The Legislature passed a wide-ranging climate and clean energy bill on July 21, the day after it was released by a six-member House-Senate conference committee.

The compromise bill (H. 5060) includes key sections from both the House and Senate bills to make significant steps to address climate change in the Commonwealth and meet climate and energy goals set for 2025 and 2030. It focuses on sustainable, resilient infrastructure that reduces emissions, providing robust opportunities for offshore wind development, and supporting a number of new, creative programs to help key industries and local governments pursue data-driven climate solutions.

The governor has 10 days to consider the legislation, and legislators will then have until the end of formal sessions, July 31, to take up any response to the governor’s actions.

One of the bill’s key initiatives is a demonstration program that would allow 10 municipalities to prohibit fossil fuel use in new building construction or major renovation projects. To be eligible, the municipality would need to either meet the 10% housing affordability threshold established by Chapter 40B, be granted “safe harbor” status through an approved Housing Production Plan, or have approved a zoning ordinance or bylaw that provides for at least one district with at least 15 units per acre in which multifamily housing is permitted by right (suitable for families with children and without age restriction).

The bill would establish several new opportunities to evaluate energy system improvements, including a Clean Energy Transmission Working Group to assess major transmission infrastructure upgrades and how to best deliver clean energy to the Commonwealth. The legislation also provides for a study to be conducted by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to optimize deployment and use of energy storage technologies.

Regarding offshore wind energy generation — the central focus of the House bill (H. 4524) — H. 5060 would create a clean energy equity workforce and market development program to provide workforce training, professional development, startup opportunities and grants to maximize energy efficiency and clean energy employment opportunities. A new pilot program would help students gain academic and technical skills and prepare for careers in the offshore wind industry, funded by a $3 million allocation from the Offshore Wind Industry Investment Trust Fund.

A new offshore wind industry investment program would develop and expand offshore wind industry-related employment opportunities and promote renewable energy development through an offshore wind tax incentive program. The bill outlines a competitive solicitation process for offshore wind energy generation that adjusts the offshore wind price cap and accounts for economic factors such as inflation.

To promote the transition to electric vehicles, H. 5060 would establish an electric vehicle adoption incentive trust fund to provide rebates of $3,500 to $5,000 for a qualifying zero-emission passenger vehicle and $4,500 or more for qualifying medium or heavy duty trucks, buses or vans. The program would provide an additional $1,500 rebate for low-income individuals who purchase an electric vehicle, and create a Charging Infrastructure Deployment Fund to promote EV charging infrastructure.

The bill makes additional efforts to address emissions in the transportation sector — a focus of the Senate bill (S. 2842) — with several items relating more broadly to the Department of Transportation and MBTA. The bill would require the MassDOT to create a database detailing the number of registrations and total miles traveled for fossil fuel, electric and zero-emission vehicles in the state each year, sortable by municipality. The bill includes measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation network vehicles as well as a plan to transition the MBTA and regional transit authorities to zero-emissions vehicles.

A new electric-sector modernization plan would improve the reliability, strength and resiliency of the electric distribution system, including through a new Grid Modernization Advisory Council.

The bill would also make regulatory adjustments to address electrification and land use, including allowing the state building code and state electric code to include electric vehicle charging infrastructure in residential and commercial buildings.

The final bill includes modifications to Chapter 61A, on solar zoning, which the MMA expressed concerns about last month. The adjustments would allow agricultural and horticultural land to be used to site solar arrays and receive the property tax benefits of Chapter 61A so long as the dual operation does not interfere with agriculture.

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