The state’s green energy law will have a modest economic impact in the years ahead, which means it will not be a drag on the economy as feared. Of greater significance, of course, is the long-term benefit of an increasing reliance upon fuel that does not pollute the atmosphere and contribute to climate change.
A report by Boston economic and financial consulting firm Analysis Group asserted that programs put in place by the 2008 Green Communities Act (GCA) will produce a net benefit of $1.2 billion and create 16,000 jobs through 2025. While this is relatively small in what is currently a $400 billion economy, every little bit helps, and as not every program included in the law has been fully implemented, greater benefits and more jobs are possible.
The green energy program implemented by Governor Deval Patrick is financed through electric and natural gas rates, which means that tangible benefits will come from those higher payments. The report also observed that energy efficiency and conservation programs included in the GCA will save enough energy to power about 5 million homes a year and eliminate the need to build new power plants that use natural gas and other fossil fuels.
The report did not look at the health or environmental benefits of the GCA, which will be more significant than the economic impact. Massachusetts residents are and will be breathing cleaner air and contributing to the fight against global warming.
State Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Richard K. Sullivan Jr. told The Boston Globe that greater benefits on all fronts will be realized as more solar and wind projects go on line. The latter are controversial, but in the right location and at the right size, even small wind projects can contribute to a reduced reliance on fossil fuels. The state’s green energy law is already paying economic, health and environmental dividends to Massachusetts and will continue to do so in the years ahead.