Massport Sets Aside More Than $500 Million To Cut Emissions

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BOSTON (State House News Service) — A year after Massport announced it intends to reduce carbon emissions to net-zero across all its facilities by 2031, the port authority board voted Thursday to approve a $500 million-plus investment in emissions reduction projects over the next five years.

Last year, the agency estimated that it would spend $1 billion in carbon emissions reduction projects to reach its goal in under a decade.

Beyond the $500 million specifically earmarked for net-zero projects included in the capital investment plan that the board approved Thursday, Massport will need to invest an additional $5 billion or more agency-wide over the next 10 years "to support the state's economic, transportation and climate goals," according to a slide in CEO Lisa Wieland's presentation to the board Thursday.

The agency's focus on "aggressive goals, tied to real actions" to reach net-zero emissions is intended to line up with the state's climate goals, which include reducing emissions by at least 50 percent below a 1990 baseline by 2030.

Massport spokesperson Jennifer Mehigan said she doesn't know if the agency has a dollar figure on what they have spent so far on net-zero investments. The projects completed in the last year were budgeted before Massport made its carbon reduction announcement last March, and the main net-zero work has been researching and planning, she said.

Wieland said Thursday that in the past year the authority has worked with rental car companies to move from zero electric vehicles on site to over 550, or about 5 percent of the overall fleet that goes to the state's airports.

It also installed EV charging stations at the Worcester Regional Airport, and is working toward electrifying more cars and buses. Solar panels at Terminal C at Logan Airport generated 75 percent more energy than the authority anticipated, she added.

Massport also signed an agreement with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and other northeast agencies to submit regional applications for federal grants that would fund clean hydrogen maritime and aviation projects.

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The authority also recently issued a request for quotes related to a net-zero central heating plant at Logan Airport. Wieland said the airport's central heating system needs to be updated anyways, so Massport hopes to contract with an engineering firm that will reduce emissions with a new system.

Part of the $500 million-plus approved Thursday will go toward this work, and the agency plans to choose a firm to work with on the project sometime in the next quarter.

Other immediate goals for the next three months include developing a fleet decarbonization plan to transition Massport's vehicles, complete infrastructure assessments, develop an initial estimate of investments to meet future electrical demand, and to conduct energy efficiency evaluations of buildings.

The additional $5 billion-plus over the next 10 years will be spread out agency-wide, to replace aging infrastructure and to expand HOV access to airports as an alternative to individuals driving their own vehicles.

For any areas where emissions can't be reduced to zero, Massport has committed to invest in carbon offsets to reach its net-zero target, and plans to be at net-zero without offsets by 2040.

Written by Sam Drysdale/SHNS.

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