Press Release

Press Release  Commission on Energy Infrastructure Siting and Permitting Releases Recommendations to Advance Clean Energy Development

Recommendations include consolidating existing permits, mandating meaningful community engagement, and creating guidance on site suitability to minimize impacts on the environment and people.
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  • Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs

Media Contact   for Commission on Energy Infrastructure Siting and Permitting Releases Recommendations to Advance Clean Energy Development

Maria Hardiman, Communications Director

BOSTON — The Commission on Energy Infrastructure Siting and Permitting provided recommendations to Governor Maura Healey today on reforms to improve and streamline siting and permitting for clean energy infrastructure. The Commission's recommendations would consolidate permits, set mandatory timeframes for permit decisions, establish community engagement requirements for developers, and create guidance on the suitability of sites for energy infrastructure development. 

“To meet our emissions limits, we need to build much more clean energy infrastructure, and we need to build it much quicker than we have to date,” said Governor Healey. “With that infrastructure in place, not only will we be better positioned to meet our climate goals, but we will also attract and support life sciences, climatetech, and other major industries looking to grow in Massachusetts. We are grateful to the Commission for recommending reforms to lower barriers to siting and permitting, ensure that communities are meaningfully engaged in the development of energy projects early in the process, and protect our critical natural resources.”  

“Confronting the climate crisis – and building more clean infrastructure – presents us with an opportunity to improve air quality and promote equity across Massachusetts,” said Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll. “Collaboration with local communities and stakeholders is at the heart of this Commission and our efforts going forward. This infrastructure will become an integral part of all of our communities, providing reliability, energy independence, economic development, and good-paying jobs on a very local level. We thank the Commission for thoughtfully engaging on these complex topics and providing a comprehensive set of strong recommendations to inform us as we move forward.” 

In September 2023, Governor Healey signed Executive Order 620 to establish the Commission on Energy Infrastructure Siting and Permitting. The Commission is composed of a diverse group of representatives from municipalities, environmental justice organizations, environmental advocacy groups, electric utilities, agriculture, energy siting practitioners, clean energy industry, labor, housing and real estate. Supported by an Interagency Siting and Permitting Task Force and a Siting Practitioner Advisory Group, the Commission has met thirteen times since October 2023 to identify the barriers to clean energy development and develop recommendations on the strategies and policies necessary to address these challenges. In February, the Commission released a summary of discussions to date and a list of questions for public input and in March, the Commission held two public listening sessions. 

“Massachusetts’ current siting and permitting processes are causing significant delays in the clean energy transition. Reforms are needed to meet this pivotal moment we find ourselves in,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Rebecca Tepper. “By cutting red tape and building in better opportunities for meaningful stakeholder engagement, Massachusetts can ensure needed clean energy infrastructure is built more quickly and responsibly. This commission built meaningful consensus around siting and permitting reform and we look forward to reviewing its recommendations and continuing our conversation with the Legislature about these much-needed reforms.” 

The Commonwealth has set ambitious decarbonization limits, including achieving net zero emissions by 2050. At the same time, electricity demand is projected to grow considerably, by as much as 50 percent in 2035 compared to today. To meet this demand with clean energy, Massachusetts will need to more than double its supply of electricity from solar energy and install more than 3,000 MW of offshore wind by 2030. To enable this greater demand and new generation capacity, Massachusetts will need to build an upgrade additional electrical grid infrastructure, such as distribution and transmission lines, electrical substations, and energy storage.   

The Commission identified numerous barriers in the current process to enabling the clean energy transition in an efficient, responsible, and equitable manner. Obtaining permits for new energy infrastructure can be a long and unpredictable process. In addition to lengthy and sometimes redundant permitting processes, the extended appeals process can significantly delay or prevent clean energy infrastructure projects from being built. At the same time, stakeholder engagement can be lacking and ineffective, and leave marginalized communities that historically have been disproportionately impacted by the siting of energy-related infrastructure out of the process. Relevant statutes and regulations are also dated and do not reflect the Commonwealth’s climate goals and policies. 

