Recently, Massachusetts's landmark energy efficiency law, the Green Communities Act of 2008, has come under criticism for raising energy costs and harming state businesses at the expense of its utility companies. Governor Deval Patrick, though, reminded the people during his State of the Commonwealth speech that one of the nation's most ambitious clean energy bills is paying off. Here's the segment on the Green Communities Act in full:
"The clean energy industry grew nearly 7 percent in Massachusetts last year, and added thousands of kilowatts of renewable generation and thousands of jobs – not by accident but because we passed the Green Communities Act and joined the world’s fundamental shift towards efficiency and renewable energy."
It was refreshing to see Governor Patrick give a strong defense of the measures. The politics around energy issues are vastly different than in 2008 when climate change drove governors across the Northeast to embrace energy efficiency as their first fuel. But the rationale for the Act remains largely the same: to attain the cheapest source of energy, achieve significant and last energy savings for residents and businesses, and to promote the growth of a clean energy industry, to paraphrase the governor.
As leaders on Beacon Hill begin to discuss possible revisions to the Green Communities Act, they should be skeptical about claims that it is increasing costs that fail to note the law's many benefits. Massachusetts is now the national leader in energy efficiency. Business across the state are taking advantage of the law to save energy and money, as we will highlight in the coming weeks. And initial results show that the energy efficiency plans are on track to achieve over $3 billion in net benefits over the life of the measures (see below). That's a great achievement for state law. We should thank the Governor for coming to its defense.