Dear Representative,

On behalf of the 351 cities and towns of Massachusetts, the MMA is pleased to support H. 4912, An Act Creating a 2050 Roadmap to a Clean and Thriving Commonwealth. The bill would establish an all-sectors emissions reduction plan, modernize our utility grid and increase energy efficiency to benefit all who live, work and recreate in Massachusetts, seeking to mitigate the impacts of the global climate crisis.

The MMA and our member municipalities value our partnership with the Legislature and the Baker-Polito Administration on matters of environmental sustainability and climate change mitigation and adaptation, and view H. 4912 as an important vehicle toward achieving the Commonwealth’s climate-related goals.

As you consider H. 4912 and the amendments before you today, we ask that you consider local government’s position on key issues.

The MMA asks you to support Amendment #11, which would clarify the rules related to the taxation of renewable energy property. This amendment would ensure that cities and towns are able to continue to tax energy property or enter into a tax agreement as an alternative. This provision would address a growing tax assessment and revenue problem across the state.

The MMA asks you to oppose Amendment #96, which would create a new property tax exemption for fuel cell technology that would reduce municipal property tax collections. There is no demonstrated need for this specific tax break to support the fuel cell industry, and municipal revenues would suffer as a result.

Amendment #88 would establish requirements for a transition to electric vehicles for all publicly owned or utilized vehicles, by certain target years. While the MMA is broadly supportive of a transition to electric vehicles, especially for municipally owned and/or operated fleets, the MMA believes that any mandate for a transition must include a robust funding source to support local government in achieving this transition. Therefore, the MMA asks you to further amend Amendment #88 to include guaranteed funding to assist municipalities with such a mandated transition.

Amendment #104 would fine utility companies $100 if they fail to remove a duplicate pole when installing a replacement. The MMA has long-supported legislation to remediate the double pole issue, which is why we ask that this amendment be further amended to mandate a fee of $100 per day, to add greater financial pressure on utility companies to act swiftly.

Finally, the MMA opposes any provisions that would make it more difficult or less cost-effective for municipalities to invest in solar development. Solar energy is an essential renewable energy source that will be key to achieving the emissions reductions targets laid out in H. 4912. Amendment #16 aims to address concerns about changes to net metering that would disincentivize many existing municipal solar projects.

In summary, we respectfully ask you to support H. 4912 to pass bold climate-related legislation. Please also support Amendments #11 and #16 as drafted; please build on Amendments #88 and #104 to ensure they help cities and towns; and please oppose Amendment #96.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to have your office contact me or MMA Legislative Analyst Ariela Lovett at alovett@mma.org at any time.

Thank you very much.

Sincerely,

Geoffrey C. Beckwith
MMA Executive Director & CEO