The Commission’s recommendations include: 

  • Defining clean energy infrastructure as solar, wind and anaerobic digestion facilities; storage facilities; and transmission and distribution infrastructure. 

  • Combining all state, regional, and local permits required for larger clean energy infrastructure projects into one consolidated permit to be issued by the Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) in less than 15 months. All other agencies that would otherwise have a permitting role for the clean energy infrastructure project would participate in the EFSB review process through the issuance of statements of recommended permit conditions. EFSB decisions would be appealed directly to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. 

  • Combining all local permits for smaller clean energy infrastructure projects into one consolidated permit to be issued by the municipality in less than one year. The Department of Energy Resources would work with other state agencies to develop a uniform set of baseline health, safety, and environmental standards to guide municipalities in the issuance of permits for clean energy infrastructure.  

  • Establishing mandatory requirements for developers to meaningfully engage with communities early in the development process to ensure robust public involvement, including requirements for timely and comprehensive notification, the number and types of meetings, a 60-day public comment period, efforts to involve community organizations, and efforts to develop a community benefit agreement.  

  • Creating an Office of Community Engagement at the EFSB to facilitate dialogue and assist communities and project applicants with engagement. 

  • Directing EEA to work with stakeholders to create site suitability guidance to be used by project developers to better understand and evaluate resource areas for quality, development potential, and social and environmental impacts, and to be used in permitting processes to avoid, minimize, and mitigate impacts on the environment and people.  

  • Tasking the Office of Environmental Justice and Equity with creating statewide guidance on community benefits plans and agreements to help ensure communities receive new benefits and opportunities from infrastructure sited in their area.  

  • Additional complementary reforms to ensure more efficient permitting processes, provide public education, and incentivize responsible clean energy development.  

Statements from Commission Members & Stakeholders 

State Representative Jeffrey N. Roy (D-Franklin), House Chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy 

“I want to thank the Healey-Driscoll administration for being outstanding partners in propelling the permitting conversation to the forefront. Our decarbonization strategy is clear – to get to net zero emissions by 2050, we need an enormous increase in electric vehicles, heat pumps, and clean energy resources.  We further need a dramatically expanded power grid to be the backbone of this transformation.  We cannot achieve this clean energy future without comprehensive reform – and the commission’s recommendations – the work product of extensive, collaborative deliberations – provide a solid foundation to get there.” 

Alexandra Blackmore, General Counsel, National Grid - New England 

“National Grid applauds the Healey-Driscoll Administration for establishing the Commission on Clean Energy Infrastructure Siting and Permitting and the hard work over the subsequent months to develop these recommendations with the input of a broad range of stakeholders. We look forward to building on the momentum of this Commission to find solutions that will help us achieve our shared climate and clean energy goals.”  

Manikka Bowman, Executive Director, The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts 

“The Nature Conservancy is pleased that the Commission on Energy Infrastructure Siting and Permitting provided a collaborative process to propose solutions to help us transition more quickly to clean energy while avoiding impacts on people and nature. Combining science and community experience helps us make decisions more equitably and efficiently, with better outcomes for the commonwealth, which positions Massachusetts as a national leader.” 

JD Chesloff, President & CEO, Massachusetts Business Roundtable 

"Speeding up the siting and permitting process is critical to the overall competitiveness of the Massachusetts economy. Companies want to locate in Massachusetts for our innovation ecosystem, fueled by top universities, hospitals, world renowned industry clusters and access to the best talent in the world.  We need to ensure that our state has the infrastructure in place to support their energy demand, expand our wind, solar, and storage industries, and harness the promise of the global race for clean energy and climatetech. The Roundtable is grateful to the Healey-Driscoll Administration for convening this Commission to address these issues head on so that Massachusetts can be and remain a global leader in clean energy." 

