Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed an omnibus climate bill into law (HB 5060) on August 11, 2022 that, among other provisions, encourages renewable power generation, increases the uptake of zero emissions vehicles, supports clean energy workforce and economic development, establishes a demonstration program across ten municipalities to ban fossil fuel hookups in new construction buildings, sets a building energy reporting requirement for buildings larger than 20,000 square feet, and mandates several state-level agencies to collaborate in recommending improvements for the energy efficiency, health, and safety of K-12 public school facilities.
The new law, called An Act Driving Clean Energy and Offshore Wind, introduces clean energy expansion as the top line item, with a specific focus on stimulating investment in offshore wind energy projects and incentivizing larger residential solar installations. It directs the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER), the State Energy Office, to:
Select winning procurement bids for offshore wind projects (which was previously under the jurisdiction of the state’s investor-owned utilities);
Conduct research and make policy recommendations on mid- and long-duration energy storage deployment targets for inclusion in the statewide climate roadmap;
Administer the pilot program banning fossil fuel use in new buildings across ten municipalities; and
Coordinate with one or more New England states to solicit cost-effective clean energy generation, transmission, or capacity projects across the region to recommend for deployment (requiring approval from the Department of Public Utilities).
To attract more bids and temper the effects of supply chain shortages on the offshore wind energy market, the bill lifts the price cap that previously required each subsequent offshore wind project procurement offer to cost less than the most recent project. The bill also sets the stage for more solar installations in the state by increasing the maximum eligible project size for net-metering from 10 to 25 kW and including tax breaks for solar projects sited on agricultural lands. In the clean transportation space, the climate bill increases consumer rebates for new purchases and leases of as well as trade-ins for zero-emissions passenger vehicles, while also mandating that all new vehicle sales in the state be zero emission by 2035 and that the greater Boston area’s public transit system transition to an entirely zero emission fleet by 2040.