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Boston Can Benefit From More Clean Energy

Last updated: 5/19/2017

Across Massachusetts, clean energy is booming – reducing pollution, cleaning our air, creating jobs and saving money. Contributing to the boom is the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – America’s best regional clean air and climate program – which is limiting pollution and generating funding for clean energy programs.

But we can do much more. We have the tools to power our society entirely with clean energy sources like the wind and the sun, while also using energy more efficiently. Clean energy can help protect Boston from the worst impacts of global warming, such as sea-level rise, and build a healthier and more prosperous future.

To accelerate our progress, Massachusetts and other New England states should double the strength of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to help create an even stronger market for clean energy.

Here’s how more clean energy can benefit Boston – and Massachusetts: 

Massachusetts Has Immense Renewable Energy Potential

Massachusetts could generate 15 times more electricity with solar and wind power than it uses in the course of
a year. Tapping even a fraction of that potential could enable Massachusetts to power itself entirely with clean energy. 

Clean Energy Can Replace Dirty Fuels

Massachusetts has the potential to generate nearly 37 times more electricity from wind and solar than is currently produced by polluting fuels, like gas, in the state. 

Boston’s Rooftops Can Generate Clean Electricity Locally

More than 7 out of 10 small buildings in Boston have the potential to host rooftop solar panels – providing reliable electricity for residents and reducing dependence on fossil fuels, according to data from the U.S. Department of Energy. 

Massachusetts Has Tremendous, Untapped Wind Energy Potential

Massachusetts has the potential to produce enough power with onshore and offshore wind turbines to power all the homes in Massachusetts 44 times over. 

Energy Efficiency Is Saving Money and Cutting Pollution

Boston ranks 1st among cities for energy efficiency, according to the American Council
for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Energy efficiency programs implemented in 2015 in Massachusetts saved enough energy to power most of the homes in the city of Boston. 

Clean Energy Creates Jobs

The Boston metro area is one of the top cities for jobs in solar energy, employing more than 10,000 people. Across the state, more than 100,000 people are employed in renewable energy. 

Renewable Energy is Good Business

Businesses and organizations in Boston and across Massachusetts benefit from a growing clean energy economy. For example, energy efficiency programs between 2008 and 2014 saved Massachusetts residences and businesses more than $691 million in lifetime energy bill savings. 

Stronger Action Will Make Us Healthier

Clean air means better health. In its first six years, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative saved 60 lives in Massachusetts and prevented 4,500 missed work days due to respiratory illness, according to Abt Associates. Cutting pollution faster would save even more lives and improve public health in Massachusetts. 

Stronger Action Will Boost Our Economy

Between 2009 and 2014, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative boosted Massachusetts’ economy by $768 million, according to reports by Analysis Group. Doubling the strength of the program as part of a larger climate change program could reduce energy bills in the nine participating states by $25 billion and create nearly 60,000 new jobs, according to a report by the Sierra Club. 

Massachusetts Should Take the Lead

Massachusetts has set strong goals on clean energy and fighting climate change – now it’s time to achieve them. Governor Baker should double the pace at which Massachusetts is cutting pollution and investing in clean energy. In 2017, the state should strengthen the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to cut carbon pollution by 5 percent per year – and persuade neighboring states to do the same. 

Citations:

1. Pg 1: Renewable potential chart heading Renewable energy potential: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, "United States Renewable Energy Technical Potential," 2012 for wind, 2016 for solar, available at: www.nrel.gov/gis/re_potential.html. Current consumption: U.S. Energy Information Administration, "State Electricity Profiles," 2015, available at: www.eia.gov/electricity/state

2. Pg 2: "polluting fuels, like gas, in the state." Renewable energy potential: Ibid., Fossil fuel generation: U.S. Energy Information Administration, "State Electric Power Industry Generation by Primary Energy Source," 2014, available at www.eia.gov/electricity/data/state

3. Pg 2: "data from the U.S. Department of Energy." U.S. Department of Energy, State & Local Energy Data, "Buildings and Industry Summary," available at apps1.eere.energy.gov/sled/#

4. Pg 2: "STATE X times over." Wind potential: see note 1; Household energy usage: U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Average Monthly Residential Electricity Consumption, Prices, and Bills by State," available at www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=97&t=3; Homes: U.S. Census Bureau, "Quick Facts," available at www.census.gov/quickfacts

5. Pg 3: "Council for an Energy Efficient Economy." American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, "City Energy Efficiency Scorecard," 2016, available at aceee.org/local-policy/city-scorecard

6. "homes in PLACE X times." Savings: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, "Net Incremental Savings From Electricity Efficiency," 2015, available at database.aceee.org/sites/default/files/docs/spending-savings-tables.pdf; Home energy usage: Household energy usage: U.S. Energy Information Administration, "Average Monthly Residential Electricity Consumption, Prices, and Bills by State," available at www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=97&t=3; Homes: U.S. Census Bureau, "QuickFacts - Boston."

7. pg 3: Clean Energy Creates Jobs, end first sentence Renewable energy jobs: City of Boston, "Boston Ranked #1 in Energy Efficiency for Second Year in a Row," press release,21 May 2015; Solar: The Solar Foundation, 2015 National and State Solar Jobs Census, accessed at www.thesolarfoundation.org/solar-jobs-census

8. Pg 3: Good Business, end of paragraph RGGI, Inc, "State Investment Plans," archived at https://web.archive.org/web/20170306203920/http://www.rggi.org/news/38-r...

9. Pg 4: "due to respiratory illness." Abt Associates, Analysis of the Public Health Impacts of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, 2009-2014, January 2017

10. pg 4: "according to reports by Analysis Group." Analysis Group, The Economic Impacts of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative on Nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States, First and Second Three-Year Compliance Reviews, 2011 and 2015

11. pg 4: "report by the Sierra Club." Sierra Club, Pace Energy and Climate Center, and Chesapeake Climate Action Network, The RGGI Opportunity 2.0, 4 March 2016

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