Mass. Gov. Baker continues push for Canadian hydroelectric power imports

Charlie Baker
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker delivers his State of the State address at the Statehouse in Boston, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Massachusetts remains on track to meet its self-established targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, but that success might depend on state legislation allowing for the import of Canadian hydroelectric power.

Per policy signed by former Gov. Deval Patrick in 2008, Massachusetts is to reduce its carbon dioxide output by 25% from 1990 levels by 2020, with the ultimate goal of reducing levels 80% by 2050.

Current governor Charlie Baker has been outspoken in his desire to use imported Canadian hydropower to help meet those goals, and last year testified before a state legislative committee supporting bills that would encourage cross-border transmission.

The addition of more hydropower -- 1,200 MW to be exact, per Baker's testimony in September -- would account for about 4% of Massachusetts' 25% target, according to a report released by the state's Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs this week.

"While progress to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has been made on many fronts, the report highlights the need for immediate action on our legislation for clean and affordable hydroelectricity and other renewable resources in order to achieve our 2020 goals and position us to meet the long-term reduction goals," Baker said.

Baker echoed his sentiments during his State of the State address yesterday, alluding to proposals like the New England Clean Power Link and Northern Pass transmission lines as signs that other states in the region are also keen on Canadian hydro.

"Governors across New England, both democrats and republicans, have made clear to me that they're ready to go," Baker said. "They're waiting on us."

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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