MA Agency’s Budget Request to Focus on Clean Energy Plan

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The multi-pronged series of short- and long-range goals in place in Massachusetts’ clean energy and climate plan will serve as a bedrock for one agency’s fiscal year 2024 budget, according to officials.

The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Ways and Means on March 27 held a lengthy series of hearings on the state’s upcoming fiscal year 2024 budget---the first under Gov. Maura Healey and Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll. The session was held at an offsite location, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

Much of the hearing focused on anticipated spending within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, the state agency doing much of the heavy lifting on carrying out the 2025, 2030 and 2050 benchmarks outlined in the plan.

“We must begin the hard work of making all of the goals and plans a reality,” EOEEA Secretary Rebecca Tepper said as she outlined a series of $40 million spending initiatives.

The clean energy and climate plan outlines a series of benchmarks and initiatives aimed at limiting emissions and decarbonizing energy across the state to achieve net zero greenhouse gas production by 2050.

The office’s upcoming fiscal year 2024 budget includes several big-picture initiatives to chip away at the goal, Tepper said, including a $5 million package of incentives to help individual households and businesses transition from natural gas to electricity.

That specific budget proposal includes financial incentives to nudge statewide energy consumers toward electric vehicle charging stations, heat pumps and other equipment to get the transition underway.

Massachusetts reportedly has identified 18 different types of buildings throughout the state. Tepper said blueprints on how to most effectively electrify and decarbonize each category are being formulated.

A portion of the budget also will go toward job training and skills development in clean energy fields---most notably, offshore wind.

“We are in a race against time to meet these goals,” Tepper said. “Job training takes time. We must make these investments now.”

The eradication of PFAS chemicals within Massachusetts’ waterways and other natural areas also bubbled to the surface during the testimony. Funds have been appropriated within the proposed fiscal year 2024 EOEEA budget for testing, research and treatment mitigation.

PFAS---or as it more technically is known, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances---is man-made and noted for its inability to break down upon disposal. PFAS chemicals are used in such disparate products as non-stick cookware, children’s toys and firefighting foams.

Throughout a question-and-answer session between Tepper, other members within her cabinet, and the legislators on the Committee on Ways and Means, there were a number of questions about the execution of some of the assorted initiatives.

State Sen. Michael O. Moore, D-Millbury, inquired how the office would address the installation of electric vehicle charging stations across the state as the number of motorists transitioning to the new mode of transportation increases.

“It’s got to be done in a way that our constituents aren’t unduly hurt by this,” Moore said.

In response, Tepper said, “That goes back to electric and gas planning. That starts with having a plan for what we’ll need.”

We thank The Center Square for reprint permission.

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