Why Renewable Energy & Elizabeth Warren are Right for Massachusetts

Massachusetts spent $17.7 billion importing fossil fuels in 2010. See why renewable energy and Elizabeth Warren are right for our environment and our economy.

This article was originally published by me in our Green Lifestyle Consulting Blog as part of our segment on Green Bloggers Discussing Politics.

In 2010, Massachusetts spent $17.7 billion on fossil fuels (petroleum, coal and natural gas) to meet the energy needs for our state.  Since the Commonwealth has zero fossil fuel resources, all of that money left our state's economy either going to other parts of the country or foreign economies.  To see how much left the country, read my earlier post on How much did the US spend on imported oil in 2011?

The right path forward for the Massachusetts economy is to keep that $17.7 billion in our own economy by meeting our energy needs with local in state energy resources.  Since we do not have fossil fuel deposits, we need to look to other forms of energy, namely renewable energy.

Available immediately, we can tap solar, wind and biomass to greatly decrease our economy's dependence on imported energy.  In the future, we can also tap into geothermal resources to meet even more of our needs.  At the same time we shift our energy sources from imports to local resources we also need to reduce our energy needs by maximizing energy efficiency throughout the state.  American Council for Energy Efficient Economies ranked Massachusetts #1 for its energy efficiency policies and programs and we need to build on this progress going forward.

Unfortunately, only one of the Massachusetts candidates in the race for the United States Senate recognizes the importance of focusing on local and sustainable energy solutions, and that is Elizabeth Warren. Her opponent, Senator Scott Brown instead continues to be more concerned about lowering the cost at the gas pump by subsidizing the oil companies so he can fill up his gas guzzling pickup for less.

Scott Brown's energy plan calls for an "all of the above" strategy. If you heard him in the first Massachusetts Senate debate on WBZ, coal features prominently in his plan.  When he lists the forms of energy included in his "all of the above approach" he is very consistent to include coal & nuclear. Those happen to be the least used fossil fuels in Massachusetts today, having spent $269 million on coal and $48 million on nuclear in 2010.  Combined that is less than 1.3% of our energy expenditures in the state. 

Scott Brown also skips over the elephant in the room in terms of energy dependence, oil and natural gas.  In Massachusetts, we spent $13.1 billion on out-of-state oil and $4.2 billion on out-of-state natural gas in 2010Scott Brown voted against increased fuel efficiency standards, which will save US consumers $1.7 trillion on gasoline costs and he supports keeping the billions in tax subsidies for the oil companies.

We need to focus improving fuel efficiency and other standards to getting more done with the same or less energy.  Even the automobile industry is in favor of the new fuel efficiency standards announced by the Obama Administration last month.

Elizabeth Warren, understands that we need to move away from dirty fossil fuels and to clean renewable energy for our environment, security and economics. She has the right energy plan for Massachusetts.

The choice before us is simple. Will we continue to subsidize the dirty  fossil fuels of the past, or will we transition to 21st century clean,  renewable energy?

If we invest now in a 21st century energy  system, over time we can lower the costs of production for all of our  businesses. Right now, renewable energy competes with old energies that  get lots of special breaks from Washington. We know that we can generate power with alternative energy sources like wind, solar, and hydropower. We also know that we can make energy usage far more efficient. If we  commit ourselves to clean energy and energy efficiency now, in the long  run we can reduce price swings and lower our overall costs. 

-- from Elizabeth Warren's Issues Section on Energy & The Environment

Some people may argue that buying solar panels, which are no longer produced in Massachusetts since the bankruptcy of Evergreen Solar, is the same thing as importing oil and natural gas, but it is not.  With the price of solar panels coming down to around $1 per watt, the cost of the panels have become less than a third of the overall installed cost of solar today.  Most of the money spent installing solar pays for the labor to design and install the solar array, which is typically done locally, right here in Massachusetts.  Other major components of a solar installation are still from Massachusetts, like Solectria inverters.

Wind energy also produces local jobs.  First, for the construction and engineering workers needed to install the turbine, and then more jobs for the ongoing maintenance to keep them running and producing energy. Wind turbines require scheduled maintenance to ensure they continue to function safely and properly for their 20 or so year lifespan.

BioMass is a third renewable energy source that we have plenty of in Massachusetts and has great opportunities for shifting jobs from the heating oil arena.  The forestry industry in Massachusetts and New Hampshire is already making great progress on providing a lower cost renewable alternative to oil for heating in the form of bulk wood pellets.  By taking waste products from the lumber and other wood industries and turning that into pellets, we can heat the homes now relying on oil & propane with a locally produced, renewable fuel source.

The changes will not happen overnight, but if we want to have a growing and sustainable economy in Massachusetts, we need to stop spending tens of billions of dollars on energy outside of our economy every year.  We must move our energy supplies to locally producible and sustainable sources including wind, solar, biomass and eventually geothermal.

Happy Greening!

Make sure you are registered to vote! (Deadline in MA: Wednesday, October 17, 2012) 

(data from U.S. Energy Information Administration's (EIA)  State Energy Data System (SEDS))

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Upset October 16, 2012 at 06:27 AM
Who ashamed? Maybe Mr. Brown should be ASHAMED! He was in the "Naked Quad Run" at TUFTS UNIVERSITY and also he was on the centerfold on the "Playgirl Magazine!!"
Upset October 16, 2012 at 06:31 AM
You damn right about that! Everybody hold their BREATH AND TURN BLUE WHEN THEY SAW SCOTT RUNNING DOWN THE STREET !!!
MO October 16, 2012 at 01:21 PM
Got some bad news for you Upset. 10/16/12 – Just In WALTHAM, Mass. (AP) — A123 Systems says a default on some of its debt is likely and it may be heading for bankruptcy protection. Just two months ago, the electric vehicle battery maker announced a $450 million lifeline from a Chinese company to stay afloat. It is getting a waiver on that debt for now. There were enormous hopes for A123 when it went public three years ago and shares soared 50 percent to more than $20 on the first day. A123 also got a $249 million government grant to help it build a battery factory in Michigan. Shares cost 13 cents Tuesday. In a regulatory filing, the Waltham, Mass., company now says it expects to miss payments Tuesday on its $143.8 million in 2016 notes and $2.8 million in 6 percent notes. http://www.necn.com/10/16/12/A123-Systems-expects-to-default-of-some-/landing.html?&apID=3f203a313186469895fc379dc5f0ddbd
MO October 16, 2012 at 02:19 PM
More bad news Upset. I hope you didn’t pay for those solar panels yet. Instead head on over to Konark Technologies in Lowell and see if there are any left in the dumpsters. Konark got 20 million on government research grants before going into bankruptcy. Evergreen Solar of Marlborough, MA and Beacon Power of Tyngsboro, MA are also “green” energy solar panel companies who have gone bankrupt. Evergreen received more than $20 million in grants and $11 million in tax and lease initiatives from Massachusetts. Beacon Power got 43 million dollars of our money before going under. Check for yard sales in those areas. If you can get your hands on that electric car and are up for a road trip, head to Fremont, CA. I hear Solyndra has the best deals.
Upset October 16, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Hey MO,you think this electric car that I am going to borrow from the Medford Cityhall's parking lot,which is right across from Stringstep, will get me all the way to California? You know what,what if I get the on the top dash board "SOLAR PANEL" for $12.99 at Harbor Freight Tools in Medford,all you got to do is to plug it in the cigarette lighter,that will keep the wheels going!--------- Oh by the way ,about Scott Brown story,which right above my box,let me add a few words after "MADLY IN LOVE WITH HIM ",that will be "AT FIRST SIGHT!!', that sound alot better.Sorry about that folks!


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