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    Mass. must double down on clean energy efforts


    July 15, 2019 - Maeve Bartlett

     

      As we wait for New York to select a project to advance its competitive offshore wind targets, just last month New Jersey chose a company to develop its first offshore wind farm, and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont signed a bill into law authorizing 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind. While these coastal states' announcements are incredibly important in improving climate quality and changing how we power our homes and businesses in the region, it tightens the market for competition for offshore wind jobs with Massachusetts. But in today's regional economy everyone can win.

      Massachusetts has a long, distinguished history of bipartisan support of environmental stewardship, going back to Republican Frank Sargent through Democratic and Republican Administrations and many leaders in both the Massachusetts House and Senate. As Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) under Gov. Deval Patrick, I had the honor to work with many dedicated professionals in the public and private sectors who prioritized environmental stewardship. Gov. Charlie Baker and his team have distinguished themselves as well, especially as it relates to climate adaptation and clean energy procurements. Massachusetts has prioritized robust land conservation, emphasized green building and resiliency planning and set ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

      The significant progress we have made in sustainability and renewable energy has paid economic dividends, contributing $13.8 billion to our state's economy. Since 2010 Massachusetts has added more than 50,000 clean energy jobs and the 100,000 workers employed in the clean energy sector comprise 3% of the total workforce in our state.

      One particular area in which Massachusetts has stood out is in the development of offshore wind. Beginning with the Patrick administration, the groundwork was laid with the interest in the dormant Cape Wind project, the creation of the 83C process, and port infrastructure. Continued under Gov. Baker is the

      landmark Clean Energy Legislation of 2016, which mandates a 1600-megawatt procurement of offshore wind energy.

      Vineyard Wind is currently moving into the construction phase of the first 800 megawatts of clean offshore wind, signaling a new energy and economic phase of clean large-scale renewables. The procurement of the next 800 megawatts of power should be completed by September of this year. I must also note that the latest Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) lease auction of Massachusetts lease areas - resulting in three offshore-wind developers bidding $135 million each - may be the strongest signal to date of the health and vibrancy of this emerging sector.

      While Massachusetts has been leading the way with offshore wind, taking advantage of the Atlantic's energy potential, other states along the Eastern Seaboard are close behind, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey included. New Jersey's announcement, along with Connecticut's new legislation, only solidifies that this emerging market will be marked by staunch competition.

      As a technological hub - chock full of some of the world's best colleges and universities, and hundreds of dynamic biotech, engineering, IT and startup businesses - Massachusetts is well positioned to not only continue leading the way on wind energy, but to develop the solutions of tomorrow.

      Focusing on these less-explored elements of renewable energy will both help push us further towards meeting our greenhouse emissions goals, and will open new avenues for economic growth. Just over the past year, the clean energy sector expanded by over 15%, contributing to 2.4% of Massachusetts' gross state product. Expanding on that growth will add thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in new revenue for our commonwealth.

      Massachusetts has established itself as a clean energy leader, but we cannot be content with the progress we have made as other states are keeping pace. If Massachusetts wants to remain a leader in this sector, we must double down on our commitments and aim for more. We must continue building on our legacy of innovation and entrepreneurship to develop new clean energy solutions at scale - our economy, and our planet, depend on it.

      Maeve Bartlett is director of strategic development at AECOM New England and was the Massachusetts secretary of energy and environmental affairs from 2014 to 2015.

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