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'Go big': Massachusetts making strides in clean energy but advocates urge more efforts (MassLive)

July 19, 2018

 

Read the original article by Pete Goonan here

 

SPRINGFIELD -- A newly released environmental report says that based on a nationwide analysis, Massachusetts is making great strides in clean energy efforts -- but advocates said Tuesday that much more can and should be done.

 

The report, "Renewables on the Rise 2018," compiled by the Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center, was formally released during a press conference at City Hall.

 

The report, which analyzes progress from 2008 through 2017, ranks Massachusetts as the most improved state in the nation for electric energy efficiency.

 

In addition, the state was ranked 7th in the nation for solar electricity growth over that decade, the report said.

The Research and Policy Council stated that the United States has produced 39 times as much solar power in 2017 as was the case in 2008.

 

But more can be done, advocates said.

 

"Our message today is clear -- it's time for Massachusetts to go big on clean energy," said Ben Hellerstein, state director for Environment Massachusetts. "For all the progress we have made so far, there is so much more that we can do. The potential is there."

 

The executive summary concludes: "Policymakers at all levels should adopt policies aimed at repowering America with clean, renewable energy."

 

The full report can be found here.

 

In the report, Massachusetts also scored high in selling electric cars, ranking 12th in the nation, according to the report. In Massachusetts there were 5,411 electric cars sold through 2017, the report said.

 

California ranked first in the nation, far ahead of any other state with the sale of 182,805 electric cars through 2017.

Regarding wind energy, the report said the United States produces 4.6 times as much wind power as it did in 2008, enough to power 24 million homes. In 2017, wind turbines produced 6.9 percent of America's power, the report said.

 

Massachusetts was ranked 35th in the nation regarding its growth of electricity generated from wind in the past decade.

Trends that helped expand clean energy include LED bulbs dropping dramatically in cost, and batteries for electric cars becoming far more reliable.

 

Hellerstein said legislators have critical decisions to make on energy policy and "we hope they will do everything possible to accelerate our movement toward 100 percent clean, renewable energy." That includes legislation aimed at lifting caps on solar energy incentives to generate further investments, he said.

 

One legislative bill calls for increasing renewable energy to 50 percent of Massachusetts electricity consumption by 2030, and 100 percent by 2047, officials said.

 

Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, among local officials and activists attending the Springfield press conference, said it is "no accident" that over the past decade, the city is closing in on a 25 percent reduction in energy usage for municipal and school buildings. The savings under his administration have taken a lot of hard work strategic planning, and private partnerships, he said.

 

"I truly believe if every community, every household does their part we can ensure we make the difference in protecting the overall health of our most precious gift, our environment," Sarno said.

 

Millions of dollars in energy improvements in Springfield include new boilers, energy management systems, and improved air quality, city officials said. Sarno said it is good for the environment and good for budget savings through energy savings.

In addition, Eversource's investment in solar power includes its largest facility in Massachusetts at a former Springfield landfill, said Kevin Kennedy, the city's chief development officer.

 

City Councilor Jesse Lederman said Springfield is proving that an urban center can take the lead on environmental and energy issues. Springfield has a climate action plan, and a committee to pursue environmental improvements, he said.

"It is important for local municipalities to be at the table as we continue the momentum to move communities toward renewable energy," Lederman said.

 

Environment Massachusetts is a private nonprofit organization that describes itself as dedicated to protecting the air, water and open spaces through research, education and crafting of solutions.

 

Jennifer DeForge, a professor at Springfield Technical Community College, said Massachusetts is leading the way on energy efficiency and solar power, "but we can go further." She said she sees the excitement among her students in learning about renewable energy and reducing dependence of fossil fuels.

 

Danielle Winters, representing Arise for Social Justice, said the efforts on energy efficiency must accelerate in Massachusetts "to ensure a healthy future for our kids" and to create a future powered by renewable energy.

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