Report highlights innovative clean energy programs in Massachusetts’ cities and towns

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THE REPORT COMES AS GOV. BAKER CONSIDERS WHETHER TO SIGN CLIMATE BILL INTO LAW

BOSTON – Massachusetts’ cities and towns are taking action to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and transition to clean energy, according to a new report released on Wednesday by the Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center.

“The best ideas for clean energy often start at the local level,” said Ben Hellerstein, state director for the Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center. “If we want to have cleaner air, healthier communities and a safer future for us and our children, we must transition to 100% renewable energy. These cities and towns are showing how to get it done.”

The report, Renewable Communities 2022, includes nine case studies of Massachusetts communities that are leading the way on clean energy.

This year’s report is the fifth edition of Renewable Communities. Since 2016, more than 60 municipal and regional programs have been featured in Renewable Communities, including actions promoting renewable electricity, energy storage, energy efficiency, clean heating and clean transportation.

“The addition of BlueBikes in Salem has already proved to be a popular option for getting around the city”, said Brendan Linard, Transportation Planner for the City of Salem. “We hope to see continued growth of Bluebikes and other clean transportation options in our community.”

“The Solarize Eastie program is all about engaging the community to increase the adoption of clean energy technologies,” said Kate England, Director of Green Infrastructure for the City of Boston. “The Solarize Eastie program will provide residents with expanded access to solar energy at an affordable price.”

At a virtual event on Wednesday, local leaders discussed the findings of the report and shared their perspectives on the importance of municipal action.

Several speakers discussed clean transportation projects, including efforts to improve public transit service, encourage more residents to travel by bicycle and expand the availability of electric vehicle charging.

“Bus lanes have made bus rides more reliable for commuters,” said Eric Burkman, Director of Transit Priority for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. “With better bus infrastructure, we can make public transit a faster and safer option to get from point A to point B.”

“The electric vehicle chargers in Melrose are the first of their kind on the East Coast and a clear demonstration of the City of Melrose’s commitment to cleaner transportation options,” said Lori Timmermann, Community Solutions Manager for National Grid. “Pole-mounted chargers are a smart, cost-effective way to expand access to electric vehicle charging, and are one of many efforts National Grid is advancing to accelerate clean transportation in Massachusetts.”

The report comes as Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker considers whether to sign a climate bill into law.

Last month, the bill (H.5060) passed both the Massachusetts House and Senate with broad, bipartisan support. Gov. Baker returned the bill to the Legislature on July 29 with amendments, many of which lawmakers adopted before sending a revised version back to the governor for his signature.

Among other provisions, the climate bill would:

  • Ensure that 100% of the cars sold in Massachusetts are electric vehicles by 2035.
  • Require the owners of large buildings — such as offices, apartment buildings, hospitals, and universities — to disclose their energy use each year.
  • Set a timeline for the MBTA to achieve an all-electric bus fleet, and provide assistance for regional transit authorities (RTAs) to adopt electric buses.
  • Increase the amount of electricity generated from renewable sources by removing obstacles to the development of solar and offshore wind projects.
  • Allow up to 10 cities and towns to adopt local policies requiring new buildings to use fossil-fuel-free heating and appliances.

The governor has until Thursday night to act on the bill.

“The communities featured in this report are leading the way on clean energy,” said Hellerstein. “With support from state officials, Massachusetts’ cities and towns can go even further.”

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