Governor Deval Patrick today flipped the switch on a new 4.5 megawatt solar project in Westford and received an honor for his Administration's support of the growing solar industry in Massachusetts.
"Massachusetts is leading the clean energy revolution because of projects like Westford Solar Park," said Governor Patrick. "This innovative project represents the future of Massachusetts, which will be won by investing and growing our clean energy economy."
Governor Patrick was joined by Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr., clean energy executives and community members in Westford at the solar power facility. The project, made up of 14,000 panels situated near Route 3 in Westford, will provide power to the University of Massachusetts Lowell. It is a collaboration between Cathartes Private Investments, solar installer Nexamp of North Andover and National Grid.
After flipping the switch, Governor Patrick received the Solar Champion Award for from the Solar Energies Industries Association for his support of expanding solar energy in Massachusetts.
Last month, Massachusetts reached 100 megawatts of solar power, up from just over three megawatts in 2007. There are now solar projects in 331 of Massachusetts' 351 cities and towns. The Patrick-Murray Administration has a goal of 250 megawatts of solar by 2012 and the Department of Energy Resources estimates the state will reach half of its goal by the end of this year with projects in development.
According to a the 2011 Massachusetts Clean Energy Industry Report, Massachusetts clean energy jobs grew by 6.7 percent between July 2010 and July 2011, with companies projecting continued growth in the year ahead.
"We're looking to cities and towns, businesses and homeowners to support projects like this one and join our clean energy revolution," said Secretary Sullivan. "By investing in renewable energy projects, we're stabilizing energy costs, creating jobs and protecting our environment."
A package of nation-leading clean energy policies support projects like this one across Massachusetts. The Green Communities Act, signed by Governor Patrick in 2008, strengthened and broadened the continued development of renewable energy serving electric consumers in Massachusetts through the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard and Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard. Under the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008, Massachusetts set the strongest greenhouse gas reduction targets in the nation -- 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.
The Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2020, released with the reduction target in December 2010, includes a portfolio of established and new measures designed to reach the goal while creating clean energy jobs. The energy efficiency plans already in place by utilities are expected to reduce peak electricity demand by over 400 megawatts (roughly the capacity of a conventional power plant) and cut greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 15 million tons.