From: Rebecca Deusser, The Sun
Published November 10, 2005 12:00 AM

Gov. Romney Sees Explosive Growth in Clean Energy

BOSTON —Some officials on Beacon Hill believe that clean energy will be the next thing to boost the state economy.

In fact, that industry could become as profitable as biotechnology, Gov. Mitt Romney said during a clean energy conference.

"This is an industry that is going to be explosive in its growth in the next decade," Romney said. "We as a commonwealth stand to benefit dramatically." The governor said the state's concentration of colleges and teaching hospitals makes Massachusetts "a greenhouse for the technology that increasingly employs our citizens," Romney said.

Timing is also ripe for passing laws that call for more efficient energy use, on the heels of several devastating hurricanes that pushed gas prices at the pump past $3 a gallon.

State Sen. Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr., a Pittsfield Democrat, hopes the bill he co-sponsored to give tax breaks to people buying hybrid cars will soon become law.

"With the changes in the energy environment, hybrids will become more attractive to consumers and more affordable," said Nuciforo, who has supported a number of energy-conservation measures over the years.

"(Hybrids) seemed futuristic four or five years ago, but it appears in the greater community that there is an openness for hybrid technology." Romney said he supports the bill, which passed in the Senate in September.

That bill is currently in a House committee, and no debate is scheduled before the Legislature breaks on Nov. 16, said Kimberly Haberlin, spokeswoman for Speaker of the House Sal DiMasi.

Haberlin said DiMasi "is looking into ways to implement long-term solutions," and he will likely file a comprehensive energy bill next year.

"To (Romney's) credit, he recognizes the benefit of bringing new technology to market," Nuciforo said. "I certainly believe that Massachusetts will never win with its natural resources, but it will win with its wits." House lawmakers will take up another aspect of energy concerns either tomorrow or Thursday during a debate on an $80 million fuel assistance and tax-relief package.

The bill includes a tax deduction of up to $800 for home heating oil and gas costs for individuals with incomes up to $50,000, and families up to $75,000.

The bill would enable people who invest in making their homes more energy-efficient eligible for a tax credit, and it would add $20 million to a fund for fuel assistance for low-income residents.

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Source: Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

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