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Ben Sonnega
Go Solar Campaign, Associate, Environment America

Author: Ben Sonnega

Go Solar Campaign, Associate, Environment America

Started on staff: 2018
B.A., University of Michigan

Ben runs Environment America's Cities Go Solar campaign. He has built a broad coalition of mayors and local leaders across the country who support solar energy, and is building support and providing resources to help their communities achieve ambitious solar goals on the road to 100 percent renewable energy. Prior to his current role, Ben directed a citizen outreach office in Ann Arbor, Michigan, after graduating from the University of Michigan. Ben is now based in Boston, where he enjoys running, rowing and playing music.

A snapshot of the effort to spur Massachusetts to embrace 100% renewable energy

The sun shimmered off the golden dome of the Massachusetts State Capitol as I entered the building to deliver petitions signed by more than 4,000 Bay Staters who want the state to commit to getting all its energy from renewable sources like the sun and the wind.

 This petition-delivery was part of Environment Massachusetts’ campaign to pass the 100% Renewable Energy Act, sponsored by state Reps. Marjorie Decker and Sean Garballey. The bill sets a goal of 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035, and 100 percent renewable energy economy-wide (including heating and transportation) by 2045, making it one of the boldest clean energy laws proposed in the country.

The 4000 petitions in my arms had been collected by canvassers who had gone door-to-door in town-after-town to talk with real Bay Staters about the opportunity a clean and renewable energy future offers. Now, after all that shoe-leather had been left on the streets from Brockton to Marblehead, I had the privilege of delivering that message directly to elected officials. . 

Stepping inside the capitol building, it would have been easy to feel caught up in the grandeur and history of the building. After all, Tall, ornately decorated ceilings and portraits of past leaders loom large. But at the end of the day, it was the down-to-earth conversations with elected officials  that highlighted my day.  

We had to make sure each of the petitions our canvassers had collected went to the right representative. In order to deliver so many petitions in one afternoon, we brought a whole team of advocates and organizers and split up into teams. 

Just as the teams were about to part ways, state Rep. Paul Donato stopped us in the hallway. Rep Donato is a huge supporter of the bill and he was so excited to see us that he pulled us into his office that minute for an impromptu photo. 


100% Renewable Energy champion State Representative Paul Donato (right) alongside me (center) and Environment MA Advocate Peter Schneider

From there, we headed to the office of state Rep. Kay Khan, who is one of the bill’s co-sponsors. Her staff warmly welcomed us, but then let us know that Representative Khan was on her way out to a meeting but that they could receive the signatures in her stead. ust as we were handing over the petitions, Rep. Khan, having heard the exchange from another room, came out of her office with a big smile on her face to greet us personally. Her simple act of overruling her tight schedule, inviting us into her office to discuss the bill and to take a photo showed me again what strong support 100% renewable energy enjoys in the Bay State. 


Rep Khan and Ben Sonnega

The experiences I had at the capitol leave me hopeful. But big change has never been easy andAnd now, more than ever, it is important that these legislators continue to hear from us and from their constituents. If you want to see Massachusetts go 100 percent, I invite you to add your name to the petition online today. 

I’d love another excuse to enter the shimmering Massachusetts capitol to amplify the voice of everyday citizens who want a renewable energy future.

Ben Sonnega
Go Solar Campaign, Associate, Environment America

Author: Ben Sonnega

Go Solar Campaign, Associate, Environment America

Started on staff: 2018
B.A., University of Michigan

Ben runs Environment America's Cities Go Solar campaign. He has built a broad coalition of mayors and local leaders across the country who support solar energy, and is building support and providing resources to help their communities achieve ambitious solar goals on the road to 100 percent renewable energy. Prior to his current role, Ben directed a citizen outreach office in Ann Arbor, Michigan, after graduating from the University of Michigan. Ben is now based in Boston, where he enjoys running, rowing and playing music.