Beaton Plans to Lower Energy Costs By Implementing Solar

With his focus on “energy justice,” the new state Energy Environmental Affairs secretary, Matthew Beaton’s main objective is reducing energy bills with a plan for installing solar power on city apartment buildings.

At a roundtable meeting, Beaton said, “We need to look at the fiscal realities. A lot of folks are being really pinched right now by the cost of electricity, and we need to look at identifying any and every opportunity to address that price element, but at the same time make sure we’re staying on our path to a cleaner and greener energy source along the way.”

In response to Gov. Baker’s identification of a midyear budget gap of $765 million, Beaton noted that his budget team is working toward reducing that deficit as environmentalists applauded his team’s efforts “to restore environmental programs to 1 percent of the state budget through his [Baker’s] term.”

Beaton describes himself as both an avid fly fisherman and a rower. As a man who has hiked Mount Greylock and “read ‘Walden‘ on the shores of Walden” Pond, he hopes to build on the urban parks program. Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s Bruce Berman praised Beaton’s approach toward the advocates, saying Beaton set “a really great tone.”

In response to several environmental advocates recommending that the state adopt efforts to adapt to the issue of climate change as well as efficient green energy, Beaton stated that he and Baker understand that “climate change preparedness” needs to be implemented in “coastal and inland areas.”

Although Baker stated that he would not raise fees or taxes, he did not restrict new fees recently implemented by the Patrick administration that raised the cost of visiting a state beach or park.

Elizabeth Saunders, the State Director of Clean Water Action Massachusetts, said that the fees associated with the state’s toxic chemical program would be worth “looking at” as they have remained unchanged since 1991, even though the law requires the fees for the program to “be kept in line with inflation.”

Worcester Groups Pitch Transportation Solutions – Seek Backers

In an effort to provide much-needed transportation solutions in Worcester, seven groups provided ideas for a National Science Foundation program. This program, which was also shared with the cities of San Diego and Chicago, seeks to provide solutions to the cities’ transportation issues that arose out of growing populations. Some of the innovative ideas included skyline transportation and environment scanning apps.

The groups present labored over their proposals for ten months. Though there was a grant program, the groups involved share the creative credit. Participants in the program suggested that the groups might benefit from partnering with businesses.

The Art of Science Learning as well as Worcester’s Incubator for Innovation sponsored the event. Worcester’s focus was on transportation while San Diego handled water resources and Chicago handled urban nutrition. Professionals, students and a healthy cross-section of people from around Worcester were represented.

One of the interesting things about the program is that each of the represented groups presented a unique approach. One idea was to make the bus system more demand-driven than it is presently. One of the groups crafted a middle school curriculum about transportation. Another came up with the idea of converting volunteer service hours into usable bus passes. One proposed program uses predictions about walking patterns to determine which sidewalks and walkways to repair. Another proposes helping patients coordinate bus trips according to their appointments.

One of the things that participants took away from the experience was that, if the desire actually existed, the community could adopt these options immediately, with experts predicting better momentum for the work will make a difference.

Amazon Announces 100 Percent Renewable Energy Initiative

In recent years, big corporations such as Facebook, Google, and Apple have all made the push toward renewable energy. Despite these companies’ moves to more green sources for energy, Amazon failed to follow suit. On Wednesday, November 19, 2014, they finally changed their tune.

Amazon Web Services was updated on Wednesday with information pertaining to the company’s vision of making a complete transition to renewable energy. Because Amazon is a massive entity and key player in cloud computing, supplying services to companies such as Pinterest, Spotify, and Netflix, there’s no doubt that the global environment will benefit from this move. At this point, however, there isn’t much cause for celebration. Because Amazon is an intricate entity, it will likely take several years for its transition to 100% renewable energy to complete.

Gary Cook, a Greenpeace IT analyst, was one of the first to notice that Amazon has still failed to publish a timeline or roadmap that indicates a plan for its renewable energy transition. This has caused heavy speculation about whether or not Amazon is serious about the move.

There’s no doubt that the company’s decision to move towards green processes is a good one. For years, Greenpeace criticized Amazon for not following suit in making a transition to healthier practices. As a result, in their “Clicking Clean” report released last April, Amazon was regarded as one of the worst companies on the map.

At this point, Amazon’s data centers are located primarily in Virginia and are powered by coal, natural gas, and nuclear power. However, certain data centers built since 2011 claim to run off of 100% renewable energy sources.

Cook was quick to note that one of Amazon’s biggest pitfalls is its failure to be honest and outspoken about the energy sources it uses. Cook believes that if Amazon is sincere about taking a significant step towards green energy sources, the company will become much more transparent over the next few years.

Final Weeks for Governor Patrick to be Marked by Wind Energy Auction

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is not resting on his laurels for his final weeks in the corner office. On the contrary, he is advocating for a large auction for offshore wind development.

Patrick has reportedly told public relations executive Helene Solomon that the federal government would be auctioning off a substantial area south of Martha’s Vineyard. Once developed, this location could potentially provide power to as much as 60 percent of Massachusetts homes.

Along with federal officials Sally Jewell and Walter Cruickshank, Secretary of the Interor and Acting Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, respectively, Patrick announced in June that there will be approximately 742,000 acres off the shore of Massachusetts that could be up for lease for commercial wind energy use. This is expected to be one of the largest offshore wind projects in federal waters.

Massachusetts Environmental Affairs Secretary Maeve Vallely Bartlett has recommended that the federal agency lower the minimum bid from $2.00 per acre of the tract to just $1.00 because these areas are quite large and quite deep, which could be a deterrent to developers. She has also recommended other cost savings, such as lowered rent and fees for operating the site.

Support of wind energy projects such as this one is not new for Patrick, who also supported the Cape Wind energy project that was planned for an area in the waters of Nantucket Sound. Unfortunately, that project, while still ongoing, still faces opposition and has not gained much traction.

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.”

EnerNOC to Spend $76 Million for World Energy Solutions

Boston energy software company EnerNOC Inc. announced on Tuesday that they plan to lay out $76 million in cash for energy auction business World Energy Solutions, Inc.  This places a value of $5.50 for each share of World Energy stock, about 1/3 higher than Tuesday’s closing price of $4.15 per share (Nasdaq: XWES). EnerNOC will also be taking on World Energy’s debt, totaling approximately $10 million as of the end of June.

Directors at both Enernoc and World Energy already approved the deal, which is expected to close during Q1-2015.

EnerNOC Chairman and Chief Executive Timothy G. Healy said, “This acquisition advances our energy intelligence software business and will help us deliver more value to our enterprise customers who are looking to increase productivity and take control of their energy costs.”

The two companies have overlapping customer bases. Users of EnerNOC software include companies, utilities and various other entities buying and managing energy while World Energy runs online energy auctions.

EnerNOC revenues during 2013 totaled about $383 million with profits of $22 million, compared to World Energy’s revenues of $35 million with a net loss of $2 million. EnerNOC reported it expects the deal to boost its annual revenue by about $30 million.

World Energy is allowed to seek offers from other buyers for another 55 days, with EnerNOC having the right to match any offer.

What the deal means for employment is unclear. World Energy currently has more than 100 workers. EnerNOC said in an SEC filing that employment decisions will be made during planning to integrate the businesses.