On Thursday the Senate Natural Resources Committee brought up the topic of possible amendments to S.5. It was a short discussion and no major changes where proposed, however they did discuss some minor concerns from Xusana Davis’ testimony the previous week.
The Committee no longer has possession of the bill but will consider offering potential amendments from the floor. A full floor vote seems likely on Thursday or Friday before Town Meeting break. Chairman Bray asked Senator McCormack if he had thoughts on language to address the equity concerns raised by Davis. McCormack said he asked her for language but hasn’t heard back.
Senator Watson suggested language mandating “translation services” be included to the public outreach section of the bill, per Davis’ request. She also suggested adding a phrase to the data collection section that “information regarding income shall be kept confidential,” another one of Davis’ requests.
Senator MacDonald raised concerns about giving the Public Utility Commission (PUC) authority to do something “by rule or order.” He was worried this didn’t provide enough oversight, but Bray thought they had “achieved balance.”
MacDonald cited net metering as an example of the PUC doing something “by order” that they should not have done, but by the time the legislature became aware of the policy change it was too late/complicated to fix. The PUC “blew off” the check-back in that case. He wondered if there is there a check-back provision in S.5 that gives the Legislature enough authority to supervise the activities of the PUC.
Bray suggested that the Committee review this issue with Legislative Counsel.