Baker-Polito Administration Announces $1 Million to Support Electrification of Vehicle Fleets

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Robert Fitzpatrick
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Apr 23, 2021 –

QUINCY – As part of its celebration of Earth Week in the Commonwealth, the Baker-Polito Administration today announced the availability of up to $1 million through a new program to support fleet managers as they plan for and procure medium- and heavy-duty (MHD) electric vehicle fleets. The funding, made available through the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s (MassCEC) new Vehicle Electrification Advisory Services for Fleets Pilot Program, will address a major barrier to fleet electrification by providing fleet managers with necessary technical services and promoting the use of Massachusetts Offers Rebates for Electric Vehicles (MOR-EV) Truck Program incentive funds. The program was announced by Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides, MassCEC CEO Stephen Pike, and state and local officials at Burgin Parkway in Quincy, part of the MBTA’s plan to modernize its bus fleet and facilities.

“As the impacts of climate change continue to emerge in our municipalities while disproportionately affecting our most vulnerable populations, the Commonwealth needs to pursue innovative public-private partnerships in order to address these challenges head on,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Clean transportation initiatives such as this new Fleet Advisory program will play a crucial role in advancing the electrification of vehicles fleets across the Commonwealth and mitigating health impacts related to air pollution in overburdened communities.”

“The Commonwealth has long been a hub for industry and innovation, supporting growing businesses across sectors, including the emerging clean transportation sector,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, “Our Administration is proud to continue that support as Massachusetts businesses help lead the charge towards a clean and equitable transportation future.”

MassCEC has released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Fleet Advisory program seeking applications from consultants or professionals with expertise in MHD fleet electrification planning and the electric vehicle market who will provide fleet analyses and recommendations for fleet managers interested in electrifying their vehicles. The Program aims to not only lower the overall vehicle costs of ownership and assist participating fleet managers through the conversion process, but also promote wide-scale market interest in fleet electrification and highlight ratepayer benefits associated with supporting fleets before and during electrification conversion.

“Transportation is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the Commonwealth, and in order to address this sector the state needs robust electric vehicle incentive programs to reach the Commonwealth’s emissions goals,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “MassCEC’s Fleet Advisory program along with the recent release of the MOR-EV Truck Program incentive funds provide financial support for electric vehicles that will help businesses begin to phase out diesel fleets across the state.”

“The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is committed to working with private companies such as those involved in today’s announcement, and with other Secretariats, elected leaders, municipal officials, non-profits, advocacy groups and the public in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Acting Transportation Secretary and CEO Jamey Tesler.  “I would like to thank Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito for their leadership as we seek the goal of zero emissions, and extend appreciation to our partners for their efforts, as it will take continued collaboration to encourage innovation in business models, to redesign infrastructure, and modernize fleets.”

“MassCEC is looking to bridge the gap between planning for and procuring electric fleets by stepping in to provide necessary technical services for the electrification process,” said MassCEC CEO Steve Pike. “These innovative fleet owners and operators will be at the forefront of the medium- and heavy-duty vehicle electrification market and MassCEC is excited to support them through the process.”

The event was held at Burgin Parkway in Quincy, part of the MBTA’s plan to modernize its bus fleet and facilities. In September 2020, MassCEC awarded $1.4 million in funding to nine clean transportation demonstration projects through the Accelerating Clean Transportation Now (ACTNow) Program, including a $200,000 grant awarded to Enel X North America to support the development of a new fleet electrification planning tool that will enable the MBTA to understand fleet electrification options at the new Quincy bus depot. The outcomes of this project will support the MBTA and other RTAs in their efforts to electrify entire bus fleets rapidly and cost effectively. Deployment of battery electric buses, especially in environmental justice communities such as Quincy, will improve air quality and reduce the climate impacts of the bus system. Electrification of bus fleets is a core component of building an equitable and clean transportation network that can meet the needs of essential workers and LMI populations.

Fleet electrification is an essential step in reaching Massachusetts’ climate, transportation, and equity goals. MHD fleets produce more than a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions from on-road vehicles, with a majority (71%) powered by diesel. These emissions also result in poor air quality and adverse public health outcomes, including asthma and other respiratory diseases. These impacts are felt most acutely in Environmental Justice communities and communities of color. The Commonwealth’s Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2030 (CECP) identifies pilot MHD electrification programs as a key strategy in reaching transportation emission goals within the next ten years. MassCEC’s Program aims to provide best practices for a successful medium- and heavy-duty vehicle electrification program model that can be replicated and scaled across the Commonwealth.

