Summary of H5060: An Act driving clean energy and offshore wind

By Jess Nahigian, Jonathan Cohn, and Veena Dharmaraj

The following summary was written in conjunction with Jonathan Cohn from Progressive Mass and adapted from materials produced by the Legislature.

Last Thursday, the MA House and Senate finally came to an agreement on climate legislation this year: An Act driving clean energy and offshore wind (H.5060). 

The bill was the conclusion of negotiations between the House and Senate merging two bills passed earlier this year that varied significantly in scope. In early March, the House passed a bill focused on offshore wind. In April, the MA Senate passed a more comprehensive bill focused on clean energy, buildings, and transportation electrification (See a write-up here).

The bill passed the House 146 to 7, with the only NO votes coming from Republicans Donnie Berthiaume, Nicholas Boldyga, Angelo D’Emilia, Marc Lombardo, Norman Orrall, Kelly Pease, and Alyson Sullivan. It passed the Senate 38 to 2, with Senators Ryan Fattman and Patrick O’Connor voting no.  

The bill includes many strong provisions, as detailed below, and some notable omissions. Disappointingly, the bill omitted several large financial investments as well as language about air quality monitoring. Additionally, the transportation policy and buildings emissions reduction policy were limited in scope. The transportation section of the bill remains limited to electrification, rather than exploring ways to expand public transit usage (as well as biking/walking) and reducing the number of automobiles on the road in the first place (a limitation more of the reach of the original Senate bill than of the negotiations). The building emissions portion of the bill falls short of creating the investment and infrastructure to decarbonize buildings at the 100,000 building per year scale identified as necessary in the state’s pathway to decarbonization by 2050.

Now the bill must go to the governor’s desk, where he has until July 31 to pass it, send it back with revisions, or veto it. 

Offshore Wind

  • Establishes a Massachusetts Offshore Wind Industry Investment Program, administered by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), consisting of annual tax incentives, grants, loans, and other investments

  • Creates the Massachusetts Offshore Wind Industry Investment Trust Fund to promote the manufacture of domestic supply chain components of the offshore wind industry; stimulate increased financing for permanent manufacturing facilities; advance clean energy research, technology, and innovation; and prepare individuals for offshore wind careers by supporting workforce training

  • Removes the price cap for new offshore wind projects, which requires each new project to offer power at a lower price than its predecessor, if there are fewer than three bidders. 

  • Gives preference to offshore wind bids from companies that invest in local manufacturing, provide employment opportunities for underrepresented populations, adopt good labor practices, and mitigate environmental impacts, and takes utilities out of the bid selection process. 

  • Prioritizes projects that meaningfully consult local stakeholders, including fishing communities and federally and state recognized tribes. 

  • Establishes a commercial fisheries commission to provide input on best practices for avoiding, minimizing, and mitigating impacts to wildlife related to offshore wind

Solar Energy

  • Allows agricultural and horticultural land to be used to site solar panels and establishes a commission to study the deployment of these “dual use sites” while minimizing ecosystem and agricultural impact

  • Removes net metering constraints on small solar arrays (up to 25kw) and removes a loophole preventing medium-sized arrays on multiple land parcels, like some governmental buildings, from receiving incentives.

Other Renewable Energy Measures 

  • Prevents wood-burning biomass power plants from qualifying for renewable energy incentives in the Renewable Portfolio Standard Program but, lamentably, does not exclude it from other incentive programs 

  • Directs a study of the advantages and disadvantages of a regional or multi-state clean energy market

  • Enhances regional collaboration by allowing the Commonwealth to coordinate with nearby states on clean energy solicitation and transmission

Shifting Utilities Away from Fossil Fuels 

  • Requires utility companies to proactively and regularly submit plans to upgrade the transmission and distribution grid, as overseen by a new grid modernization advisory council (the council lacks the public input requirements in the Senate plan). to improve reliability and resilience and accommodate the shift to renewables

  • Reduces incentives for fossil fuels by limiting ratepayer-funded efficiency programs from incentivizing fossil fuel equipment starting in 2025 

