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Worcester's Petty, other mayors push state to go 100% renewable

Telegram & Gazette, Worcester, Mass. logo Telegram & Gazette, Worcester, Mass. 11/20/2019 By Katie Lannan, State House News Service, Telegram & Gazette, Worcester, Mass.
a man wearing a suit and tie smiling and looking at the camera: Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty and other Massachusetts mayors are urging the Legilslature to act to phase out fossile fuels.  [T&G File Photo] © T&G File Photo/Telegram & Gazette/Telegram & Gazette, Worcester, Mass./TNS Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty and other Massachusetts mayors are urging the Legilslature to act to phase out fossile fuels. [T&G File Photo]

BOSTON — A new coalition, led by the mayors of Worcester, Somerville, New Bedford and Easthampton, is calling on state policymakers to transition Massachusetts to meet its heating, transportation and electricity needs entirely through renewable energy.

The Mayors for 100% Renewable Energy coalition marked its launch with a Statehouse press conference this week, where speakers touted a bill with 113 cosponsors that would commit the state to obtaining all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2035 and phase out the use of fossil fuels for heating and transportation by 2045.

"Our message today is clear," Environment Massachusetts state director Ben Hellerstein said. "Across Massachusetts, cities are leading the way to a future powered by 100% renewable energy, and municipal leaders have made great strides, but cities can't do it alone. We need action here at the Statehouse."

The coalition is chaired by mayors Joseph Petty of Worcester, Joseph Curtatone of Somerville, Jon Mitchell of New Bedford and Nicole LaChapelle of Easthampton. The group plans to extend invitations to mayors of other cities.

The initial group of supporters come from areas across Massachusetts, primarily outside the Greater Boston area's Route 128 belt: Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux, Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera, Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer and West Springfield Mayor William Reichelt as well as Cambridge Mayor Marc McGovern.

Mitchell and Curtatone, who participated in the Monday press conference, touted their cities' renewable energy efforts, including Somerville's clean electricity municipal aggregation program and the 16 megawatts of solar projects installed in New Bedford.

"The goal is realistic," Mitchell said. "It is doable. It may be hard, but the circumstances call for hard work."

The 100% renewable energy bill (S 1958, H 2836) backed by the coalition was filed by Acton Sen. Jamie Eldridge in the Senate and Reps. Marjorie Decker of Cambridge and Sean Garballey of Arlington in the House. It has remained before the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee since a July hearing.

Environment Massachusetts plans another event on Thursday at South Boston's Distillery North Apartments in support of the 100% renewables bill, highlighting the backing of "clean energy business leaders." The group has also touted efforts by major local institutions, including Boston University and Partners HealthCare, to move toward their own 100 percent renewable targets.

"This is something that's possible," Eldridge said, noting the support from elements of the business community and from municipal officials.

"As we've seen here at the Statehouse, for municipal leaders to be communicating that something is possible at the state level, that they need to see state leadership to better serve their communities, is also critical to moving legislation forward on Beacon Hill," he said.

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©2019 Telegram & Gazette, Worcester, Mass.

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