Mass. Activists Launch Campaign to Boost Solar Power

By ecoRI News staff

With federal renewable-energy programs being threatened, local and statewide Massachusetts environmental groups gathered recently in both Beverly and Greenfield to launch a campaign calling on municipalities to commit to 100 percent renewable energy.

“When it comes to clean energy, local communities can make a huge difference,” said Emily Kirkland, director of organizing for 350 Mass. “That’s why we’re calling on cities and towns across Massachusetts to lead the way to 100 percent renewable energy.”

Officials from Mass Power Forward, a statewide coalition, released a handbook that local activists can use to advocate for renewable energy in their communities. The handbook contains fact sheets and a sample resolution that activists can use to ask their local officials to commit to a long-term goal of 100 percent renewable energy.

Activists and local officials from Ipswich, Salem, Marblehead, Medford and Beverly shared examples of successful local renewable-energy and energy-efficiency projects.

“What’s more important than a stable climate? Nothing! And what’s the best way to ensure a stable climate? Produce 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy,” said John Livermore, the CEO of Healthy Home Healthy Planet and activist with Sustainable Marblehead.

In March, President Trump issued an executive order to begin rolling back the Clean Power Plan, the first national limits on carbon pollution from power plants. Trump also has taken steps to weaken fuel-efficiency standards for automobiles, eliminate the Energy Star program for energy-efficient appliances and slash funding for climate programs.

According to NASA scientists, 2016 was the hottest year ever recorded. Extreme weather events linked to climate change are becoming more frequent. Last summer, as a result of an extreme drought, New England farmers lost millions of dollars worth of crops, and many rivers and streams ran dry. King tides, exacerbated by rising sea levels, flooded parts of downtown Boston.

Recent studies suggest that the United States could be powered with 100 percent renewable energy such as solar and wind, by taking advantage of new technologies and increasing energy efficiency.

While state officials have taken some steps to expand renewable energy, activists called on the state to do more to accelerate the transition renewable power.

Caps on net metering, the state’s most important solar program, are holding back the expansion of solar energy in many parts of Massachusetts, according to activists. They also claim low-income communities often have unequal access to renewable energy and energy-efficiency opportunities.

Officials with Mass Power Forward said they are working to get at least 50 communities across the state to commit to a long-term goal of 100 percent renewable energy and take concrete steps towards achieving that goal. Salem recently became the first city in Massachusetts to commit to 100 percent renewable energy.