The CECP commits the Commonwealth to pursuing decarbonization strategies that also assist in closing the health and economic disparities experienced in Environmental Justice (EJ) communities and communities of color. In line with these goals, recruitment of fleets for the Program will emphasize both fleets that are located or operating in EJ communities and fleets that are owned or operated by historically underrepresented and under-served businesses, such as minority-, women-, and veteran-owned businesses or rural businesses.

“Given the significant public health challenges that climate change poses for vulnerable communities, the MOR-EV Trucks Program made additional incentive funds available for fleets operating in Environmental Justice communities,” said Department of Energy Resources (DOER) Commissioner Patrick Woodcock. “The emphasis on health impacts and underrepresented fleets in MassCEC’s Program will further incentivize fleets in Environmental Justice communities to electrify and utilize MOR-EV Trucks funding.”

“As Massachusetts continues to be a leader the energy transition, fleet electrification will be critical in reducing emissions, particularly within communities disproportionately impacted by transportation emissions,” said Surya Panditi, President and CEO, Enel X North America. “Projects like the MBTA’s bus fleet electrification in Quincy demonstrates the success of public-private partnerships in accelerating the clean energy transition to drive economic growth and support job creation across the Commonwealth.”

“Thanks to the Legislature’s Next Generation Roadmap bill and funding for initiatives at MassCEC, Massachusetts is on the path to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050,” said Speaker of the House Ronald J. Mariano (D - Quincy). “As a lifetime Quincy Point resident, I have worked hard to protect our communities most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, such as sea-level rise and air pollution, and to promote environmental justice. Along with our nation-leading climate laws, our initiatives to grow our clean energy workforce, and efforts to incentivize renewable energy sources, Massachusetts is taking bold actions to protect our planet for future generations.”

“The electrification of the MBTA bus fleet moves the Commonwealth towards a more sustainable future, and the collaboration of all partners, both those within and outside of my district, speaks to the widespread support of these efforts,” said State Senator John Keenan (D - Quincy). “MassCEC’s new Fleet Electrification Advisory Program demonstrates the agency’s commitment to economic and environmental justice in the Commonwealth.”

"Quincy has one of the oldest bus fleets in the MBTA and operates on outdated technology,” said State Representative Tackey Chan (D - Quincy). “This investment to provide important technical assistance will bring us one step closer to bringing 21st century public transportation to the South Shore."

Technical consultant applications for MassCEC’s Vehicle Electrification Advisory Services for Fleets Pilot Program are due to MassCEC by June 14, 2021. Fleet analyses are anticipated to begin in Fall 2021, however fleets interested in participating can find more information about the Program here and may reach out to CleanTransportation@MassCEC.com.

During this year’s Earth Week in Massachusetts, the Baker-Polito Administration is highlighting its commitment to supporting the Commonwealth’s Environmental Justice communities, and ensuring that all residents are protected from environmental pollution can enjoy a clean and healthy environment. During Earth Week, the Administration is holding events throughout the Commonwealth spotlighting important initiatives, including the expansion of tree planting through the Greening the Gateway Cities Program, increasing access to healthy, nutritious food by supporting urban farms, and ensuring clean water by providing grant funding to local municipalities.

On March 26, 2021, Governor Baker signed comprehensive climate change legislation that includes nation-leading provisions related to Environmental Justice. Recognizing the significant impact of climate change on Environmental Justice communities overburdened by poor air quality and disproportionately high levels of pollution, the legislation statutorily defines Environmental Justice and environmental burdens, including climate change as an environmental burden. The legislation also expands Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) review to require an Environmental Impact Report for all projects that impact air quality within one mile of an Environmental Justice Neighborhood, and requires the Department of Environmental Protection to conduct a stakeholder process to develop a cumulative impact analysis as a condition of permitting certain projects. This change would, for the first time, require the agency to evaluate not just individual project impacts but also historic environmental pollution throughout the community through the permit process.