AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – Massachusetts’ energy leaders were at UMass Amherst Thursday for a conference highlighting the state’s commitment to energy efficiency and making communities greener.
There are 5500 Massachusetts businesses in the clean energy field that employ some 80,000 people. There are also 123 cities and towns that have committed to becoming greener. But Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Rick Sullivan said there’s still work to be done in Massachusetts.
“If we are going to reach the larger targets of greenhouse gas reduction that have been set by 2020 and 2050, we have to have more investment in energy efficiencies and more investment in clean energies,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan announced a four-year, six-million-dollar grant to form the UMass Amherst Energy Extension Initiative. It will help communities, businesses, hospitals, and schools cut their energy use, create jobs, and protect the environment. Western Mass. environmental groups seized the opportunity to promote investments in renewable energy, rather than fossil fuel alternatives like the proposed Tennessee Gas Pipeline through northern Massachusetts.
“Let’s put our money into solar, wind, the alternatives that won’t destroy this beautiful earth we live on,” said Susan Theberge of Climate Action Now.
“The amount of damage that’s caused can never really be replaced. Once you cut down 80- 100- year old trees you’re not getting them back any time soon,” said Rosemary Wessel of No Fracked Gas in MA.
Massachusetts’ existing energy initiatives have also benefitted the economy. Job growth in the clean energy field increased by 11.8 percent over the past year.