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Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick announced Wednesday he was naming Rick Sullivan to be his new secretary of energy and environmental affairs amid a staff shuffle that sees the current secretary, Ian Bowles, stepping down to seek opportunities in the private sector.
Bowles, who was appointed to the job by Patrick four years ago, said he feels he has helped launch the state on the path to a green energy future and wants to step aside. He will leave at the end of the month.
"I think it's the right time for me to pursue some of my ideas from the entrepreneurial perspective," Bowles said Tuesday during a telephone interview. "I have a variety of ideas that I want to try."
He was the only Cabinet secretary to leave in the reshuffling, but there were several other senior-staff changes; Arthur Bernard will be leaving as chief of staff, along with Cabinet secretary Liz Morningstar and Communications Director Kyle Sullivan.
Bernard will be replaced by legal counsel William "Mo" Cowan, who, in turn, will be replaced by a deputy, Mark Reilly. There were no immediate replacements for Morningstar and Kyle Sullivan, but the governor announced that Sydney Asbury, manager of his recent re-election campaign, will become deputy chief of staff.
The governor had sought resignations from his entire senior management slate as he assessed their readiness for the challenges of a second term.
Rick Sullivan has worked most recently as head of the Department of Conservation and Recreation. He is now charged with implementing the governor's solar, wind, biofuels and energy efficiency initiatives.
The job also oversees land-preservation efforts and implementation of environmental laws and regulations.
Under Bowles, Massachusetts has increased its use of renewable forms of energy, including solar, wind and geothermal power.
Patrick called Bowles "a star in this administration" and said he's worked to create a "clean energy economy in Massachusetts, saving money for consumers, increasing our energy independence and creating jobs."
While much of his focus has been on renewable energy, Bowles also oversaw the state's efforts to help cities and towns preserve open space.
With state aid, local communities have been scooping up open space at the rate of 54 acres per day. The state now has more than 1.2 million acres of land permanently barred from development.
Bowles has also found himself at the center of controversy during his tenure in office, including for his support of the contentious Cape Wind project. The planned 130-turbine project, the nation's first offshore wind farm, met with opposition from critics of the Nantucket Sound location and of the cost of the energy produced by the farm -- which at first will be about double today's price of power from conventional sources.
Bowles defended the administration's backing of the project, saying it has "significantly more plusses than minuses from the environmental perspective."
The Patrick administration has also been faulted for other energy-related decisions.
After investing $1 million to jump-start proposed wood-burning plants in Russell, Greenfield, Springfield and Pittsfield, Bowles commissioned a study that found biomass-fired electricity would result in a 3 percent increase in carbon emissions compared with coal-fired electricity by 2050.
The administration then proposed new regulations that leaders in the wood-burning power plant industry said would stifle growth.
The administration has also been criticized for its support of Marlborough-based Evergreen Solar Inc., which received $58 million in state aid before announcing it was planning to move some jobs to China.
The 49-year-old Sullivan served as mayor of Westfield from 1994 to 2007.
He is a past president of the Massachusetts Mayors Association, past chairman of the Turnpike Advisory Board and a past member of the Governor's Local Advisory Committee.
He is a graduate of Bates College and Western New England Law School.