SECTION 1. Chapter 164 of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding the following section:-
Section 149. (a) As used in this section, the following words shall, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, have the following meanings:-
“Fee”, the greenhouse gas pollution fee established in subsection (c).
“Fossil fuel generated electricity”, electricity used in the commonwealth that is generated by oil, coal, natural gas, petroleum products or biomass.
“Fund”, the Utilities Arrearage Relief Trust Fund established in subsection (b).
“Low income”, a household income of not more than 80 per cent of the area median income, adjusted for household size, as periodically determined by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“Non-transportation fossil fuel”, oil, coal, natural gas, petroleum products and biomass for combustion of any purpose except transportation
(b) There shall be established and set up on the books of the commonwealth a separate fund to be known as the Utilities Arrearage Relief Trust Fund. There shall be credited to the fund all amounts collected pursuant to subsection (c) and any income derived from the investment of amounts credited to the fund. All amounts credited to the fund shall be held in trust and shall be available for expenditure, by the department for providing utilities arrearage relief, including utility costs, benefits and arrearages, pursuant to subsections (e) and (f). No monies in the fund shall be expended fund government operations of the commonwealth, except to pay for reasonable administrative costs as provided under this section.
After the payment of utility costs, benefits and arrearages pursuant to said subsections (e) and (f), any remaining monies in the fund shall be expended annually to low income residents of the commonwealth in the form of rebates until December 31, 2025. The department shall set the amount of the individual rebates to residents; provided, that each eligible resident shall receive an equal rebate. The department shall coordinate with the department of revenue, the executive office of health and human services, the executive office of housing and economic development and other agencies in making all reasonable efforts to identify the names and addresses of all eligible residents.
On January 1, 2026, after the payment of utility costs, benefits and arrearages pursuant to said subsections (e) and (f), any remaining monies in the fund shall be expended to fund renewable energy projects through the commonwealth’s climate roadmap.
Any unexpended balance in the fund at the close of a fiscal year shall remain in the fund and shall be available for expenditure in the following fiscal year. Annually, not later than December 1, the department shall issue a report to the clerks of the senate and house of representatives and to the chairs of the senate and house committees on ways and means on the fund activities including, but not limited to, amounts credited to the fund, amounts expended from the fund, and any unexpended balance.
(c) There shall be a greenhouse gas pollution fee imposed on non-transportation fossil fuel. The fee shall be assessed pursuant to the following schedule:
(1) until December 31, 2025, $60 per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent;
(2) for calendar year 2026, $65 per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent;
(3) for calendar year 2027, $70 per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent;
(4) for calendar year 2028, $75 per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent;
(5) beginning calendar year 2029, $80 per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent;
The fee shall be collected at the initial point of sale of the non-transportation fossil sale in the commonwealth. The fee collected pursuant to this section shall not be passed on as a direct cost to an end user of a fossil fuel. The department shall not approve an increase in rates on the basis of the fee collected pursuant to this section.
Using the best information and science reasonably available, the department shall, in consultation with the executive office of energy and environmental affairs and its divisions, departments, offices and bureaus, determine whether to identify any greenhouse gas–emitting substance or source intended for any purpose other than transportation, in addition to natural gas, petroleum, coal and their derivatives, as being a fossil fuel subject to the fee.
Emissions from farm animals and crops shall not be subject to the fee.
The fee shall not be imposed on any greenhouse gas–producing substance if the imposition is prohibited by federal law or regulation.
(d) (1) Each electric company, gas company, supplier and distribution company shall pay the fee on behalf of all of their electricity customers on the basis of each kilowatt–hour of electricity used by each distribution customer.
(2) The per–kilowatt–hour fee to be paid by the electric company and distribution company for retail electricity sold to electric customers in the commonwealth shall be based on the carbon intensity of the fuel mix that generated those kilowatt–hours of electricity, regardless of whether the generation sources are in–state or out–of–state.
The electric company and distribution company shall determine the carbon intensity of the fuel mix using the United States Energy Information Administration carbon dioxide emissions coefficients by fuel.
(3) The electric company and distribution company shall deduct from the fee an amount equal to the net amount the electricity supplier paid for the same year for regional greenhouse gas initiative allowances related to electricity sold in the commonwealth.
(4) The amount deducted pursuant to paragraph (3) may not exceed the total amount of the fee calculated pursuant to paragraph (1).
