Sweeping Climate Bill Includes Four Amendments Sponsored by Sen. Keenan

For Immediate Release: 4-19-22
Contact: Peter Jasinski | peter.jasinski@masenate.gov

BOSTON – During its April 14 formal session, the Massachusetts Senate approved sweeping climate legislation that included provisions filed by Sen. John F. Keenan to put electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at public transportation parking lots and to improve the Commonwealth’s EV rebate program.

An Act Driving Climate Policy Forward, also known as the Drive Act, covers a variety of climate-related issues including transportation, clean energy, and housing infrastructure with the aim of achieving the Commonwealth’s ambitious goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

“An expansive crisis like climate change necessitates expansive legislation like the bill we approved by an overwhelming 37-3 vote. No matter where we live, what we drive, or where we work, our planet’s changing climate impacts us all in so many ways,” said Sen. John F. Keenan. “With the passage of this legislation, we will put our Commonwealth on track for a greener, brighter future.”

Sen. Keenan filed seven amendments to the bill, four of which the Senate approved.

To complement the bill’s provision to install EV charging stations along the Massachusetts Turnpike, Sen. Keenan filed an amendment to have additional charging stations installed in the parking lots of at least 11 transportation hubs including commuter rail, subway, and ferry. The placement of these charging ports will help to protect our environment by encouraging more commuters to use public transportation. While the exact locations of the charging ports are yet to be determined, they must all be installed by July 1, 2023.

Sen. Keenan also filed an amendment to include municipally-owned higher education institutions to the list of public institutions eligible for grants through the state’s Green Jobs Initiative. The grant program provides funding to state public institutions of higher education looking to facilitate workforce development efforts to train and retain students in clean energy industries. The adoption of this amendment will particularly benefit Quincy College students, who otherwise would not have been eligible to participate in the initiative.

The Drive Act also seeks to increase electric vehicle ownership by enhancing rebates to Massachusetts residents buying new and used EVs. To protect taxpayers, Sen. Keenan filed an amendment, which the Senate adopted, prohibiting buyers of used electric vehicles from getting rebates unless the prior owner had kept the vehicle for at least two years. The amendment would also provide an additional $1500 rebate to low-income purchasers of EVs.

The fourth amendment filed by Sen. Keenan that the Senate adopted would add a representative with public-health expertise to the Commonwealth’s Stakeholder Working Group to Align Gas System Enhancement Plans.

In order for the Senate bill, including Sen. Keenan’s amendments, to become law, the Senate and House of Representatives must agree on a consensus bill that in turn would be sent to the Governor for his approval.

Clean Energy

Around 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Massachusetts come from power plants that fuel the energy grid, making support for clean energy alternatives necessary to meet the Commonwealth’s goal of having net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Acknowledging the importance of growing the Commonwealth’s green economy, this bill allocates $100 million to a Clean Energy Investment Fund to support infrastructure development in the clean energy industry.

To assist with the financial viability of offshore wind energy projects, this legislation updates the procurement process for new offshore wind energy investments to ensure that the Commonwealth receives as many competitive bids as possible, that all projects maximize equitable economic development opportunities, that environmental impacts are mitigated, and that ratepayers are protected throughout the process.

The bill also increases the flexibility of offshore wind developers by adjusting the existing price cap for offshore wind projects, allowing for price increases of up to 10 per cent of the previous procurement. It also requires that any increase in price must be the result of economic development investments for low- and middle-income populations and diversity, equity and inclusion programs. This crucial change will protect ratepayers from significant price increases, and ensure that offshore wind investments support equitable economic development in the Commonwealth.

To support the advancement of solar power, the bill permits agricultural and horticultural land to be used to site solar panels, eliminates the so-called ‘donut hole’ for on-site solar energy net metering to promote residential solar; and requires the Department of Energy Resources to make recommendations for the successor program to the current SMART solar incentive program.

The bill addresses fusion and geothermal power by amending Massachusetts law to ensure that the state can consider potential options for the development of safe, clean energy sources. Acknowledging the harmful health and environmental impacts of biomass facilities, this legislation removes biomass from the list of energy-generating sources that are allowed to receive state incentives for clean energy. To ensure that the Commonwealth has adequate storage systems to accommodate all the clean energy that Massachusetts will be adding to its energy

portfolio, this bill directs a study of how to optimize the deployment of long-term energy storage systems.


As the transportation sector is the largest source of fuel emissions in Massachusetts, the bill takes steps to encourage the use of electric vehicles, including codifying into statute, expanding, and allocating $100 million for the state’s MOR-EV electric vehicle incentive program, which provides rebates to individuals who purchase electric vehicles.

For the first time, rebates provided through the MOR-EV program will be administered at the point of sale, rather than through a rebate that can take up to 90 days to receive. The bill also makes used vehicles eligible for rebates.

Further, the bill directs the Department of Energy Resources to conduct an outreach campaign to promote awareness about the MOR-EV program among consumers and businesses in underserved and low-income communities, as well as in communities with high proportions of high-emission vehicles.

To expand access to electric vehicle charging stations, this bill convenes an interagency coordinating council to develop and implement a charging infrastructure deployment plan and allocates $50 million to this coordinating council to deploy charging infrastructure in an equitable and comprehensive manner.

The Department of Public Utilities would set vehicle electrification and greenhouse gas emission requirements for electric vehicle companies. In addition, to ensure that zero-emission vehicle charging remains affordable for consumers, the bill requires all electricity companies to submit proposals to the Department of Public Utilities for how they will offer reduced electricity rates for consumers who charge their zero-emission vehicles at off-peak times.

Finally, the bill takes historic steps to address emissions that come from MBTA bus fleets. Starting in 2028, this bill would require every passenger bus that is purchased or leased by the MBTA to be a zero-emission vehicle. By the end of 2040, the MBTA would be required to operate exclusively zero-emission vehicles. Underserved and low-income communities would be prioritized for the equitable deployment of these zero-emission buses.

Amendments addressing transportation adopted during the debate include those to:

  • Require the Commonwealth to examine historic and present participation of low- and moderate-income households in the MOR-EV program and recommend strategies to reduce disparities in uptake
  • Require the MBTA to develop and implement short-, medium-, and long-term plans for electrifying the commuter rail fleet, with new purchase of diesel locomotives to be phased out in the coming years
  • Require MassDOT to assist Regional Transit Authorities in creating an Electric Bus Rollout Plan for transitioning to zero-emission bus fleets
  • Direct the state to prepare a report on the estimated cost of converting school buses to zero-emission vehicles, as well as recommendations on how to structure a state incentive program for replacing school buses


To tackle the difficult issue of emissions from the building sector, the bill creates a 10- municipality demonstration project allowing all-electric building construction by local option. Participating municipalities must receive local approval before applying into the demonstration project.

The Drive Act makes targeted enhancements to the Mass Save program, which provides rebates and incentives for owners and renters related to efficient appliances and other home energy improvements. Under the bill, priority for Mass Save projects will be given to those that maximize net climate, environmental, and equity impacts. Beginning in 2025, Mass Save funds will also be limited in most instances from going to any fossil fuel equipment.

Amendments adopted during the debate relating to buildings include those to:

  • Require utility companies to report to the Commonwealth annually the total amount of natural gas and electricity used by large buildings over 25,000 square feet, and for the Commonwealth to make the data publicly available on a building-by-building basis
  • Require the Commonwealth to consider the historic and present participation of low- and middle-income households, including renter households, in the Mass Save program, and provide recommendations to promote equitable access and reduce disparities in uptake
  • Direct electric and gas distribution companies to collect and report on data related to ratepayer bills in communities that are involved in the demonstration project, as well as those who are not