Goldstein-Rose pushes for battery testing facility in western Mass

Staff Writer
Friday, April 28, 2017

A battery testing facility in western Massachusetts that supports clean energy technology and combats climate change would help both grow the economy and protect the environment.

At least that’s what state Rep. Solomon Goldstein-Rose, D-Amherst, hopes will happen. Goldstein-Rose, who represents Amherst, Pelham and Granby’s Precinct 1, recently included development of such a facility as an amendment in the House Ways and Means Committee’s fiscal 2018 budget.

The two-part amendment, which would create a five-member commission and authorize a $50,000 feasibility study, is laying the groundwork for the $20 million to $30 million facility that Goldstein-Rose said Friday would be built in one of the four western counties.

The commission would include one representative and one senator and three other individuals designated by the chancellor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the commissioner of the Department of Energy Resources and the chief executive officer of Massachusetts Clean Energy Center.

The initial study would create an infrastructure for testing and proving new battery technologies, and fill a gap between academic research and companies that want to commercialize these new technologies, Goldstein-Rose said.

Later, the study would evaluate staffing and management options, potential sites and equipment needs, and the job creation impact of such a facility. There would also be a need to identify private partners, as the cost would be prohibitive for the state on its own, Goldstein-Rose said.

The freshman representative said he is confident that the amendment will remain in the House budget, especially since it is a small amount of money and was part of his “maiden speech” on the floor of House, in which he focused on how Massachusetts, as a high-tech state, can lead the way in such projects.

“We in Massachusetts have a unique opportunity for economic development,” Goldstein-Rose said in his speech. “No other state has the advantages we have when it comes to clean energy technology development. With our public and private research universities, advanced manufacturing, and highly educated workforce, we can make ourselves the Silicon Valley of the new energy economy.”

Goldstein-Rose said the Senate will pass its version of the budget in June, and this budget will then go to a conference committee between the two chambers before getting to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.