Catherine Finneran, Vice President, Transmission Project Development, Siting and Project Services, Eversource Energy 

"I am proud to have served on the Commission on Energy Infrastructure Siting and Permitting, working together to advance the Governor’s priorities to expedite the siting of clean energy infrastructure in a way that benefits our communities and customers. The clean energy transition depends on a modernized electric grid. The Commission’s final recommendations lay the groundwork for siting transmission and distribution infrastructure that will ensure that the Commonwealth's climate targets are met equitably and on time. I applaud the collaborative work of my fellow commissioners to create this strong framework for meaningful siting reform.” 

Mary Beth Gentleman, Chair, CEISP Siting Practitioner Advisory Group

"On behalf of the Siting Practitioner Advisory Group, consisting of experienced siting and permitting attorneys and former DPU and Energy Facilities Siting Board regulators, I want to express our gratitude to the Healey-Driscoll Administration for having convened this Commission. The Administration recognized that the status quo permitting process would stymie the Commonwealth’s efforts to achieve its statutorily-mandated carbon reduction requirements by 2050. Because the Commission members brought to the table very different perspectives on how to change the status quo, consensus was not reached on every detail. However, change of the magnitude recommended by the vast majority of the Commission members is consistent with the magnitude of that needed to address the climate crisis every resident of the Commonwealth now faces. Kudos to the Healey-Driscoll Administration for their leadership and courage to take on this challenge."

Nathan W. L'Etoile, National Farm Viability Managing Director, American Farmland Trust and resident of Northfield, MA

“No one is more aware of the impacts a changing climate have on our society than the farmers of Massachusetts. The Commonwealth must meet our clean energy goals if we have any chance of reversing this change and creating a brighter future for those working so hard to feed us. The hard work of the Commission has charted a course that will retain local decision making, and assure strong existing land use policies are retained while expediting permitting at the state and local level for all types of renewable energy infrastructure. American Farmland Trust is proud to be a part of this solution.” 

Michelle Manion, VP of Policy and Advocacy, Mass Audubon  

“By 2050, New England needs an electric grid twice the size of today’s, and it needs to deliver power that is free of carbon pollution. As the largest energy user in the region, Massachusetts must lead the way forward, and Mass Audubon was proud to participate in the Governor’s Commission on Energy Infrastructure Siting and Permitting. While complex questions remain before us, we worked constructively to recommend an initial blueprint for accelerating our clean energy build-out while balancing the needs of communities, ratepayers, and our irreplaceable habitats and natural systems. We’re excited to work with our legislative leaders, industry partners, Undersecretary Judge, and other state energy leaders to get started on implementing the Commission’s recommendations.” 

Jeremy McDiarmid, Managing Director, Advanced Energy United 

“The Commission report sets the stage for accelerating the clean energy transition. We are optimistic that its findings will help Governor Healey and the legislature, led by Energy Chairs Michael Barrett and Jeffrey Roy, create effective policies to drive efficient and responsible clean energy infrastructure development." 

Maria Belen Power, Undersecretary for Environmental Justice & Equity 

“Environmental justice communities deserve a seat at the table when siting and permitting energy infrastructure. These recommendations are a first step in ensuring the process is inclusive of those who historically have been ignored and left behind. The climate crisis offers us an opportunity to do things differently, and that starts by reforming the siting and permitting process. We must seize this opportunity.” 

Jessica Robertson, Director of Policy and Business Development at New Leaf Energy 

"The Commission reached a landmark compromise that preserves local control, while providing much-needed timeline certainty for the clean energy projects that are essential to meeting our emissions reduction mandates. These recommendations strike a balance among the goals of the diverse stakeholders represented, while responding to the urgency of the climate crisis." 

Staci Rubin, Commissioner, Department of Public Utilities 

"The DPU and the EFSB serve an important role in the clean energy transition – we need to get a lot of infrastructure built, and quickly, if we are going to meet our climate targets goals and avert the most devastating impacts of extreme weather. At the same time, residents deserve a seat at the table and ability to influence the decisions about what is sited in their neighborhoods. Environmental justice and urgency are at the heart of the Commission's work. Our DPU and EFSB teams stand ready to accelerate permitting timelines and partner with residents and municipalities." 

