Mass. climate group says municipal utilities moving too slow on clean power (Energy News Network 2/26/18)
A Massachusetts climate change nonprofit has released a report arguing the state’s municipal power companies are lagging in their commitment to clean energy. Leaders in the municipal electric sector, however, contend the analysis misrepresents the realities faced by these plants and their commitment to lowering emissions.
“They’re trying to evaluate us based on rules that don’t really apply to us,” said Brian Choquette, president of the Municipal Electric Association of Massachusetts and general manager of Hudson Light and Power.
The report, created by the Massachusetts Climate Action Network (MCAN), assessed the portfolios, policies, and practices of the 41 municipally owned electric companies in the state. Often called municipal light plants, these companies are not subject to many of the regulations that govern investor-owned utilities and competitive electric suppliers. Notably, municipal light plants are exempt from the rules that require a certain slice — currently 14 percent, increasing annually — of the power sold to come from renewable sources. (read more)
WESTON — The town will spend $3,500 to better understand its gas infrastructure, with possibly another $15,000 to $25,000 to be spent in the future to study gas leaks.
Liz Steel, of the Sustainable Weston Action Group, told selectmen last week that the town has an “aging and corroding gas infrastructure,” like many communities throughout the state.
According to Steel, Massachusetts has the second-oldest gas pipelines in the country after Maryland, with “a lot of pipes over 100 years old.”
Older gas pipes in Weston made of corroding cast iron are a “real issue for gas companies,” according to Steel. “They’re trying to replace it as fast as they can, but it’s just too much. Maintenance is being neglected, as in all other infrastructure projects over the last 20 years.”
National Grid reported at the end of 2017 that there were more than 140 gas leaks in town.
During the last year, Steel said some of the leaks have been fixed, but Department of Public Works Director Tom Cullen noted “other areas have maybe gotten worse.” (read more)
The Baker-Polito administration selected the town of Winchester to participate in the 2019 HeatSmart Massachusetts program. A partnership between the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, HeatSmart Mass is modeled after the Solarize Mass program, which Winchester was a pilot community for in 2011.
HeatSmart Mass uses a group purchasing model to help drive down the cost of installation and to increase deployment of residential and small-scale commercial installations of clean heating and cooling technologies including air-source heat pumps, ground-source heat pumps, modern wood heating, and solar hot water. Arlington and Winchester will jointly promote all four technologies and will each receive grant funding to help publicize the program. The other communities selected for participation in the 2019 HeatSmart Mass program are Belmont, Hudson and Stow (joint program), and Marshfield. (read more)
In order to see the 20 acres of solar panels of Boxborough Community Solar, you would have to get off Route 111, at the Boxboro Regency, and drive past the old Cisco building, and then drive down an approximately mile-long access road. Once you get to the location at 1414 Mass Ave., however, you can see the 15,000-plus solar panels lined up in rows.
The ribbon cutting for the 5-megawatt project, owned and operated by Connecticut-based Green Street Solar Partners, was held on Friday morning, Feb. 15, and featured state, town, energy, and business officials who gathered on a gray day to praise the sunny project, which had been in the works for a while. Kenyon Energy assisted in the financing of the project that was switched on in late January. It is one of the last solar projects constructed in the state under a previous state solar incentive program called Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SREC). (read more)
Mayor Martin J. Walsh is calling on the MBTA to hear what “customers have to say,” as it weighs a “tough” proposed fare hike on people who are already frustrated with the service they receive.
“I think it can be a very difficult increase,” Walsh told the Herald on Sunday. “People need to know that the service is getting better. I think the MBTA owes a little bit to the customers about what’s coming in the future here.”
As the Herald reported in January, the T is considering hiking fares by 6.3 percent despite pushback from fiscal watchdogs. Steve Poftak, the general manager of the T, justified the move as “an important part of the MBTA’s funding system,” and said it was “working hard to show customers the MBTA is improving.”
