Equitable Access to Clean Energy, Legislative Progress on Climate Change Among Topics at UMass Energy Transition Institute Symposium
Ways to ensure a more equitable distribution of clean energy technologies, legislative progress and challenges on climate action and job opportunities in green technologies were key discussions at the second annual Energy Transition Institute (ETI) Symposium at UMass Amherst on May 15.
More than 50 students from colleges and departments across campus presented their work on clean energy, equitable access, climate and decarbonization during morning and afternoon poster sessions, which were attended by hundreds of visitors throughout the day.
The event kicked off at 10:30 a.m. with a discussion moderated by Pedro Matos-Llavona, a doctoral candidate and fellow of the ELEVATE program of ETI, and featuring panelists Jose LaSalle ’16, founder and CEO of florrent, Susannah Hatch, director of clean energy policy for the Environmental League of Massachusetts and Michael Ising, a project manager for Quest Energy Group.
LaSalle’s business is a Massachusetts-based, minority-owned deep-tech company that works with Black and Indigenous farmers to grow hemp, an abundant and regenerative biomass source. He pointed to the makerspace in the College of Engineering as crucial to his current success, as it provided him with valuable mentorship and resources in a self-directed learning environment.
“It was a phenomenal skill set I learned here at the college,” LaSalle said. “It has been incredibly useful in industry.”
The company is an incubator based at the UMass Institute for Applied Life Sciences.
State Rep. Mindy Domb introduced State Rep. Jeffrey Roy, who provided the afternoon keynote on ongoing collaboration to build a just and equitable green energy future in the state.
Roy pointed to several legislative wins for the green energy movement in the state, including the July 2022 passage in the Legislature, and approved by then-Gov. Charlie Baker, of a wide-ranging climate and clean energy bill. The compromise bill included key sections from both the House and Senate bills to make significant steps to address climate change in the commonwealth and meet climate and energy goals set for 2025 and 2030, he said.
Roy also spoke on the 2021 approval of the state’s first commercial-scale wind farm, Vineyard Wind. The 62-turbine, 800-megawatt project (enough to power about 400,000 homes) off the coast of Barnstable is aiming to provide power into the grid by the end of the year.
The event concluded with a presentation from Ted Mendoza, UMass capital projects manager, on UMass Carbon Zero.
The ETI Symposium was sponsored by ELEVATE in partnership with the Energy Transition Institute, the iCons Program, Clean Energy Extension, Campus Sustainability and the Wind Energy Fellows Program.