Mayors call for Massachusetts to go 100% renewable

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Ben Hellerstein

Former State Director, Environment Massachusetts

Environment Massachusetts

Boston – Mayors from cities across Massachusetts announced the launch of a new coalition supporting a statewide transition to 100% clean and renewable sources of energy.

The coalition, Mayors for 100% Renewable Energy, is co-chaired by Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell, and Easthampton Mayor Nicolle LaChapelle.

“Cities are drivers of innovation, and cities are leading the way for clean energy in Massachusetts. Investing in renewable energy resources not only benefits the environment and public health of our residents, but it also saves significant taxpayer dollars – a tangible benefit for cities,” said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell.

The mayors released a statement of support calling for Massachusetts to transition to 100% renewable energy for all uses, including electricity, heating, and transportation, by 2045, as well as an accelerated timeline to achieve 100% renewable energy for the electric sector. So far, 10 mayors have signed onto the statement, representing cities with a combined population of more than 700,000.

In the coming weeks, the co-chairs plan to reach out to their colleagues in other cities to invite them to sign on.

“Mayors are showing that a future powered by 100% renewable energy is within reach,” said Ben Hellerstein, State Director for Environment Massachusetts. “These local leaders are taking big steps toward a clean and renewable future in their communities, and I look forward to seeing the impact their voices will have at the state level.”

“Cities and towns across Massachusetts have been leading the clean energy revolution and they are hungry for additional resources to advance sustainable policies,” said Jacob Stern, Clean Energy Organizer for the Sierra Club Massachusetts Chapter. “We see a statewide commitment to 100% renewable energy as a necessary step to transform our economy into one where municipalities and residents are able to fully benefit from a just transition to clean energy.”

Across Massachusetts, cities and towns are taking action to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Several examples of municipal leadership on clean energy are highlighted in Renewable Communities, a report from the Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center:

  • In Somerville, residents and businesses are receiving a higher percentage of clean electricity through a municipal aggregation program.
  • New Bedford has installed 16 megawatts of solar projects, saving taxpayers nearly $1 million per year. City departments have widely adopted electric vehicles into their fleets. The city is poised to be the center of the burgeoning offshore wind industry on the East Coast.
  • In Worcester, the Greenwood Street landfill is home to an 8.1 MW-DC solar array, one of the largest in New England, which generates enough energy to power more than 1,300 homes.
  • Easthampton is participating in ValleyBike Share, an affordable, green alternative transportation network connecting communities in the Pioneer Valley.

Six states (Hawaii, California, New York, New Mexico, Washington, and Maine), along with Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, have committed to phase out the use of fossil fuel electricity by 2050 or sooner. Under existing state law, Massachusetts would not reach 100% renewable electricity until 2095.

The 100% Renewable Energy Act (S.1958, H.2836), filed by Representative Marjorie Decker, Representative Sean Garballey, and Senator Jamie Eldridge, would set stronger targets. The bill would transition Massachusetts to 100% renewable electricity by 2035, and phase out the use of fossil fuels for heating and transportation by 2045.

So far, 113 legislators have endorsed the 100% Renewable Energy Act.

“Massachusetts has a responsibility to be a leader on clean energy policy,” said State Senator Jamie Eldridge. “We must commit to a future powered entirely by clean energy, and pass legislation to systematically reach that goal. It is up to us to take bold action if we want future generations to inherit a clean planet. We must take initiative by reducing emissions, and protecting the safety of our air, land and water.”

More than 50 environmental, civic, and business organizations have endorsed a statewide commitment to 100% renewable energy. Mass Power Forward, a statewide coalition with 200 member organizations, has included these bills among its top priorities for the 2019–2020 legislative session.

Through the RE100 initiative, more than 200 global companies have committed to a goal of 100% renewable energy. Many of the companies that have joined RE100 have a significant presence in Massachusetts, including Biogen, Google, Microsoft, and P&G.

Major institutions have also committed to 100% renewable energy targets, including Boston University and Partners HealthCare.