BRAINTREE − The Braintree Electric Light Department is hoping to close its Potter II generating station by 2023, the municipal utility’s General Manager Bill Bottiggi told the town council Tuesday night.
Bottiggi said that under rules set by ISO New England, which manages the local power grid, utilities which have plants that are not operating during times of electrical scarcity are subject to fines which are scheduled to increase sharply in the coming years. Potter II, which operated for 16 days last year and takes six hours to staff and to reach full capacity, doesn’t make economic sense in the present market. The utility’s two Watson generators can be started up within 10 minutes, he said.
“This market is designed to crush old generation and get it to retire,” he said.
The utility had been looking at replacing Potter with a Watson III generating station, but Bottiggi said those plans have been dropped due to likely opposition from environmental groups.
“It’s tough to do anything with fossil generation,” he said. (read more)
This old coal plant is now a solar farm, thanks to pressure from local activists (Fast Company 1/3/19)
For more than half a century, a coal plant in the city of Holyoke, Massachusetts spewed pollution into the air. Now, the plant is closed, and 17,000 solar panels and a battery storage system–the largest in the state–send clean power to the grid. Later this year, as the coal plant’s smokestacks come down, the rest of the site will be developed for new industry.
It’s a transition that was driven by the economic collapse of coal and accelerated by local activists who were concerned about the area’s high asthma rates, twice as high as the rest of the state. “We know the things that come out of a smokestack are major triggers and contributors to respiratory issues,” says Claire Müller, lead community organizer for the Toxics Action Center, which partnered with Neighbor to Neighbor, a local Latinx-led organization, to pressure the company that owned the coal plant to shut it down–and to help workers at the coal plant make the shift fairly. (read more)
The MBTA intends to purchase 194 40-foot diesel-electric hybrid buses from New Flyer of America Inc. for use in the greater Boston area, according to an announcement Monday from the heavy-duty transit bus company.
“As MBTA focuses on clean transportation, the addition of New Flyer’s extended-range hybrid buses — complete with start/stop technology running on emission-free battery power inside the Silver Line tunnel — will help fulfill its environmental needs while increasing transit service,” said New Flyer of America President Chris Stoddart.
According to the release, New Flyer has provided more than 750 buses to the MBTA since 2002. The new buses will replace old vehicles and are supported by Federal Transit Administration grants. The MBTA received its first hybrid bus from New Flyer in 2010 and currently has more than 200 hybrid buses that are between 40 and 60 feet. (read more)
Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s new legislative agenda on transportation and the environment is calling for carbon reductions, easing traffic and establishing a regional “Climate Ready” Commission to address climate change.
The six bill-package was outlined by city officials Monday in the second of four legislative packages the mayor is sending to the state Legislature. Much like his legislative agenda on housing security and economic mobility, Walsh’s transportation and environment package largely addresses issues with statewide impacts.
“Addressing the threat of climate change and making sure we keep up with our transportation needs goes beyond city limits,” Walsh said in a press release. “That’s why we must work together with the Massachusetts Legislature on issues of climate mitigation and adaptation.” (read more)
Cities and towns statewide, who count on big tax revenue from commercial solar farms, could come up short because a state appeals board is granting tax exemptions to solar companies.
Some solar developers have used Clause 45th of state law Chapter 59 to argue they are tax exempt and the state Appellate Tax Board has agreed.
What some are calling a tax “loophole” is causing an array of confusion in assessors’ offices across the state.
Worcester County is home to 721 nonresidential solar projects with a total installed capacity of 468 megawatts, according to the state Department of Energy Resources. Statewide, 4,751 installations have a combined capacity of 1,718 megawatts.
An Appellate Tax Board decision forced Barre to refund personal property tax it collected from a solar developer. Charlton and Oxford await the tax board’s decision on appeals that could put at risk more than $1 million in revenue. (read more)
Gov. Charlie Baker took a victory lap Saturday touting the Merrimack Valley’s economic recovery after September’s deadly gas explosions — but state records investigated by the Herald show that months before the region was rocked by fire, the state’s crumbling infrastructure and gas leaks made the blasts almost inevitable.
The study revealed the state had more than 34,000 reported gas leaks in 2017. Almost 7,500 of those were considered “Grade 1” leaks — the highest classification, representing an “existing or probable hazard to persons or property” and requiring repair “as immediately as possible.”
“We’re literally sitting on bombs,” said Audrey Schulman, executive director of Cambridge-based HEET, a nonprofit that helps residents save energy in their homes and lower gas emissions. Her organization maps gas leaks across Massachusetts using DPU data. “The pipes in Massachusetts are past their well-use dates.” (read more)
Out in Franklin or Berkshire counties, on the wide-open roads of rural Massachusetts, you probably picture cars, pickup trucks, and more cars. Just not your traditional city bus.
Figuring out how to run mass transit over large, sparsely populated areas has long been a challenge. But state and local officials, and some transit activists, are trying to get the issue more attention.
Improving transit in rural areas is one of the many recommendations in a sweeping report about transportation in Massachusetts, submitted to Governor Charlie Baker just before the holidays. But the report noted the difficulty of the task.
“Rural Massachusetts is served minimally, or not at all, by any passenger transportation mode other than personally owned vehicles. This disadvantages those people and families who suffer economic hardships, or have limitations on their ability to drive,” the report said. “Many rural towns have no or minimal bus service, train service, or access” to Uber and Lyft, “partly because low population density makes these options economically unattractive.” (read more)
Pete Seweryn’s commute between Roslindale Square and the Orange Line station at Forest Hills became noticeably faster last spring, when Boston banned parking on the inbound side of Washington Street during the morning rush and replaced it with a dedicated space for MBTA buses.
“I’ve noticed a big difference. It’s probably shaved off a good 15 or 20 minutes,” Seweryn said. “Before, you’d just creep along and it would take forever, so it’s definitely a big improvement.”
Hailed by both the city and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority as a simple but significant transit improvement that can be replicated across the region, the Roslindale bus lane has been a boon to thousands of daily bus riders in southwest Boston who now cruise past stalled auto traffic each morning.
But it has also raised a tough question: Who is responsible for managing these additions to the roads — the state-run transit agency that owns the buses or the city that owns the streets? (read more)
ONE DOWN, 350 to go.
That’s how many cities and towns in Massachusetts do not yet have so-called “municipal aggregation” electricity programs with an ambitious amount of renewable power from sources such as solar and wind. At a time when Washington is back-sliding and worse on climate change, communities in Massachusetts have an easy way to add green electricity and drive down greenhouse gas emissions.
Massachusetts state law authorizes cities and towns to adopt aggregation programs. These programs allow municipalities to choose the electricity supplier for electricity customers within their borders, rather than having the local utility — such as Eversource — buy the electricity on their behalf. The utility company continues to deliver the electricity; customers continue to contact their utility if the power goes out; and the utility continues to bill them. The difference is that the city or town selects the supplier of the electricity for customers. Approximately 140 cities and towns in Massachusetts have municipal aggregation programs, mostly intended to try to save electricity customers money. (read more)
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.