The Baker-Polito Administration announced that the members of Massachusetts’ first-in-the-nation Commission on Clean Heat were sworn in, helping to advance the Commonwealth’s ambitious goals to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions in the buildings sector. The Commission, which was created via Executive Order 596, held its first meeting on Wednesday, January 12, 2022, and over the next year will advise the Administration as it works to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2050. The Commission membership, representing a wide range of backgrounds and expertise including affordable housing, energy efficient building design and construction, health care and real estate, will identify policies and strategies and recommend a framework to achieve emissions reductions that is well-balanced, affordable, and equitable.
“This Commission brings together a diverse, experienced and thoughtful group of experts and stakeholders to help our Administration develop the policies and strategies we will need to meet the challenges associated with decarbonizing the buildings sector in Massachusetts,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The membership of the Commission on Clean Heat represents a variety of important perspectives that will be critical in the development of balanced, forward-thinking approaches to decarbonization that prioritize innovation, affordability, and equity as we make this transition.”
“We thank the new members of the Commission on Clean Heat for their willingness to take on this important work on behalf of the Commonwealth,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “As the Commission on Clean Heat begins this vital work, our Administration will also ensure ample opportunities for members of the public to fully participate and contribute in the process as we work to reduce emissions from heating fuels in a way that is both effective and affordable.”
Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Kathleen Theoharides has appointed EEA Undersecretary of Energy and Climate Solutions Judy Chang to serve as her designee and chair of the Commission, and its membership reflects a diversity of perspectives and backgrounds from outside stakeholders, including representatives from the fields of affordable housing, energy efficient building design and construction, healthcare, heating system design and technology, real estate, and heating fuel distribution.
“The Commission on Clean Heat will bring together stakeholders to take on our most pressing emissions reduction challenges in the building sector through a collaborative, inclusive approach,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “Gathering these voices and perspectives from technical experts, the affordable housing community, business leaders, environmental organizations, and major industries in the Commonwealth, will enable our continued, nation-leading pursuit of the equitable, creative strategies we need to meet our ambitious climate targets.”
“This groundbreaking Commission begins its work with a membership that represents the diversity of voices required to identify recommendations to achieve the Commonwealth’s emission reduction, housing, and economic development goals,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “We are grateful to the Commission members for investing the time necessary to do this important work and I look forward to the group’s recommendations.”
The Commission on Clean Heat will meet regularly to work on developing policy recommendations, which are due to Governor Baker by Wednesday, November 30, 2022. The policies developed by the Commission will seek to sustainably reduce the use of heating fuels and minimize emissions from the building sector while ensuring costs and opportunities arising from such reductions are distributed equitably. The Commission on Clean Heat will also hold public stakeholder meetings throughout the year, with the first to be scheduled in March, 2022. Dates and times for the public stakeholder meetings, as well as additional opportunities for public input, will be announced on the Commission on Clean Heat webpage.
“Climate leadership over the next decade will require a fundamental transition in how we heat and cool our homes and buildings,” said Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Patrick Woodcock. “While we move forward with accelerating the aggressive deployment of energy efficiency and heat pumps this first-in-the-nation commission on clean heat will identify the next generation of cost-effective and equitable policies that yield deep building sector decarbonization across the Commonwealth.”
In March 2021, Governor Baker signed nation-leading climate legislation that commits the Commonwealth to reducing emissions below 1990 levels by 50% by 2030, 75% by 2040, and to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2050. The Commission on Clean Heat’s recommendations will aid the state in its efforts to meet these emissions targets. For more information on the Commission members, please visit the Commission on Clean Heat’s webpage.
The Executive Order signed by Governor Baker in September, 2021 also establishes an Interagency Building Decarbonization Task Force to support the work of the Commission. The Task Force will consist of subject-matter experts from across the Executive Branch, including the Department of Energy Resources and the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development.
In October 2021, the Energy Efficiency Advisory Council unanimously voted to approve the 2022-2024 statewide Three-Year Energy Efficiency Plan. The plan represents a transformational shift of the Mass Save programs to better align with the Commonwealth’s ambitious climate requirements and focus on increasing participation in environmental justice communities across the state. In July, EEA Secretary Theoharides set ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals for the 2022-2024 Mass Save Plan. In aggregate, the investments made through the electric and gas plans in 2022-20224 will need to deliver 845,000 tons of emissions reduction towards our 2030 GHG limit. It is anticipated that Mass Save will achieve the GHG emission reduction goals by increasing the number of buildings retrofitted and weatherized each year, making significant investment in electrification of existing buildings to transition customers away from fossil fuels, reducing support for fossil-fuel heating incentives, phasing out LED light-bulb incentives, increasing equitable program investments in environmental justice communities and low-moderate income households, and increasing workforce development investments to expand diversity in the workforce. It’s estimated that this plan will provide an $13 billion in benefits to the Commonwealth. This plan was submitted to the DPU on November 1, 2021 and can be approved by the Department as early as January 31, 2022.