Massachusetts’ governor signed into law a climate change bill that’s meant to bring the state closer to its goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The bill signed by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker encourages the development of offshore wind and solar energy and gives some local authority to limiting the use of fossil fuels in building projects.
The law directs the state to procure roughly 5,600 MW of offshore wind generating capacity by June 30, 2027, an increase from the previous target of 4,000 MW.
The law also removes a price cap imposed on wind projects and allows the Department of Energy Resources to make final project selections.
“This legislation will not only provide critical investments needed to bring offshore wind to the scale needed to combat climate change, but will also ensure it is developed equitably and responsibly,” said Susannah Hatch, regional lead for New England for Offshore Wind. “This law demonstrates that when done right, policy can drive a diverse and inclusive clean energy transition and create opportunities for all workers and communities across the Commonwealth.”
Subscribe today to the all-new Factor This! podcast from Renewable Energy World. This podcast is designed specifically for the solar industry and is available wherever you get your podcasts.
Listen to the latest episode featuring Ben Catt, CEO of Pine Gate Renewables, who breaks down the state of clean energy capital markets and the impact of the Inflation Reduction Act.
Grid modernization is also a focus of the law.
Electric utilities are directed to develop a modernization plan to proactively upgrade the distribution and transmission systems to improve reliability and enable increased adoption of renewable energy and distributed energy resources.
The modernization plans must use three planning horizons for electric demand, including a 5-year forecast, a 10-year forecast, and a demand assessment through to 2050 to account for future trends in renewable energy.
Each electric utility is directed to submit its first modernization plan for review by April 1, 2023 to the Grid Modernization Advisory Council.
“This law will help provide reliable and affordable energy across the state, accelerating efforts to electrify the grid and providing necessary resources for offshore wind infrastructure,” said Heather Takle, CEO of PowerOptions, the largest energy-buying consortium in New England.
Massachusetts’ coast will be home to the first commercial-scale offshore wind project in the U.S. Crucial to the advancement of offshore wind projects, like Vineyard Wind 1, is an urgent focus on port enhancements to support industry activities
In November, Vineyard Wind 1 celebrated its groundbreaking in Barnstable. The project, a joint venture between Avangrid Renewables and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, will ultimately be able to generate 800 MW of electricity, enough to power more than 400,000 homes with clean energy.
The new climate law creates the Clean Energy Investment Fund to support clean energy research and infrastructure, including port and canal development.
The law would also increase to $3,500 the rebate for purchasing and leasing certain zero-emission passenger vehicles, offer an additional $1,000 to purchasers trading in a gas-powered vehicle and mandate that all new vehicle sales be zero emission starting in 2035.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s entire transit fleet must also transition to zero-emission by 2040.
The bill would additionally let farmland be used for solar panels so long as they don’t impede agricultural or horticultural uses.
It also allows 10 cities and towns to require all-electric, fossil fuel-free new construction, with the exception of life sciences labs and health care facilities.
The Union of Concerned Scientists was among the advocacy groups cheering the bill signing.
The Cambridge-based group said in a statement it will “spur more development of responsible clean energy” and help the state move away from fossil fuels.