Massachusetts Energy Secretary Discusses Year Ahead

Although renewable energy has been a big part of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick's agenda these past six years, he said little on the issue during his state-of-the-Commonwealth address Tuesday night. But New England Public Radio's Anne Mostue spoke with the state's Secretary for Energy and Environmental Affairs Richard Sullivan about what's ahead for renewable energy development.

Governor Patrick did say that the clean energy industry grew nearly 7% last year, adding "thousands of kilowatts of renewable generation and thousands of jobs." Secretary Sullivan gave some detail.

"There was a 6 percent job growth. There's now over 64 thousand people working in the field of clean and green energy here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. And those companies project that there will be a 12% job growth in 2012 just in that sector."

Aside from environmental benefits, Sullivan says it's important to create reliable, local sources of energy. And with that comes the need for increased transmission capabilities. He says those costs should not be passed on to customers.

"In terms of the transmission, particularly from Canada with respect to Hydro Quebec, since it is a mature industry, that is not something that needs to have a subsidy from the rate payers or the taxpayers of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."

A recent order from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says the grid managers who decide whether consumers or developers pay for new transmission lines must consider state policy goals when approving new  projects.  In Massachusetts that goal is to obtain 15% of power from renewable sources by 2020.