Boston – With solar energy on the rise in Massachusetts, Environment Massachusetts joined 58 cities, towns, businesses, along with environmental, public health and civic organizations today in submitting letters to Governor Patrick and his Department of Energy Resources (DOER) urging them expand the state’s solar requirement and to set goal of at least 50,000 solar roofs in Massachusetts by the end of the decade. Touting widespread support from the public and a broad array of stakeholders, many organizations attended a public hearing urging Massachusetts to seal Massachusetts’ status as a national leader by setting bold and achievable goals and updating key policies.
Environment Massachusetts’ Energy Associate, Danielle Falzon, presented letters signed by organizations, businesses and local governments across Massachusetts, urging the state to quadruple the state’s requirement for clean, local renewable energy like solar, to 1600 MW.
“Massachusetts has made great strides in providing citizens, businesses and local government access to solar energy,” said Falzon. “The strong public support and progress we’ve made to date, should give us the confidence that we can take it to the next level.”
“As one of the leading producers of solar energy in Massachusetts, the City of Holyoke is proud to support the expansion of solar energy across the Commonwealth,” said Mayor Alex Morse of the City of Holyoke. “Solar energy is vital in providing Massachusetts with sustainability and economic growth.”
“Investing in solar means investing in the local economy,” said Gary Gresh, sustainability manager for Woburn-based commercial real estate company Cummings Properties. “In addition to its environmental benefits, we can’t ignore the fact that building more solar energy projects will help local businesses.”
The speakers emphasized that Massachusetts has already installed 220 MW of solar, most of which was installed in the last two years. This means that the Commonwealth is on track to reach Governor Patrick’s goal of getting 250 MW of solar installed by 2017 within the coming months – four years ahead of schedule.
Forward-thinking policies; including the solar carve-out (SREC program), net-metering and programs like Commonwealth Solar and Solarize Massachusetts have lined up with the strong public and institutional support and demand for solar energy to make Massachusetts a national solar leader.
In order to continue this growth, the DOER must first make the decision to quadruple the state’s Solar Carve-Out in their policy-making this April. In addition, the Governor must quadruple his goals to get 1 GW of solar installed by 2017.
“On days of high energy demand, our overdependence on natural gas causes electricity prices to go through the roof,” said Larry Chretien, Executive Director of the Energy Consumers Alliance of New England. “Fortunately, solar on our roofs can help meet that demand by tapping a resource with no fuel costs – and it can do that without adding to our climate problem.”
“As an abundant, clean, and local energy source, solar should be top on Massachusetts’ list in renewable energy investments,” said Dewitt Jones of BCC Solar Energy Advantage, which has developed over 2 MW of solar serving affordable housing, non-profits, and municipal facilities across the state.
The dirty energy equivalent of 1 GW of solar energy is approximately one medium-sized coal-fired power plant. That means with high goals and strong solar policies in place, Massachusetts has the potential to substantially offset one of the state’s leading sources of global warming emissions and air pollution.
“Massachusetts has more solar potential than Germany, the world’s leader on solar energy,” Falzon said. “Now we must enact policies that will allow us to fully utilize that potential and put us on track to building a state powered by renewable energy.”
Environment Massachusetts is a statewide, citizen-based, environmental advocacy organization working toward a cleaner, greener, healthier future.
Read Danielle Falzon’s testimony from the hearing here.