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Drafting an Energy Path for the MBTA


Under the leadership of Fletcher Professor of Practice Barbara Kates-Garnick, two Fletcher students worked this spring on drafting an energy road map for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which requested recommendations for its procurement and system design decisions over the coming decades. Michael Semeraro, MIB ’20 and Austin Shiner, MALD ’20 worked with Professor Kates-Garnick to provide a conceptual clean energy path for the MBTA.

The team considered state and regional energy regulations, technical challenges, and constraints. For example, bus system electrification will increase the MBTA’s total electricity consumption and peak demand, and so the team has projected the MBTA’s electricity consumption as a function of an increase in ridership and percentage bus system electrification, showing a variety of different scenarios dependent on the increase in these two variables, and the resulting annual electricity consumption. The complete electrification, not only of the MBTA, but the entire Massachusetts economy, will necessitate a massive clean generation infrastructure buildout. And so, the recommendations include ways to optimize energy procurement with respect to cost and carbon, as well as ways to support and benefit from the continued expansion of offshore wind energy. To apply a consistent analytical framework throughout, the climate change-mitigating potential of each recommendation is assessed in conjunction with the likely effect on the MBTA’s financial sustainability, service reliability, and operational flexibility.

When the report is complete, it will be posted here for download.