Baker-Polito Administration Announces $1.4 Million in Funding for Clean Transportation Projects

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Matthew Mogavero

BOSTON- The Baker-Polito Administration today announced $1.4 million in funding to support nine clean transportation demonstration projects. The funding, which comes from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s (MassCEC) Accelerating Clean Transportation Now (ACTNow) program, will support clean transportation initiatives that help reduce the cost and advance the market for low carbon transportation technologies across the Commonwealth. The grants were announced as part of the Baker-Polito Administration’s celebration of Climate Week in the Commonwealth.

“As the Commonwealth faces the challenges of climate change, innovative clean transportation solutions will be critical to significant reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Massachusetts companies are leading the charge on clean energy and transportation innovation, and the projects supported by this funding will pioneer new technologies and demonstrate new emissions reduction strategies.” 

“Our Administration is committed to reducing emissions while building a cleaner, more resilient and cost-effective transportation system,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “These projects will set the path for more innovation in the clean transportation sector and provide residents across the Commonwealth greater access to clean transportation solutions such as public transit and electric vehicles.”

The ACTNow Program provides grants to applicant teams that pilot innovative, replicable clean transportation business and service delivery models. ACTNow prompts a variety of low carbon transportation solutions across different modalities, vehicle types, and populations. Given the Commonwealth’s efforts to reduce GHG emissions from the transportation sector, it is imperative to encourage disruptive innovation in business models, infrastructure, and awareness that lead Massachusetts into a clean and modern transportation future.

Six of the nine projects awarded will bring clean transportation benefits to environmental justice (EJ) communities. ACTNow purposefully incentivized EJ community applications through a reduced cost-share requirement. Massachusetts EJ communities are designated based on criteria for annual median household income, race, and English isolation. 

"As the Commonwealth works to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change, it is crucial to invest in initiatives that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also ensuring solutions are economically viable for businesses and residents,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “The ACTNow program finds this balance with projects that emphasize financial feasibility and emissions reductions in order to model large-scale clean transportation projects that offer solutions, especially for Environmental Justice communities.” 

“MassCEC is excited to enter into the clean transportation sector by funding a range of innovative projects that span across technologies from electric buses to dealership education,” said MassCEC CEO Stephen Pike. “In addition to supporting the Commonwealth’s ambitious clean energy goals, ACTNow’s demonstration projects will also reduce emissions and provide access to clean transportation in overburdened communities.”

The grants collectively leverage $2,329,679 in external cost share funding as well as an additional $156,430,750 from a large-scale MBTA electric bus initiative. Demonstration projects will be deployed in areas such as Arlington, Beverly, Hopkinton, Roxbury, Quincy, and Andover.  

The following awardees will each receive a grant through the ACTNow program. 

Waze (Google LLC) - $50,000: The company is employing a carpooling pilot project in the Boston Metro region with an app-based service that matches everyday drivers and riders with similar commuting patterns. This project meets Massachusetts’ Environmental Justice Criteria.

Enel Green Power North America - $37,000: The company is implementing an emissions-based carpooling facilitation program for Enel employees at their Boston and Andover offices in partnership with Liftango.

E4TheFuture - $200,000: The company is deploying an income-tired and equity-focused electric vehicle carshare program in Roxbury. E4TheFuture is partnering with Shared Mobility, Inc., Nuestra Comunidad Development Corporation, MAPC, Eversource, and the City of Boston. This project meets Massachusetts’ Environmental Justice Criteria.

Plug In America - $161,970: The company is implementing its PlugStar Training and Credentialing Program and EV Sales Platform to at least 16 dealerships across Massachusetts in order to accelerate Commonwealth EV sales.

PowerOptions - $200,000: The company is deploying a retrofitted electric school bus with a financial leasing model to be replicated for PowerOptions’ membership base. PowerOptions is partnering with the Town of Arlington. This project meets Massachusetts’ Environmental Justice Criteria.

Highland Electric Transportation - $176,045: The company is deploying an electric school bus with a 3rd party ownership model to explore the viability of a regional model for group procurement of electric buses. Highland Electric is partnering with the Beverly Public School District and MAPC. This project meets Massachusetts’ Environmental Justice Criteria.

Enel X North America - $200,000: The company is deploying a vehicle-to-grid demonstration project and financing model with two electric school buses in partnership with Hopkinton Public Schools. 

Enel X North America - $200,000: The company is developing a fleet electrification planning tool in partnership with the MBTA to inform the future deployment of electric buses at a new 120 bus facility in Quincy.  This facility is being built to support a future conversion to battery electric bus technology. This project meets Massachusetts’ Environmental Justice Criteria. 

Zoo New England - $174,985: The company is converting a new vehicle to a hybrid electric shuttle bus in order to provide clean transportation in the form of a free roundtrip service from Forest Hills MBTA station to the Franklin Park Zoo. Zoo New England is partnering with PowerOptions and XL Fleets. This project meets Massachusetts’ Environmental Justice Criteria.

This funding builds upon the Baker-Polito Administration’s ongoing efforts to support the Commonwealth’s vibrant clean energy innovation sector, including recent initiatives announced in medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicle technologies. In July, Massachusetts signed a 15-state Memorandum of Understanding that aims to have 100% of all new medium- and heavy-duty vehicle sales be zero-emission vehicles by 2050 with a target of 30% zero-emissions vehicle sales by 2030. These efforts and MassCEC’s work to identify successful deployment models, will be crucial to meeting the Commonwealth’s goals seeing as transportation contributed to over 40% of greenhouse gas emissions in the Commonwealth in 2017. As the clean transportation sector is entering a stage of major innovation and technology transformation, Massachusetts can encourage the most efficient, clean, and equitable paths forward focusing on education and innovative business and financing models.

“By tackling greenhouse gas emissions through clean transportation projects, we are moving Massachusetts in the right direction to become a leader in responsible transportation policy,” said Senator Joe Boncore, Chair of the Joint Committee on Transportation. “With a focus on environmental justice communities, these critical initiatives provide positive outcomes for those most impacted by the devastating effects of climate change.” 

“The environmental threat posed by climate change demands that the state move aggressively to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and transition to more clean and renewable energy sources to meet our transportation needs,” said House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading). “By supporting the development of low carbon technologies, the funding awarded today through the ACTNow program will better position the Commonwealth to meet these challenges and work towards its goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions.”

“Achieving emissions reductions in the transportation sector will be a significant part of solving our climate challenges,” said State Representative Thomas A. Golden, Jr., House Chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy. “I want to thank the Baker-Polito Administration, together with MassCEC and its ACTNow Program, for funding such initiatives. These grants will support the development of new technologies that will help us reach our net-zero goals, strengthen the state’s innovation and entrepreneurship economy, and facilitate clean transportation projects in environmental justice communities.”

This year’s Climate Week marks four years since Governor Baker signed Executive Order 569 which lays out a comprehensive approach to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, safeguard residents, municipalities and businesses from the impacts of climate change, and build a more resilient Commonwealth. More recently, the Administration has committed to investing $1 billion in climate resiliency by 2022 and achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.The Commonwealth is working to determine how best to achieve this emissions limit through its 2050 Roadmap, a nation-leading quantitative and qualitative planning effort that will chart multiple technical and policy pathways by which the Commonwealth can equitably and cost-effectively achieve net zero emissions by 2050, and will conclude with the publication of a long-range 2050 Roadmap report. Additionally, the Administration is working with municipalities throughout the Commonwealth to prepare for the impacts of climate change through the nation-leading Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Program, which has now enrolled 89 percent of cities and towns.