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Programs Follow Release of Inter-Secretariat Working Group Report

BOSTON – April 20, 2017 – The Baker-Polito Administration today announced a suite of six new programs aimed at increasing affordable access to clean energy and energy efficiency programs. The programs build upon the efforts of the Affordable Access to Clean and Efficient Energy Final Working Group Report, also released today, and are the final component of the Baker-Polito Administration’s $15 million Affordable Access to Clean and Efficient Energy (AACEE) Initiative. The announcement was made by Governor Baker at a tour of a Newton Housing Authority complex that has been upgraded with clean energy technologies as part of the Commonwealth’s Earth Week celebration.

“These new programs will allow for more low-income families in Massachusetts to access more affordable clean energy,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The report shows continued collaboration across state government is crucial to the Commonwealth building upon the success we have achieved in reducing the energy burden for low-income communities.”

“This kind of collaboration between state agencies and regional and municipal partners on the front lines of clean and efficient energy across the Commonwealth will effectively help families gain access to clean energy technology,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “This suite of programs will help unleash the full potential of Massachusetts’ clean energy programs by expanding access at all economic levels.”

Among the programs launched today is Affordable Clean Residential Energy (ACRE), which seeks to fund six awards for up to a total of $3 million to nonprofits that serve low income residents focusing on housing or supplying energy services. The awards aim to provide lifetime energy cost savings of up to $4.5 million for low income residents by funding programs that support the installation of solar electric and air-source heat pump systems in homes that contain one to four housing units. Further, the Department of Energy Resources’ (DOER) Green Communities Division will offer Affordable Access Regional Coordination (AARC) grants to Regional Planning Authorities and Councils of Government to build in-house expertise around energy efficiency and clean energy through programs that provide training, education, and coordination services to municipal or community organizations that support low income populations.

“The Baker-Polito Administration is committed to working across municipal, state, and federal agencies to break down barriers to affordable, clean energy and maximize program impact for Massachusetts’ residents,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “DOER continues to lead the charge to ensure that residents across the Commonwealth have local access to clean and efficient energy technologies.”

In order to build upon the intergovernmental cooperation that is the cornerstone of the AACEE, DOER will continue to work with the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to identify and support renewable energy improvements in state-sponsored public housing that provide significant energy savings for the Commonwealth’s housing authorities.

“The Commonwealth continues to be a national leader in solar installations and energy efficiency programs, but our efforts will only continue to be successful if all residents have access to the same clean energy opportunities,” said Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Judith Judson. “As DOER works to implement our next solar incentive program, the efforts of AACEE initiative focus our efforts on expanding access to more residents to increase their energy savings.”

“Our administration is committed to collaboration, and this working group is creating exciting new programs that work across agencies to improve the quality of life of low-income residents,” said Undersecretary of Housing and Community Development Chrystal Kornegay. “Ensuring low-income residents can access reliable, low-cost clean energy is a benefit to the community, the environment and working families across the Commonwealth.”

DOER is also announcing the Zero-Energy Modular Affordable Housing Initiative (ZE-MAHI) grant program, which will help Massachusetts achieve significant replicable improvements in the energy performance of mobile and manufactured housing in the Commonwealth through the replacement of existing manufactured homes with new modular zero energy housing.

“By expanding access to clean energy resources for residents across the Commonwealth, we are able to increase adoption and grow the state’s renewable energy portfolio,” said MassCEC CEO Stephen Pike. “This program will increase options for low-income families to access clean, renewable energy, providing new opportunities to meet their energy needs with innovative, cost-effective solutions.”

DOER recently released the final design for the Commonwealth’s next solar incentive program, Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target or SMART. SMART will continue Massachusetts’ nation leading solar growth with widespread access for all ratepayers, including low income residents and community shared solar. Once a new solar incentive has been approved and goes into effect, DOER will provide a $300,000 competitive grant for a low income community shared solar project that demonstrates an effective project design and use of the new incentive.

“Massachusetts has been the most energy efficient state in the nation for the past six years,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Marc R. Pacheco (D-Taunton), founding chair of the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change. “Making it easier for folks of all income levels to take advantage of new technologies and more sustainable programs makes sense not only for our environment, but our economy as well. We need to do all we can to keep our energy bills low, and this grant program will help many more residents take advantage of a clean energy future.”

“I applaud the Baker-Polito Administration for expanding opportunities for low-income families across the state to utilize cost-saving clean energy technologies like solar panels and heat pump water heaters,” said State Representative Thomas A. Golden, Jr., Chairman of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy. “Under the leadership of Speaker DeLeo and Governor Baker, we have made great strides towards our shared goals of energy efficiency, clean energy jobs, and emissions reductions for Massachusetts.”

In addition to the many programs released today, DOER is also releasing an RFI to develop a whole building incentive program for multifamily subsidized affordable housing. The whole building incentive program will identify demonstration project opportunities and support energy- and cost-saving solutions that utilize both energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.

Governor Baker continued the Administration’s commitment to preparing for and combatting climate change by signing an Executive Order which lays out a comprehensive approach to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, safeguards residents, municipalities and businesses from the impacts of climate change, and build a more resilient Commonwealth. The Executive Order emphasizes the importance of intergovernmental cooperation and public-private partnerships to the overall mission of combatting climate change.

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