Caitlin Peale Sloan, Vice President, Conservation Law Foundation 

“Everyone deserves to be heard about the impact infrastructure development has on their neighborhoods and lives. The Commission's conversations from this process were a crucial first step to creating these long-overdue protections for our most vulnerable communities. As we enter the legislative process, we need to ensure the needs of environmental justice communities are accounted for in a final package.” 

Amy Stitely, Undersecretary for Strategy and Climate, Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities 

"The Healey-Driscoll Administration is taking a whole-of-government approach to climate action, and we take that seriously at the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities. The Commission's recommendations are an important step forward as we seek to decarbonize our housing stock. We need the clean energy infrastructure to support growing numbers of electrically heated and cooled homes and widespread solar adoption. With meaningful community engagement and faster permitting timelines, we will be better positioned to reach our housing and climate goals." 

Ashley Stolba, Undersecretary of Economic Foundations, Executive Office of Economic Development  

"The clean energy transition promises to be a significant boost to the Massachusetts economy, but only if we can speed up our permitting processes. As we work to continue and lengthen Massachusetts' lead in the life sciences and climatetech industries, it will be important that we have the necessary clean energy infrastructure in place to keep pace with this growth. This commission brought together stakeholders from across sectors to broker a significant compromise at a critical time." 

Mark Sylvia, Chief of Staff, BlueWave 

"The best way to tackle a big challenge is to bring people affected by that challenge together to find solutions. Governor Healey and Lt. Governor Driscoll did just that with the Commission on Clean Energy Infrastructure Siting and Permitting. At a critical time in the Commonwealth’s fight against climate change, stakeholders, involved with or impacted by energy siting and permitting came together over the past six months, got to work and have reached consensus on innovative, thoughtful solutions to accelerate the deployment of clean energy. Through mutual respect, active listening, thoughtful dialogue and sharing expertise, we answered the Governor’s call and have produced a report that will accelerate the responsible deployment of clean energy, facilitate community input and ensure that clean energy benefits are shared equitably. As a former municipal manager and state energy official and now as a solar and energy storage advocate, I am proud of the commission’s work and the solutions offered in our report.  This report and the recommendations contained within it are a critical step in strengthening the Commonwealth's leadership on clean energy and climate issues. The work continues.” 

Matt Teague, Secretary, Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Massachusetts 

“I am grateful to have had this opportunity to work on what is probably our greatest current challenge. Energy is the foundation of everything we do in modern society. Expediting the permitting of clean energy infrastructure projects, especially transmission lines and ancillary facilities, is critical to achieving the commonwealth’s goal of decarbonizing housing.”  

John Walkey, Director of Climate Justice & Waterfront Initiatives, GreenRoots 

“We greatly appreciate Governor Healey for including environmental justice perspectives in the convening of the Commission on Energy Infrastructure Siting and Permitting. The administration has taken many strides in addressing systemic inequities in our state government, which is not easy work to do. We look forward to seeing the legislation she will propose based on the Commission's recommendations. Environmental justice communities and their advocates will continue to push for further advances across all levels of our government to ensure that voices of EJ communities are heard, and that our regulatory outcomes reflect the values and principles we share." 

Lizzi Weyant, Deputy Executive Director, Metropolitan Area Planning Council 

“Every level of government, from Town Hall to the State House, will have to work together to meet the urgency of this moment, and MAPC is eager to continue this work together with the Administration and our municipalities. The Commission's recommendations take meaningful steps toward protecting the environment, accelerating permitting, and improving public engagement. I was so proud to participate in this important effort, and am thankful the Commission was able to reach a strong consensus on such important reforms."   


Media Contact   for Commission on Energy Infrastructure Siting and Permitting Releases Recommendations to Advance Clean Energy Development

  • Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs 

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