BOSTON -- State Sen. Benjamin B. Downing has been named 2013 Legislator of the Year by the Solar Energy Industries Association.
The Pittsfield Democrat, who chairs the Senate's Joint Committee on Telecommunications Utilities & Energy, hosted Solar Day on the Hill which took place at the Statehouse on Wednesday.
"I am honored to be recognized for my work to advance clean energy, especially solar," Downing said in a statement. "Thanks to the steps taken in Massachusetts over the past six years, solar energy installations have increased dramatically.
"Projects are sprouting up in all across my district and across this state," he said. "These ventures are putting people to work, reducing our impact on the environment, and increasing our energy independence -- all at lower and lower costs.
"We have more work to do, but I am proud to have played a part in the progress we've made so far," Downing said.
According to SEIA, there are more than 235 solar companies in Massachusetts that employ 4,500 workers. The amount of solar energy currently installed in Massachusetts is able to power 32,000 homes. The state ranks seventh in the country in cumulative installed solar capacity.
"SEIA is proud to recognize Senator Downing for his leadership in renewable energy policy in Massachusetts, and in particular, for his steadfast support of solar projects," said Carrie Cullen Hitt, the senior vice president of state affairs for SEIA.