image description
Michael Canales, Ariel Moyal, Ben Hellerstein, James Kolesar, and Tory Hanna discussed future energy policies at Persip Park in Pittsfield on Tuesday.

Environment Massachusetts Releases 'Roadmap' To 100 Percent Renewables

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
Print Story | Email Story

State Director Ben Hellerstein is urging lawmakers to "go big" with policies to quickly roll out renewable energy technology. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Environment Massachusetts is pushing for Massachusetts to get 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources.
On Tuesday the organization joined with those heading local renewable energy projects to release its agenda, or roadmap, to do so
"We could produce 19 times as much electricity as the state consumes each year from offshore wind. From solar power, we can get 47 percent of the state's electricity just by putting solar panels on every rooftop in the state - to say nothing of larger, ground-mounted installations," State Director Ben Hellerstein said.
"The potential is there. We are seeing new technologies like electric vehicles, energy storage, heat pumps, that are more than ever making it possible for us to imagine a world where 100 percent of the energy for our electric grid, heating, transportation, is coming from renewable sources."
Examples of how to do it are taking place right here in Berkshire, Hellerstein said. He was joined by Michael Canales, North Adams administrative officer, James Koleslar, assistant to the president for community and government affairs at  Williams College, and Tory Hanna, who is heading a feasibility study to develop a downtown microgrid in Pittsfield.
"There is quite a bit that North Adams has been doing along with Pittsfield. The two cities have been really trying to lead the way in what solar, wind, and other renewable sources that are available and what we can do to promote," Canales said.
Canales highlighted the city's solar 3.5-megawatt solar project, purchasing power from other solar arrays, converting streetlights to LED, energy efficiency projects at City Hall and the skating rink. The city also joined with 11 other towns on a municipal aggregation project which provides electricity to homes from renewable sources at a lower cost than National Grid would on its own. The city is designated a Green Community and has weatherization projects lined up at the library and senior center.
Pittsfield has embarked on a number of similar energy projects and the most recent is that the city was chosen as one of 14 municipalities across the state to have a feasibility study done on an urban microgrid.
"Pittsfield is really a bastion for renewable energy projects. We have six solar farms online already. There are a number of green energy initiatives we've taken on - our Green Commission and Mayor [Linda] Tyer," Hanna said.
Hanna said just last week the study for a microgrid kicked off to develop a grid in downtown Pittsfield, providing and storing renewable power to key places such as the hospital, police and fire stations, and City Hall. The project is funded by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center at a cost of $75,000.
"We just received funds two months ago and the consultant we secured - the Microgrid Institute out of Minneapolis - began their kick-off meeting last week. In the end, the proposed findings or report is due in February of 2019," Hanna said.
In Williamstown, Williams College helped finance a solar project at the landfill. Kolesar said the college set a goal of having gas emissions 35 percent less than it had in the 1990s and be carbon neutral by 2020. The college spent $3.5 million on the solar project and a private investor chipping in $1.5 million. 
"It is one that everybody wins. The town gets a greatly reduced rate of electricity, gets to lock in that rate for a long time for budgetary purposes, gets the knowledge that is completely renewable, and moves the state towards its goals, the town toward its goals, and the college toward its gas emissions goals too," Kolesar said.
Those are the type of projects and collaborations Environment Massachusetts wants to see happen all across the state. It was just in March when the organization set the goal and held summit meetings with stakeholders about how to get there. The focus was on rolling out energy efficient technology, replacing fossible fuel plants with solar and wind, and developing ways to power heating and transportation.
"We've been working steadily to build consensus both on the grassroots level as well as from key civic leaders across Massachusetts that 100 percent renewable is the direction we need to go in. We took a huge step forward in June when the Massachusetts Senate passed a bill that would put us on a path for 100 percent renewable electricity by 2050," Hellerstein said.
Hellerstein said he'd like Massachusetts' electricity to be 100 percent by 2035 and transportation and heating to follow by 2050. 
"We think Massachusetts could be at 100 percent renewable energy as soon as 2035. We want to see by 2050, the entire state, not just electricity but heating, transportation, all the other ways we use energy are also being powered by renewables," Hellerstein said.
The advocacy group is calling on the state to "go big on clean energy," but that has been somewhat of a hold upon recent years, Hellerstein said. While Environment Massachusetts supports eliminating the cap on net metering, government officials have been incrementally raising the cap. That has led a number of towns to hit that cap, thus halting future solar projects. 
Hellerstein said the state Senate bill passed in June is a "big step" because it sets a goal of 100 percent renewable electricity by 2050. That bill eliminates the solar net metering cap and increases the renewable energy portfolio. That still hasn't been passed by the entire legislature and there is less than a week left in the session.
"We're hoping officials come to an agreement before the end of the session on July 31 because these issues are very urgent," Hellerstein said.
Beyond that, there is a gubernatorial election coming up and Hellerstein is urging whoever is elected to follow the blueprint Environment Massachusetts has laid out to adopt policies which support clean energy. 
"Whoever it is in the governor's office in January, our hope is they can take this list of recommendations and really run with it," Hellerstein said.
3 Comments welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Alternate text

Domestic Violence Community Action Plan


While the responsibility for domestic violence lies with the perpetrators of these crimes, we all play a role in creating a culture of respect and preventing violence. 


