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Massachusetts Governor Urges Use of Alternative Energy

Massachusetts Governor Urges Use of Alternative Energy

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Published by: perrytruthteam on Oct 28, 2011
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Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Mass.

, March 14, 2003

Massachusetts Governor Urges Use of Alternative Energy
By Jack Coleman BOSTON--Although he opposes putting wind turbines in Nantucket Sound, Gov. Mitt Romney said yesterday he wants the state to buy up to $ 100 million worth of electricity from nonpolluting sources such as wind, solar and hydroelectric. Saying he was "absolutely committed" to renewable energy, Romney made the proposal at the 28th annual conference of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association, before an audience of more than 1,000 renewable energy entrepreneurs. Romney said a portion of the funds taken from the state's Renewable Energy Trust in January to help balance the state's budget could be used to create a purchasing pool to buy more electricity and fuel from renewable sources. "The idea was that part of that $ 17 million would also be converted into, if you will, a contract which allows us to purchase up to $ 100 million of renewable energy for the state of Massachusetts," Romney said. The measure would stimulate new businesses and job growth while reducing the amount the state contributes to global warming through pollution and greenhouse gases, Romney said. "I think the global warming debate is now pretty much over and people recognize the need associated with providing sources which do not generate the heat that is currently provided by fossil fuels," he said. A surcharge on electric bills provides money for the Renewable Energy Trust, with the cost averaging about 60 cents a month for a family of four. The fund was created when the Legislature deregulated the state's electric industry in 1997. Deregulation also led to the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires electric suppliers to provide at least 1 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, starting this year. The mandate increases by one-half percent annually, leveling off at 4 percent in 2009. Romney did not say whether the $ 100 million would be used toward all of the energy consumed in the state, or just that portion bought by the state government, nor did he mention a time frame for the process or provide other details. "This is something that we are going to be talking about in the future," Romney spokeswoman Jodi Charles said yesterday.

Romney said he discussed the proposal with House Speaker Thomas Finneran and state Senate President Robert Travaglini, and that both were receptive. Romney did not mention the Nantucket Sound wind project proposed by Cape Wind Associates during the 15 minutes he spoke at the conference, held at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel. But afterward, Romney said he remains opposed to the use of Nantucket Sound for such a proposal, because of the "visual impact" of the towers. Cape Wind Associates wants to build 130 turbines over a 24-square-mile area about 5 miles from Barnstable and Yarmouth's southern shorelines. It would be the first offshore wind farm in U.S. waters. The towers would be visible from Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket in a portion of the sound popular with boaters and fishermen. "I'm enthusiastic about renewables, I'm enthusiastic about wind, about solar cells and new technology, but I don't think that the location in Nantucket Sound is the right place for a major project of the nature that has been proposed due to the visual impact," Romney said, reiterating the position he took during last year's campaign. "I love wind technology. I'd love to see it used in Massachusetts. I'm just afraid that in a place that is key to our tourism economy, and is a national treasure, from a visual standpoint it's just the wrong place to put a project like that," Romney said. "It's a little bit like saying, 'The Grand Canyon has great winds, let's put a windmill project in the Grand Canyon.'" But Romney also said he is hesitant to support a moratorium on offshore wind farms or the designation of Nantucket Sound as a national marine sanctuary, as proposed by state Attorney General Thomas Reilly and U.S. Rep. William Delahunt, D-Mass., respectively. Reilly wants a moratorium until federal regulations for siting, competitive bidding, royalties and lease payments are in place, while Delahunt thinks Nantucket Sound needs protection from commercial development. "I wouldn't want in any way to try and prevent the development and expansion of wind technology," Romney said. "But I would, however, not want to see wind technology employed in a highly visually impactful way in Nantucket Sound." But if the Delahunt and Reilly proposals are limited to the Cape Wind proposal "alone," Romney said, "then I would have a great deal of interest." Romney is due to meet this morning with Reilly and Delahunt at the Statehouse. "The moratorium I am interested in applies to the Cape Wind project," Reilly said yesterday. "If we stop that, that should give Congress the time to work on a regulatory framework for other renewable energy projects. If we can get that off the table, we can go to square one."

Delahunt's proposal specifically targets Nantucket Sound, and by extension, the Cape Wind project. This is not the first time Romney has shown enthusiasm for renewable energy. In a speech in Lowell in late January, Romney announced that $ 9 million from the Renewable Energy Trust was being awarded to five renewable energy startup companies. The next day, Romney said he was cutting back on all "nonessential" sport utility vehicles used by the state. Cape Wind President James Gordon said he was encouraged by Romney's support of renewable energy, even if it does not extend to the Cape Wind project. One of the results of a $ 100 million state incentive would be a surge in business and job growth at a time it is badly needed, Gordon said. Romney "clearly pointed out how renewable energy is going to provide significant environmental benefits for the commonwealth, but more importantly, I think the governor understands the job-creation aspects of renewable energy," Gordon said. "And he wants to make Massachusetts a leader in renewable energy technology." In his opening remarks, conference organizer Fred Unger praised Gordon as a "real visionary" whose project "will make the New England economy more prosperous, make the world more peaceful and help to make all our future horizons more hopeful." The state's Renewable Energy Trust is managed by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, which on Wednesday ended a series of public outreach meetings in Hyannis for the Cape Wind project.

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