Ian Bowles, the state’s top environmental official and Gov. Deval Patrick’s right-hand man on the proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm, is stepping down.
“I have a few entrepreneurial ideas that I’m particularly interested in pursuing,” Bowles, the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, said during an interview Tuesday with the Cape Cod Times.
Bowles, 45, said he did not have any definite plans to announce but that he plans to “flex the entrepreneurial muscle.”
He also plans to spend more time with his family and on Cape Cod, where he grew up in Woods Hole.
“That remains a high priority for me at all times,” he said.
The start of Patrick’s second term is an ideal transition time, said Bowles.
“Under Gov. Patrick’s strong leadership I really accomplished all the things that I’ve set out to accomplish,” he said.
Over the past four years the two men pushed an agenda that combined the environment, energy issues and job creation.
Bowles points to the passage of the Global Warming Solutions Act, which limits the emission of greenhouse gases in the state, as one of the highlights of his time in the position.
“Its effects will be felt more significantly over the next 10 or 20 years,” he said.
Bowles also led the push to pass the Green Communities Act in 2008, a law of more immediate effect that set the stage for a variety of environmental initiatives across the state.
Earlier this month, a deal between Cape Wind and National Grid to sell half the power from the proposed project’s 130 turbines became the first long-term power purchase agreement approved by the state Department of Public Utilities under the new law.
Bowles has been a central figure in the contentious fight over Cape Wind since his start in the Patrick administration.
In 2007, he signed off on the state’s environmental review of the project, a move that sparked fury among Cape Wind’s opponents who claimed that Patrick’s support for the project influenced the decision.
Bowles disputed the allegation at the time saying that the decision was made “on the merits, straight up.”
Over the next three years, Bowles would often act as the administration’s primary voice in the debate over Cape Wind, facing legal challenges to his approval of the project and that of agencies under his purview, such as the state Energy Facilities Siting Board.
In large part the state has taken a hands-off approach to Cape Wind under Bowles’ leadership, citing the project’s proposed location in federal waters.
No other project has seen more litigation or contention, Bowles said, adding that it is now up to the Cape Wind’s proponents to finish the project.
Bowles also led the way in the creation of the state’s Ocean Management Plan released earlier this year. The first-in-the-nation plan envisions state waters southwest of Martha’s Vineyard as possible locations for other commercial-scale wind farms and community-supported turbines in waters around the Cape.
Although the ocean plan, too, has met with vocal opposition locally, the state’s actions have been largely praised by national environmental groups.
In a statement e-mailed to the Cape Cod Times, Patrick called Bowles “a star in this administration over the last four years.”
“He has been a terrific partner in our efforts to create a clean-energy economy in Massachusetts, saving money for consumers, increasing our energy independence, and creating jobs in a vital industry of the future,” Patrick said. “I will miss his passion, his energy, and his leadership.”
Like all cabinet secretaries Bowles was paid $150,000 a year.
Prior to working for Patrick, Bowles was president and chief executive officer of MassINC, a Boston-based research institute.
He is a former member of President Clinton’s administration, having served as associate director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and as senior director of the Global Environmental Affairs directorate at the National Security Council.
Bowles’ last day on the job is Dec. 31. There was no immediate information available about his potential successor, according to a spokesman for the Patrick administration.
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