On July 21, 2022 Representative Connolly joined his colleagues in the Legislature to enact H.5060, An Act driving clean energy and offshore wind. The bill includes a local priority Rep Connolly has worked to advance which would give Cambridge and Somerville the power to require fossil fuel free buildings.
Ten days later on July 31, 2022, the Governor sent the bill back with amendments. While certain compromises were made to ensure the bill would not be vetoed after the expiration of the legislative session, the provisions empowering Cambridge and Somerville to require fossil free buildings remained intact. Finally, on August 11, 2022, the bill was signed into law by the Governor.
Highlights of the bill include requiring owners of large buildings — such as offices, apartment buildings, hospitals, and universities — to disclose their energy use each year. The bill also requires all of the cars sold in Massachusetts to be electric vehicles by 2035, boosts EV accessibility and infrastructure, institutes a timeline for the MBTA to achieve an all-electric bus fleet, and assistance for regional transit authorities (RTAs) to adopt electric buses, and empowers cities like Cambridge and Somerville to adopt local policies requiring new buildings be fossil-fuel-free. The bill also boost grid readiness for green energy growth, removes biomass from the renewable portfolio standard, creates the Clean Energy Investment Fund to research emerging technologies, and the Offshore Wind Industry Investment Program & Trust Fund, to fund job training in the wind sector and incentivize the creation of local offshore wind jobs.
“This passage of this law will make Massachusetts the national leader in wind energy, will enable a major transition to electric vehicles, and will empower communities like Cambridge and Somerville to lead the way in limiting fossil fuel infrastructure in new construction. This is major progress, building on the Climate Roadmap Law enacted last year. Now, we must continue pushing for a rapid transition to 100% renewable energy.”
A full summary of the provisions of the bill is below:
OFFSHORE WIND AND CLEAN ENERGY
Offshore Wind Industry Investment Program & Trust Fund
- Establishes a Massachusetts Offshore Wind Industry Investment Program, administered by MassCEC, consisting of annual tax incentives, grants, loans, and other investments through the fund, and assistance from MassCEC in accessing other state or federal economic investment programs.
- The Massachusetts Offshore Wind Industry Investment Trust Fund can be used to: promote the manufacture, fabrication, and assembly of domestic supply chain components of the offshore wind industry, stimulate increased financing for permanent manufacturing facilities, advance clean energy research, technology, and innovation, and, prepare individuals for offshore wind careers by supporting workforce training at a range of educational institutions and through regional employment boards.
- The $35 million in total annual tax incentives is subject to a 10-year sunset clause, features a certification and clawback process, and can be used for: individual and corporate refundable jobs tax credits, respectively, that require a commitment to create at least 50 net new permanent full-time employees within the state or individual and corporate refundable capital investment tax credits, respectively, that require at least a $35 million investment in an offshore wind facility and at least 200 new full-time employees.
- Strikes the price cap to allow for offshore wind project proposals that are cost-effective and promote economic development in the Commonwealth
- Addresses potential conflicts of interest by: requiring DOER, in consultation with an independent evaluator, to issue a final binding determination of the winning offshore wind bid, requiring DOER to consult with the utilities and the Attorney General regarding the choice of offshore wind solicitation methods, but removes them from the bid selection process.
- Bids must include benefits to environmental justice and low-income ratepayers and include opportunities for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), including, a workforce diversity plan and a supplier diversity program plan, among other requirements.
Other Clean Energy
- Authorizes the EEA secretary, in consultation with DOER, to investigate participation in regional or multi-state competitive market-based mechanisms structures, systems or competitive solicitations, such as a Forward Clean Energy Market, in order to facilitate the development of clean energy generation resources
- Authorizes DOER to coordinate with other New England states in the competitive solicitation of long- term clean energy generation and transmission projects, such as on-shore wind in Maine to substitute for Quebec hydro imports that have been delayed through litigation
- Eliminates the “donut hole” for on-site solar energy net metering, allowing Class I solar systems up to 25kW to be exempt from the cap.
