Governor Patrick Signs Law Consolidating State Support For Clean Energy
Legislation puts all state resources for clean energy installations, research-and-development, and jobs into a single agency
"This legislation merges the work of two quasi-public state entities with complementary missions, consolidating staff and resources while establishing the Clean Energy Center as the primary agency responsible for growing the Massachusetts clean energy industry," said Governor Patrick, who filed the legislation in April.
Created by the Green Jobs Act of 2008, the Clean Energy Center (CEC) is charged with advancing the Massachusetts green economy through support for research and development, entrepreneurship, and workforce training, funded in part by a portion of annual Renewable Energy Trust revenues. The CEC has issued $4 million to date in grants for the development of job training programs in growing clean energy fields.
Funding has gone to improving the clean energy workforce development capacity of higher education institutions, vocational technical high schools and community-based organizations; launching "Pathway Out of Poverty" programs aimed at low-income workers in Lowell, Worcester, Springfield, Brockton and Pittsfield; and establishing a statewide network of programs to develop, train and maintain a cutting edge "green" workforce under the CEC's Energy Efficiency and Building Science Skills Initiative.
The CEC is also responsible, in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, for the development of the Wind Technology Testing Center, a state-of-the-art facility for the testing of large (up to 90 meters long) wind turbine blades funded by a $25 million U.S. Department of Energy grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). CEC is also the state's lead agency for working with private companies seeking competitive grants funded by ARRA.
"With companies that are growing and renewable energy installations that are accelerating, Massachusetts has a bright future in clean energy," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles, chair of the CEC board of directors. "Now this legislation gives the Commonwealth a one-stop shop for development and deployment of clean energy innovations."
Effective immediately, the new law - An Act Relative to Clean Energy - makes the CEC the home agency of the Renewable Energy Trust, which has been housed to date at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC). MTC has a strong track record of incubating and spinning off innovative technology industries. MTC is currently strengthening the state's innovation economy through its major divisions, including the John Adams Innovation Institute, the Massachusetts e-Health Institute, the Massachusetts Broadband Institute, the Life Sciences Collaborative, and other initiatives.
Since creation of the CEC, the Trust has focused its resources on supporting installation of renewable energy technologies such as solar and wind power. The Trust's administration of the Commonwealth Solar rebate program led to reaching Governor Patrick's initial target of 27 MW of installed solar more than a year ahead of schedule. The Trust is funded by a small renewable energy charge on monthly bills of electric utility customers that generates up to $25 million a year.
Between Trust programs, federal recovery act funding, and utility ownership of solar power authorized by the Green Communities Act of 2008, the Commonwealth is on its way toward having 54 megawatts of solar power (a 15-fold increase since Governor Patrick took office) and more than 30 megawatts of wind power (a tenfold increase) installed or contracted for by the end of next year.
"Joining forces with the Clean Energy Center is an exciting move for the Trust, and we will be working with the CEC to ensure a seamless transition," said Carter Wall, executive director of the Renewable Energy Trust. "Together, we can build on our past experience and combine our resources to make Massachusetts even more of a leader in renewable energy, serving businesses, towns, and residential consumers across the Commonwealth."
"The work of the Renewable Energy Trust rounds out our mission at the Clean Energy Center," said CEC Interim Executive Director Patrick Cloney. "Putting these two entities under one roof is the logical next step for maintaining the momentum already underway in our clean energy economy."
"Green jobs are the silver lining of this economy, and we need to do all we can as a state to support their growth," said Senator Karen Spilka, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies. "This bill creates a true one-stop shop for clean energy businesses. They will now know where to go for funding, research, and workforce development support. Combining these funds means that the Clean Energy Center can continue its fantastic work, and hopefully provide seed money for clean energy start-ups. It also means that we can maximize the federal stimulus funds coming to Massachusetts."
"This legislation advances the Commonwealth's commitment to clean energy following the passage of the Green Communities Act and Green Jobs Bill in 2008 by focusing our clean energy programs and funds under the direction of the Clean Energy Center," said Representative Brian Dempsey, House co-chair of the Joint Committee.
"Consolidation of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and Renewable Energy Trust will enable the Commonwealth to have an even greater impact on the local cleantech sector," said Nick d'Arbeloff, president of the New England Clean Energy Council. "It also means that Massachusetts clean energy companies-including our members-will now have a single, more powerful point of contact for state-related issues."