With job creation stagnant in the state and nation, any industry that creates jobs is particularly valuable. If that industry, in this case green energy, can also create tangible benefits in the form of a cleaner atmosphere, that industry is even more valuable. Happily, Massachusetts has that industry and investment in it is paying off.
An analysis done for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Sector released this week found that jobs in the clean energy sector, which includes solar, wind, hydropower and bioenergy, grew by 11.8 percent between June 2012 and June 2013. Over the past two years, according to the Patrick administration, clean energy jobs have increased by 24 percent, employing 79,000 workers across the state.
Solar is the dominant green energy source in the state, which ranks ninth in the nation in solar capacity, according to a report released in June. Governor Patrick, a determined advocate of green energy, had established a goal of generating 250 megawatts of solar energy in the state by 2017, but the state reached 311 megawatts of solar generation capacity on September 1, testifying to the spectacular growth in this field during his administration.
This growth is evident in the Berkshires, where WMECO has 6,500 solar panels operating on the former GE property in Pittsfield, Berkshire Community College has 1,800 rooftop solar panels generating power, and the Solarize Massachusetts program, which encourages residents to use solar and sell surplus power to the grid, continues to expand. A solar energy project in Lee that should save taxpayers about $1.5 million over 20 years is expected to be up and running next summer.
While hydropower and wind play a role in green energy growth, there are more limits to where they can be used than is the case with solar. Only a select few sites will work for wind turbines, but when that location is Brodie Mountain, one of the windiest and most isolated sites in the state and home to the Berkshire Wind Project's 10 turbines, that spot works particularly well for energy generation, according to a report released in March.
Massachusetts has shown foresight in using tax credits to encourage the development of green energy. Evidence reveals that the strategy has produced economic and environmental benefits and there is no reason to believe that will change.