Here is Boston.com's blurb, which pretty well encapsulates the attempt to square the circle:
The Massachusetts Senate has unanimously passed a bill that aims to curb energy costs while requiring state utilities to buy more renewable power.
The bill passed Thursday requires utilities to enter long-term contracts with renewable power companies for 7 percent of their energy supplies, up from 3 percent.
The companies must competitively bid for the contracts, instead of one-on-one negotiations allowed now. And a state payment to utilities that agree to the deals drops from 4 percent of the contract's annual value to 1 percent.
The bill would also allow more frequent review of utility rate requests by state regulators.That first line might as well read, "The Massachusetts Senate has unanimously passed a bill that aims to douse a fire by spraying it with gasoline."
The bill's supposed cost savings come through the new long-term contract and bid-competition requirements. At best these new requirements can hope - maybe - to slow slightly the price increases that will accompany implementation of the legislation's doubling of current renewable generation and purchase requirements. And we might not even get that (the sole-source fiasco of Cape Wind aside, there is no evidence that I am aware of that a lack of competitive bidding is a major driver of the significant delta between the cost of electricity generated by traditional sources and the much pricier juice squeezed from turbines, solar panels and the like).
Upshot: If implemented (it still needs to get through the House) this bill will bring Massachusetts even higher energy prices - just maybe not quite as much higher as what we'd get without its relatively flimsy price-control provisions.
Like Governor Patrick, the legislature is talking the talk when it comes to reducing energy prices while working to drive them ever higher. Our business community - much of which struggles every day to justify a continued presence here as the cost of doing business in the Commonwealth creeps steadily higher - ought to be screaming to the rafters about this one.
Postscript: It is telling that (according to the State House News), supporters of this bill think of it as the "Green Communities Act: Part Deux." That would be the same Green Communities Act that the Attorney General's office recently estimated will cost us a whopping $4 billion over the next 4 years to implement.