As originally published in the Boston Business Journal on December 22, 2017.
By Emily Reichert
Over the past ten years, Massachusetts has built an impressive resume in clean energy policy, and thanks to recent policies put into place by Governor Baker, Massachusetts will continue to be a national clean energy leader as we head into 2018.
We’ve always had the talent and determination to make this happen—I’m fortunate to work in and lead the nation’s largest community of bold and passionate entrepreneurs creating energy technologies that are transforming the way we live, work, and play. And now, coupled with support from The Commonwealth for our industry, Massachusetts is truly ready to secure its place as the very best place in the country, maybe even the world, to build and grow a clean energy company. An accomplishment that could not have happened without the leadership of Republican Governor Charlie Baker.
This year, we began to see the earliest effects of Governor Baker’s 2016 comprehensive energy legislation. It requires utilities to competitively solicit and contract for approximately 1,200 megawatts (MW) of clean energy generation within the state, including hydroelectric power, as well as the harnessing of another 1,600MW of offshore wind. By prioritizing the purchase of clean renewable energy, Governor Baker has opened the doors to opportunity for energy innovation, marking a tremendous opportunity for Greentown Labs members and the community at large.
Governor Baker deserves further accolades for joining with fellow republican Governor Phil Scott of Vermont and calling on President Trump to remain in the Paris agreement. Together they have joined a bipartisan state and local effort that commits their states to continue working toward the goals of the Paris agreement, prioritizing climate action despite the national stance of their party and the United States’ withdrawal from the agreement earlier this year.
In August, the Baker-Polito Administration released its final regulations to fulfill the governor’s executive order to further reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Additionally, he renewed Massachusetts’ commitment to the multi-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Commitment (RGGI), which has led to a 40 percent decline in harmful emissions. The new goal established this past summer, which was endorsed by governors of nine states including six Republicans, is to reduce the carbon emissions cap by another 30 percent between 2020 and 2030.
Governor Baker also headlined a discussion at the Nation Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada, in October, which helped to spotlight Massachusetts’ impressive record in renewables and exciting new energy technology and innovation. The Baker-Polito Administration also set a 200 megawatt-hour energy storage target and is considering the inclusion of additional energy storage technologies to the Commonwealth’s Renewable Portfolio Standard as part of Baker’s Energy Storage Initiative (ESI). The ESI has also just committed $20 million to support a wide range of energy storage projects across the commonwealth. In total, the $20 million leverages an additional $32 million of private matching funds that will build 85 megawatt hours of energy storage capacity and catapult Massachusetts’ energy storage industry.
As we look ahead to 2018 I think it is important to recognize the nationwide shift toward supporting clean energy, even amongst groups which have traditionally been skeptical. This summer, a poll sponsored by the Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions found that clean energy has now reached high levels of support across the political spectrum, including many Republicans. Most importantly, the poll found that nearly two-thirds of likely Republican voters under the age of 45 favor the government taking steps to reduce carbon dioxide and methane emissions.
I hope our members and allies will continue to support the Baker Administration’s efforts to advance clean energy because we have a stronger impact when we work together. While there have been setbacks at the national level, Massachusetts is once again leading the charge to help find sustainable solutions to help secure our energy future, and more than ever, we need all hands-on deck. I’m grateful my organization, Greentown Labs, is in Massachusetts, where we have a Governor who not only believes in climate action, but also prioritizes it at home and regionally. Where we have a strong clean energy ecosystem, made even stronger with stalwart organizations like the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and the Northeast Clean Energy Council, who are fighting the good fight right alongside us, and promoting clean energy for all. And where a group of entrepreneurs, developing technologies today that will give us a cleaner and better tomorrow, know they will have the opportunity to grow and thrive thanks to support from government and industry. We have achieved a lot in 2017 and we can keep this positive momentum going in the New Year. Onward and upward!
Emily Reichert is CEO of Greentown Labs, the largest clean energy incubator in the United States.