Help us raise awareness about domestic violence this month. Commit to action for National Domestic Violence Awareness MonthBelow are some steps you can take. 


1. Add a Facebook Frame to your profile picture:

Alternate text
Alternate text

2. Stand Out Against Domestic Violence with MICinc


Tuesday, October 20, 2020 - 5:00PM to 6:30PM

North Adams City Hall

Join Men Initiating Change in North County (MICinc) and Elizabeth Freeman Center as we stand out (or show up) for domestic violence as part of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.


Social distancing and masks are required. Bring a sign or use one of ours!

Check out the Facebook event for more info!

Alternate text

3. Purple Challenge 


Thursday, October 22, 2020 is National Wear Purple Day

Wearing purple is a simple, yet meaningful way to raise awareness about domestic violence. Get your friends, family members and coworkers to join you in wearing purple.


Snap a selfie! Or take a group shot of your friends/family/co-workers all wearing purple.


Post it on social media with #PurpleChallenge and #DVAM. Don't forget to tag us!

  • Facebook: @ElizabethFreemanCenter
  • Instagram: @Elizabeth_Freeman_Center

4. Call Your Representatives


Advocating for budget priorities and legislative changes can better protect the rights of victims and improve access to services, resources, and justice for survivors. Call your representatives and let them know where you stand on the issues below.


Elizabeth Freeman Center Budget Priorities 

We understand the impact of COVID-19 on our state's revenue has been significant. That said, the complex needs of survivors are only increased by the isolation of this pandemic. EFC is urging the legislature to prioritize the needs of survivors and challenge any cuts to these line items. 


DPH Line Item 4513-1130: Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Prevention and Treatment Services 

Total Funding Request: $45,233,631 ($5.38 million increase over H2)

There is a resounding need for programs to increase their advocacy and outreach in order to meet the needs of survivors especially now during the  COVID-19 crisis. Any cuts to sexual and domestic violence service providers would be devastating to the safety and wellbeing of all residents of the Commonwealth.


DPH Line Item 4513-1131: Healthy Relationships Grant Program

Total Funding Request: $1,000,000 (level funding with H2)

Maintain violence prevention education programming to youth across the Commonwealth with an emphasis on programming for marginalized identities, including EFC’s new program with Taconic High School and 18 Degree’s Live Out Loud Youth Project.

State Legislators


Senator Adam Hinds

Phone: (413)344-4561 or (413)768-2373


100 North Street, Suite 410

Pittsfield, MA 01201


Rep. John Barrett, III

Phone: (413)743-8300


8 Park Street

Adams, MA 01220


Rep. Paul Mark

Phone: (413)464-5635


PO Box 114

Dalton, MA 01227


Rep. Smitty Pignatelli

Phone: (413)637-0631


PO Box 2228

Lenox, MA 01240


Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier

Phone: (413)442-4300


PO Box 3798

Pittsfield, MA 01202

Legislative Priorities


An Act to Remove Obstacles and Expand Abortion Access (ROE Act) (S1209/H3320)

Survivors access to all reproductive health options is critical.


An Act Relative to Sexual Violence on Higher Education Campuses (H4418)
Legislation to address policy, prevention and services to student experiencing sexual assault at institutions of higher education.


Act Relative to Healthy Youth (S263/H410
Ensure that sexuality education, when taught, is age appropriate and medically accurate.

An Act to Lift Kids out of Deep Poverty (S36/H102)
Set a floor on cash assistance at 50% of the federal poverty level.

Rights and Safety of All MA Residents (Safe Communities Act) (S1401/H3573) 
Preserve and restore community trust in police by separating law enforcement and immigration, making it safer for survivors to come forward to seek support and services.


5. Like & Share 


Keep up to date with Elizabeth Freeman Center and help us continue to raise awareness by following us on Instagram and Facebook and sharing our posts.

Alternate text
Alternate text
Alternate text

Elizabeth Freeman Center Statement on Racial Justice

Why Our Anti-Violence Work Is and Must Be Anti-Racist


Elizabeth Freeman Center (EFC) stands in solidarity with local, state and national movements, including Black Lives Matter, in demanding civil rights, justice and liberation for our Black, Brown and Indigenous communities.


As the domestic and sexual violence response center for Berkshire County, we at EFC see daily how individual violence and systemic racism are intertwined. Black, Brown and Indigenous people endure more violence, face disbelief or blame when they talk about it, and are often punished by the systems ostensibly there to help, including the police, courts, and state agencies.  Our anti-violence work is – and must be – rooted in anti-racism to combat these realities.  We will continue to fight until the lives, stories, and safety of survivors of color are valued.


Read the full statement here.

Alternate text

The world changed, but the violence continued.

These are dangerous and unprecedented times. The very necessary steps we take to stop the spread of Coronavirus also create the very conditions that result in increased domestic and sexual violence. And we are seeing it. 


Elizabeth Freeman Center is OPEN! Our hotline is answered 24/7. Our offices are open to help with emergencies, receive walk-ins, provide basic assistance, i.e. food, shelter, safe phones and transportation, and help with forms and protection orders. In addition, our shelter is open and we continue to motel survivors fleeing danger when our shelter is full. 

Facebook Instagram Web Site


View Full Story

More Berkshire County Stories