On August 11, 2022, Governor Charlie Baker signed HB 5060, an Act driving climate policy forward, into law. The law jump starts or expands significant areas of the Massachusetts clean energy economy, including programs promoting off-shore wind, energy storage, electric vehicles, energy efficiency, building electrification, and modernization of the grid. The Act also contains programs directed at workforce and economic development along with regional coordination of renewable development. Key elements of the new legislation are highlighted below.
- Expands offshore wind procurement to 5,600 MW from 4,000 MW and removes price caps.
- Emphasizes work force and economic development as part of bid preference evaluation by including bid evaluation factors related to development of domestic supply chain, mitigation of environmental and sociological impacts, organized labor agreements, low income communities and diversity, municipal and customer aggregations, energy storage, and other resources related to “firm energy delivery.”
- Prioritizes mitigation of impacts on marine wildlife, habitats, ecosystems, existing water uses, and fishing.
- Creates a commercial fisheries commission to promote sustainability of commercial fishing industry.
- Authorizes the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, or MassCEC, to extend tax incentives to certified offshore wind companies and to establish the Offshore Wind Industry Investment Trust Fund to fund and promote supply chain and workforce development, research, manufacturing, interconnection studies, and program support directed at municipalities and aggregators regarding long term contracts.
- Creates a new Clean Energy Investment Fund to advance clean energy research and technology, advance compliance with net zero goals, implement workforce development and training, and develop regional strategy for workforce development supporting infrastructure.
- Creates a clean energy equity workforce and market development program focused on training, educational and professional development, job placement, startup opportunities and grants to minority-owned business, underrepresented communities, residents of environmental justice and low-income communities, former fossil fuel industry workers, and recognized tribes within the Commonwealth. Funding is set at not less than $12,000,000 no later than December 31 each year.
- Requires DOER to evaluate energy storage system deployment targets and, with MassCEC, prepare a report by end of year on financing, incentives, and deployment and possible solicitation of up to 4,800 gigawatt hours of storage from renewable generation. The report is due December 31, 2023, and DOER is empowered to promulgate regulations and procure energy storage based upon study findings.
Electric Vehicles/Charging Infrastructure
- Creates an Electric Vehicle Adoption Trust Fund to codify the ongoing DOER electric vehicle rebate program with increased rebate levels and purchase price limit.
- Creates a Charging Infrastructure Deployment Fund and an intergovernmental coordinating council to implement an electric vehicle charging infrastructure deployment plan.
- Requires the Board of Building Regulations and Standards to amend the state building and electric code to include EV charging requirements.
- Restricts the sale of a new passenger car or light duty truck that is not a zero emissions vehicle by January 1, 2035, conditioned upon EEA certification that the same rule is in effect in California. If California adopts the rule earlier, the Department of Environmental Protection may adopt the same regulations.
- Requires the Department of Public Utilities Transportation Network Company Division to promulgate rideshare regulations relating to vehicle electrification and greenhouse gas emissions requirements.
- Provides for a rebate program for zero emissions vehicles.
- Removes cost-effectiveness determination and replaces it with comparison of cost savings to “required energy code requirements at the time of project permitting” or whether the project “meets another nationally-recognized building standard for energy performance” deemed appropriate by DOER.
- Creates a large building energy reporting requirement. “Large buildings” are those with at least 20,000 square feet of gross floor area, and “energy” includes electricity, natural gas, steam, hot or chilled water, heating oil, propane or other products designated by the department used for heating, cooling, lighting, industrial and manufacturing processes, water heating, cooking, clothes drying or other purposes. Electric, gas, and steam utilities will be required annually to report energy use by each large building with an account, and large building owners will be required to report all other energy use. This information will be published on a website by DOER on a building-specific basis. DOER is required to promulgate regulations to implement this reporting requirement by July 1, 2025.
- Establishes a demonstration project to allow ten municipalities to adopt general or zoning ordinances or by-laws restricting or prohibiting new building construction or major renovation projects that are not fossil fuel-free.
Electric Sector Modernization Plan
- Requires each electric distribution company to develop a detailed electric sector modernization plan to improve grid reliability and enable increased adoption of renewable energy, distributed energy resources, energy storage, and building and transportation electrification. The plans will cover three planning horizons: 5-year, 10-year, and 2050 and be subject to approval by the Department of Public Utilities.
Future of Gas
- Requires an adjudicatory hearing prior to approving operating plans submitted by local gas distribution companies as part of an ongoing DPU proceeding (DPU 80-20) evaluating the role of gas companies as part of the implementation of 2050 climate goals.
- DPU is required to evaluate the impact of rate design and remove impediments to “replacement of gas infrastructure with utility-scale non-emitting renewable thermal energy infrastructure.” As defined, “utility-scale non-emitting renewable thermal energy infrastructure” is “distribution infrastructure that supplies heating, or heating and cooling, from fuel sources whose combustion does not emit greenhouse gases.”
- Requires DOER to “coordinate with one or more New England states undertaking competitive solicitations” for clean energy generation, transmission, or capacity projects that are Class I RPS eligible and have a commercial operation date after January 1, 2022, and determine, by December 31, 2022, whether the projects meet certain criteria. Requires in the event DOER makes such a determination that the electric distribution companies enter into cost-effective long-term contracts, subject to review and approval by the DPU.
- Requires Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) to investigate and report by March 1, 2023, on “the advantages and disadvantages of using or participating in regional or multi-state market-based mechanisms, structures, systems or competitive solicitations to facilitate the development of clean energy generation resources.”
- Removes limitation on net metering Class 1 net metering facilities to permit any number of solar net metering facilities on the same parcel to receive net metering credits where (i) the net metering facilities are on a government-owned parcel up to an aggregate limit of 10 MW; (ii) the net metering facilities are on a parcel where all buildings are low or moderate income housing; (iii) each net metering facility is on a separate rooftop up to an aggregate limit of 2 MW on the single parcel; (iv) each net metering facility is on the same rooftop, each connected to a customer behind the meter, up to an aggregate of 10 MW; or (v) additional net metering facilities are installed not less than a year before the previous installed facility up to an aggregate of 2 MW.
- Establishes a commission to investigate and remove barriers to the further development of agrivoltaic projects. Agrivoltaic refers to dual operation of solar photovoltaic and agriculture on a single piece of land. A report is due no later than November 1, 2023.
- Provides that land may be used to site a renewable energy generating source that qualifies for a DOER solar incentive program for agricultural or horticultural sectors, and remain classified as used for agricultural or horticultural use for tax purposes, so long the renewable energy generating source does not impede that use of the land.
Massachusetts continues its leadership in the renewable energy space by expanding its programs to promote offshore wind and develop initiatives to enhance efficiency, storage, net metering, electrification, and other programs to limit the use of fossil fuels. We are happy to answer any questions or provide guidance on any element of the new law or the regulatory proceedings that the new law will require.