New Massachusetts Energy Chief Says State Can’t Rest in Push for Renewable Energy

Bespectacled Maeve Bartlett stood behind a glossy black podium at the DCU Center and made a bold claim: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is, she said, the national leader in meeting the challenges of climate change and adopting renewable energy technologies. Numero uno. The criteria: megawatts.

In 2007, Massachusetts had 3 megawatts of solar capacity and 3 megawatts of wind capacity. Operating at full power, these renewable energy plants could power 3,000-5,000 modern homes – small peanuts in a state with 6.7 million people.

But then Governor Deval Patrick and his administration passed three clean energy laws: the Green Jobs Act, the Green Communities Act, and the Global Warming Solutions Act. Businesses came a-dashing. Today, the state boasts 643 megawatts of solar capacity and 103 megawatts of wind capacity, and in 2014, Clean Edge ranked Massachusetts the leading state for clean energy policy and eco-energy investments per capita.

Barlett, formerly the agency undersecretary, was recently appointed to lead the final seven-month charge as head of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. She hopes to implement such plans like the Cape Wind project, secure hydroelectric contracts and construct more than 300 urban parks.

During her speech at the DCU Center as part of the eighth annual Massachusetts Energy Summit, Barlett said that the state could not rest in its push for renewable energy. The state hopes to eventually secure 30 percent of its power from clean energy sources.

Such grandiose plans represent big bucks. The Massachusetts clean energy sector is a $10 billion industry, with employment expected to surpass 100,000 jobs in early 2015. The sector has seen double-digit job growth for three consecutive years. At the recent Clean Energy Annual Jobs Report, Governor Patrick reported, “We have long believed that a strong commitment to investing in clean energy would not only provide significant environmental benefits, but would also serve as an economic catalyst in the Commonwealth.”

It is for megawatts – and megajobs – that Massachusetts is “taking the first, crucial steps to leaving a cleaner and more secure energy future,” said Bartlett, “for the next generation.”

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