BOSTON -- Cities and towns are taking ambitious steps to increase renewable electricity generation, reduce energy use, and shift to clean heating technologies, according to a new report from the Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center.
“The best ideas for clean energy often start at the local level,” said Ben Hellerstein, State Director for the Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center. “If we want to have cleaner air, healthier communities, and a safer future for our children, we need to move rapidly toward 100% renewable energy from sources like the sun and the wind. These communities are showing how to make it happen.”
The report, Renewable Communities 2021, features seven case studies of Massachusetts cities, towns, and regional agencies that are leading the way to 100% renewable energy.
“The Solarize Mendon-Upton Campaign was all about engaging the community around clean energy solutions,” said Anne Mazar, Mendon Municipal Representative for Solarize Mendon-Upton. “Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, we were able to educate hundreds of residents about the potential to transition away from fossil fuels. Thanks to the efforts of local officials and volunteers, as well as support from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, our program succeeded in a big way. If we can do it, other communities can, too.”
At a virtual event today, local leaders discussed the findings of the report and shared their perspectives on the importance of municipal action on clean energy.
“Since our founding in 2007, we’ve helped our region save nearly $17 million in energy costs with renewable energy,” said Maria Marasco, Director of the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative. “Cape and Islands communities are showing that solar paired with battery storage can provide affordable, reliable, and pollution-free electricity.”
The report comes as legislators consider a statewide commitment to 100 percent clean energy. The 100% Clean Act (H.3288, S.2136) would transition Massachusetts to 100 percent clean electricity by 2035 and phase out the use of fossil fuels for heating and transportation by 2045. The bill has been assigned to the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy.
So far, 86 legislators have endorsed the 100% Clean Act.
“The communities featured in this report are leading the way on clean energy,” said Hellerstein. “We hope to see state leaders follow their example.”