Published on January 22nd, 2014 | by Silvio Marcacci1
Massachusetts Invests $50 Million In Grid, Coastal Climate Resiliency
The impacts of rising sea levels, temperatures, and extreme weather keep adding up for America’s communities, but real action at the federal and international level keep getting pushed off to a later date – so what are local officials left to do?
If you’re Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, the answer is pretty simple: Invest $50 million into a climate resiliency plan to address current and future impacts of a warming planet on his state’s economy and residents.
Coming just six months after Maryland’s groundbreaking climate change action plan was unveiled, Massachusetts’ forward-looking action highlights a growing trend of state and local elected officials taking the climate fight into their own hands.
First, Boost Grid Resiliency Against Extreme Weather
Governor Patrick’s plan focuses on strengthening the state’s power grid against the rising tide of extreme weather. $40 million of the total plan will go directly into a municipal resilience grant program administered by the state Department of Energy Resources that funds clean energy technologies to harden energy services and boost distributed generation.
In addition to adding clean power generation across the grid, Massachusetts’ Department of Public Utilities will coordinate efforts to harden the state’s electricity transmission and distribution system against extreme weather while deploying new microgrid systems.
This may all sound like it’ll cost taxpayers a pretty penny, but the grid resiliency efforts will be paid by retail electricity suppliers operating in Massachusetts who aren’t able to meet their compliance obligations under the state’s renewable portfolio standard. These Alternative Compliance Payments will fully fund the grid hardening effort and hold taxpayers harmless.
Second, Protect Coastal Communities And Public Health
But Massachusetts’ climate resiliency efforts won’t just focus on the power grid. The remaining $10 million will come from existing capital funds and be split among projects to repair dams and coastal infrastructure damaged by extreme weather in recent years, including two separate $1 million grant programs to address sea level rise along the coast and fund green infrastructure coastal resilience pilot projects.
State agencies will also work to create best practices and resources to share among local officials. The state’s Department of Public Health will work to identify additional issues local government should consider, boost training, analyze the spread of diseases resulting from warmer temperatures, and assess vulnerable water infrastructure. $2 million in additional funding proposed in the state’s fiscal year 2015 budget will cover these interagency efforts.
From Clean Energy Leader To Climate Leader
The Bay State has already become a national model for how to build a successful green economy by growing green jobs 11.8% in 2013 alone, ranking first in the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s national ranking of statewide energy efficiency for three consecutive years, and crushing its own solar power goals.
But with this plan, Massachusetts joins the vanguard of local governments working to protect their communities even if the federal government won’t. “We have a generational responsibility to address the multiple threats of climate change,” said Governor Patrick. “Massachusetts need to be ready, and our plan will make sure that we are.”