Our Opinion: Green in Massachusetts


Massachusetts' second-in-the-nation ranking in clean technology is a tribute to the green energy policies the state has implemented and encouraged over the last several years. As environmental concerns grow along with the perils of global warming, those policies will pay greater dividends -- as long as the state doesn't stray from that path.

This is the highest ranking ever for Massachusetts in the annual survey made by the industry research firm Clean Edge. California is the perennial leader, with Massachusetts moving ahead of Oregon for the first time. Neighboring New York state was fourth. The Clean Edge rankings are based largely on state policies and incentives promoting green technology, the siting of alternative energy generating sources like wind turbines, and per-capital investment in the clean-energy industry.

Alternative energy has been a priority for Governor Deval Patrick since he was first elected, and along with the Legislature, the state has passed laws to encourage green-energy use and make pioneering environmental companies welcome. The best example may be the Green Communities Act, which provides incentives for improving energy efficiency and installing wind and solar energy-generating facilities. The governor also has advocated for tougher environmental restrictions, which in the effort to meet them also encourages greater use of green energy.

The report ranked Massachusetts 9th in the nation in solar capacity, an accomplishment reflected in the Berkshires. WMECO has 6,500 solar panels on the former GE site in Pittsfield, Berkshire Community College has installed 1,800 rooftop solar panels, and the state's Solarize Massachusetts program, designed to encourage residents to use solar power with unused power sold to the grid, is building this year on the successes of 2012.

Massachusetts ranked 33rd in installed wind capacity, which is a reflection on the limited wind options for the state compared to those in the wide open Midwestern and Western states. The fears of wind energy foes to the contrary, the Berkshires will never be overrun with wind turbines, but a handful of projects like Hoosac Wind and Brodie Mountain will contribute to the production of clean energy and the reduction of air pollution.

The state, according to the Clean Edge report, "should remain an integral clean tech innovation hub for years to come." It's up the residents and elected officials of Massachusetts to see that it does.


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