an attractive option. Still, critics note that an over-reliance on imported power might stymie other power development within the state.

Massachusetts' renewable portfolio standard dates to July 2008, when former Gov. Deval Patrick signed into law the Green Communities Act. Per the bill, hydropower projects eligible for inclusion as "renewable" are capped at a maximum of 25 MW for new plants, or a maximum of 25 MW incremental increases at existing plants.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported in September that the New England region, which includes Massachusetts, accounted for 60% of the United States' imports of Canadian hydropower in 2014. Overall, Canadian hydro makes up about 1.6% of all energy purchased in the U.S.

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