(5) A gas company shall pay the fee for all natural gas that the company distributes for combustion in the commonwealth. The fee shall be calculated by multiplying the number of cubic feet of natural gas used by each customer by the amount of carbon dioxide equivalents released by burning 1 cubic foot of natural gas, as that value is determined by the United States Energy Information Administration carbon dioxide emissions coefficients by fuel.
(6) Each electric company, distribution company or gas company shall reconcile annual fees paid at least once each year.
(7) The department shall, in consultation with the secretary of energy and environmental affairs, determine the amount of emissions, as carbon dioxide equivalents, from escaped or intentionally released methane due to the extraction, processing or transport of natural gas before the point of combustion in the state, and may add an additional fee to the fee for all natural gas or natural gas–based electricity.
(8) The fees collected pursuant to this section shall be deposited by the department into the fund accordance with this paragraph.
(9) Each company and supplier shall pay the fee no later than 30 days from the date of the notice of the fee amount from the department. Failure to pay the fee within 30 days may, at the discretion of the department, result in the imposition of an additional fine, the amount to be determined at the discretion of the department.
(e) The department shall use the fund to pay off 100 per cent of all arrearages incurred by ratepayers of distribution companies, electric companies, gas companies and suppliers between the period of March 1, 2020 to effective date of this section, to be paid over a period of 5 years from the effective date of this section.
To be eligible for receiving assistance from the fund, municipal lighting plants shall submit to the department arrearage information incurred between March 1, 2020 to the effective date of this section.
(f) The department shall use the fund to pay off 50 per cent of all residential electric and gas ratepayer bills from the effective date of this section until December 31, 2025. Distribution and gas companies shall deduct 50 per cent of the customer bill at the time of billing to residential ratepayers. The remaining 50 per cent of the bill shall be reimbursed by the department through the fund.
SECTION 2. The department of public utilities shall ensure that distribution and gas companies are enrolling ratepayers in their arrearage management plans, as outlined in their revised plans submitted in June 2020 to the department and detailed in department of public utilities docket number 20-58, through publicly accessible events and communication that follow the executive office of energy and environmental affairs 2017 environmental justice policy. If an investor owned utility fail to enroll 100 per cent of their arrearage management plan eligible ratepayers into the program by Dec 31, 2022, the department shall determine and impose an annual fine, until an investor owned utility achieves 100 per cent enrollment of arrearage management plan eligible ratepayers except ratepayers who choose to opt out of the arrearage management plan.
Each distribution company shall conduct substantial outreach efforts to make their arrearage management plans available to eligible customers and shall report to the department, at least annually, as to its outreach activities and results. Outreach may include establishing an automated program of identifying customer accounts with a qualifying amount of debt and to presumptively offer enrollment in an arrearage management plan to eligible customers so identified; provided, however, that the distribution company, within 60 days of said presumptive enrollment, informs any such customer of said presumptive enrollment and all rights and obligations of a customer under said program, including the right to withdraw from said program without penalty.
Each distribution company shall periodically notify all customers of the availability and method of enrolling in an arrearage management plan.
The department shall promulgate rules and regulations requiring utility companies organized pursuant to this chapter 164 of the General Laws to produce information, in the form of a mailing, or other approved method of distribution, to their consumers, to inform them of available arrearage management programs, and send out such information semi-annually, unless otherwise provided by this act.
All outreach and mailings related to arrearage management programs shall be made available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Italian, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Laotian, Khmer, Russian and any other language that is the primary language of at least 10,000 or 1/2 of 1 per cent of the residents of the commonwealth.
SECTION 3. The department of public utilities shall establish a moratorium on all electric and gas rate increases, including those already approved by the department, for a period of 2 years from the effective date of this act; provided, that nothing in this act shall be construed as changing the rate-setting procedure as set forth in chapters 25 and 164 of the General Laws and title 220 of the code of Massachusetts regulations.
SECTION 4. The department of public utilities shall, in consultation with the department of environmental protection and the department of energy resources, assess and collect the initial fees pursuant to section 1 required for the full funding and operation of the Utilities Arrearage Relief Trust Fund, established pursuant to section 149 of chapter 164 of the General Laws, not more than 90 days after the effective date of this act.
SECTION 5. The department of public utilities shall promulgate rules and regulations and shall perform such functions as necessary for the administration, implementation and enforcement of this act; provided, that the department shall promulgate rules and regulations for sections 2 and 3 within 90 days of the effective date of this act.
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