Activists urge legislators to support ‘Green Bank’

  • A field of solar panels sits before a westward view of Athol on Bearsden Road. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

Recorder Staff
Published: 9/18/2017 10:51:20 PM

A group of more than 70 elected officials and environmental activists — including several from the Franklin County area — together with 70 grass-roots organizations from around Massachusetts have called on legislators to step up their commitment to increase the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to 100 percent by 2050, saying it will help the state’s overall economy as well as provide a leadership role in the face of climate change.

Timed for today’s scheduled hearing by the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Tellecommunications, Utilities and Energy on several bills that call for a “Green Bank” to help finance renewable energy projects, proponents call to increase from 1 to as much as 6 percent the share of additional electricity that utilities must purchase from renewable energy sources.

The states’ current policies have helped develop “a robust clean energy sector,” according to the Massachusetts Climate Action Network, which is part of the nearly 200-group coalition Mass Power Forward coordinating the statewide grassroots effort. The coalition includes Greening Greenfield, North Quabbin Energy, Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution and No Fracked Gas in Mass and other groups based in this area.

“These policies have resulted in more than 100,000 clean energy jobs and contributed more than $11.8 billion to the gross state product. By further driving demand for new clean-energy investments, Massachusetts will continue to be a national leader in innovative, impactful, and profitable clean energy projects that work for cities and towns,” the group said.

Pat Larson, who signed the letter to the committee’s co-chairmen on behalf of North Quabbin Energy, said, “Anything to move Massachusetts toward cutting its carbon emissions at this point is important. States really have to take the leadership in cutting emissions and having state programs that do this.”

Nancy Hazard of Greening Greenfield, who plans to testify on some of the 12 bills today, said, “I think we need to get the legislators, and other people, for that matter, inspired about going down this road of 100 percent renewables, and people understand the economic benefit of doing that, in the jobs it’s going to create.”

The “green bank” proposal, which state Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru, has called for, “is absolutely necessary to move things forward,” Hazard said.

“Renewable energy has shown itself to be a fabulous economic development tool,” said Hazard, adding that the bill calling for a commitment toward working toward a 100 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard by 2050 outlines a mechanism for working on renewable-sector job training at the state’s community colleges.

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