ZNC Event with Undersecretary Chang

Written by Yve Torrie, Director of Climate, Energy, & Resilience | SLIDES

On November 29, 2021, members of A Better City’s Energy & Environment Advisory Committee hosted a conversation with Judy Chang, Undersecretary of Energy and Climate Solutions for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Undersecretary Chang provided a 30-minute presentation on some of the Baker Administration’s ongoing climate and clean energy efforts, including:

  • New statutory requirements including an interim 2030 statewide emissions limit of “at least 50% below the 1990 level, at least 75% by 2040 and at least net zero greenhouse gas emissions statewide by 2050; economy-wide emissions limits for every 5 years between 2020 and 2050; and sector-based statewide emissions sublimits.
  • Plans for completion of the 2030 Clean Energy and Climate Plan, to be finalized in June 2022.
  • An update on the 2022-2024 Energy Efficiency Three-Year Plan key priorities.
  • A timeline for the new municipal opt-in high performance stretch energy code (as per climate bill 9).

A lively discussion followed Undersecretary Chang’s presentation, that included the following questions:

  • How is the Commonwealth coordinating with cities like Boston to ensure alignment across City and State building policies - specifically the city’s Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance for existing buildings and Zero Net Carbon Standard for new construction, and the Commonwealth’s high performance stretch energy code under development? Undersecretary Chang said she does not want to see a patchwork of building policies across different municipalities in the state. She said this would be confusing for development, difficult to enforce, and bad for business and communities alike. Finally, Undersecretary Chang said that Boston has been leading on building policy work, that the EEA team is working to understand the strategy Boston used to develop the BERDO amendment, and that they are hoping to replicate Boston’s stakeholder engagement process at the state-level.
    • A Better City’s chair, Doug McGarrah, along with A Better City leadership, emphasized our willingness to collaborate on this work. We emphasized our interest in promoting alignment and consistency across building and other climate policies, particularly as it relates to the municipal opt-in high performance stretch energy code under development at DOER.
  • What is the impact of neighboring state and regional decisions on the Commonwealth’s climate initiatives – specifically the Transportation Climate Initiative and the New England Clean Energy Connect project? Undersecretary Chang said these recent developments show how vulnerable the Commonwealth is to decisions made outside its borders. She mentioned the groundbreaking of the Vineyard Wind project the week prior but said even that project had multiple setbacks and was at the mercy of local stakeholders and advocates, as well as federal permitting and roadblocks.
    • One of our members suggested that we focus more on education/communication so that residents who are not as entrenched in climate or clean energy policy, can understand that to achieve our climate and clean energy goals, we need to increase our renewable energy capacity and infrastructure – including transmission lines. Undersecretary Chang agreed that a communications campaign would help to explain that importing more renewable energy and building transmission infrastructure would be required to meet energy demand and our state-level statutory commitments.
    • Another member asked about the opportunity for increasing hydropower capacity and pumped hydro within Massachusetts. Undersecretary Chang said this is an option to explore but cautioned that it will not be at a large enough scale to meet the capacity needed for a clean energy transition.

For any questions or comments, please contact Yve Torrie.



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