Governor Deval Patrick today joined Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan and others to celebrate the five year anniversary of four key energy and environment initiatives in the Commonwealth.
"I am proud of the work we have done together to make Massachusetts a leader in the clean energy revolution," said Governor Patrick. "But we understand that now more than ever we cannot leave our future to chance. We will continue this work because it is our responsibility to leave a cleaner and healthier Commonwealth for the next generation."
Governor Patrick highlighted key successes from the Green Communities Act (GCA), the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA), the Green Jobs Act (GJA) and the Massachusetts Oceans Act over the last five years, ranging from 11 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to an 11 percent increase in clean energy jobs from 2011 to 2012.
"Governor Patrick's leadership has made the Commonwealth a national leader in clean energy," said Secretary Sullivan. "Today, we are more energy independent, our natural resources are better protected and we have fostered a thriving, innovative clean energy economy in the Commonwealth."
In 2012, Massachusetts installed more solar and wind energy systems than every other year combined. The Commonwealth now has 281 megawatts of solar capacity installed, surpassing the Patrick Administration's goal of 250 MW by 2017 - four years ahead of schedule.
Massachusetts now invests more in energy efficiency than any other state in the nation, earning the Commonwealth the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy's No. 1 ranking two years running.
Many of these investments are happening at the local level, as municipalities, businesses and individuals adopt energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions to reduce energy costs. Today, the Commonwealth is home to 110 cities and towns who have risen to the challenge and met five clean energy criteria -- earning them the Green Communities Designation.
The Commonwealth is also poised to be home to the nation's first offshore wind farm - Cape Wind. The Patrick Administration has invested in infrastructure, like the New Bedford Marine Terminal, to make Massachusetts a hub for this emerging industry.
Governor Patrick highlighted that, while Massachusetts leads the nation in several areas of clean energy and energy efficiency, there is still more work to do to protect our environment for this generation and the next. The Patrick Administration will continue to work to make gains in solar energy, water innovation and climate change adaptation. The Department of Energy Resources (DOER) is currently developing policies to reach the Governor's new goal of 1,600 Megawatts of solar electricity capacity by 2020. In addition, a new Solar Carve-Out Program will provide economic support to maintain and expand solar installations and policy mechanisms that control ratepayers' costs.
In an effort to make the Commonwealth home to another innovative industry, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center will lead the charge to address the intersection of water innovation and energy. In Massachusetts, water and wastewater treatment uses 1 billion kilowatt hours of electricity each year -- enough to power 132,000 average Massachusetts households. Investments in promising, early-stage technologies here in Massachusetts can reduce energy usage while supporting a new industry and making the Commonwealth a global hub for water innovation.
In January, the Patrick Administration announced the state's Accelerated Energy Program (AEP), which aims to reduce energy consumption by 20-25 percent over 700 state sites, creating about 4,000 clean energy jobs and saving the Commonwealth an estimated $43 million annually. AEP will significantly reduce the current annual consumption of more than 800 million kilowatt hours of electricity, 12 million gallons of heating oil, 55 million therms of natural gas, and emissions of more than 800,000 tons of greenhouse gases, which represent more than 4,000 buildings and 58 million square feet. The program will save an estimated 135,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases annually, the equivalent of removing 26,000 vehicles from the road per year.
"I'd like to thank the Administration for its leadership on energy and environmental issues that has positioned Massachusetts as an example for other states and nations to follow as we tackle the climate change crisis that we all face as citizens of the world," said Senator Marc R. Pacheco, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change. "The legislature contributed to that achievement by establishing our committee on global warming and climate change, which at the time of its creation, was the first of its kind in the United States. Five years later, the success of our collective efforts is evident in the energy we've saved, the resources we've preserved, and the green jobs sector that is booming in our state."
"Massachusetts is a national leader in clean energy policy. That prominence is the result of forward thinking legislation, including the Green Communities Act, and partnerships across all sectors - public, private and non-profit," said State Senator Benjamin B. Downing. "I am pleased to join the Patrick Administration in celebrating our success, and look forward to continued efforts to create jobs, protect our environment and meet our generational responsibility.
"In 2008 when we passed landmark environmental legislation, it was a great example of the branches of government working together. I am extremely proud of the Commonwealth's environmental and energy achievements," said Representative Frank Smizik. "If we use the same collaborative strategies moving forward, we can further reduce the impacts of climate change, protect public health, and create green jobs."
Acknowledging recent climate change impacts - stronger storms, more devastating destruction and extended heat waves - that pose threats to the Commonwealth, Governor Patrick directed EEA to pursue strategies that would help Massachusetts adapt and be more resilient against these impacts. Working with a diverse group of stakeholders, the Patrick Administration will work to ensure emergency services can protect residents from inevitable impacts; assess risks and vulnerabilities to minimize impacts through careful planning; and protect and strengthen both our natural habitats and the Commonwealth's infrastructure.