Testimony on An Act relative to GreenWorks
Updated: Sep 27, 2019
Dear Chairs Golden and Barrett,
Thank you for the opportunity to testify on H.3846, better known as the “GreenWorks” bill. I appreciate Chair Golden’s and the Speaker’s leadership in recognizing the need for bold and putting forward this bill dealing with climate adaptation and mitigation as well as the local impact of climate change.
My primary comment is that the mitigation portion of the bill is minimally funded compared to the adaptation portion. This bill should balance the opportunity for communities to invest in mitigation projects, ideally by increasing the funding for each line item set forth in the bill.
Under section 9300-8000, the bill sets aside $100 million for matching microgrid grants. Assuming each small microgrid project costs about $2 million (1), that would provide 100 communities with microgrid infrastructure or 100 microgrid projects across a small number of communities. Ideally we would want to see multiple microgrid projects across areas that are regularly hit with power outages (especially rural regions of the Commonwealth) and near facilities that cannot lose power such as hospitals. In order to facilitate this type of need across the next decade, we would need to double this kind of funding. Moreover, most municipalities would struggle to find $1 million in matching funds for this type of project (especially particularly vulnerable environmental justice communities), so it would be essential to reduce the match for cities and towns and provide additional funding from the Commonwealth.
In section 9300-8001, the bill states that not less than $25 million shall be expended on fleet electrification; at an approximation of $50k per vehicle, that funding level purchases 500 vehicles. Recognizing that Massachusetts has a goal of getting 300,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2025, we should be investing in electrification of publicly owned fleets at a much more significant level. Based on data from rebates under the MOR-EV program, we would have to sustain 90% year-over-year growth to meet that goal of 300,000 EVs. With our state incentives for personal electric vehicles shrinking or even expiring due to lack of funding, we need to provide robust funding for municipal projects to get even close to this goal.
In section 9300-8002, the bill states that $20 million is set aside for sustainability coordinator grant program. My home municipality of Framingham just hired a sustainability coordinator at a salary of around $80,000. Considering the overhead multiplier of 1.25, that’s about $100,000. That would provide 200 job years for sustainability coordinators, or less than 100 grants under this program that would support a sustainability coordinator for two to three years. In addition, if the role of this coordinator is to facilitate projects under Section 3 of the bill, those projects are likely to take more than two to three years. In order to facilitate the construction or coordination of a major project, it would require longer-term investment in a sustainability coordinator role, which many municipalities cannot afford.
If the goal of this bill is to provide robust climate adaptation AND mitigation, we need to provide adequate funding and expand the types of projects available for funding. Otherwise we will continue to spend billions of dollars for near-term damages. Our municipalities need additional assistance in fighting climate change, and this bill, while laudable in its efforts, only scratches the surface. I urge the committee to consider expanding the scope of this bill to include additional mitigation options and associated funding.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with questions or concerns.
cc: Vice Chair Carolyn Dykema; Vice Chair Marc Pacheco