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DeLeo touts $1.3b GreenWorks program

Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo
Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo(Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff/File)

House Speaker Robert DeLeo this week is unveiling his latest salvo in the effort to offset climate change: a $1.3 billion energy and resiliency bill that would create a new grant program for cities and towns.

The grant program, called GreenWorks, would be funded by $1 billion in bonds and paid out over a decade.

Cities and towns would apply for grants for a variety of projects that could be focused on climate resiliency, climate preparedness, clean energy production or promotion, energy storage, or carbon emission reductions.

The program would be modeled after MassWorks, an existing state grant program for economic development-related infrastructure.

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This program, though, would be run by the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

Representative Tom Golden, the House chairman of the Legislature’s energy committee, plans to file the bill on Tuesday.

DeLeo first announced his plans for the GreenWorks legislation at a February event, at the Greentown Labs cleantech incubator in Somerville, and put Golden in charge of crafting it.

“The speaker’s idea was if we could help reduce their operating costs, then they’re going to have additional resources for other municipal needs such as teachers and firefighters,” Golden said. “This piece of legislation is also going to make a positive impact on the cleantech industry . . . We’re pumping in $1 billion. That’s an awful lot of money going toward green jobs.”

The bill also would set aside an additional $295 million in state spending for energy infrastructure.

That portion includes $100 million for municipal microgrid systems that could increase the resiliency of localized portions of the electricity grid, and $125 million for electric vehicles in municipal fleets or regional transit authorities.

Another $50 million would be used to establish a low-interest loan program for cities and towns that are pursuing GreenWorks initiatives, and $20 million for the hiring of “sustainability coordinators” in those communities.

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Golden said the energy infrastructure portion of the bill would be funded through bonds as well.

DeLeo hopes to pass a climate bill by the end of the year, although the Senate would likely put forward its own version or offer some competing ideas.

In a prepared statement Monday, DeLeo said the bill “builds on Massachusetts’ nation-leading green policies by putting funds directly in the hands of communities to implement and maintain clean energy and resiliency projects.”


Jon Chesto can be reached at jon.chesto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.