Massachusetts has long been at the national forefront for its ambitious climate and clean energy goals. The state’s educational and high-tech industry has driven technological innovation and inspired other states to make similar commitments. Acadia Center has been a leading climate and clean energy voice in Massachusetts. Our work has led to policies and programs that directly contributed to Massachusetts taking a leadership role on energy efficiency investments. We have worked to advance clean energy growth through offshore wind procurements and have influenced numerous climate goals adopted by the state, shored up Massachusetts leadership in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and are working in partnerships and coalitions to advance reforms to the state’s transportation and energy systems. In 2020, the Baker administration announced an update to the state’s 2050 carbon reduction goal, changing the goal to net-zero. That requirement was codified into law in 2021 when Baker signed the Next Generation Climate Roadmap bill.
With Acadia Center’s leadership, this sweeping legislation instituted a number of groundbreaking climate change programs & policies, such as codifying a definition for environmental justice into law, requiring the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to consider equity and climate change program goals in its decisions, and boosting offshore wind procurement figures. As Massachusetts implements this law and embarks on the road to net zero, Acadia Center will continue to provide cutting-edge data and policy analysis and thought leadership to state agencies developing energy policies to reach the net-zero target.
In 2020, the Baker administration updated the state’s 2050 carbon reduction goal to net-zero and released the Clean Energy and Climate Plan (CECP) for 2030. With the passage of the Next-Generation Climate Roadmap law in March 2021, the state’s climate plan will be based on a stringent, science-based 50% economy-wide emissions reduction target for 2030 and targets for all major carbon-emitting sectors. As Massachusetts embarks on the road to net zero, Acadia Center will provide cutting-edge data and policy analysis and thought leadership to state agencies developing energy policies to reach the 2050 net-zero target.
Massachusetts’s energy efficiency programs rose to a ranking of #1 in the nation for almost a decade since the enactment of provisions in the Green Communities Act that Acadia Center initiated. These programs have produced significant economic, health and emissions-reductions benefits. Acadia Center has served on the Energy Efficiency Advisory Council (EEAC), including as a member of the Executive Council, since it was founded. The DPU is currently reviewing the state’s Three-Year Energy Plan, and Acadia Center worked to ensure the strongest possible standards in the plan. Acadia Center is at the forefront of the efforts to continually raise the bar for program performance; is currently seeking to improve program delivery to low- and moderate-income and language-isolated residents who have more obstacles to accessing the benefits of the energy efficiency programs; expand program services to embrace whole-house electrification; and ensure that the programs do even more to reduce climate and air pollutants and benefit all consumers.
In Massachusetts, over 65% of the energy used by buildings comes from fossil fuels. Unfortunately, roughly 85% of the residential buildings that are expected to exist in 2050 have already been built. These two aspects of the building stock in Massachusetts signal the need for large-scale investment in programs to retrofit, weatherize, and replace fossil fuels use in these buildings.
Acadia Center is advocating for policies that will lead to investments in home weatherization and electrification of heat, hot water and stoves. Acadia Center has advanced building electrification by leveraging its leadership role on the Energy Efficiency Advisory Council. Examples include updating the standard definition of cost effectiveness to account for contributions to carbon goals and ending incentives for fossil-fueled heating system upgrades. Electrifying buildings will avoid investments in fossil gas infrastructure that could lock in energy use patterns for decades to come. Our research supports this concept; building upon technological advances in heat pumps, water heaters, and induction cooking appliances have made fossil fuel combustion obsolete in buildings. Acadia Center is also actively participating in DPU Docket 20-80, which requires Massachusetts to plan for what role natural gas will play in our energy and heating mix going forward.
Meeting Massachusetts’ ambitious climate targets will require substantial emission reductions from the transportation sector, which is responsible for nearly 40% of the state’s emissions. Acadia Center’s work to deliver a cleaner and more equitable transportation system involves replacing polluting fuels with electric-powered transportation, improving public transit and other alternative mobility options, and putting a price on tailpipe pollution to help fund much-needed transportation investments. As a member of the state’s Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Commission, Acadia Center is advocating for Massachusetts to adopt a suite of clean, modern transportation policies.
Environmental officials in Massachusetts have identified the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), an innovative regional cap-and-invest program that would apply a nominal carbon price on transportation fuels and reinvest proceeds into clean transportation and mobility strategies like vehicle electrification, transit improvements, and bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure, as necessary to meeting the state’s climate target. While Governor Baker has decided to pause the state’s work on TCI in 2022, the policy still offers a ready-made option to reduce vehicle pollution and support equitable investment in the clean transportation future. Without TCI, Massachusetts will need to identify alternative measures to deliver emission reductions and sustainable funding sources, while accelerating action to support transportation and climate justice. Acadia Center and our partners remain committed to advancing the goals of the program.
Clean Power & Utility Innovation
Acadia Center plays a leading role in Massachusetts’ efforts to increase the use of renewable energy resources such as offshore wind and rooftop and large-scale solar. Acadia Center has successfully advocated for Massachusetts’ ambitious clean energy policies including the expansion of solar policies and clean energy procurements from offshore wind and other renewable sources as a means for reaching the state’s carbon reduction goals. As stated earlier, Acadia Center’s advocacy helped ensure an additional procurement of offshore resources in the Next Generation Climate Roadmap bill.
Acadia Center’s clean energy advocacy also includes participating in regulatory proceedings at the DPU with the goal of reforming the traditional utility business model in order to put customers’ needs first and transform the electricity grid to a modern system that can support an electrified, low-carbon economy.
Acadia Center’s work in Massachusetts is centered on fully transitioning away from fossil gas, which produces nearly 40% of the state’s GHG emissions and poses major human health and climate risks. Natural gas is an extremely explosive fuel, and Massachusetts residents have learned from tragic experience about its dangers. A disastrous series of explosions and fires in the Merrimack Valley in September 2018 caused a fatality, numerous injuries, extensive property damage, and extended disruptions which cost more than $1 billion and cost the gas distribution company its franchise. Front line communities in Lawrence suffered extensive displacement and losses that linger today. Beyond the safety issues, natural gas distribution infrastructure is also expensive and dangerous to repair, leaving Massachusetts residents vulnerable to supply disruptions, price shocks, and heating outages.
In Massachusetts, Acadia Center is currently an organizer, member, partner or supporter of the following groups or coalitions (and many other ad hoc collaborative efforts):
- Alliance for Clean Energy Solutions (ACES)
- Avoided Energy Supply Costs Study (AESCS) Group
- Beyond Gas Coalition
- Global Warming Solutions Project (GWSP)
- Implementation Advisory Committee (IAC) to the MA EEA
- Massachusetts Offshore Wind Power Coalition
- Northeast Smart Heat Collaborative
- Transportation for Massachusetts (T4MA) Coalition
- Massachusetts Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI) Table
- Massachusetts Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Coalition
- Massachusetts Power Forward (MPF)
- Massachusetts Campaign for a Clean Energy Future