Boston – State officials should follow the lead of businesses that are moving to 100 percent renewable energy, according to advocates and corporate leaders who spoke at a State House briefing today.
“Businesses are showing that a clean, renewable future is within reach,” said Ben Hellerstein, State Director for Environment Massachusetts. “With support from the business sector and action by state officials, Massachusetts can lead the nation to a 100 percent renewable future.”
Last year, Representative Sean Garballey (D-Arlington), Representative Marjorie Decker (D-Cambridge), and Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) filed the 100% Renewable Energy Act. This legislation would transition Massachusetts to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035, and replace other uses of fossil fuels, such as heating and transportation, with clean energy by 2050.
So far, 56 legislators have cosponsored the 100% Renewable Energy Act. An omnibus energy bill (S.2302) approved by the Senate global warming committee in February includes a commitment to 100 percent renewable energy.
“We only need to look at the impact of the storms we’ve experienced this year to understand that we need a better plan to deal with the cause and effect of climate change,” said Representative Marjorie Decker (D-Cambridge). “We must stop dancing around the issue and come together as impacted people and communities, rather than simply stakeholders.”
“In order for a future where clean energy is the norm, we need to start making changes now,” said Representative Sean Garballey (D-Arlington). “I’m proud to be one of the lead sponsors of this legislation.”
“There’s no reason for Massachusetts not to commit to 100 percent renewable power immediately,” said Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton). “We have the opportunity to fully embrace clean energy that we generate locally, and it’s very encouraging to see businesses across the state signaling to the legislature that they are ready to make that commitment.”
More than 100 global companies have committed to a goal of 100 percent renewable energy through the RE100 initiative. Many of the companies that have joined RE100 have a significant presence in Massachusetts, including Biogen, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and P&G. Akamai Technologies, headquartered in Cambridge, has a 50 percent renewable energy goal for its global network operations and supply chain.
"Massachusetts has the technical, financial and regulatory brains, as well as the private capital and innovation economy, to lead the world to 100 percent healthy and renewable energy,” said Jim Boyle, Chairman and CEO of Sustainability Roundtable, Inc., and a founding board member of the Alliance for Business Leadership. “Massachusetts' public officials should look to the example of world's fastest growing companies to help make our state the global hub of this technology-based revolution. The move from fuel-based energy to technology-based energy rivals the development of the internet in the breadth and depth of its impact, and the time for Massachusetts to seize top leadership is now.”
“At Akamai, we’re finding that clean energy and energy efficiency make sense from a business standpoint because, increasingly, it’s what our customers and investors value, as well as from an environmental and public health standpoint,” said Andy Ellis, Chief Security Officer of Akamai. “Over the past nine years, as our business has grown by double digits, we’ve been able to achieve a 93 percent reduction in our energy and greenhouse gas emissions intensity while saving millions of dollars.”
Universities and hospitals are also taking ambitious action to expand clean energy.
Boston University has committed to source 100 percent of its electricity from renewable resources by the end of 2018. Harvard University has also committed to a 100 percent renewable energy goal, while Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., is already powered entirely with renewable electricity from on-campus solar panels. Last year, Partners HealthCare unveiled plans to purchase clean energy from a 28-megawatt wind farm in New Hampshire, part of its overall strategy to achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2025.
Additionally, seven cities and towns in Massachusetts have committed to a community-wide target of 100 percent renewable energy.
“With progress blocked at the federal level, we need to do everything we can in Massachusetts to expand clean energy,” said Hellerstein. “We can achieve 100 percent renewable energy if all of us — local and state officials, business leaders, and ordinary citizens — work together to make it happen.”
Environment Massachusetts is the statewide, citizen-funded advocacy group working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future.