Based on energy consumption habits across the globe, planet Earth will likely follow one of two potential scenarios in the coming years, according to Sustainable South Shore member and Cohasset resident Steve Wenner. Should humans continue their current energy consumption habits, he said, the Earth could quickly fall into a “runaway greenhouse” scenario under which civilization is unlikely to survive.
Should humans change their energy consumption habits dramatically within the next decade or so, however, the planet could reach a state of stable equilibrium known to some as a “stable Earth” scenario, he said. Wenner suggested exploring the potential to address this issue through a future Town Meeting warrant article.
To help reduce local greenhouse gas emissions, municipalities across the country -- including Massachusetts -- have made their own commitment to reduce the amount of emissions they release into the atmosphere. In 2017, Concord voters approved a Town Meeting warrant article aimed at reducing the town’s greenhouse gas emissions. The town voted to reduce emissions in town by 25 percent in 2020 and 80 percent by 2050, using 2008 levels as a baseline. (read more)
SANDISFIELD — At first, it looked like a gift from the pipeline company, perhaps to make up for six months of wear and tear the town endured during pipeline construction last year.
But Kinder Morgan later revealed that a promised $50,000 donation to the town was an exchange of sorts — and not a very equitable one.
"This went from being a gift to a contract," said Brian O'Rourke, chairman of Sandisfield's Select Board. "We would have had to sign a legally binding document that would release [the company] from all potential liabilities ... for any past, present or future problems that might arise around the pipeline."
O'Rourke said the company had asked that the money be dedicated to roads or a new highway garage, which is now being replaced with insurance money after it burned in December, in a catastrophic fire.
Word of the gift came at some point after Kinder Morgan subsidiary Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. had, last November, completed almost 4 miles of natural gas pipeline spur through town as part of its larger, 13-mile tri-state Connecticut Expansion Project. (read more)
WELLFLEET — Nearly 300 voters turned out for the special town meeting here on Monday and approved all nine articles on the warrant, including the purchase of a waterfront property next to Mayo Beach, and the construction of a large solar array at the capped town landfill.
The solar power project has been in the works for several years and received near unanimous support on Monday. Energy committee chair Dick Elkin said that the town stands to pocket $60,000 a year from savings on electricity costs plus lease payments from Ameresco, the Framingham company that submitted the winning bid for building and managing the array of nearly 2,500 solar panels. That figure also includes $11,000 in yearly payments in lieu of taxes to the town.
“Ameresco has completed at least 12 other arrays on capped landfills,” Elkin said. “Their references were uniformly good. The company operates everything — all the maintenance and risk is theirs.”
All three warrant articles related to the solar energy project passed on voice votes. (read more)
Boston, which houses some of the oldest pipelines in the country, must “exhaust every safety option,” says one city councilor after fires and gas leaks wreaked havoc on communities across the Merrimack Valley last week.
City Councilors Matt O’Malley, Ed Flynn and Ayanna Pressley will today present an order for a hearing to examine the city’s gas infrastructure and look to address prevention of gas leaks and preparedness for emergency response.
“The purpose isn’t to create a panic,” said O’Malley. “But obviously what happened last week in Merrimack Valley was beyond chilling.”
According to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Boston Gas Co., which operates under National Grid, has the third-most miles of old cast-iron mains in the country. It has replaced just 14 percent of those mains from 2012 to 2017.
O’Malley, who says he’s looked into the city’s gas infrastructure for a long time now, says every level of government is working to address the issue, and says there needs to be more public awareness. (read more)
Has your commute to work been feeling longer than usual? If so, you’re not alone.
US Census data reveal that the average daily ride to work for Massachusetts commuters — by car, train, or bus — is now one minute, 42 seconds longer than it was at the beginning of the decade.
It may not seem like much, but over the course of a year commuters in Massachusetts spend more than six additional hours on their way to work in the morning than they did in 2010, according to the data, which were analyzed by AAA Northeast.
The analysis showed that the average one-way commute registers 29 minutes, up from 27 minutes and 18 seconds in 2010, AAA said Wednesday in a statement.
Why have Massachusetts residents been plagued with longer morning commutes to work?A record-low unemployment rate in the state has added 97,000 vehicle commuters and 49,000 transit commuters to the already-crowded streets and trains from 2010 to 2016, AAA said. (read more)
WEYMOUTH — Spectra Energy planned to start building a 7,700-horsepower natural gas compressor station in March 2017 and to be pumping gas six months later.
But more than three years after the compressor station was first proposed in 2015, the gas company — now Spectra Energy-Enbridge — has yet to break ground, and is unlikely to do so in the near future.
“They would be pumping gas if it wasn’t for the orchestrated efforts by (Town Solicitor) Joe Callanan, outside counsel and the coordination of town departments, supplemented by the great work of citizen engagement,” Mayor Robert Hedlund said. “Coming in, we were a 90-10 underdog, and now I’d say we’re up to 20.”
The local fight against the compressor station is a lengthy, complicated flow chart of possible outcomes, with lawsuits and appeals possible for nearly every decision made by regulators. Lawyers for the town and neighbors are making a case against the compressor using a range of different arguments, including the gas company’s failure to follow regulations and the flaws in the plan itself. (read more)
The city of Boston is finally getting into the electricity-buying business.
Dozens of Massachusetts municipalities have already put their residents in group-buying programs, switching them from their local utility, largely to get more renewable electricity. Boston was the big market that had eluded the energy brokers — until now.
Environmental activists had been getting antsy. The Walsh administration sent out requests for information after the City Council endorsed the idea last fall, but did not take a big step toward hiring a broker. Many worried Mayor Marty Walsh was applying the brakes. (Protesters even tried to embarrass Walsh when he hosted the US Conference of Mayors in June.) Austin Blackmon, Walsh’s energy chief at the time, expressed concerns about potential higher costs for ratepayers and whether some residents would unknowingly be swept up into the program. Blackmon left City Hall to join a California solar company this summer. (read more)
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