Massachusetts Laws and Incentives

Listed below are the summaries of all current Massachusetts laws, incentives, regulations, funding opportunities, and other initiatives related to alternative fuels and vehicles, advanced technologies, or air quality. You can go directly to summaries of:

State Incentives

Alternative Fuel Vehicle and Infrastructure Grants

The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources' Clean Vehicle Project offers grant funding for public and private fleets to purchase alternative fuel vehicles and infrastructure, as well as idle reduction technology. Eligible vehicles include those fueled by natural gas, propane, and electricity, including hybrid electric, solar electric, and hydraulic hybrid vehicles. Eligible infrastructure includes natural gas and hydrogen fueling stations as well as electric vehicle supply equipment. For information about how to apply for funding, visit the Massachusetts Clean Cities website.

Electric Vehicle Emissions Inspection Exemption

Vehicles powered exclusively by electricity are exempt from state motor vehicle emissions inspections. For more information, see the Massachusetts Vehicle Check website. (Reference Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Regulations and Standards 310 CMR 60.02)

Massachusetts Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Rebates

Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources' Massachusetts Offers Rebates for Electric Vehicles (MOR-EV) Program offers rebates of up to $2,500 to customers purchasing or leasing a PEV or zero emission motorcycle. Rebates are only available to Massachusetts residents and residents must submit applications within three months of the vehicle purchase or lease date. Applicants must retain ownership of the vehicle for a minimum of 36 months. For more information, including application and eligibility requirements, visit the MOR-EV website.

Workplace Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) Grants

The Massachusetts Electric Vehicle Incentive Program (MassEVIP) provides grants for 50% of the cost of Level 1 or Level 2 workplace EVSE, up to $25,000. Eligible applicants include employers with 15 or more employees in a non-residential place of business. For more information, including funding availability, application, and eligibility requirements, visit the MassEVIP website.

Point of Contact
Ms. Sejal P. Shah
Environmental Analyst
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
Phone: (617) 556-1015

Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) and Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) Grants

The Massachusetts Electric Vehicle Incentive Program (MassEVIP) provides grants for the purchase or lease of qualified PEVs, zero emission electric motorcycles (ZEMs), and Level 2 EVSE. Grants are available for up to $7,500 for the purchase or lease of a PEV, up to $13,500 for the purchase or lease of Level 2 EVSE, and up to $750 for the purchase or lease of a ZEM. Eligible applicants include local governments, public universities and colleges, and state agencies. For more information, including funding availability, application, and eligibility requirements, visit the MassEVIP website.

Point of Contact
Ms. Sejal P. Shah
Environmental Analyst
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
Phone: (617) 556-1015

Idle Reduction Weight Exemption

Any motor vehicle equipped with qualified idle reduction technology may exceed the state gross, axle, tandem, or bridge weight limits by up to 400 pounds to account for the weight of the technology. The idle reduction technology must be able to provide electrical service, heating, or cooling to the vehicle. The additional weight may not exceed the actual weight of the idle reduction unit. The vehicle operator must also be able to prove the weight of the idle reduction technology and demonstrate that the technology is fully functional. (Reference Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90, Section 19A)

Cellulosic Biofuel Tax Exemption

Fuel consisting of cellulosic biofuel or a blend of gasoline and cellulosic biofuel is eligible for a fuel tax exemption in proportion to the percentage of the fuel content consisting of cellulosic biofuel. For these purposes, eligible cellulosic biofuel includes fuel derived from cellulose, hemicellulose, or lignin derived from renewable biomass that yields at least a 60% reduction in life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions relative to the average life cycle GHG emissions for petroleum-based fuel sold in 2005. This exemption is available through December 31, 2017. (Reference Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 64A, Section 1 and 1A and Massachusetts Department of Revenue TIR 09-4)

Utility/Private Incentives

Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Discounts - Mass Energy

Mass Energy's Drive Green with Mass Energy program provides discounts on qualified PEVs purchased or leased from participating dealerships. The discount program is available to all consumers, including those that are not in Mass Energy's service territory. For more information, including participating dealerships and the discounts they offer, see the Drive Green with Mass Energy website.

