On Wednesday, July 24, state officials met at Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA) to celebrate and reaffirm a clean energy “vision.” It seemed a fitting location: the nearby wind turbine served as a visual reminder of MMA’s dedication to greening its campus. And the crowd could look out over Cape Cod Canal as MMA President Richard Gurnon described in his opening remarks plans to build a hydro-kinetic project at the canal.
Speaking next, Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Richard Sullivan discussed how the successes of the state’s clean energy vision are moving the nation forward. He introduced the “visionary,” Governor Patrick. The passage of four landmark laws under the Patrick Administration—the Green Communities Act (GCA), the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA), the Green Jobs Act (GJA), and the Massachusetts Ocean Act—set the stage for the striking clean energy progress that has resulted in Massachusetts over the past five years.
The Governor emphasized that energy policy improvements in Massachusetts have allowed the state to reap benefits in three areas: the environment, the economy, and energy independence. He then launched into a more detailed description of just how far Massachusetts has come.
The state achieved a more than 11 percent increase in clean energy jobs last year, and, in 2013, surpassed the Patrick Administration’s goal of reaching 250 MW of installed solar capacity four years early. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy ranked Massachusetts the Number 1 state for energy efficiency the last two years in a row. And, with greenhouse gas emissions down 11 percent from 1990 levels, the Commonwealth is well on the way to meeting its nation-leading target to reduce emissions by 25 percent by 2020.
“I am very proud of this record,” said Patrick. “And I think there’s a reason for everyone in this Commonwealth to be proud too.” He said that he is encouraged by the partnerships that have been created across all points of view. But he cautioned that “Now is no time to let up.”
Gov. Patrick highlighted three areas of energy policy that will be focal points during the remaining 17 months of his term: solar power, clean water technology, and climate change. He discussed his goal of reaching 1,600 MW of solar electricity capacity by 2020, and characterized technology to reduce energy use for water and wastewater treatment as the “next innovation cluster.” Massachusetts, he said, needs to develop resilience strategies for adapting to the impacts of climate change. “We cannot leave our future to chance,” he said, and we must “govern for the next generation, not the next election cycle.”
The conclusion to the Governor’s speech was met with a standing ovation.
Secretary Sullivan addressed the crowd again, thanking many of the partners and stakeholders who were involved in the development, passage, and implementation of the Commonwealth’s clean energy laws. Ian Bowles, who was Secretary Sullivan’s predecessor from 2007 until 2011, highlighted the state’s clean energy achievements and told the audience that they have a responsibility to help make these successes more widely known.
Phillip Cavallo, President and CEO of Beaumont Solar in New Bedford, talked about how his company benefits the local economy by giving preferential treatment to residents of New Bedford when deciding whom to hire. Cavello said that Beaumont Solar’s growth is “proof that the Green Communities Act is up to its promises.”
While many people are worried about finding solutions for the relentless, impending environmental threats that face the planet, I was relieved and hopeful to be part of this celebration of the substantive clean energy improvements made in Massachusetts