- Loosens the “single parcel rule” by allowing, in certain circumstances, for net metering for facilities on the same parcels as solar facilities
- Permits land used primarily and directly for agricultural purposes to be used to site a renewable energy generating source if it does not impede in the continued use of the land for agricultural or horticultural purposes and deems such land to be agricultural or horticultural land.
- Directs DOER to include additional incentives for pollinator-friendly solar installations in the solar incentive program and any successor solar incentive programs.
- Establishes a commission to examine opportunities for farms and agricultural lands for the development of agri-voltaic projects.
Biomass RPS Program Repeal
- Removes biomass from the renewable portfolio standard
Anaerobic Digestion (§40)
- Requires DOER to issue a one-time procurement at an incentive level sufficient to stimulate the deployment of anaerobic digestion facilities.
Independent Transmission Planning
- Authorizes DOER, in possible coordination with other states, to solicit proposals for independent transmission solutions to deliver offshore wind energy to the existing onshore grid.
- Creates a Clean Energy Transmission Working Group to analyze costs, cost-allocation measures, and regional coordination opportunities for transmission infrastructure upgrades necessary to support MA’s clean energy goals. Group must submit a report to the Legislature by December 2023.
Interconnecting Renewables to the Grid
- Creates a Grid Modernization Advisory Council.
- Requires utility companies to proactively upgrade the transmission and distribution grid to improve reliability, resilience, and interconnection of renewable energy sources.
- Utility companies must consult the Advisory Council when creating electric-sector modernization plans, before submitting them to the DPU for approval.
- Requires electric utilities to file with the DPU at least one electric rate tariff for standalone energy storage systems.
Energy Storage Benchmarks
- DOER, in consultation with MassCEC, must study how to optimize the deployment and utilization of long-duration and mid-duration energy storage systems. If deemed beneficial, the department must issue procurements for up to 4,800 gigawatt-hours total of mid-duration and long-duration storage.
- DOER shall recommend energy storage benchmarks to be incorporated into the 2025 – 2050 Roadmap plans.
Transition to Electric Vehicles
- Would require the sale of automobiles from dealerships to be zero emission electric vehicles starting January 2035
- Gives the DPU's division that manages TNCs (Transportation Network Companies, like Uber and Lyft) an emissions reduction role.
- Requires DOT to compile a motor vehicle database so municipalities and the public can better plan for vehicle electrification in their neighborhoods.
- Instructs MassCEC to develop a guide and website detailing the costs and availability of electric vehicles.
- Creates an Electric Vehicle Adoption Incentive Trust Fund to be expended by DOER for funding electric vehicle incentive programs
- Increases by $1,000 (to $3,500) the rebate for qualifying purchases and leases of zero-emission passenger cars and light duty trucks and costing $55,000 or less and offers an additional $1,000 to purchasers who are trading in an internal combustion vehicle.
- Adds an additional $1,500 rebate for low-income customers.
- Requires MOR-EV to offer rebates to medium and heavy duty zero-emission vehicles.
- Defines ZEVs and qualifications for MOR-EV.
- Creates a new outreach program for underserved and low-income communities, as well as communities with high proportions of high-emission vehicles.
- Requires an annual MOR-EV review that includes participation from low- and moderate-income households and organizes data by race and ethnicity. Cost-effectiveness is reviewed every 3 years.
- Requires the state building and electrical codes to include requirements for EV charging for residential and commercial buildings
- Establishes an intergovernmental coordinating council to implement an EV charging infrastructure deployment plan.
- Requires MassDOT, in consultation with the MBTA, to make provision for installing and maintaining EV charging stations for public use on the MassPike, parking lots of at least 5 commuter rail stations, parking lots of at least 5 subway stations, and a parking lot of at least one ferry terminal
- Requires distribution companies to submit off-peak time of use rate proposals for electric vehicle charging stations within 6 months.
- Requires DESE and DOER to conduct a study looking at the opportunities and challenges of electrifying our school bus fleet.
- Requires MassDOT to help each RTA develop its own electrification rollout plan.
- Requires MBTA Mass Transportation maintenance program to report on and account for climate change.
- Requires new MBTA bus purchases and leases to be ZEVs by 2030 and the entire MBTA fleet to be ZEV by 2040.
