Over the past several years, 12 trees have died on Mass. Ave. in the short distance between Jason Street and the library entrance in Arlington Center.
In addition, some remaining trees in this strip are at risk. To determine whether it is safe to plant replacement trees in these locations in the future, town Tree Warden Tim Lecuivre has used an advanced new tool, the “Gas Sentry,” to test for gas leaks along this street. He believes that the deaths are “most likely” attributable to the high level of methane gas in the soil near those sites, coming from leaks in gas utility NGRID’s pipes.
Some of the leaks were known to the utility and to the town, but they were graded by NGRID as not critical to fix. But the majority of the leaks detected by Lecuivre are not listed by NGRID and the Department of Public Utilities, in the publicly-available records of gas leaks recorded as active in 2017. This is not surprising as independent studies have shown that the actual number of leaks is up to three times higher than the number reported [HEETMA.org].
This is not a new issue in the greater Boston area. In 2015, the city of Brookline filed a lawsuit against National Grid over tree loss. Advocates claim Brookline has lost over $1 million worth of trees to the leaks in a problem they say crosses town lines. (read more)
More than $300K in Green Communities grants headed to Egremont, Lenox and Stockbridge for sustainability projects (The Berkshire Eagle 7/25/18)
More than $300,000 in state grants are bound for Lenox, Stockbridge and Egremont to fund environmental projects in each town.
They are among 80 municipalities statewide to receive the annual round of Green Communities Competitive Grants from the state Department of Energy Resources, according to state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox. The awards were announced by Gov. Charlie Baker's office.
The projects include:
- $248,794 to Lenox for LED lighting and refrigeration improvements at Morris Elementary and Lenox Memorial Middle and High School, as well as LED upgrades to other town-owned buildings;
- $54,829 to Stockbridge for climate control and lighting improvements at the town's central fire station;
- $7,635 to Egremont for Town Hall and library heat and refrigeration replacements.
In a prepared statement, Pignatelli praised the communities in his district for "becoming increasingly aware and environmentally conscious. The Berkshires has always been a step ahead at preserving our natural resources and recognizing opportunities for enhanced energy efficiency. (read more)
FALL RIVER — A plan to lease approximately 300 acres of land managed by the Watuppa Water Board to create a ground-mounted solar farm has been on hold for nearly a year, but plans are in the works to go out to bid on the project for a second time.
“In the last round, we didn’t get any responsive proposals,” said Community Utilities Administrator Terrance Sullivan.
In September 2017, the administration put out a request for proposals when the responses the city received didn’t match the projects needs. The administration is hoping the solar farm helps raise revenue.
Since then, a consulting firm, Solar Designs, has been hired by the city to help with creating a more detailed RFP, according to Sullivan.
“They are gathering more information on the wetlands in the area that can be used,” said Sullivan, as well as more detail on how the project can connect to the main grid.
An RFP could be ready by the firm and published around late summer or by September. (read more)
As part of the Department of Energy Resource’s Green Communities program, the state awarded Arlington a $210,290 grant aimed at implementing additional energy reduction initiatives in town.
This is the seventh grant Arlington has received from the Green Communities program since its inception in 2010. This new grant puts Arlington’s cumulative grant total at $1,575,931, the largest in the state.
DOER’s Green Communities Competitive Grants are awarded to existing Green Communities that have successfully invested their initial designation grants and previous competitive grant awards. Grants are capped at $250,000 per municipality.
“We’re pleased to receive state resources to help the town invest in its many sustainability initiatives,” said Arlington Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine. “The carbon reduction and cost savings for these projects continue to benefit the residents of Arlington today and into the future” (read more)
With energy grants, Franklin County towns look to upgrade buildings but maintain style (Greenfield Recorder 7/23/18)
Six towns in Franklin County and the North Quabbin are getting money for projects related to improving energy efficiency and transitioning to renewable sources of energy.
The grants, ranging from about $25,000 to an upper limit of $250,000, are part of the state Department of Energy Resources’s Green Communities program, “an important partnership with cities and towns to help them find clean energy solutions that reduce long-term energy costs and strengthen local economies,” said Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Judith Judson.
To be eligible for the program, a town must meet criteria and provide the Department of Energy Resources with a five-year plan for reducing its municipal energy use by 20 percent.
Upon entering the program, each town is awarded a grant, the amount of which is based on population and the scope of the improvement projects outlined by the town in its application. The grants awarded this year were “competitive grants” that a town can only apply for once it has completed any projects for which it was already awarded grant money. Eighty of the 120 Green Communities were awarded grants this year. (read more)
WELLFLEET — This town has joined thousands of other towns and cities around the world in committing to ambitious climate initiatives through the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. The action came by unanimous vote of the select board at its June 12 meeting.
