Massachusetts Governor Announces Funding for Renewable Energy Chair at UMass Amherst

University of Massachusetts Amherst

Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Mae Vallevely Bartlett today announced .5 million to create a new endowed chair in renewable energy at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst’s College of Engineering. The endowed chair will conduct research in the field of renewable energy.

“This funding builds on the Patrick Administration’s strategic investments in innovation, education and infrastructure, not just for today, but for generations to come” said Secretary Bartlett. “The chair will be at the forefront of research in renewable energy innovation, leading to technologies that help the Commonwealth cut our energy use, create jobs and protect the environment.”

The faculty member chosen for the position by a search committee will serve a five-year, non-renewable term in the College of Engineering. Every five years, a new faculty will be drawn to the campus to fill the chair. The College of Engineering has a long history of excellence, particularly in the field of wind energy. Wind Furnace 1 (WF-1) was built at the College, marking the beginning of the modern wind-electricity era. WF-1 is now housed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

“Creating a new, high-profile professorship in renewable energy on the UMass Amherst campus clearly demonstrates our commitment to advancing knowledge of renewable energy and sustainability,” said UMass Amherst chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy. “The linkage with the key state agency that promotes policies in this area for the whole Commonwealth also places UMass Amherst on the front lines of implementing changes that will have lasting and wide-ranging effects. This is an excellent partnership between our College of Engineering and the state government and it will provide benefits far into the future.”

“We are pleased to partner again with the University of Massachusetts to shepherd new ideas in renewable energy,” said Department of Energy Resources (DOER) Acting Commissioner Meg Lusardi. “It is critical that we continue to foster growth in the industry, especially at our academic institutions because the students of today are our clean energy leaders of tomorrow.”

Funding for the chair comes from Alternative Compliance Payments (ACP) through DOER. Electric retail suppliers pay into a fund if they have insufficient Renewable or Alternative Energy Certificates to meet their compliance obligations under the Renewable and Alternative Portfolio Standard programs. As provided in the programs’ regulations, these funds are paid into a segregated account at the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, and DOER uses these funds at the discretion of the Commissioner specifically to further the development of renewable or alternative energy in the Commonwealth.

The state support for the endowed chair comes at a time when the University is celebrating its 150th anniversary and its UMass Rising development campaign. As such, the funding will be matched by the University’s Provost to provide an endowed funding source for graduate students and research activities to be used by the endowed chair.

“I applaud Governor Patrick for choosing the University’s flagship campus to serve as the focal point for this research,” said Senator Stan Rosenberg. “Much is at stake and I am confident that the faculty and staff in the College of Engineering will prove themselves to be more than worthy of this important task.”

The endowment fund will be held by the University of Massachusetts Foundation and administered jointly by the university and the foundation. Income from the fund will be used to support part of the salary for the professor, funding for graduate students, equipment and other costs of a research program in renewable energy.

The Patrick Administration’s aggressive clean energy initiatives have made Massachusetts a leader in energy efficiency, renewable energy and emissions reductions. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy has named Massachusetts number one for three years running. Governor Patrick has set a new solar goal after reaching the previous goal of 250 megawatts four years early. The Commonwealth now aims to install 1,600 megawatts of solar capacity by 2020. The clean energy revolution is yielding economic benefits as well, with 11.8 percent job growth in the last year; nearly 80,000 people are employed in the cleantech industry in Massachusetts.

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