13 Massachusetts Communities Kickstart New Geothermal Networks with $450,000 in Funding from MassCEC

February 29, 2024
Nearly 50% of the grant funding is going to environmental justice communities to prioritize an equitable transition to a clean energy future.

HEET is delighted to announce the award of $450,000 in grant funding through its Kickstart Mass program to 13 communities to support the proliferation of geothermal networks in Massachusetts. The program, made possible with funding from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, supports the development of shovel-ready projects to bring clean, utility-scale heating and cooling to neighborhoods throughout the Commonwealth—with nearly 50% of the money going to environmental justice communities to prioritize an equitable transition to a clean energy future.

The following funding has been awarded:

  • $10,000 grants were awarded to projects located in the Acton, Ashland, Melrose, New Bedford, and Newton communities.
  • $50,000 grants were awarded to projects located in the Arlington, Deerfield, Gloucester, Lexington, Lowell, Salem, Somerville, and Worcester communities.

“There was tremendous interest from a wide range of people, organizations and communities, and we received a number of outstanding applications. We see these grants as a powerful tool for signaling to decision makers and policy makers that people across the state want equitable access to affordable, clean, local energy,” said Angie Alberto-Escobar, HEET’s Director of Gas-to-Geo Transition.

The selected projects feature a mix of building retrofits and new construction and include residential homes, affordable housing and industrial, commercial, and lab space—demonstrating how geothermal networks can serve a wide range of use cases. They also represent diverse potential thermal energy sources that geothermal networks can tap into. Nearly 50% of the $450,000 funding is directed to environmental justice communities, surpassing Kickstart Mass’s goal and in line with the federal government’s Justice40 Initiative—as well as HEET’s commitment to advancing an equitable energy transition.

Kickstart Mass is part of HEET’s larger goal of accelerating national progress on the transition from natural gas to clean energy at the speed and scale that this moment in history demands. HEET’s work is being done in parallel with state legislative and regulatory efforts and gas utility initiatives to decarbonize building heating and cooling. Kickstart Mass communities will be at the forefront of this statewide progress and will serve as a national model for other states looking to support the adoption of geothermal networks.

Geothermal networks, also known as thermal energy networks, are a neighborhood-scale decarbonization solution gaining traction nationwide. The ultra-efficient approach leverages existing, proven technology and will significantly reduce the projected build-out of the electric grid while curbing emissions at the speed and scale needed to tackle the challenge to decarbonize our building stock.

“Communities are recognizing the exciting potential of cooling and heating neighborhoods with clean geothermal networks,” said Massachusetts Clean Energy Center CEO Dr. Emily Reichert. “MassCEC is proud to work with nonprofit partners like HEET to bring equitable and innovative climate solutions to cities and towns across Massachusetts.” 

Grant recipients have expressed excitement for the potential of these projects to positively impact their communities and amplify local voices and initiatives:

“We are thrilled to receive this support from HEET to continue the work in Acton to speed the transition away from fossil fuels and make the switch to clean heating and cooling technologies accessible to all.”
— Andrea Becerra, Acton Sustainability Director

“The Town is thrilled to be participating in the Kickstart Mass program. We’re excited for the opportunity to test out this efficient and innovative approach to decarbonization while engaging community members around it!”
— Talia Fox, Sustainability Manager, Town of Arlington

“Ashland is very excited to be awarded a Kickstart Mass grant! As part of our goal to be Net Zero by 2040, we need to make clean heating and cooling accessible to all of our residents. This funding will help educate and prepare our community for future networked geothermal projects in Ashland.”
— Samantha Reilly, Ashland Sustainability Project Manager

“Although we're a small, rural community, Deerfield has been at the forefront of efforts to adapt to climate change, constantly looking to improve our residents’ lives while helping the Commonwealth meet its 2050 Net Zero goals. This Kickstart Mass grant gives us the resources to explore how geothermal can help Deerfield move forward, and we’re thrilled to partner with HEET in this effort.”
— Tim Hilchey, Deerfield Selectboard

Green Newton
“We are thrilled to receive the Kickstart Mass grant, and we're excited to explore the potential of networked geothermal heating and cooling with the Newton community. The grant will build on Green Newton's work to fight the climate crisis.”
— Judy Lehrer Jacobs, Executive Director, Green Newton

“Here in Lexington, we have been eagerly following the expanding number of networked geothermal projects around Massachusetts and beyond for several years. It’s an incredibly exciting technology that has huge potential as a widespread climate solution, so we are grateful to have the opportunity to explore bringing the technology to Lexington.”
— Maggie Peard, Lexington Sustainability & Resilience Officer

Lowell Housing Authority
“The Lowell Housing Authority's goals include improving the quality of life for our residents; at the same time, with decarbonization projects targeted in several of our developments and across the Authority in general, we are moving toward a healthier and safer environment for our entire community. We are grateful to HEET for awarding this grant and helping us kickstart a geothermal solution study in the Salem Street neighborhood.”
— Jonathan Goldfield, Capital Asset Director, Lowell Housing Authority

New Bedford
“From great success with solar power to being the country’s hub of the emerging offshore wind industry, the City of New Bedford is a leader in renewable energy. We are grateful for HEET’s support of our clean energy initiatives as we chart a course for a net zero future.”
— Tyler Reis, City of New Bedford Energy Manager

“Climate change isn’t some far off crisis we're buckling up for. It’s here. And we need every tool and nonstop innovation if we are going to leave this planet in a better place for our children. We are fortunate that the Healey Administration knows that and is funding important grant programs like Kickstart Mass. This grant will allow Somerville to continue to innovate as we work to decarbonize our community equitably. Exploring networked geothermal is one important building block for our goal to be carbon net negative by 2050, and thanks to HEET and MassCEC we can advance this important work.”
— Mayor Katjana Ballantyne, Somerville

St. Peter’s-San Pedro Church, Salem
“It’s so important that we think beyond ourselves, beyond St. Peter’s-San Pedro Episcopal Church in our case, and ask how can we help the community of Salem fight climate change? This is our moment to make a difference together, with a geothermal network that will serve not only the diverse parishioners of this church, but our neighbors in our city as well.”
— Reverend Nathan Ives, rector at St. Peter’s-San Pedro Church

Worcester Business Development Corporation
“As the owner of a portion of the former Saint Gobain Abrasives campus in the Greendale area of Worcester, we feel a sense of responsibility to explore and embrace sustainability alternatives for the future development of the site. We are grateful to HEET and the Kickstart Mass program for recognizing the potential of this project and the significant positive impact it will bring to our community.”
— Craig Blais, President, Worcester Business Development Corporation