I agree with Senator Eldridge’s statement that Evergreen Solar’s announcement is deeply disappointing. The Marlboro-based company has worked hard to compete against heavily subsidized foreign competition in China and, as the Senator points out, it has brought a lot of good jobs to Devens and they will be dearly missed.
But I strongly dispute the notions that our growth strategy for Massachusetts’ clean energy economy is bad policy and that our economic development focus is limited to tax credits. We work with innovative companies like Evergreen Solar because we are engaged in a global fight for the jobs of tomorrow. We invest in education, innovation, infrastructure, health care and regional economies because we are committed to building a better, stronger Massachusetts. Yesterday’s news from one company shouldn’t overshadow the many successes we’ve had so far. Let’s talk about what happened in this case and how it fits into the bigger picture.
First of all, Senator Eldridge’s post contains a widely-reported but factually incorrect number. The $58 million incentive package the state offered Evergreen Solar is a mix of tax credits, lease savings, and long term grants that accrue over many years. $13 million of this package went directly to the town of Devens for infrastructure improvements that will benefit any company that chooses to set up in the area.
In regards to the remaining dollars invested in the company itself, we have clawback provisions in place for these programs for a reason – to ensure we get a true return on our investment. We are thoughtfully, quickly and aggressively working to recover this funding and we are very confident that we can take a substantial portion back. We will fight to recover every cent that the taxpayer is owed.
We work to bring new businesses to communities across the Commonwealth as part of a broad strategy for economic growth and job creation. Investing in our clean energy sector is a critical part of that strategy.
And disappointments like Evergreen Solar’s decision won’t weaken our resolve to maintain our place as America’s top destination for clean energy innovation. Employment at clean energy companies in the Commonwealth has increased 60% from 2007 to 2010. Not counting Evergreen there are 145% more people employed in Massachusetts’ solar energy sector right now than there were four years ago.
Our comprehensive economic development strategy is working. Massachusetts is creating jobs faster than most other states and we are coming out of the recession stronger than the nation as a whole. And we will continue to fight for every job and company that will keep us competitive in the global economy. I can promise you that.
Secretary Greg Bialecki