When executives from leading Massachusetts clean technology companies gathered on Beacon Hill March 13 for the New England Clean Energy Council’s (NECEC’s) inaugural Clean Energy Day, their message to legislators emphasized three key points: Jobs, Jobs and Jobs. The business leaders and entrepreneurs that make up NECEC—including companies like Aircuity, Nexamp, Boston Power, Konarka, Ambient and A123 Systems, among many others—are betting on Massachusetts as the place to capture the next big economic opportunity. To do that, they need business-friendly state leadership and strong clean energy policies.
Clean energy companies in Massachusetts already employ 64,000 people, and that number is growing. The industry added more than 4,000 jobs in 2010, a growth rate of almost 7 percent, and that rate will likely double in 2011. Whether providing holistic home energy services or pushing disruptive technologies for electric vehicle batteries, solar thermal, smart grid or wind, clean energy firms are growing and expanding in Massachusetts every day.
Need more convincing? Just ask the professional investment community. Massachusetts has attracted the second-largest concentration of clean energy venture capital in the country. These are not players driven by emotion – these are sophisticated financial analysts who are laser-focused on results. They’re betting big sums on Massachusetts companies because we offer smart business models paired with cutting-edge technology. This combination often results in job creation and raises the standard of living for the entire region.
To their credit, Massachusetts state officials have shown leadership in this area. Bipartisan passage of the Green Communities Act in 2008 positioned Massachusetts to improve our economy (and the environment) by increasing the use of energy efficiency and renewable energy. This has saved Massachusetts families and businesses billions of dollars, lowered electric bills in our state and spurred innovation and investment in new energy technologies. The resulting jobs have also been a boon for the state: Today the estimated median annual wage in Massachusetts’ clean economy is more than $1,000 higher than it is for all other jobs across the state.
Despite the huge opportunities in the clean energy economy, opponents remain. They will try to stave off clean energy development with unfounded claims about the Green Communities Act and related costs while ignoring the value of clean energy investment and its robust return. In a time when subsidies for fossil fuels are 10 times those for renewables, it's time to embrace the truth that savings from efficiency and renewables adoption far exceed the cost of business as usual. Are you bullish or bearish? Please weigh in.
Jay Staunton is Vice President, Account Services, at Greenough.