New England is well known for its distinctive seasons, rich history, and uniquely American culture. The northeast is the oldest established region in the country and the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. But the states that comprise New England have come a long way from relying on factories and manufacturing to provide job opportunities. Today, clean energy is paving the way for new jobs and innovations for New Englanders.
In Maine and New Hampshire, for example, wind energy provides a significant percentage of each state’s electricity generation. In Vermont, hydroelectricity made up 99.7 percent of the state’s electricity generation in 2018. These energy sources are not just promoting a cleaner Northeast, but are supporting local economies.
Perhaps no single conservative lawmaker has been as critical to making clean energy development a priority for the region than U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME). As a member of the newly formed Climate Change Solutions Caucus and the Roosevelt Conservation Caucus, which promote climate and environmental legislation, Senator Collins has a long history of advocating for clean energy. In fact, in 2019, she introduced a bipartisan Senate resolution to establish a National Clean Energy Week.
Last May, Senator Collins sponsored the Better Energy Storage Technology Act, a $300 million, bipartisan, energy storage bill. This act promoted private sector participation and innovation in energy storage solutions and set a goal of building five storage grids by 2023. These grids would harness solar and wind energy to provide power for up to 100 hours.
Time and again, Senator Collins has demonstrated her unwavering support for a number of clean energy sectors, including biomass energy, introducing an amendment to the Energy Modernization Act in 2017 that required federal policy on forest bio-energy to be consistent across all federal departments and agencies.
Most recently, in the wake of the pandemic, Senator Collins has been advocating for additional regulatory relief for companies utilizing the energy investment tax credit (ITC) and production tax credit (PTC).
Bordering Maine, New Hampshire has made significant strides to make clean energy more accessible for consumers without increasing taxpayer rates. These efforts are being led by Governor Chris Sununu (R-NH) who recently expressed his support for three clean energy bills as part of a “new clean energy era in New Hampshire.” The bills will create a “level playing field” and a “more open market” for consumers to access clean energy. Specifically, the bills provide for more accessible net metering and new clean energy development opportunities for private investors.
Just west of New Hampshire, Vermont Governor Phil Scott (R-VT), through an executive order, established the Vermont Climate Action Commission to centralize the Green Mountain State’s climate goals. He also joined the Vermont Climate Pledge Coalition which tracks the state’s progress towards its emission goals. Vermont is aiming to transition to 90 percent renewable energy sources by 2050.
Governor Scott joined the Zero Emission Vehicle Action Plan with eight other states (including Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island). The plan reduces transportation emissions by electrifying the transportation sector and increasing the number Zero Emission Vehicles on the market.
Towards the coast, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (R-MA) has been a leader among conservatives with respect to clean energy development, and was recognized as a 2019 CRES Clean Energy Champion for this efforts. Governor Baker introduced the Massachusetts Clean Peak Energy Standard, which required electricity suppliers to transition to the use of clean energy sources during high demand peak hours. Governor Baker also supported An Act Relative to Solar Energy, a bipartisan energy bill to promote sustainable solar development.
These New England leaders have worked to take collective action for their region as well. In fact, every New England state is a member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). As members of RGGI, each state commits to capping and reducing CO2 emissions by fostering the growth of new energy resources and technologies. The New England states are also members of the Transportation Climate Initiative, a regional program that reduces carbon emissions in transportation by investing in new infrastructure and clean energy development. Governor Baker has recently expressed his support of the initiative, believing that it will help Massachusetts reach its goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
All of these initiatives will likely be big job creators and help get New Englanders back to work in the wake of the economic downturn. Clearly, conservative leaders in New England are prioritizing clean energy development so that each state can reach its ambitious goals of reducing carbon emissions and relying on renewable energy sources. And in doing so, each state is creating new opportunities for local economies to grow and thrive.