As research continues to paint a dire picture of humanity’s future under “business-as-usual” greenhouse gas emission scenarios, cities and towns of all sizes are taking action, not waiting for change at the federal level.
A recent study titled “The Future We Don’t Want,” produced by the nonprofit C40 Cities, predicts that by 2050, 1.6 billion people will be regularly exposed to extreme high temperatures, over 800 million people will be vulnerable to sea level rise and coastal flooding, 650 million people will be at risk of water shortages, and 2.5 billion people will be living in cities where the food supply is threatened by climate change.
Wellfleet is the tenth municipality in Massachusetts to commit to the global covenant and one of 60 communities worldwide to sign on since the start of 2018.
The covenant, formed in 2016, is the broadest climate alliance in the world, representing the commitment of 9,000 cities and local governments from six continents — more than 10 percent of the total global population.
Wellfleet’s commitment was prompted by energy committee member Robert Shapiro, who says he first learned about the covenant while looking for a tool to do a greenhouse gas inventory for the town. (read more)
NORTH ADAMS — The city has seen the light: Its 3.5-megawatt solar array is producing enough energy to meet all its municipal electricity needs.
In North Adams, that has not come as a surprise to anyone who helped plan the array. But the fact that the 6,000-panel installation — it was built in 2015 and covers 14 acres on a capped landfill — consistently is producing beyond original projections has forced city officials to make a few adjustments.
After covering its own electric bills, the city is sitting on unused net-metering credits valued at about $200,000 that it hopes to unload on other municipalities, according to City Administrative Officer Michael Canales.
"It's a good problem to have in that we can sell [excess credits] back into the market. ... It is just a procedural challenge to work through," said Mayor Thomas Bernard.
At current electricity rates, the landfill array results in the city saving about 25 percent on its annual electric bill, which is now budgeted at about $380,000 annually. The credits cover everything from streetlights to the city's skating rink.
The savings are courtesy of the net-metering process that allows a solar installation like the city's to feed the energy it produces into the grid and receive credits in return. (read more)
Residents had the opportunity to express their concerns about Scituate’s vulnerability in regards to the effects of rising sea levels, increasing storm intensity, massive storm surge, and change in precipitation patternse
Darci Schofield, Senior Environmental Planner with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, or MAPC, led a public workshop Tuesday, July 17 in order to engage the community in ensuring everyone was on the same page going forward in building a resilient Scituate.
“This is not doom and gloom,” Schofield said. “We want to be hopeful. Scituate is really ahead of the game on this.”
Schofield said the MAPC worked very closely with the Scituate Climate Vulnerability Steering Committee to put together a priority of suggested climate actions to Build a More Resilient Scituate.
“The purpose of the meeting was to engage the community, as part of the process of establishing the vulnerability assessment which will support grant applications,” said Tom Hall, chairman of the Scituate Coastal Advisory Commission.
About 80 people attended the workshop, with approximately 90 percent coming from coastal areas. There was a large turnout from Humarock. (read more)
A number of town wharves need attention, but improvements to the Town Pier by the Iron Horse Statue, Barnes Wharf from which Hingham Maritime Center operates, and the one at Veterans Park near Whitney Wharf are of top priority.
“These are the lowest wharves, and the most vulnerable,” said Town Engineer Roger Fernandes recently in an update to the selectmen.
“We’ve been at this for three years,” noted Harbor Development Committee Chairman William Reardon, with plans to raise the height of all three wharves for starters.
Making the wharves more resilient increases the town’s protection from sea-level rise and storm events and reduces risks to public health and safety.
“This project is needed, but it’s a lot of money,” observed Selectmen Chairman Paul Healey.
Still, long-planned wharf repairs seem even more crucial than ever following a tough winter during which major flooding occurred in the harbor area.
“Right now someone with a baby carriage or riding a bike could go right off the Town Pier,” Reardon said. (read more)
Concord’s Municipal Light Plant recently approved a modest increase in electricity rates as part of an effort to help the town meet its long term energy goals.
The current residential electric rate varies from 14.4 to 18.7 cents per kilowatt hour, depending on a customer’s consumption. Starting in September, it will rise to a range of 15.4 to 19.7 cents, which will result in a $9 increase in the approximately $140 monthly bill for an average homeowner.
The Light Plant plans to use the revenues to purchase Renewable Energy Certificates, which are certificates utilities can buy from solar, wind, and other renewable energy producers to expand their green power portfolios, according to David Wood, executive director of the Light Plant.
The 2017 Annual Town Meeting approved a proposal that the town seek to reduce its overall greenhouse gas emission by 25 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. In response, the Light Plant developed a plan to contribute toward meeting that goal while also expanding its investment in local renewable energy. (read more)
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