Massachusetts is moving away from natural gas as a home heating fuel on two regulatory fronts. Gas supplies the heat for 51% of the state’s homeowners and is a multi-billion-dollar business for the local gas distribution companies. Two state agencies are looking at how to diminish gas use.
The Bay State move is part of a significant trend. Inside Climate News reported, “Massachusetts is the first state to take such a clear step to phase out natural gas, but it likely won’t be the last. At least 11 other states (California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington) as well as Washington, D.C., have ongoing regulatory cases that are exploring the future of natural gas.”
The state utility regulator, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU), Dec. 6 issued a long-term rulemaking (Order 20-80) that will effectively discourage gas “local distribution companies (LDCs)” from new gas heating installations in favor of electricity, with a goal of achieving “net zero” greenhouse gas emissions from home heating by 2050. Under the new policy, according to a DPU press release, the agency is “imposing a new requirement that LDCs evaluate whether non-gas alternatives are available that would make additional investment in gas infrastructure unnecessary. This requirement will only apply to new infrastructure.”