Walsh said investing in the T is a crucial part to solving the growing traffic problems in the city, recently listed as the most congested in the country by the traffic data firm INRIX earlier this month. But a rate hike, he said, must ensure improved service. (read more)
Pioneer Valley Planning Commission sets sights on further reducing greenhouse gas emissions (Outlook 2019 Viewpoint) (MassLive 2/16/19)
In the 1980s, the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission took on the formidable challenge of cleaning-up severe pollution in the Pioneer Valley's premiere natural resource, the Connecticut River. A catalyst for action was the relatively new federal water quality standards laid out in the 1972 Clean Water Act but also a New York Times article which branded the Connecticut as the "best landscaped sewer in the country."
Advocacy led to the commonwealth committing funds to undertake a detailed assessment of the Connecticut River's water quality problems which confirmed the source as Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs). Hundreds of CSOs were discharging millions of gallons of raw sewage into the Connecticut River during periods of precipitation or snow melt when the sewage treatment plants lacked sufficient capacity to handle it bypassing the treatment process. (read more)
EASTHAM -- You can’t get there from here.
Well, you can actually, and the Cape Cod Commission wants to make sure that remains the case. It’s working on a 2020 Regional Transportation Plan that tries to envision Cape Cod travel through the 2040s and last week it held a “listening session” in Eastham.
The plan currently is in information-gathering mode but the goal is to obtain funding for a series of projects.
’This is an exciting time to talk about the long range transportation plan,” Steve Tupper, the commission’s transportation program manager, told the audience at Eastham Town Hall on Feb. 5.
The planning began this fall with goals and existing conditions evaluated. Currently it is in the outreach and survey stage with potential projects being evaluated. (read more)
Vast swarm of homes with solar-battery systems poised to act as 'virtual power plant' in New England (MassLive 2/12/19)
A network of around 5,000 solar- and battery-equipped homes in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Vermont could soon be funneling power back into the grid at times when it's most needed.
The national solar installer SunRun made history this month when it bid into the region's forward capacity auction for wholesale power and won the right to contribute 20 megawatts to the New England grid during periods of high demand.
Last week, SunRun touted its achievement and said it's the first time home solar and battery storage has gone head-to-head with centralized power plants in a U.S. capacity market. While the "virtual power plant" concept has been described on paper and discussed at conferences, it has yet to be manifested.
Now the bundled storage must be made available to ISO New England, which runs the six-state power grid, during the 2022-23 season. If SunRun delivers, it gains tariff payments. If it fails to deliver, it faces penalties. (read more)
Officials seek more protections for city wetlands to counter effects of climate change (Boston Globe 2/11/19)
They are vestiges of greenery and wildlife in Boston: the salt marsh of Belle Isle, the patches of land that foster diverse plant and animal species off Weld Street in Roslindale, the dots that enliven the Emerald Necklace running from Dorchester to the Fens.
Boston has wetlands areas scattered across the city that have long been cherished for their beauty and environmental benefits. But environmental advocates say the city has few tools to protect these spaces from climate change and the secondary effects of development, such as shifts in flood patterns; the city is one of only three along the Massachusetts coastline that does not have local laws protecting wetlands.
Now, a movement is afoot in Boston to enact a local Wetlands Protection Act, part of the city’s overall efforts to combat the effects of climate change. (read more)
More and more Cambridge residents are taking action to reduce their carbon footprints -- from installing solar arrays and electric heat pumps to driving electric cars or choosing to bike, walk or take transit more often. We recycle, compost and carry reusable shopping bags; we schedule (free) home energy assessments, add insulation to our homes, replace older windows, program our thermostats and switch to LED bulbs. Some of us are choosing to eat less meat (and/or only sustainably raised meat), and others are growing vegetables and adopting and planting new trees through city programs.
Every one of these actions helps, yet there is one simple and very affordable action that surprisingly few Cambridge residents and businesses have taken so far: choosing the 100 percent Green option for their electricity supply through Cambridge’s Community Choice Electricity program. In fact, last year only 708 accounts (1.82 percent of an eligible 39,000) opted into the 100 percent Green option. (read more)
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