The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) issued new statewide greenhouse gas emissions regulations on August 11, 2017, under the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA). These regulations are intended to reduce emissions and help meet the 2020 emissions limit mandated by the GWSA. The 2020 limit is a statewide 25% in carbon emissions from 1990 levels.

There are six finalized regulations in all. One of the proposed changes that was of particular interest to us was the Clean Energy Standard (CES). One of the questions raised in the proposed CES was ‘which energy generators would qualify as a clean energy source?’, and therefore qualify for subsidies. The original CES determined eligibility to be based on an emissions limit, and only to electricity generators built after 2010. MassDEP was questioning whether older generators (pre-2010) should be included. This would have qualified our state’s only operating commercial nuclear power facility, Pilgrim Nuclear, for subsidies.

A similar situation recently occurred in New York at the FitzPatrick nuclear facility. FitzPatrick was scheduled to close, but the State of New York developed new subsidies under its Clean Energy Standard that led to Exelon purchasing the plant and continued operations.

Fortunately, the new Clean Energy Standard issued by MassDEP last week does not allow ‘pre-2010’ facilities to be eligible. Specifically the CES states, “Commercial Operation Date. For a generation unit that qualifies as a generation unit pursuant to 310 CMR 7.75(7)(a)1.a.ii., the commercial operation date shall be after December 31, 2010.”

We can rest easy that Pilgrim Nuclear will not be able to obtain new subsidies and closure will remain on schedule for 2019.

Learn more about the state’s new emissions regulations, including fact sheets and to read the final regulatory language →


  • Cape Cod Times, Aug 11: No Subsidies for Pilgrim in Emission Rules →
  • Wicked Local Plymouth, Aug 9: OF NUCLEAR INTEREST: Proposed Clean Energy Updates →