Finally on the Road to a Decarbonized U.S.?

I am very hopeful that the U.S. will finally make some progress in addressing climate change in 2023. There are fundamental market shifts coming into play in our energy world. The last time we saw these kinds of shifts 10-15 years ago, in the intervening years New England has been able to keep our electricity demand constant due to substantial investments in energy efficiency, and we have seen incredible growth in the solar market, the birth of offshore wind and the retirement of many coal-fired electricity generating plants.

But the shifts in the energy market that are happening now will be nationwide thanks to federal legislation like the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). There are many, many market sectors impacted by the IRA and many program details and logistics are yet to be clarified, particularly with regard to electric vehicles.

Two key aspects of the IRA stand out in my mind as pivotal changes for our MassEnergize communities and their residents. First, residents now have substantial incentives to decarbonize their lives through energy efficiency, solar generation and storage, clean heating and cooling, and electric vehicles (EVs). And second, the residential tax incentives are available through the end of 2032, allowing market certainty.

Why do I believe that reaching residents with incentives is key? Because when people have experience with “climate actions” like installing heat pumps, driving EVs, and using induction stoves – either personally or through their family and friends – these actions become normalized. Normalization allows people who do not view themselves as “climate activists” to take these actions without feeling out of place. We need everyone to be taking decarbonization actions and feeling “normal” about it.

We also need people to be talking about climate change. The incentives in the IRA will get people talking about the actions needed to decarbonize our economy. Now a homeowner is much more likely to talk to their contractor about heat pumps, about solar with their tax advisor, or EVs with their neighbors. People want to be part of a growing trend so the more discussion about climate, the more it will be evident that everyone is doing something about it.

MassEnergize is privileged to support, and learn from, our amazing community organizers. We know that community members will turn to them for advice about the IRA. So we developed a few IRA materials including a presentation to our November 14 community meeting and a list of IRA-focused webinars. We hope that all of us in the broader MassEnergize community will continue to grow and refine these resources.  Additionally, one fantastic resource available is the Rewiring America calculator. It tells you what IRA incentives you qualify for based upon your zip code, income level and household size.

There are far too few conversations about climate and clean energy happening in the general community right now. The IRA is an invitation for us to get out there and start talking to our neighbors and our broader communities about all the benefits – personal, financial, social, environmental – from taking climate action.

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