BOSTON (State House News Service) – The state’s newest climate law made the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center the focal point for the state’s offshore wind efforts — everything from boosting academic research efforts and innovation to supporting the supply chain and dealing with barriers in the way of offshore wind companies — but its executive and board were not interested Tuesday in sharing their thoughts on the new responsibilities publicly.

Offshore wind projects are an essential part of Massachusetts’ transition from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources and are crucial for the state to be able to make good on its commitment to reach net-zero emission by 2050. The law that Gov. Charlie Baker signed last month charges MassCEC with running a new offshore wind industry investment program and a related offshore wind tax incentive program worth up to $35 million a year (both were to be funded in the stalled economic development bill).

To meet the net-zero target and other goals along the way, Massachusetts will have to get on pace of bringing about 1 gigawatt (or 1,000 MW) of offshore wind power online each year in the 2030s, the Baker administration has said. The state’s utilities already have 3,200 MW of offshore wind power under contract between the four projects that have so far been selected since the 2016 law that truly kicked off the Bay State’s foray into offshore wind.

But when it met for the first time since the new law was passed and signed, the MassCEC Board of Directors mentioned the new law and the new duties it will have to assume as an organization only in passing.

“I read Jen’s email last night, which really was quite comprehensive about the various different climate acts from the federal government as well as the Massachusetts climate laws … so I won’t go into the details,” Undersecretary of Energy and Climate Solutions Judy Chang said as part of her update to the board. “I thought it was a great summary.”

When it was CEO Jennifer Daloisio’s turn to update the board, she kept it brief and also referred board members to the email that she said she sent around Monday night.

“I really did pull everything together in that email last night, so please reach out if you have questions,” she said. No other board members addressed the issue.

Six hours after it was first mentioned in the public meeting and requested by the News Service, a spokeswoman for MassCEC shared a copy of the email from the CEO to board members.

“In August, the Governor signed the Climate Bill that included some important components related to MassCEC. The Climate Bill did not include additional funding for MassCEC, as that was part of the larger economic development bill that did not pass before the end of the legislative session,” Daloisio wrote. She said she was sharing the information by email the night before the meeting “[s]o that we can get right to business at the meeting.”

The email highlighted some of the changes to MassCEC, its board and its mission. Among them is the increase in board size from 12 members to 15 members (and with it a new quorum threshold of eight members rather than six), the expansion of MassCEC’s definition of clean energy to include fusion and geothermal, and a requirement that MassCEC develop “a guide and website with information on the cost and availability of [electric vehicles] as well as develop an annual projection of EV availability in the next year.”

Though it is not directly related to MassCEC’s new role, Chang did briefly touch upon an aspect of the new law that she said she has been working on and wanted the MassCEC board to be aware of.

The new climate law authorizes the Department of Energy Resources to “coordinate with one or more New England states undertaking competitive solicitations to consider projects for long-term clean energy generation, transmission or capacity for the benefit of residents of the commonwealth and the region.”

“With Department of Energy Resources, we’re working on how to implement that part of our legislation. That part of the Massachusetts legislation actually requires us to do that by the end of this year. So there’s actually some tight timeline on that,” Chang said.

The law gives DOER and the attorney general’s office (in its ratepayer advocate function) until Dec. 31 to determine whether there is a project that would meet the detailed criteria it lays out. If DOER determines by the end of the year that there is such a project that would benefit Massachusetts, the state’s electric distribution companies would be required to enter into cost-effective long-term contracts.

Gaining the ability to secure clean energy (specifically offshore wind) through a joint contract with neighboring states was a priority of the Baker administration this session.

“Ideally, we will be looking at all of this in a regional context in the future, but I think we have the opportunity to work on that this session as conversations continue with neighboring states about reforming the regional markets and ensuring that we can work together as a region to build out the transmission and interconnection we need to support clean generation throughout the region,” former Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides said in February 2021 when the current legislative session was just getting going.