Local leaders gathered last week to celebrate New Bedford’s inclusion in a new Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center report on innovative clean energy programs at the municipal level.
“The best ideas for clean energy often start at the local level,” said Ben Hellerstein, state director for the policy center, in a press release. “If we want to have cleaner air, healthier communities, and a safer future for our children, we need to move rapidly toward 100% renewable energy from sources like the sun and the wind. New Bedford is showing how to make it happen.”
The report, Renewable Communities, features New Bedford alongside 21 other Massachusetts cities and towns that are leading the way to 100% renewable energy, according the policy center.
The report discusses renewable electricity, energy efficiency, clean transportation and heating, and energy storage programs, including New Bedford’s successful efforts to add electric vehicles to the municipal fleet.
“As a coastal city and the center of the commercial fishing industry on the East Coast, New Bedford has a lot at stake when it comes to climate change and sea-level rise,” said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell in the press statement. “We have led by example on these issues, so we appreciate the recognition of our efforts to embrace renewable energy. We have installed more than 16 megawatts of land-based solar and wind projects, positioned ourselves to be a leader in offshore wind energy, and pushed hard to convert our municipal fleet to electric vehicles.”
Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center shared a preview of the report, including a profile of New Bedford’s clean energy efforts. The full version of the report will be released on Friday, Aug. 2.
New Bedford has now converted more than 25% of its municipal passenger vehicles to electric vehicles. The city is believed to have a higher percentage of electric vehicles in its municipal passenger fleet than any other community in Massachusetts, according to the press statement from the policy center.
The city has also installed 16 megawatts of solar and wind generation, saving taxpayers approximately $1 million per year in avoided energy costs, the statement said.
The Environmental Massachusetts Research and Policy Center report comes as legislators consider a statewide commitment to 100% renewable energy.
The 100% Renewable Energy Act (H.2836, S.1958) would transition Massachusetts to 100% renewable electricity by 2035, and phase out the use of fossil fuels for heating and transportation by 2045. The Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy held a hearing on the bill last week.
So far, 113 legislators have endorsed the 100% Renewable Energy Act.
“I had the valuable opportunity to work on the GreenWorks legislation that passed the House this past Wednesday and the theme that kept coming up was that there needs to be an equal focus placed on both adaptation and mitigation,” said Rep. Antonio Cabral, D-New Bedford, in the press release. “As a state, we must collectively lower emissions and consume less energy. At the city-level, New Bedford has made significant progress on this mitigation front . . . We all have a role to play in the fight against climate change – we just need to use the tools available to us.”
“At the SouthCoast Chamber, we are happy to see clean energy become more accessible for families and businesses,” said Rick Kidder, President and CEO of the SouthCoast Chamber of Commerce. “Achieving 100% renewable energy for Massachusetts would keep more dollars within our local economy and presents a great opportunity for job growth.”
Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center is visiting five other communities across Massachusetts to share the findings of the report.
“Communities like New Bedford are leading the way on clean energy,” said Hellerstein. “We hope to see state leaders follow their example.”