State Representative Candidates Discuss Clean Energy Options for Massachusetts

FRAMINGHAM –  Massachusetts is one of the leaders in the country with clean energy, but the state legislature failed to pass several clean energy bills this year.

The Commonwealth is the efficient state in the country for six straight years by ACEEE U.S. News & World Report named Massachusetts the #1 state in the country for clean energy. Massachusetts is No. 1 in the United States for per-capita early-stage clean energy venture investment.

And clean energy investment is helping to driving the economy in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts clean energy sector now employs more than 109,000 workers across the Commonwealth – up by 81 percent since 2010, according to the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center.

Clean energy is an $11.4 billion industry in Massachusetts.

However, solar employees have been laid off in recent years, and the state did not lift the cap on solar energy.

 

About the Election

On Tuesday, September 4, the day after Labor Day, Framingham voters will select one Republican, one Democrat, and possibly one Libertarian to appear on the November ballot. Voters in Precincts (not City Districts) 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 15 will see no names on any of those three ballots however. With the death of Rep. Walsh in May there was not time for any candidate to gather signatures and appear on the ballot. Thus, every candidate that wants the 6th Middlesex state representative seat must run a write-in campaign. There are five candidates who have announced write-in campaigns – four Democrats and one Republican. The Democrats are Mary Kate Feeney, Mike Gatlin, Maria Robinson, and Mark Tilden. The Republican is Tom Blandford. The individuals who receives the most votes in any party ballot (minimum of 150 votes) will appear on the November ballot.  In Framingham, as in the state, the majority of registered voters are unenrolled, which means they have no party affiliation. Unenrolled voters may choose a Democratic, Republican, or Libertarian ballot on Tuesday, Sept 4 and write in the candidate of their choice. The announced Democratic candidates are encouraging voters to pull a Democratic ballot and write their name, and the Republican candidate is encouraging unenrolled voters to pull a Republican ballot and write his name.

Back to the issues.

Source asked the write-in candidates a series of questions, earlier this month. Each day this week and next week, the answers to the questions are being published to help voters make a choice.

Today’s question — The Legislature failed to pass several clean energy bills in the last session. Which two clean energy proposals would you push for and why?

TILDEN: Give fast track consideration to permit applications for wind farms.

Install more charging stations for electric vehicles.

 

 

 

 

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BLANDFORD: One of the things I would look into is our laws that are already in place to protect our green space and if needed I would work to revitalize any laws that were simply not working. I would implement new laws with stricter guide lines. Littering would have heavy fines just for starters.

 

 

 

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FEENEY: The Clean Energy Bill passed by the Legislature at the end of the session was referred to as “measured” by the utility companies. The bill was a lost opportunity for Massachusetts to be a leader in clean energy, which is good for our environment, but for our economy.

We need to invest more in clean energy jobs, which are the jobs of the future. But these opportunities may pass us by if we do not take action in the next session.

Solar is a critical element to clean energy. Solar jobs are among the fastest growing jobs in the country, but in Massachusetts 3,000 solar workers lost their jobs. A proposal to lift the net metering on solar did not make it into the final bill. This state-imposed limit regulates how much solar can be installed in the state and limits the reimbursements paid to solar energy producers for the energy they produce, but do not use and return to the grid. It also caps community projects that make solar more accessible to consumers who are unable to install solar at home.

This cap has stalled many projects throughout the Commonwealth, and is preventing the growth of the solar industry. In order to increase our solar production, we need to lift this cap.

Wind is also a critical source of energy. The Commonwealth recently selected Vineyard Wind to build wind farm off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. The legislation passed last month authorizes but does not require the state to proceed with another 1,600 megawatt procurement by December 31, 2035. While this signals we are interested in wind, it does nothing to require this procurement by 2035. Without teeth in this measure, there is no guarantee we will have additional wind resources by this deadline.

While I believe Massachusetts is positioned to be a leader in clean energy and that it has immense benefits for our residents, our environment and our economy, we must never lose
focus on the residents. Clean energy companies are like fossil fuel companies, focused on their profits. I am a capitalist and have no problems with a business making a profit, but our government can never lose focus on who they represent and serve – our neighbors.

 

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GATLIN: We need to pass language in the Senate energy bill which would one) limit offshore wind energy production and 2) limit solar energy production, especially as generated by homeowners.

Generally speaking, Massachusetts emission reduction standards are too low and kick the problem of reducing fossil fuel emissions down the road to a point where significant damage may become irreparable.

 

 

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ROBINSON:  First, we need to raise the renewable portfolio standard (RPS); this would ensure that Massachusetts would meet its rising demand for electricity generation using only renewable sources. With the closure of several large generating stations across the Commonwealth, Massachusetts needs to make a critical decision about how it wants to meet its electricity needs in the future. An RPS increase would allow us to expand our utility-scale renewable energy generation instead of increasing our reliance on natural gas generation, which could potentially lead to a need for additional pipeline infrastructure. This is a major priority of both the Sierra Club and the Environmental League of Massachusetts, two organizations that are supporting my campaign.

We also need to raise the cap on net metering, particularly for municipalities, who might want to generate electricity using solar power but are unable to sell the unused electricity back to the utility at a fair retail rate. Cities and towns should not be unfairly capped just because they opt to install solar energy on their government buildings. Although municipalities have the option of community choice aggregation as a means of acquiring electricity generated by 100% renewable energy, net metering is still significant source of anticipated revenue generation for cities and towns that opted to own and install instead.

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Editor’s Note: The candidates were given 500 words or less for a response. The responses are published below, as received, unless they went over 500 words, and then the news site cut the answer at the sentence closest to 500 words.

Framingham Source Editor Susan Petroni

Susan Petroni Framingham Source Editor Email: editor@FraminghamSource.com Phone: 508-315-7176

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