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Once seen as opponents to climate action, utilities and the business community are making changes. Is that a sign the tides are turning?

By District Energy posted 08-24-2023 07:58


Boston Globe


As state officials and climate advocates have tried to push forward with major climate initiatives, powerful forces, including gas utilities and prominent business organizations, have for years worked to delay or undermine them.

Now, in a boon for climate action, that appears to be changing.

The changes come as Massachusetts continues to deliberate a plan for phasing out natural gas. The Department of Public Utilities, which is overseeing the planning, had allowed gas utilities to write the first draft under the administration of Governor Charlie Baker. But with new leadership installed by Governor Maura Healey, the DPU appears less likely to cater to the utilities’ wishes, according to Itai Vardi, a researcher at the Energy and Policy Institute, a fossil fuel and utility watchdog group.

Those changes appear to happening at two tiers — incremental movement at the energy utilities, and a shifting of priorities among Massachusetts’ leading business associations — moving climate change and clean energy to the front burner.

“To be blunt about it, the business community will go where they see an opportunity to make money,” he said. “The green transition is providing a ton of jobs and a ton of new investments.”

“We are taking an all-encompassing approach to explore innovative ways to decarbonize the natural gas system, such as our Geothermal Pilot program in Framingham, Massachusetts,” Pretyman said. “This was a strategic change to support our portfolio approach to decarbonization across our company.”

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