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Renewable Energy Push Held at CTEi

August 1, 2018

LEOMINSTER -- With election season just around the corner, environmental advocates and local leaders recently gathered at the high school’s Center for Technical Education innovation to share ideas for accelerating Massachusetts’ transition to 100 percent renewable energy.

“The 100% Renewable Energy Agenda,” developed by the Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center, includes more than 30 policies that the winner of this fall’s gubernatorial election can implement to reduce energy consumption and rapidly repower all sectors of the economy with clean energy.

“For decades, the commonwealth has led the nation in preserving the environment, protecting public health, and reducing global warming pollution,” said Ben Hellerstein, state director for the Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center. “Now more than ever, Massachusetts must lead the way. With support from our state’s top leaders, we can power our homes, our businesses, and our transportation system with clean, renewable energy”

Advocates described how the state’s solar and wind resources, combined with emerging technologies like electric vehicles, air source heat pumps, and battery storage, will enable us to meet our energy needs with clean, renewable power at all times of the day and night.

After discussing the recommendations in the “100% Renewable Energy Agenda,” local leaders took a tour of the Center for Technical Education innovation, where students learn how to install, monitor, and replace solar panels in a facility they built themselves. Students are also exposed to innovative energy efficiency manufacturing and energy storage systems.

David Fiandaca, director of the school, said about the initiative: “In 2012, our school became an innovation school with an emphasis on STEM. With that charge, we began to look into advanced manufacturing and renewable energy. What we have done is result of those efforts, because we believe that a vibrant future of our students livelihoods and planet is tied to the renewable energy transition.”

Speakers also pointed to the urgent need for action before the end of the legislative session.

In June, the state Senate passed a bill that would eliminate caps on solar net metering and increase renewable energy to 50 percent of Massachusetts’ electricity consumption by 2030 and 100 percent by 2047. The House has passed a bill for 35 percent renewable electricity by 2030. Legislators must reach an agreement before July 31, or start from scratch next year.

A report by the Applied Economics Clinic found that increasing the renewable portfolio standard by 3 percent per year, along with other clean energy policies, would result in 600,000 fewer metric tons of greenhouse gases per year by 2030 (equivalent to taking 128,000 cars off the road) at little to no additional cost to the public.

Since 2007, Massachusetts has seen a 246-fold increase in the amount of electricity it gets from the sun. Wind energy generation in the state is set to increase dramatically in the coming years, with a commitment to install 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind capacity.

The state’s offshore wind potential is equivalent to more than 19 times the state’s annual electricity consumption. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, rooftop solar installations alone could provide 47 percent of Massachusetts’ electricity.

“Nexamp has community solar arrays across the state because we believe that everyone should have access to the economic and environmental benefits of renewable energy. Through projects like the community solar array in Fitchburg, local communities are incrementally expanding renewable energy in Massachusetts, but there can be more work done on the state level to connect these incremental steps towards broader action,” said Eric Misbach, director of community solar operations at Nexamp.

Last week, 16 academics, researchers, and clean energy industry leaders sent a letter to state officials affirming that “there are no insurmountable technological or economic barriers to achieving 100 percent renewable energy.”

“Now is the time for us to go big on clean energy,” said Hellerstein. “Come January, we’re ready to work with whoever occupies the corner office on Beacon Hill to help Massachusetts go 100 percent renewable.”

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