House Unanimously Passes $1.3 Billion for Community Climate Resiliency Projects

Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante (D-Gloucester) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives to unanimously 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, such as funds for municipalities to hire climate adaptation and coastal resiliency planners.

Massachusetts became the national leader in the life science and biotechnology industries in large part because of a $1 billion investment by the state legislature. This bill is similar in nature and could propel Massachusetts as a leader in green technology and infrastructure jobs for years to come.

“GreenWorks builds on a long-standing House approach to provide concrete tools directly to cities and towns that result in both immediate and long-lasting positive effects,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, (D-Winthrop).  “This forward-looking investment helps Massachusetts cities and towns build resilient communities, lower long-term operating costs and cut greenhouse gases while creating jobs for workers across the Commonwealth.” 

“Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges we are facing on Cape Ann,” said Ferrante. “During the fierce storms in January and March of 2018, we saw the Essex Causeway flooded, the Gloucester High School football field completely submerged, and Bearskin Neck in Rockport pummeled by the Atlantic Ocean. These events confirmed many of our beliefs that major investments were needed in our communities to plan for solutions to rising sea levels and more intense storms.”

Modeled after the state’s MassWorks program, 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 from 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 

“This is one piece of legislation among several intended to ensure that Massachusetts is taking substantial action toward addressing climate change and coastal resiliency adaptation,” Ferrante added. “I anticipate that additional legislation will be passed this session that will demonstrate that the Commonwealth is taking as many steps as possible to remain the national leader in addressing climate change and creating green technology and infrastructure jobs.”

The bill will now go to the Senate.