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Significant investments in local microgrid, electric vehicle, energy storage projects

Last week, State Representative Denise Garlick (D-Needham), along with her colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, voted unanimously to pass legislation investing $1.3 billion to help cities and towns across Massachusetts fund infrastructure projects aimed at fighting climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The legislation establishes a $1 billion, 10-year grant program – known as GreenWorks – to fund clean energy, energy efficiency, and climate change resiliency measures that cut greenhouse gas emissions, fortify infrastructure and reduce municipal costs. The legislation also invests $325 million in other municipal green projects.

“Climate change is one of the most important issues of our time,” said Representative Garlick. “It is important to the future of our state that we invest in clean energy while also preparing ourselves for the effects climate change will have on our communities. This investment will help Massachusetts cities and towns, including Needham, Dover, and Medfield, to prepare for the challenges that lie ahead by both building more climate resilient communities and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Modeled after the state’s MassWorks program, a competitive grant program that funds public infrastructure projects, GreenWorks funds projects that improve climate preparedness and resiliency, promote or produce clean energy or energy efficiency, build energy storage facilities, implement measures included in Massachusetts’ statewide climate adaptation strategy or otherwise help mitigate the impacts of climate change or reduce carbon emissions.

The Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs will accept applications annually and administer the program, which is funded through the issuance of bonds. In addition, the legislation makes targeted investments of $325 million in energy infrastructure, including:

  • $100 million for investments in municipal microgrid energy systems;
  • $125 million for electric vehicles in municipal or regional transit authority fleets;
  • $20 million for the hiring of sustainability coordinators to develop and manage municipal projects resulting for the GreenWorks program;
  • $50 million to establish the Green Resiliency Fund to offer low-interest loans for municipalities when pursuing GreenWorks projects;
  • $30 million for the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources’ MOR-EV electric vehicle rebate program.

The bonded funds would dovetail investments made in the recently-passed Fiscal Year 2020 state budget, which provided significant increases for environmental protection, watershed management, air quality improvement, and environmental justice.

As part of the state’s 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act, Massachusetts has emissions-reductions goals of 80 percent below statewide 1990 greenhouse gas emission levels by 2050. In light of recent reports from United Nations and other scientific organizations, the House has doubled down on reversing climate change. GreenWorks is the latest in a series of policy and funding measures aimed at making Massachusetts a global green economy and emissions-reduction leader.

The bill now goes to the Senate for further consideration.