Now that we are emerging from the throes of the polar vortex which saw massive shutdowns of airports, transportation and infrastructure throughout the Midwest and Northeast, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is putting his weight behind climate change preparedness. The state is putting $50 million behind current and future climate change plans. These investments will assess and address vulnerabilities in public health, transportation, energy and the Commonwealth’s built environment.
The plan includes a $40 million municipal resilience grant program, to be administered by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER), that will enable cities and towns to harden energy services at critical sites using clean energy technology. The grants will be funded through Alternative Compliance Payments (ACP), which are paid by electric retail suppliers if they have insufficient Renewable or Alternative Energy Certificates to meet their compliance obligations under the Renewable and Alternative Portfolio Standard programs.
The Department of Public Utilities (DPU) will work with utilities to determine ways to accelerate storm hardening and deploy micro-grids and resiliency projects for transmission and distribution. In addition, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) will establish an inventory of generation facilities vulnerability and preparedness plans.
The Governor’s plan also calls for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) to conduct a statewide vulnerability assessment for all facilities and adopt Climate Adaptation Plans by 2015. MassDOT Secretary Richard A. Davey will establish an internal working group to advise on next steps and work with stakeholders. The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), which also owns and operates a number of historic parkways and roadways that are particularly vulnerable to flooding and sea level rise, will conduct an assessment to determine and quantify the levels of exposure and susceptibility that DCR’s parkways and roadways face.
Additionally, to decrease long-term risk, smart growth and sustainable development planning will include Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) planners to advise on hazards and resiliency, and MEMA will share hazard data for use in building assessments.
In addition to the $40 million in ACP funds and $10 million in capital funds for coastal projects, the Governor will seek $2 million in the Fiscal Year 2015 budget to accomplish the remaining interagency efforts.
“I believe that we have a generational responsibility to address the multiple threats of climate change,” said Governor Patrick.