LOWELL – Governor Mitt Romney today announced a plan to redirect the focus of the state’s Renewable Energy Trust Fund to support economic development as well as the creation of alternative sources of energy that will have a positive environmental benefit.
“The Trust Fund has been growing for years, and I believe now is the time to refocus its assets in such a manner that it can become a major economic springboard for the Commonwealth by focusing on job creation in the renewable energy sector,” said Romney.
The Trust was created through the electric restructuring law in 1998 and is funded through a monthly surcharge on electric utility bills. The funds are administered by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.
Romney announced the formation of a new $15 million Green Energy Fund to provide equity capital, loans and management assistance to Massachusetts-based renewable energy businesses. A professional manager will be recruited to manage the fund.
The Governor also touted $9 million in new financings to five companies in the forefront of renewable energy development. The package includes a $1.5 million loan for a pilot production line at Konarka, a Lowell company that served as the setting for today’s news conference.
Konarka has been developing cutting-edge solar technology developed at the University of Massachusetts. Romney said Lowell is a good example of a city that would benefit from renewable energy development, noting it has won national acclaim as a model for older cities looking to stage a rebirth by relying on newer industries.
Several other companies were awarded funds from the Trust, including Nuvera, a Cambridge fuel cell company, which received a $1.5 million grant and loan; Ameresco, the operator of a landfill gas facility in Chicopee, which signed a $2 million clean energy agreement; Acumentrics, a Westwood fuel cell company, which received a $1.5 million loan; and a Massachusetts renewable energy company whose name cannot be disclosed at this time due to SEC regulations, will receive $2.5 million in funding for a major expansion.
“Clean energy is a technology driven industry well suited to the state’s strengths,” said Doug Foy, Romney’s Chief of Commonwealth Development. “We have all the ingredients to be a leader in the sector – world-class universities, high-tech companies and a highly educated workforce.”
Bob Pozen, Romney’s Chief of Commerce and Labor, said states such as New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are in direct competition with Massachusetts for economic expansions by fast-growing renewable energy companies. “By making targeted investments, we can support job growth, develop a cluster of renewable energy companies and have a positive effect on the environment at the same time,” said Pozen.
Mitchell Adams, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, said a growing renewable energy industry will help reduce America’s reliance on foreign sources of oil. “These investments make sense from an economic and environmental perspective, and have the added benefit of reducing our dependence on foreign energy supplies,” said Adams.