BOSTON — At the 2014 PVAmerica Conference an Expo keynote, Governor Deval Patrick took the stage to explain why Massachusetts has become one of the top solar states in the nation: forward thinking.
“Government has an important role — we need to govern for the next generation, rather than the next election or news cycle. My administration has consistently had an eye towards that future…that’s what our emphasis on clean technology is all about,” he said. “If it establishes clean energy tomorrow and jobs today, why on earth would we not pursue that path…It exemplifies what it means to bear our generational responsibility.”
Indeed, the Massachusetts government has seemingly been practicing what it preaches. Over the past seven years the Massachusetts economy has grown 60 percent faster than the nation as a whole. It has not only regained all jobs lost since the recession, but it is at the highest level of employment in 25 years. According to Patrick, clean energy is a big part of that rebound.
“Conventional thinking often says that clean energy is an economic drag. It turns out that that is false. The Massachusetts economy is not only unharmed, but stronger because of our investments,” said Patrick.
The state is home to a “thriving clean energy marketplace” that boasts more than 5,500 businesses and 8,400 jobs. Mass. has also invested more than $1.2 billion in energy efficiency initiatives, is a major participant in the Northeast’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) to reduce emissions (which Patrick noted has proven that “a market-based cap-and-trade system works”), and may soon be home to the nation’s first offshore wind farm.
In the solar space, Massachusetts now ranks fourth in the nation in terms of solar capacity, with more than 500 MW installed. In fact, every single town, except one, in Massachusetts has a solar installation, “and we’re working right now to get that last town fitted with solar,” said Patrick.
Many may also remember that in May 2013 Patrick announced that Mass. had achieved its goal to install 250 MW of solar — four years early. The state is now working on its new goal to install 1.6 GW by 2020, and Patrick is eager to achieve it quickly.
“We exceeded our first goal for solar in half the time, so we set a new goal to install 1,600 MW by 2020,” he said. “My team knows that I’m an impatient governor and I leave office in the beginning of January, so we’d like to meet this goal by the end of year,” he said.
In order to drive this rapid solar growth, Patrick said that he is working to lift all net metering caps and establish a solar incentive tariff program. Patrick said that these plans represent a great compromise between all stakeholders and would maintain the Commonwealth’s commitment to a diverse solar market that supports all sectors and provides certainty for lower-cost financing and least-cost for ratepayers. “I would like to ask you while I am here at this podium to ask your legislators to pass this bill,” said Patrick. And in an effort to make solar more affordable for homeowners, Patrick said the the Mass. Department of Energy Resources is also developing a $30 million residential solar loan program.
“We have a solar revolution underway here in the Commonwealth…Solar is key part of our clean energy future. That future won’t happen overnight because it can’t, but it will happen because it wants to. And it will be up to all of us to make it happen.”