State Capitol Briefs — Friday, March 28, 2014

State officials on Thursday marked the launch of an all-electric transit bus fleet in Worcester and announced a new initiative to provide rebates of up to $2,500 for plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles. According to the Patrick administration, all Massachusetts residents are eligible to receive the incentives on vehicles registered in the state, with $2 million in greenhouse gas emission auction proceeds generated by a multi-state compact providing the funds for the rebates. Gov. Deval Patrick on Thursday also awarded nearly $600,000 in grants to 16 municipalities, including $110,000 for Somerville and $60,000 for Boston, Mass. Maritime Academy and UMass Medical School, and the Department of Environmental Protection to acquire plug-in hybrid or battery-electric vehicles and to install Level 2 charging stations. The Worcester Regional Transit Authority purchased six Proterra plug-in, all-electric buses for more than $7 million. Each bus eliminates 130 more tons of carbon dioxide per year compared to buses using diesel fuel, officials said, and the fleet will also reduce petroleum consumption and lower operating costs by nearly $3 million over 12 years. In a statement, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan said the authority’s fleet would be “cleaner, quieter, and will save money.” The Patrick administration estimates $20 million has been invested in electric and alternative fuel vehicles in Massachusetts, with the latest initiative coming in December when officials announced an electric school bus pilot. The Department of Energy Resources plans to provide $1.8 million in grants for eight electric school buses, which have the added benefit of being able to serve as backup energy resources during a disaster. – M. Norton/SHNS

Felix Browne, a former aide to former Gov. Mitt Romney and former Sen. Scott Brown who worked most recently for the Mass High Tech Council, appears headed south. In an item headlined “Felix Browne to Texas,” the council reported in its March newsletter on Friday that Texas Gov. Rick Perry recently asked Browne to join his staff as communications director. “For a young guy with a very flexible lifestyle, the opportunity to advance his career with this type of engagement – even if only for the next year as the Governor concludes his 14-year term – was too good to pass up. Felix departed his official duties with MHTC on March 14,” the council wrote, speculating that Browne’s work on last year’s campaign to repeal the tech tax “no doubt boosted his credentials.” Informed of the council’s report, employees in Perry’s press office did not return phone calls. – M. Norton/SHNS

Copyright 2014 State House News Service

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