Bill Ryan: 617-699-3057
CJ Chapman: 413-519-7212
BOSTON, MA — A new coalition of major trade groups and business organizations launched a new advocacy group today. Their message to Beacon Hill policymakers: the rapidly increasing shortfall of reliable and affordable sources of energy generation in New England poses a threat to Massachusetts’ ability to meet its greenhouse gas reduction mandates and to the region’s fastest growing economy.
The Mass Coalition for Sustainable Energy, comprised of some of the Commonwealth’s largest business organizations, wrote in a letter to Governor Charlie Baker, Acting Senate President Harriette Chandler and Speaker Robert DeLeo that, “while we have made great progress jumpstarting clean sources of energy for the future, failure to address our need for reliable and affordable sources of energy generation makes us extremely vulnerable economically while calling into question our ability to meet our ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.”
The letter is signed by the leaders of Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM,) the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, the Massachusetts Business Roundtable, the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, the National Federation of Independent Businesses (Massachusetts Chapter,) the United Regional Chamber of Commerce (Greater Attleboro,) The Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts and the Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce, who are all founding members of the Mass Coalition for Sustainable Energy.
In the letter, the Mass Coalition for Sustainable Energy supports the aggressive retirement of coal and oil electric generating facilities and lauds the progress the Commonwealth has made in reducing emissions while adding that, “we believe that the best way to meet our energy needs and environmental goals…is to enact policies that will increase our access to natural gas as we increase deployment of renewable technologies.”
Mass Coalition for Sustainable Energy believes that the adequate availability of clean, affordable, reliable energy such as natural gas is not just a matter of responsible environmental stewardship but also key to the Commonwealth’s economy and its future economic security. The letter points to “serious reliability concerns” that come “in addition to having the highest electricity prices in the continental United States…costing New Englanders an estimated $1 billion in increased energy costs during a normal winter.” Citing the “perfect storm” of problems that could force the region’s grid operator to potentially order rolling blackouts and controlled power outages, the letter warns policymakers, “these costs and concerns have already caused some companies to leave the Commonwealth.”
AIM President Rick Lord said, “This is a serious threat to our future economic growth. We are joining MCSE today because we need public policy solutions to address our region’s energy costs and reliability in a realistic way before it’s too late.”
“Since 1990, we’ve been able to reduce emissions caused by electricity generation by more than 60% even while we’ve seen demand for electricity increase by more than 20%,” said Coalition spokesperson Bill Ryan. “The reality is that natural gas, replacing oil and coal, has overwhelmingly been the single greatest contributor in driving those emission reductions,” Ryan added.
As the Commonwealth wisely moves to address the 40% of all carbon emissions that are created by the transportation sector, the Coalition argues that expanding natural gas supply will not only allow continued power generation sector reductions but support the Commonwealth’s efforts to target automobile emissions. “There is no plausible path for the Commonwealth to meet its ambitious greenhouse gas reduction thresholds absent the electrification of our vehicle fleet. Increasing our natural gas-powered electricity generation would allow Massachusetts to replace the vast majority of our estimated 5 million vehicles with electric cars,” the Coalition wrote.
“The bitter cold of the previous few weeks only underscores the urgency of the situation,” Ryan added. “There were periods earlier this winter where more than 40% of the electricity being used in the region was generated by oil and coal,” Ryan said. “In fact, the colder it got, the more emissions increased. It shouldn’t be that way,” Ryan continued. “The more difficult we make it to bring natural gas into Massachusetts, the more difficult it’s going to be to retire higher emitting fossil fuel plants and the more difficult it’s going to be to get serious about vehicle electrification,’ Ryan said. “We need a sensible blend of clean energy resources to breathe cleaner air, stay warm in winter and assure our economic growth and natural gas is a key element of that blend,” Ryan added.