New England Governors show strong commitment to carbon reductions, clean energy, and cost control
The new year ushered in two new governors for our region—Janet Mills in Maine and Ned Lamont in Connecticut, both Democrats. Governor Mills holds a starkly different set of energy goals from her predecessor, while Governor Lamont’s focus builds on the priorities of the last executive administration. The four returning incumbent governors’ energy policy priorities remain consistent with their first terms, as evident from recent inaugural speeches, appointments and other activities. Here are highlights from each state.
Governor Ned Lamont supports a clean energy agenda and believes the state can fight climate change and protect the environment while simultaneously improving the economy. Although his inaugural address did not specify particular energy policies, he called for expanded renewable energy and carbon neutrality by 2050 throughout his campaign and in recent speeches. “It’s a false choice if you say I have to choose between the environment and economic growth and jobs,” Governor Lamont reiterated during a recent CT League of Conservation Voters event.
Governor Janet Mills’ energy priorities are focused on climate change mitigation and renewable energy expansion, embodied in the forthcoming installation of solar panels atop the Blaine House, the governor’s residence. According to Governor Mills, action is essential. As she stated in her inaugural address: “Climate change is threatening our jobs, damaging our health and attacking our historic relationship to the land and sea. Tonight I say, enough…It is time to act!” Governor Mills plans to “embrace clean energy; change our modes of transportation; weatherize homes and businesses, and reach a goal of 50 percent of our electricity coming from Maine renewable resources.” Notably, one of her first administrative actions was to create a new Office of Innovation and the Future to lead the state efforts in several major policy areas that include climate and energy.
Governor Charlie Baker’s second inaugural address indicates that he will continue to work to lower greenhouse gas emissions through clean energy procurements and other policy mechanisms. He also emphasized the transportation sector, saying that “…we must make the investments in public infrastructure that will enable the next generation of zero emission and autonomous vehicles to thrive here in the Commonwealth.”
Governor Chris Sununu’s top priority in his second term mirrors that from his first: the need to lower electricity costs. During his recent inaugural speech, that view prevailed, colored by details on how to specifically help lower-income Granite Staters with targeted renewable energy deployment. Immediately following his inauguration, Governor Sununu requested the formation of a task force by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to pursue wind development in the federal waters offshore of New Hampshire.
Governor Gina Raimondo’s commitment to renewable energy maintains its strength in her second term, with a clear emphasis on offshore wind development. As she seems to indicate from language in her inaugural address— “Let’s remain committed to securing renewable energy and protecting our green spaces to ensure our state’s natural beauty can be enjoyed for generations to come,”—energy project development on land will need to be balanced against other competing goals and uses.
Second-term Governor Phil Scott, like Governor Baker, also emphasized the need to lower carbon emissions, particularly those that come from the transportation sector. In his inaugural address he points out that Vermont “…rank[s] high when it comes to air quality, but we can do more to lower emissions in our state, so I’ll propose using settlement funds to help more Vermonters purchase electric vehicles.”
ISO New England’s External Affairs team will continue to monitor gubernatorial activity throughout the year within each state and through collaborative regional and national meetings, including at the National Governors Association meeting, the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Premiers, and similar events.