Laws and Regulations

Support for Autonomous Vehicle Testing and Operation

The Secretary of Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) will establish a working group to assess the safe development of autonomous vehicles (AV). The AV Working Group should convene and consult with experts on motor vehicle safety and vehicle automation, and work with the Legislature on any proposed AV. MassDOT, with input from the AV Working Group, should issue guidance to allow for the safe testing of automated technologies on designated state highways and on other public roadways. For more information, see the AV Working Group website. (Reference Executive Order 572)

Public Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) Requirements

Owners and operators of public EVSE that require payment must provide payment options that allow access by the public. In addition, payment should not require users to pay a subscription fee or obtain a membership of any kind; however, required fees may be conditional on such memberships. Owners and operators can impose reasonable restrictions on EVSE use, such as limiting access to visitors of the business. In addition, owners and operators of public EVSE must provide the location, hours of operation, payment, and characteristics of each EVSE for the U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels Data Center. (Reference Senate Bill 2505, 2017)

Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Parking Space Regulations

A city or town may restrict certain parking areas for ZEVs, which includes all-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and fuel cell vehicles. A person who is found responsible for a violation of the restricted parking area may be subject to a penalty of no more than $50 and the vehicle may be removed from the parking spot. (Reference Senate Bill 2505, 2017)

Voluntary Biofuels Program

In place of the formal Biodiesel Blend Mandate, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) will launch a voluntary biofuels program through which DOER will work with biodiesel suppliers to certify biofuels. Lessons learned from this voluntary program will provide the basis for future expansion and full implementation of a state biofuels mandate. For more information, refer to the June 2010 Massachusetts Advanced Biofuels Mandate Program Announcement.

Biodiesel Blend Mandate

Pursuant to state law, all diesel motor vehicle fuel and all other liquid fuel used to operate motor vehicle diesel engines in Massachusetts must contain at least 2% renewable diesel fuel by July 1, 2010; 3% renewable diesel fuel by July 1, 2011; 4% renewable diesel fuel by July 1, 2012; and 5% renewable diesel fuel by July 1, 2013. For these purposes, eligible renewable diesel fuel includes diesel fuel that is derived predominantly from renewable biomass and yields at least a 50% reduction in life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions relative to the average life cycle GHG emissions for petroleum-based diesel fuel sold in 2005. The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) must also study the feasibility, benefits, and costs of applying the percentage mandates on a statewide average basis rather than for every gallon of diesel motor fuel sold.

DOER may delay the implementation of the biodiesel blend mandate if DOER determines that it is not feasible to meet the mandate due to lack of supply, lack of blending facilities, or unreasonable cost. As of June 2010, DOER suspended the formal requirement on grounds of unreasonable cost.

(Reference Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 94, Section 295G1/2)

Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Deployment Support

Massachusetts joined California, Connecticut, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont in signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to support the deployment of ZEVs through involvement in a ZEV Program Implementation Task Force (Task Force). In May 2014, the Task Force published a ZEV Action Plan (Plan) identifying 11 priority actions to accomplish the goals of the MOU, including deploying at least 3.3 million ZEVs and adequate fueling infrastructure within the signatory states by 2025. The Plan also includes a research agenda to inform future actions. On an annual basis, each state must report on the number of registered ZEVs, the number of public electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) and hydrogen fueling stations, and available information regarding workplace fueling for ZEVs. Each state also committed to:

  • Support ZEV commercialization through consistent statewide building codes and standards for installing EVSE, streamlined metering options for homes equipped with EVSE, opportunities to reduce vehicle operating costs, increased electric system efficiency through time-of-use electricity rates and net metering for electric vehicles, and integrating ZEVs with renewable energy initiatives;
  • Establish ZEV purchase targets for governmental agency fleets, explore opportunities for coordinated vehicle and fueling station equipment procurement, work to provide public access to government fleet fueling stations, and include commitments to use ZEVs in state contracts with auto dealers and car rental companies where appropriate;
  • Evaluate the need for, and effectiveness of, monetary incentives to reduce the upfront purchase price of ZEVs as well as non-monetary incentives, such as high occupancy vehicle lane access, reduced tolls, and preferential parking, and pursue these incentives as appropriate;
  • Work to develop uniform standards to promote ZEV consumer acceptance and awareness, industry compliance, and economies of scale, including adopting universal signage, common methods of payment and interoperability of EVSE networks, and reciprocity among states for non-monetary ZEV incentives;
  • Cooperate with vehicle manufacturers, electricity and hydrogen providers, the fueling infrastructure industry, corporate fleet owners, financial institutions, and others to encourage ZEV market growth;
  • Share research and develop a coordinated education and outreach campaign to highlight the benefits of ZEVs, including collaboration with related national and regional initiatives; and
  • Assess and develop potential deployment strategies and infrastructure requirements for the commercialization of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

For more information, see the Multi-State ZEV Task Force website.

Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) Building Standards

The Massachusetts State Board of Building Regulations and Standards and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources will develop building and electric code requirements for residential and appropriate commercial buildings for EVSE. The regulations may vary, depending on whether or not an EVSE is already installed or will be installed. (Reference Senate Bill 2505, 2017)

High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Lane Exemption Feasibility Study

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Commission, and Department of State Police will issue a feasibility study on authorizing ZEVs, including battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, or fuel cell vehicles, for use in HOV lanes regardless of the number of occupants in the vehicle. The study will cover existing capacity in HOV lanes, the impact of ZEVs on HOV lanes, and how to identify ZEVs to ensure appropriate HOV lane access. (Reference Senate Bill 2505, 2017)

Alternative Fuel Offering Requirement

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation may not enter into, renew, or renegotiate a contract with a fuel provider for services on the Massachusetts Turnpike without requiring the provider to offer alternative fuel. Alternative fuel is defined as an energy source that is used to power a vehicle and is not gasoline or diesel. (Reference Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 6C, Section 75 and Chapter 90, Section 1)

State Energy Policy

The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) will lead and coordinate efforts between state agencies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to build resilience and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Specifically, EEA will coordinate with Massachusetts Department of Transportation and regional state transportation agencies to develop policies to reduce GHG emissions from the transportation sector. By 2018, EEA will publish, and update every five years thereafter, a comprehensive energy plan to include transportation strategies for meeting emission limits. (Reference Executive Order 569, 2016)

Transportation Emissions Reduction Reporting

Massachusetts should meet annually declining greenhouse gas emissions limits for mobile sources, as specified in the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act. By July 1, Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) must quantify and report aggregate MassDOT transportation greenhouse gas emissions annually. Among other measures to achieve reductions, MassDOT must increase plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) within the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and MassDOT fleet and promote PEV use by motorists. (Reference Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection 310 CMR 60.05 and Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 21N, Section 3)

State Hybrid Electric (HEV) Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Acquisition Requirements

When purchasing new motor vehicles, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts must purchase HEVs or AFVs to the maximum extent feasible and consistent with the ability of such vehicles to perform their intended functions. HEVs and AFVs must be acquired at a rate of at least 5% annually for all new motor vehicle purchases so that not less than 50% of the motor vehicles the Commonwealth owns and operates will be HEVs or AFVs by 2018.

State fleets must also acquire AFVs according to the requirements of the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 1992 and the Massachusetts Office of Vehicle Management (OVM) must approve any light-duty vehicle acquisition. All agencies must purchase the most economical, fuel-efficient, and low emission vehicles appropriate to their mission. OVM, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, will set new minimum standards for vehicle fuel economy and work with agencies to acquire vehicles that provide the best value for the Commonwealth on a total cost of ownership basis.

By July 1 of each year, OVM must compile a report detailing the progress made towards these requirements.

(Reference Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 7, Section 9A; Executive Order 388, 1996; and Massachusetts Executive Office of Administration and Finance Administrative Bulletin 10, 2016)

State Agency Alternative Fuel Use Requirement

All Massachusetts agencies must use a minimum of 15% biodiesel (B15) in all on- and off-road diesel engines, provided that the Commonwealth Office of Vehicle Management and other appropriate agencies have determined that a B15 goal is appropriate. Each year, the Office for Administration and Finance and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) must set minimum percentage requirements for E85 use in state flexible fuel vehicles, depending on the availability of the fuel in the state. Agencies may apply for exemptions from the biodiesel and E85 fuel use requirements if the agencies demonstrate that the alternative fuel is not available within a reasonable distance, cannot be purchased by state vehicle operators through state procurement, or the price of the alternative fuel is cost prohibitive, as determined by DOER. (Reference Massachusetts Executive Office of Administration and Finance Administrative Bulletin 13, 2006)

Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) Standards

The Massachusetts LEV Program requires all new passenger cars and light-duty trucks, medium-duty vehicles, and heavy-duty vehicles and engines sold and registered in Massachusetts to meet California emission and compliance requirements, as set forth in Title 13 of the California Code of Regulations. Manufacturers must comply with the Zero Emission Vehicle sales and greenhouse gas emissions requirements. (Reference Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Regulations and Standards 310 CMR 7.40)

Idle Reduction Requirement

A motor vehicle may not idle for more than five consecutive minutes. This regulation does not apply to: 1) vehicles being serviced, provided that operation of the engine is essential to the repair; 2) vehicles delivering or accepting goods or merchandise for which engine assisted power is necessary and substitute alternate power cannot be made available; or 3) vehicles requiring auxiliary power for an associate power need other than movement that cannot be substituted by an alternate power source provided that such operation does not cause or contribute to air pollution. Violators are subject to fines. Local boards of health, local police, and state and federal officials may enforce the state anti-idling law. (Reference Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90, Section 16A, and Department of Environmental Protection Regulations 310 CMR 7.11(1)(b))

Deregulation of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) as a Motor Fuel

The sale of CNG by a fueling station for use as fuel to operate a motor vehicle is deregulated; however, separate records, books, and accounts of such sales must be maintained. Investments in related infrastructure must not reduce the availability or increase the cost of natural gas to customers who purchase natural gas for use other than as fuel to operate a motor vehicle. (Reference Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 164, Section 941/2)