- Requires MBTA to consider greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, and environmental resiliency within its capital planning processes.
- Requires the MBTA to prioritize deployment of zero-emission buses on routes that go through underserved communities.
Future of Gas
- Eliminates natural gas extensions from C-PACE (financing allowing the owners of large buildings to make long term energy improvements).
- Requires DPU to convene a stakeholder working group to develop recommendations for regulatory and legislative changes to align gas system enhancement plans with statewide greenhouse gas emissions limits.
- Prevents the DPU from approving any company-specific plan, filed pursuant to Docket No. 20-80 (“the Future of Gas”), prior to the conduct of an adjudicatory proceeding.
- Encourages DPU to remove impediments for the development of efficient heat generation technologies, including networked geothermal heating systems.
- Expands eligible GSEP replacement projects to non-emitting renewable thermal installations and advanced gas leak repairs.
- Expands gas company reporting obligations under networked geothermal pilots and stipulates that the DPU may require the utilities taking part in the pilots to submit roadmaps for decommissioning gas infrastructure.
Large Building Emissions
- Expands C-PACE to include commercial energy improvements that exceed energy code requirements or meet a nationally-recognized energy standard
- Requires an assessment of K-12 schools for ways to shift from fossil fuels, boost energy efficiency, and improve indoor air quality.
- Requires large buildings (20,000 sq. ft. and larger) across the commonwealth to report their energy usage annually.
- Starting with the next Mass Save plan (2025-2027), ends Mass Save incentives to install fossil fuel infrastructure in buildings, except as a backup for an electric heat pump.
- Requires that the utilities’ quarterly reports on the implementation of the efficiency plans to the EEAC include data on Mass Save’s service to low-income ratepayers.
- Implements Mass Save reforms to increase participation by low-income households and renters and mandates more data collection on the effort.
Fossil Fuel Free New Construction Demonstration Program
- Authorizes ten cities and towns to require fossil fuel-free new construction, with two provisos: (1) each community must first meet the 10% affordable housing target set by state law (chapter 40B); and (2) each must exempt life sciences labs and health care facilities from the all-electric requirement.
Changes to the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center
- Increases the number of members on the MassCEC Board of Directors from 12 to 15. Ensures some of the Governor’s appointments are through nominations made by the Speaker of the House and Senate President (2 each).
- Charges MassCEC with serving as a focal point and providing state-wide coordination for offshore wind initiatives.
- Qualifies cutting-edge technologies – fusion energy and networked geothermal energy -- for MassCEC support.
- Requires the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development to annually create a list of high- demand jobs and share it with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
- Creates a DESE high school OSW credential training pilot program through which DESE would reimburse school districts for each student that obtains the credentials.
- Creates a program director for the clean energy equity workforce and market development fund, who in addition to preparing guidelines on DEI best practices for the offshore wind industry, would also report annually on not only this program’s activities but also MassCEC’s plans for continued programming to achieve the Commonwealth’s DEI goals.
Green Communities and the Clean Energy Investment Fund
- Raises the maximum project cost allowed under the Green Communities Act from $100,000 to $300,000.
- Establishes and regulates the Clean Energy Investment Fund; requires administration of the fund by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Technology Center.
- The Center shall make expenditures from the fund for the following purposes: advancing clean energy research and technologies, deploying clean energy technologies to advance compliance with statewide GHG emission limits and standards, providing clean-energy industry-related workforce development and technical training programs for public higher education and vocational-technical education institutions, developing a regional strategy, inclusive of federally recognized tribes within the Commonwealth, for regional employment boards to support the development of the clean energy industry, supporting research and development in the clean energy industry, including but not limited to the interrelationship between clean energy infrastructure and existing natural habitats, among other goals.
Thank you to House Speaker Ron Mariano, Ways and Means Chair Aaron Michlewitz, and Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy Chair Jeffrey Roy for their leadership in bringing this bill to the floor and to the Sierra Club, 350 Mass, Environment Massachusetts, Mothers Out Front, constituents who wrote in, and to all my colleagues for their advocacy.