Achieving low-cost renewable energy will take efforts from many sides. Two US states recently enacted legislation that moves us closer to a greener tomorrow. Massachusetts Gov. Deval L. Patrick signed the Green Communities Act into law in June in a ceremony held at the Museum of Science in Boston. The law requires utility companies to purchase all available energy-efficiency improvements that cost less than it does to generate power. The utility companies also will offer rebates and incentives to help customers upgrade to more energy-efficient lighting, air conditioning and industrial equipment.Massachusetts governor Deval L. Patrick announces his solar initiative plan.The act also requires the companies to enter into long-term contracts with renewable-energy developers, enabling the latter to obtain financing to build their clean energy projects. The measure authorizes utilities to own the solar electric installations they install on customers’ roofs, which can total up to 50 MW apiece after two years. Patrick has set a goal of harnessing 250 MW of installed solar power by 2017, which represents just under 2 percent of the current generating capacity in the state.Hawaii movesIn Hawaii, Gov. Linda Lingle recently signed into law a bill that requires all new single-family homes to have solar water heaters. The state recently launched a three-year project in conjunction with the Department of Energy, led by the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute and the University of Hawaii, with the goal of having 70 percent clean energy by 2030.Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle.Beginning Jan. 1, 2010, building permits in Hawaii will not be issued for single-family homes that do not have solar water heaters. A few exceptions will be granted, and details must be ironed out in terms of whether developers still will be eligible for a 35 percent tax credit or whether homeowners will receive one. But all in all, the Hawaii governor’s office is taking steps toward a greener future through cleaner technologies.