AG Healey Gives Keynote Address at Northeast Energy and Commerce Association 12th Annual Conference
Highlights Clean and Renewable Energy as Key Factors in Economic Growth and Environmental Health; Formally Introduces New Bureau of Energy and Environment
WESTBOROUGH — In her keynote address at the Northeast Energy and Commerce Association’s annual conference today, Attorney General Maura Healey called for crucial investments in clean and renewable energy as a way to fight climate change and continue to grow the Massachusetts economy.
AG Healey also formally introduced her office’s new Bureau of Energy and Environment that will include the Energy and Environmental Protection Divisions as well as the Environmental Crimes Strike Force.
“As your 21st Century Ratepayer Advocate, I am committed to partnering with clean energy allies to continue to advance our clean energy future,” AG Healey said. “When we talk about energy, we are talking about the economy. When we talk about energy, we are talking about the environment. So our policy approaches, our analysis, and our actions must reflect those interrelationships and that understanding.”
By encouraging the use of green technology to address climate change issues through programs like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the Commonwealth’s economy will continue to grow, AG Healey said. As more green energy is produced, more money is saved by businesses and families, and freed up to be invested elsewhere.
Since 2005, RGGI has reduced regional carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent. At the same time, the Massachusetts economy has largely outperformed the nation as Bay State employers have added more than 200,000 jobs and pushed record employment levels.
AG Healey said she is also open to new possibilities of clean energy including net metering, which allows consumers to essentially sell to utility companies the excess energy gathered by their own solar panels.
The AG’s Office is currently engaged in the Net Metering and Solar Task Force that works with stakeholders to find a sustainable path to grow solar until the technology is developed to the level where it is fully price competitive, and to ensuring that consumers are paying a fair price for solar energy.
Solar deployment is a growing industry in Massachusetts. As of February, 752 MW of solar power has been installed, enough to power 114,500 homes and is the emissions reduction equivalent of taking 65,000 cars off the road.
“To fully realize the potential of clean energy generation, I will work to ensure that the electric distribution companies modernize the electric grid to meet today’s energy demands as well as those of the future,” AG Healey said. “Grid modernization must be accomplished in a way that benefits ratepayers by reducing costs and storm outages, equitably distributes the costs of the grid investments, and helps secure our clean energy future by better equipping our electric grid to integrate renewable energy resources.”
Though AG Healey recognized that natural gas will be a key part of any plan to fully decarbonize and move to strictly renewable energy sources, she emphasized that any long term infrastructure investments be fully considered and reviewed.
“The debate really shouldn’t be over whether we lock ourselves into long term reliance on domestic shale gas, or place ourselves at the mercy of markets for foreign produced LNG and oil,” AG Healey said. “The real question that we are eager to engage in is, what is the most cost effective strategy for getting to the lowest emission energy future?”