It’s Women’s History Month and there’s no better time to spotlight the Healey-Driscoll Administration in Massachusetts and the investment these women are making in a resilient energy future. The Governor has appointed Melissa Hoffer as the first Climate Chief, Rebecca L. Tepper as Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary, Elizabeth Mahony as Commissioner of the Department of Energy Resources, Mary Louise Nuara to serve as Assistant Secretary for Federal and Regional Energy Affairs, and Staci Rubin as Commissioner of the Department of Public Utilities (DPU). These were key appointments made to prioritize the climate crisis in Massachusetts. In administrations past, decarbonization has been declared a priority but nothing significant was accomplished. However, under the leadership of these women, many of whom have legal backgrounds in environmental affairs, the commonwealth’s clean energy transition will finally begin.
To start, Governor Maura Healey created a new cabinet position to help drive climate policy in all levels of decision-making for Massachusetts, marking the first time a state has established such a position at the cabinet level. Melissa Hoffer was selected and currently serves as Principal Deputy General Counsel at the Environmental Protection Agency and was previously the Chief of the Energy and Environment Bureau at the Massachusetts’ Attorney General’s office. Hoffer will report directly to the governor and will play an important role in delivering investments in cleaner energy, transportation, infrastructure and housing.
The Department of Energy Resources (DOER) develops and implements policies aimed to maintain security, diversity, and cost-effectiveness of the Commonwealth’s energy supply. They aim to create a clean and affordable energy future for all communities and businesses. With Elizabeth Mahony now at the helm, she will be responsible for making decisions about rapidly increasing the amount of solar and wind power in the state and upgrading the state’s electricity transmission. Both Mahony and Tepper have a history working together in the Attorney General’s Office coming up with creative solutions to complex problems and delivering actual results.
Being results-driven is important for the Commonwealth now more than ever before as they’ve set bold clean energy goals and the need to be on track in achieving these goals is a legislatively-mandated requirement. The state has less than seven years to slash emissions to 50 percent of 1990 levels in accordance with state law. A major part of that decrease requires a transition away from a reliance on natural gas for home heating and electricity. Through Mahony and Tepper’s combined knowledge and experience, they’ll be able to hit the ground running in preparing the grid for this transition. They intend to focus on updating the housing stock for electrification, encouraging more solar, storage, and wind, and creating a fertile ground for the clean technology economy to flourish in an equitable way.
The state’s Energy and Environmental Affairs continues to grow the team of experts with their most recent additions. EEA Secretary Rebecca L. Tepper announced the hiring of Jason Marshall to serve as Deputy Secretary and Special Counsel for Federal and Regional Energy Affairs and Mary Louise “Weezie” Nuara to serve as Assistant Secretary for Federal and Regional Energy Affairs. These first-time positions within EEA will promote regional cooperation and advocate for advancing the Commonwealth’s clean energy transition with federal, state, and other stakeholders. Weezie Nuara is currently Dominion Energy’s state policy director for New England, where she is responsible for all local, state, and regional policy matters impacting Dominion’s interests in the region. With past experience as a representative for ISO New England, Nuara is well-versed in performing outreach to government officials which will be key in pursuing federal support.
And for the Department of Public Utilities, two new commissioners were appointed, one of them being the Vice President of Environmental Justice at the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), Staci Rubin. Having key players from CLF on the team is crucial to holding leadership accountable on this shift to include environmental policy as a foundation. Previously, DPU was focused on regulation of the state’s powerful electric and gas utilities but the Healey-Driscoll Administration would like to transform it into an agency focused completely on achieving the state’s climate goals, facilitating renewable energy growth, and building a modern power grid. Rarely public-facing in the past, Healey would like more equity in the decision-making process and more community engagement.
The Commonwealth has ambitiously set goals to achieve a 100 percent clean electricity supply by 2030 and electrify public transportation with clean power by 2040. All eyes are on the Healey administration, especially the CLF, to make sure these goals are adhered to. If the legal backgrounds of these new hires are any indication, the current leadership is taking this 2030 deadline very seriously. It’s a hopeful time for clean energy advocates and we look forward to a bright future of this female-led administration aggressively tackling the climate crisis, while also being mindful of environmental and social justice.
ABOUT ENERGY NEW ENGLAND (ENE)
ENE is the largest wholesale risk management and energy trading organization serving the needs of municipal utilities in New England. ENE works with numerous businesses, residents, and utilities to help promote the principles of conservation, efficiency, and environmental stewardship, and advances the many benefits available through integrated sustainability planning – including home energy audit programs, electric vehicle programs, wholesale energy procurement and risk management programs, regulatory and lobbying services. www.ene.org
Vincent J. Ragucci, III
Chief Strategy Oﬃcer Phone: (508) 698-1240