NEW BEDFORD — The Whaling City has made headlines in recent years with it's involvement in launching the commercial offshore wind industry. Now, the City is being recognized for another one of it's green-initiatives

Local leaders gathered Friday to celebrate New Bedford’s inclusion in a new Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center report on innovative clean energy programs at the municipal level.“The best ideas for clean energy often start at the local level,” said Ben Hellerstein, State Director for the Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center.

“If we want to have cleaner air, healthier communities, and a safer future for our children, we need to move rapidly toward 100-percent renewable energy from sources like the sun and the wind. New Bedford is showing how to make it happen.”
The report, ​Renewable Communities, features New Bedford alongside 21 other Massachusetts cities and towns that are leading the way to 100-percent renewable energy.The report discusses renewable electricity, energy efficiency, clean transportation and heating, and energy storage programs, including New Bedford’s successful efforts to add electric vehicles to the municipal fleet.

“As a coastal city and the center of the commercial fishing industry on the East Coast, New Bedford has a lot at stake when it comes to climate change and sea-level rise,” said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell.

“We have led by example on these issues, so we appreciate the recognition of our efforts to embrace renewable energy. We have installed more than 16 megawatts of land-based solar and wind projects, positioned ourselves to be a leader in offshore wind energy, and pushed hard to convert our municipal fleet to electric vehicles.”Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center shared a preview of the report, including a profile of New Bedford’s clean energy efforts, at the Friday event. The full version of the report will be released on August 2.

New Bedford has now converted more than 25-percent of its municipal passenger vehicles to electric vehicles. The city is believed to have a higher percentage of electric vehicles in its municipal passenger fleet than any other community in Massachusetts.The city has also installed 16 megawatts of solar and wind generation, saving taxpayers approximately $1 million per year in avoided energy costs.

The report comes as legislators consider a statewide commitment to 100-percent renewable energy. The 100-percent Renewable Energy Act (H.2836, S.1958) would transition Massachusetts to 100-percent renewable electricity by 2035, and phase out the use of fossil fuels for heating and transportation by 2045. The Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy held a hearing on the bill this week.

So far, 113 legislators have endorsed the 100-percent Renewable Energy Act.

“I had the valuable opportunity to work on the GreenWorks legislation that passed the House this past Wednesday and the theme that kept coming up was that there needs to be an equal focus placed on both adaptation and mitigation,” said Rep. Antonio Cabral (15th Bristol)

“As a state, we must collectively lower emissions and consume less energy. At the city-level, New Bedford has made significant progress on this mitigation front. We all have a role to play in the fight against climate change – we just need to use the tools available to us.”
Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center is visiting five other communities across Massachusetts to share the findings of the report.“Communities like New Bedford are leading the way on clean energy,” said Hellerstein. “We hope to see state leaders follow their example.”

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