  • Creates a working group to develop recommendations for regulatory and legislative changes necessary to align our pipeline replacement program (GSEP) with the state’s climate goals

  • Requires additional scrutiny of the utility-controlled investigation into the “future of gas” 

  • Paves the way for expanded use of renewable thermal energy, including geothermal networks


  • Ensures clean energy workforce development programs include workers in impacted and disadvantaged communities, including federally and state recognized tribes

  • Expands and develops workforce development programs in clean energy, particularly wind


  • Requires an assessment of K-12 schools with an eye toward improving efficiency, air quality

  • Allows 10 municipalities to pilot fossil-free new and major renovations, but with newly added specifications that exclude life science labs and health care facilities, and requires any participating community to (a) meet the 10% affordable housing target set by state law (chapter 40B) or (b) have approved a zoning ordinance permitting multi-family housing by-right in at least one area

  • Requires that large buildings (20,000 sq. ft. and larger, more expansive than the Senate’s original 25,000 sq. ft. and larger) report their energy usage annually, and allows only Boston and Cambridge to set their own building energy reporting requirements (as opposed to allowing any city/town to do so, as in the Senate bill)

  • Increases public accountability and reporting requirements to ensure utilities are providing efficiency services to low-income ratepayers and households 


  • Provides up to $5000 in point-of-sale rebates for the purchase of electric passenger cars and light duty vehicles less than $55,000, with an additional $1500 rebate for low-income individuals. Rebates of at least $4500 for medium and heavy duty electric vehicles and for those trading in their internal combustion engine vehicle 

  • Calls for the MBTA bus fleet to be all-electric by 2040 (with no more fossil fuel buses purchased after 2030) and prioritizes deployment on routes that go through underserved communities (Note that environmental groups advocated for full electrification by 2030, and that the Senate bill had “no new non-electric purchases” after 2028)

  • Mandates all new cars sold in the state to be zero-emission starting 2035

  • Creates an interagency coordinating Council to develop and implement a plan for deploying EV charging infrastructure in an equitable and accessible manner and establishes a Charging Infrastructure Deployment Fund

  • Mandates off-peak rates for EV charging and requires distribution companies to submit proposals for time-of-use rates 

  • Requires the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to develop vehicle electrification and GHG emission regulations for ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft)

  • Requires MasDOT to provide technical and funding assistance to help Regional Transit Authorities electrify their fleets 

  • Requires MassDOT to install EV charging stations at all service plazas on the MA Turnpike, at least five commuter rail and subway stations, and at least one ferry terminal.

  • Requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) to conduct a study on electrifying our school bus fleet

  • Qualifies federally and state recognized tribes for EV rebates

A Few Notable Omissions 

  • Banning competitive electricity suppliers, who often prey on the most vulnerable, from operating in Massachusetts

  • Increasing publicly available air quality monitoring and directing the state to establish baseline air quality in air pollution hotspots and corridors

  • Teeing up a successor to the state’s SMART solar program that favors development in the built environment

  • Interim and full electrification targets for the commuter rail system

  • Allocating $100 million to the Electric Vehicle Adoption Incentive Trust Fund;  $50 million to the Charging Infrastructure Deployment Fund; and $100 million toward Clean Energy Investment Fund from the Senate bill (Funding for these programs is in the Economic development bill under consideration by the legislature)

  • Authorizing all public pensions, with the exception of the state employees retirement system, the state teachers retirement system, and the State Boston retirement system, to divest from any investment in fossil fuel companies

And a Few Red Flags…

  • Expands the definition of clean energy for Massachusetts Clean Energy Center research purposes to include “renewable biofuels, renewable biodegradable chemicals, advanced thermal-to-energy conversion, fusion energy, hydrogen produced by non-fossil fuel sources and methods, and carbon capture and sequestration”

  • Allows existing (grandfathered) anaerobic digestors to qualify for clean peak standard

  • Includes biofuels, “green” hydrogen, landfill gas, “low-emission advanced biomass power conversion technologies” are called “innovations” in the list of technologies eligible for educational grants