BOSTON – Today, during a ceremony at the Massachusetts State House, State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D- Pittsfield) was named 2013 Legislator of the Year by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
“SEIA is proud to recognize Senator Downing for his leadership in renewable energy policy in Massachusetts, and in particular, for his steadfast support of solar projects,” said Carrie Cullen Hitt, Senior Vice President, State Affairs for SEIA. “Over the past few years Senator Downing's thoughtful approach has resulted in creating a sustainable renewable energy market, resulting in investment and jobs, as well as reduced risks and long term costs for Massachusetts' ratepayers.”
Downing, who serves as the Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities & Energy (TUE) also hosted today’s Solar Day on the Hill. This first-ever event brought members of the solar community, including local companies involved in research, manufacturing, financing and the construction of solar projects in Massachusetts to Beacon Hill to encourage their legislators to support this emerging green industry.
"I am honored to be recognized for my work to advance clean energy, especially solar," said Downing. "Thanks to the steps we've taken in Massachusetts over the past six years, solar energy installations have increased dramatically. Projects are sprouting up all across my district and across this state. These ventures are putting people to work, reducing our impact on the environment and increasing our energy independence -- all at lower and lower costs. We have more work to do, but I am proud to have played a part in the progress we've made so far."
Today, according to SEIA, there are more than 235 solar companies at work throughout the value chain in Massachusetts, employing 4,500 workers. The amount of solar energy currently installed in Massachusetts is able to power 32,000 homes, and ranks the Commonwealth 7th in the country in cumulative installed solar capacity.
Last year, $476 million was invested throughout Massachusetts to install solar on homes and businesses, representing a 210% increase over 2011. This investment is predicted to grow again this year.
On May 2nd Downing joined Governor Deval Patrick to celebrate a solar energy milestone in Massachusetts. During that event the Governor announced that 250 megawatts of power from solar energy was being generated in the Commonwealth, meeting his 10-year goal for solar power four years early. Additionally, the Governor called for an ambitious new solar energy goal in Massachusetts: 1.6 gigawatts (1,600 megawatts) installed by 2020. Downing enthusiastically supports this new benchmark.
Downing’s TUE co-chair, Representative John D. Keenan (D- Salem) was also honored by SEIA during today’s event.
Video: Watch Senator Downing accept his award and hear his remarks from today’s Solar Advocacy event on his YouTube Channel. www.youtube.com/BBDSenate