Local leaders recently gathered to celebrate the inclusion of Lexington, Concord, Lincoln, Wayland and Sudbury in a new Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center report on innovative clean energy programs at the municipal level.
“The best ideas for clean energy often start at the local level,” said Ben Hellerstein, state director for the Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center. “If we want to have cleaner air, healthier communities and a safer future for our children, we need to move rapidly toward 100% renewable energy from sources like the sun and the wind. These communities are showing how to make it happen.”
The report, Renewable Communities, features these five communities alongside 19 other Massachusetts cities and towns that are leading the way toward 100% renewable energy. The report discusses renewable electricity, energy efficiency, clean transportation and heating and energy storage programs, including Lexington’s 100% renewable school projects, Concord’s electric school bus pilot and the Lincoln-Sudbury-Wayland Solarize Mass Plus campaign. (read more)
CHATHAM – Wind, waves, currents and erosion will combine to turn Chatham’s barrier beach, North Beach Island, into a boomerang-shaped spit of sand by 2045, a study by Applied Coastal Research predicts.
It was one of the findings that John Ramsey, of the Mashpee-based environmental consultancy firm, explained at a June 27 public forum following completion of a $250,000 study of the east-facing shoreline the town had contracted.
Using present and future condition computer modeling, Applied Coastal was able to review what is going on now and predict what will happen in the next 25 years.
The north inlet, separating North (Nauset) Beach from North Beach Island, has been migrating south since it was created by a breach in 2007, said Ramsey.
“The North Beach Island is basically falling apart as we see it and that inlet just starts migrating to the south because it has nothing holding it in place,” he said. (read more)
WESTPORT — Two more large scale solar energy farms are nearing the end of the special permit and site plan approval process by the Westport Planning Board, which has seen a flood of applications for extensive solar energy arrays in the last few years.
With these pending approvals, the town will hit double digit numbers for operational and permitted solar farms in all parts of town.
At its July 16 meeting, the Planning Board reviewed revised plans for two new energy facilities — a 4.5 megawatt solar farm proposed Soltage Westport Route 88 Solar 1, LLC on leased hayfields and vineyard at the end of Sullivan Drive — and a 4.2 megawatt solar farm off Sanford Road.
The Soltage project would be accessed by a private lane off Briggs Road, created to give landowners access to land beside Route 88 when the highway was built decades ago. The board has been reviewing site plans and revisions since February, and have been working with the applicant’s engineers on revisions to the project at four subsequent meetings. (read more)
The town of Watertown announced that it has entered into a contract to buy electricity for the Watertown Electricity Choice program, which will launch in September 2019.
Watertown Electricity Choice is a municipal electricity aggregation, which is a group buy program for electricity supply. Massachusetts state law allows cities and towns to aggregate electricity customers within their borders and select an electricity supplier on behalf of those customers, rather than having Eversource buy their electricity. Municipal aggregations are heavily regulated by the state and offer many consumer protections not available with private for-profit programs.
Watertown Electricity Choice will increase the amount of renewable energy in Watertown’s electricity supply, providing an additional 35% renewable electricity over and above the state-required minimum amount. With the increasing state renewable energy requirement Watertown Electricity Choice will provide over 50% local renewable energy in its first full year going up to 53% in the last year of the contract. (read more)
Flash flooding due to heavy rainfall. Heat waves that hurt older adults. An increase in Lyme disease.
These are some of the dangers of climate change that Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Secretary Katie Theoharides discusses as she touts Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration’s efforts to help fight climate change. Theoharides, who replaced former Energy Secretary Matt Beaton at the end of May, met with editors and reporters of The Republican/MassLive.com on Thursday.
A centerpiece of Baker’s effort is the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program, which gives grants to cities and towns to plan for the impacts of climate change.
Springfield in 2017 developed an extensive plan that includes a range of recommendations to address energy and climate issues, from adding more bike lanes to developing community solar power to planting trees. (read more)
The massive offshore wind farm that would usher Massachusetts into a new clean-energy era sure has hit rough water.
No one said starting a new industry is easy. But wind-energy supporters are getting nervous about the unexpected events this week involving permits for Vineyard Wind’s 84-tower wind farm to be built south of Martha’s Vineyard.
The project, jointly owned by Avangrid and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, had seemed to be gathering permits the way a kid gathers shells on the beach. One after another, the developer added them to the bucket.
Then the snag: The Edgartown Conservation Commission on Wednesday denied an underwater cable route off the town’s coastline, citing the potential disturbance to marine habitats and other conflicts. (Local fishermen weren’t happy, either.) On Friday, Vineyard Wind vowed to get a “superseding order” from the state Department of Environmental Protection — a more sympathetic venue — that would overturn the commission vote. (read more)
LOWELL —The proportion of green energy used by the average Lowell resident is poised to increase this October.
City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to support a Community Choice Aggregation agreement that increases the portion of green energy purchased through the program by 45 percent.
This is in addition to the state required 14 percent, meaning if all goes well, come October, 59 percent of energy bulk purchased by the city will be renewable.
Energy Manager Katherine Moses said the agreement needs to be brokered then finalized by City Manager Eileen Donoghue before taking effect.
According to Moses, at the current market rate, the agreement would equal a $6 per month cost savings for the average Lowell resident, someone who uses just over 500 kilowatt hours per month.
"The market right now has the opportunity to really increase our renewable content while also helping to save for our residents and business," Moses said. (read more)
Massachusetts mayor says access to cheap gas not worth the cost to climate (Energy News Network 7/9/19)
The debate in Holyoke, Massachusetts, is not unique in the Northeast, where pipeline constraints are forcing decisions.
A Massachusetts mayor is siding with safety and environmental groups in a pipeline debate that’s pitting climate fears against local economic concerns.
Holyoke, Massachusetts’ municipal utility has halted new natural gas hookups because it can’t meet growing demand under existing pipeline constraints. One possible solution: build more capacity. Holyoke Gas & Electric is supporting a proposed project to add 2.1 miles of 12-inch pipeline through several towns in the region.
The city’s mayor, though, says that expansion should not be built. In mid-June, Mayor Alex Morse wrote to federal regulators asking them to deny the project because it would increase emissions and run counter to the city’s goal of meeting its energy needs with clean and renewable resources. (read more)
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