Mayors Develop ‘New Bedford Principles’ for Smart Energy
NEW BEDFORD — Last week's two-day national mayor's summit on smart cities and new energy technologies at New Bedford's Whaling Museum has led to the creation of "The New Bedford Principles," a six-point energy recommendation that the U.S. Conference of Mayors will make to Congress and the Trump Administration to hopefully be included with the president's planned infrastructure overhaul.
The principles are:
--Seek an energy-friendly tax reform package that doesn't undermine current progress:
o Keep tax-exemption on municipal bonds
o Keep state and local tax deductibility
o Preserve and extend tax credits and other incentives to support renewable energy
--Authorize additional tax and other incentives to promote more investment in microgrids, distributed generation, and storage systems.
--Direct funding to support the development of local energy assurance plans to advance local resiliency efforts, especially those to combat climatic events.
--Direct funding to municipal utilities or tax incentives to investor-owned utilities to modernize local grids, including microgrids, to increase resilience to climatic events.
--Direct funding to support local energy block grants to support city energy independence goals.
--Restore federal challenge grants to incentivize smart grid efforts.
New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell, the USCM's Energy Chair, tells WBSM News it was the first time the USCM has held a meeting in New Bedford, and he says the city has been a member of the organization for the past 50 years, if not longer.
"It was great to have all those mayors in New Bedford. We had a lot of really good discussion about energy issues," he said. "New Bedford has been widely recognized as a national leader in renewable energy."
Mitchell said the mayors "wanted to put (their) heads together" and see what types of policies they should be asking Congress and the Trump Administration to adopt.
"We want to promote things like microgrids, which are a way of ensuring that critical facilities like hospitals and wastewater treatment plans and water treatment plants go back online in the event of a disaster," Mitchell said.
"The U.S. Conference of Mayors is firm in it's belief that it has to be at the table. We want our cities to have stronger roads, bridges, port facilities and airports, but energy infrastructure is also a really big need," he said. "What we've seen in Florida and Texas as of late is that having the ability to get electricity back online can actually save lives."
But Mitchell said "The New Bedford Principles" aren't only about saving lives--they're also about saving money.
"We'd like to see our cities have even more renewable energy resources, so that we can have cleaner cities in the long run, and so that our residents can benefit from not only things like air quality, but also their pocket books," Mitchell said. "Renewable energy initiatives like the ones we've implemented in New Bedford have saved a lot of taxpayer dollars."
Mitchell said now that the mayors have developed the plan, it's up to Congress and the Trump Administration to decide whether or not they want to take the plan into consideration. However, he said there are indications from people they've talked to already that they are open to the idea.
"I think it was a successful and substantive meeting, and I look forward to continuing the discussion in the months ahead," Mitchell said.