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Massachusetts Sets Ambitious Energy Standards

Massachusetts state officials announced on Friday new energy efficiency standards for utilities that aim to be the most ambitious in the nation.

The plan calls for a statewide reduction of 2.4 percent in electricity use and 1.15 percent in natural gas use annually for three years. The savings are to be achieved largely through $1.6 billion in incentives for utility customers who take certain actions to conserve energy, like insulating their houses or replacing conventional light bulbs with compact fluorescent ones.

The reductions were mandated by the Green Communities Act, passed by the state Legislature in 2008. But the bill did not specify the reduction goals or how they were to be reached. The state Department of Public Utilities approved the plan late Thursday.

Utilities, regulators and energy advocates haggled for months to reach the 2.4 percent annual reduction goal, a figure considered to be close to the upper limit of what can be achieved through such programs. The success of the utilities in reaching that goal will be measured in a way that accounts for outside factors like normal growth in the demand for electricity

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