E2's agenda for the coming year
Members meet with key State Legislators to protect landmark bill
Topics to include health costs, water, efficiency and transportation
Chapter Director, New England E2
Remembering one of the founding members of E2
Network, Learn, and Discuss E2's Issues with Other Members
E2 is ramping up its efforts to protect the Massachusetts’ Green Communities Act (GCA). Despite the economic, energy, and environmental benefits the Act is providing, there are efforts to gut this law and erase its gains. Opponents of the Act say they want to save money, but really they threaten to cost our state jobs and economic development while making us more dependent on imported energy.
The Green Communities Act is Working
Thanks to the Green Communities Act, Massachusetts is increasing the amount of its electricity coming from clean energy sources. Solar panels and wind turbines are going up and private investments are coming into Massachusetts’ clean energy economy. Massachusetts companies have brought in the 2nd largest concentration of private venture capital in clean energy in the country. Clean energy is taking its place alongside biotech and information technology as a pillar of the Commonwealth’s innovation economy. In addition, electricity rates and bills have dropped since the bill was enacted in 2008.
Opponents Cite Costs But Ignore Benefits
Influential opponents have been complaining about the cost of the bill while ignoring its benefits. They are promoting the concept of including large scale Canadian hydro and energy efficiency as part of the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), claiming that this will provide the same amount of renewable energy at lower cost.
However, a deeper analysis shows that this major revision to the bill would simply result in business uncertainty; windfall profits to the developers of Canadian Hydro; and no net increase in the amount of energy efficiency investments. Hydropower from Canada is expected to play an important role in the State’s energy mix without the need for additional subsidies.
E2 Meets with Key Legislators
On January 17, E2 members Tedd Saunders, Dave Miller and Berl Hartman met with Representative Frank Smizik, Chair of the Massachusetts House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change and his legislative assistant, Laurel Schwab. Chairman Smizik told us that he is in the process of forming a ‘Green Economy Caucus’ in the House to “promote legislation and policy that encourages economic growth and job creation based on sustainable development aimed at improving economic, environmental and social well-being.”
We discussed the looming threat to major provisions of the GCA and encouraged him to proactively reach out to other legislators in support of the current provisions of the bill. We left behind a brief presentation that highlights the benefits of the GCA and provides facts to rebut the opposition’s arguments.
The following day, another group of E2ers met with Senator Marc Pacheco, Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture and Chair of the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change, as well as his Chief of Staff, Charles Basler. Senator Pacheco was the primary author of the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act or 2008 and has been a strong champion on environmental issues.
E2 Members Make the Case Via Personal Experiences
E2 Director Tedd Saunders, who is Chief Sustainability Officer of The Saunders Hotel Group, described the positive impact of the GCA on the hotel industry. Incentives for energy efficiency are helping hotels reduce costs while also decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.
E2 member John Rosenthal is President of Meredith Management, a large real estate development and management business, and also manages Here Comes the Sun LLC, a clean power provider specializing in solar energy. John cited the benefits of the bill in supporting solar development that helped his company provide solar energy to customers at a lower rate than the grid in many cases.
E2 Director Dave Miller is Executive Managing Director of the Clean Energy Venture Group (CEVG), an angel investment group focused on early stage clean energy technology companies. Dave related the story of one of CEVG’s portfolio companies, Next Step Living, a residential energy efficiency company that provides home energy diagnostics and improvements. Thanks in part to efficiency investments stimulated by the GCA, the company is helping local residents take action and increase the efficiency of their homes. Next Step Living is also an excellent example of clean energy job creation, having grown from 8 employees in 2008 to over 200 today.
If you are interested in participating in meetings with legislators or have a Green Communities Act success story to tell please contact Berl Hartman at email@example.com. Also, if you have a close relationship with someone in the Massachusetts’ legislature please let us know. We will contact you via email about future E2 initiatives on this issue.
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