Governor Deval L. Patrick
PV America Conference
Boston Convention and Exhibition Center
Monday, June 23, 2014
Thank you, Marcy, for that warm welcome and for your exceptional leadership on energy efficiency. National Grid and you in particular, are among the best partners we have.
And thanks to all the participants in PV America for your contributions both here in Massachusetts and around the country to a clean energy future.
We have been blessed by a series of visionary leaders in state government these last eight years. With great appreciation, I would like to acknowledge Secretary Bartlett, Energy Resources Commissioner Mark Sylvia and their team at the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and Alicia Barton and her team at the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. This is a clean energy dream team.
Together we have made enormous strides in reaching, even surpassing, the goals we set. I want to take a little time this afternoon to talk about that and to place what all of you are doing in that context.
Starting almost eight years ago, we in Massachusetts took a fresh look at our energy reality. Being at the end of the energy pipeline, electricity costs were historically high and we were at the mercy of global price fluctuation. Besides, the climate was changing, and we needed to deal with our stewardship responsibility. So, we made a conscious decision to shift our focus to developing cleaner sources of energy and reducing our environmental impact and greenhouse gas emissions. And we had to do it taking account of economic impact, especially as we faced a global economic collapse.
We knew it would take partnership – government, the Legislature, the private sector, ordinary citizens, and the many, many advocates working together – to change behavior and develop technologies and an industry around clean and alternative energy.
Today, I am pleased to report, Massachusetts has a thriving clean energy marketplace, an exciting cluster for cleantech innovation, and sharply reduced emissions.
We’ve lead the Nation in energy efficiency for the past three years. We’ve tripled the energy we’re saving from efficiency initiatives. In total, $1.2 billion of investments in energy efficiency has yielded some $5.5 billion of economic and environmental benefits. We plan to invest another $2.2 billion by 2015, and produce another $9 billion in benefits.
Our broader Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard program now supplies nine percent of our electricity consumption from new renewable energy from throughout New England primarily from wind, landfill gas, clean biomas, and solar resources.
Wind capacity in Massachusetts has grown from three megawatts to more than 103 megawatts today; and we are poised to be home to the Nation’s first offshore wind farm.
Working with other states through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, we have lowered carbon emissions throughout the region and demonstrated that a market based cap-and-trade approach works.
We’ve grown from three megawatts to over 500 megawatts of installed solar today, exceeding our first goal for solar by 100 percent in half the time. So, we’ve set a new goal of 1.6 gigawatts of solar installed by 2020.
Conventional thinking often says that clean energy is an economic drag. That's false. The Massachusetts economy is not just unharmed but stronger because of our investments. Over the last seven years our economy has grown 50 percent faster than the Nation as a whole. Last week the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce development released May jobs numbers that confirmed we have not only re-gained all the jobs lost since the Great Recession, but have the highest level of employment in 25 years.
And the clean energy sector is a big part of the Massachusetts economy.
Clean energy jobs have grown by 24 percent in Massachusetts over the last two years, with strong growth predicted to continue this year as well. The private sector invests more dollars per capita in Massachusetts clean technology businesses than in any other state, meaning more firms are getting started or getting bigger every day. Indeed, with over 5,500 clean energy firms and nearly 80,000 clean energy workers, Massachusetts now has one of the strongest clean energy job markets in the nation.
Solar has been a big part of that story. In just the last eight years, solar has gone from a nascent industry to one that employs almost 10,000 people.
Today, we have at least one solar installation in all but one of Massachusetts’ 351 cities and towns – and we are currently working with that last community to develop a solar project soon. Statewide, there are more than 500 megawatts of solar installed spread over 14,000 projects, the equivalent of powering 79,000 homes annually. In fact, there were more solar projects installed in 2013 than all prior years combined. Massachusetts is leading the nation in solar energy deployment.
Our “Solarize Mass Program” has helped to dramatically expand the Massachusetts solar market, with 46 cities and towns participating to date. The participation by these communities has resulted in over 1,700 solar contracts representing more than 12 megawatts of installations.
Solar companies from all over the country are opening up more facilities here in Massachusetts, creating real jobs paired with significant clean energy deployment. At the same time, home-grown companies have expanded as well and provide consumers with a wide-array of choices for how to adopt solar for their home or business.
And our firms are developing important global partnerships as well.
For example, three Massachusetts companies – The Vertex Companies, Inc., Panel Claw and Solectria – joined recently with two Mexican partners to announce a 30-megawatt solar electric project that will be among the largest of its kind in Latin America.
And our own SolarOne supplied 306 solar-powered streetlights for Masdar City, a living clean tech laboratory outside of Abu Dhabi.
So, we have a lot of points on the board; but we have to keep going.
To continue our drive to 1.6 gigawatts by 2020 and recognizing the constraints imposed by our current net metering caps, we are working on legislation that would lift all net metering caps for solar, secure our goal in statute, and provide for a declining block net metering and solar incentive tariff program.
It’s a great compromise among all the stakeholders that I believe would maintain the Commonwealth’s commitment to a diverse solar market supporting all sectors and installers, and provide for revenue certainty for lower cost financing and reduce cost to ratepayers. This legislation is central to preparing for a sustainable solar market in Massachusetts, and I ask you to urge the legislature to pass this bill.
And in striving to make solar ownership ever more affordable, our Department of Energy Resources is developing a $30 million residential solar loan program, focused on addressing some of the cash flow challenges for individuals looking to purchase a solar project.
All of which is to say that solar is a key part of our clean energy future. That future won't happen overnight, because it can't. But it will happen, because it must. And it will be up to all of us to make it happen.
Government has an important role in this, especially if we govern for the next generation. My administration has consistently governed with an eye towards that future. That’s why we have invested, consistently and strategically, in education, innovation and infrastructure, a proven strategy to grow jobs and expand opportunity. That’s what our emphasis on clean technology is all about. And if it produces at once a sustainable planet for tomorrow and great jobs for today, why on earth would we not pursue such a path? To me, it not only puts the lie to the false choice between doing good and doing well, it exemplifies what it means to bear our generational responsibility.
Thank you again for the work you do, and for the honor and privilege of being your partner in it. Enjoy your conference.