BEVERLY — The city is looking to put solar panels on multiple city-owned parking lots and rooftops in an effort to save on energy costs and create a "greener carbon footprint" over the next two decades.
The panels would be installed on the roof and in parking lots at the high school and middle school, on the roofs of City Hall and the Senior Center, and in parking lots at the McPherson Youth Center and Pond Street.
The plan also calls for replacing most of the solar panels at Greenergy Park, the historic solar array on the hill next to the high school.
"We're trying to host as much solar as we feasibly can," Mayor Mike Cahill said. "We want to be a host for clean renewable energy."
The plan is laid out in a request for proposals issued by the city last week. A private developer would install, own and maintain the solar systems. The city would make money through lease payments from the developer over 20 years and by purchasing energy generated by the solar panels at lower costs.
The city already has solar panels on the roof of the high school. This plan would call for more panels on the cafeteria, as well as canopy-style solar arrays in the high school parking lots. (read more)
LAWRENCE — Families in the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts are facing a challenging Thanksgiving more than two months after natural gas explosions and fires leveled homes and left thousands without heat or hot water.
More than 2,000 homes are still without gas service in Lawrence, North Andover and Andover after gas lines were overpressurized during an otherwise routine pipeline replacement project, triggering dozens of explosions and fires.
While some residents have chosen to tough it out in chilly homes, more than 1,500 families are spending the holiday in hotels, apartments and trailers paid for by Columbia Gas.
The utility is responsible for the Sept. 13 fires that killed one, injured dozens and destroyed or damaged more than 100 structures.
At the trailer park set up on Lawrence's South Common, Jose Grullon said his family's holiday would be more subdued than usual. (read more)
MAYORS AND CITY MANAGERS across eastern Massachusetts are forming a coalition to advocate for the MBTA’s commuter rail system.Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, who is active in forming the coalition, said the commuter rail system often gets overlooked in discussions about transportation even though its impact is enormous in many communities.
“It’s the lifeblood of our community in many respects,” Driscoll said. “There needs to be a voice for commuter rail and its riders.”
Marc Draisen, the executive director of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, said the original idea for the coalition grew out of meetings he and his organization had with municipal officials around the region. He said he would go into the meetings to discuss one subject but the conversation would inevitably come around to concerns about the commuter rail system. He said he began to realize that municipalities that rely on commuter rail share a lot of the same concerns but have no one to advocate on their behalf. (read more)
Dukakis, Weld urge transportation board to get moving on north-south rail link (Boston Globe 11/20/18)
More than 20 years since either served in office, former governors Michael Dukakis and William Weld on Monday urged the state transportation department to link Boston’s northern and southern suburbs with a new rail tunnel under the city.
Dukakis, a Democrat, and Weld, a former Republican, both played critical roles in planning downtown Boston’s last tunnel project, the Big Dig. On Monday, they argued to the transportation department’s governing board, it’s time for the next one.
“If I express a sense of impatience, I am impatient, folks,” Dukakis said. “As you get to be 85, you’ve got to kind of confront your mortality a little bit. And I just think this is a very, very urgent issue. . . . I think it’s time now to get moving.”
This late stage of Dukakis’s career has been consumed by support for the so-called North-South Rail Link, especially since he and Weld sought to stir public debate with a joint op-ed in theGlobe in 2015. Last week, Dukakis drove around the region in a 1949 car as a way to demonstrate transportation woes. (read more)
According to initial MBTA data, Arlington’s pilot bus-only lane on Mass. Ave. in East Arlington has been a resounding success, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to come back into operation right away. Instead, the town plans to study what it learned from the month-long pilot over the winter, and come back early next year with recommendations for how the town could make the lane permanent.
When the pilot ended Nov. 9, the town stopped converting the inbound parking lane into a bus-and-bike lane on weekday mornings and the No. 77, 79 and 305 buses went back to sitting in traffic, instead of being able to scoot through what Arlington Senior Transportation Planner Dan Amstutz called one of the most congested spots in the whole MBTA bus network. The lane was temporary and operated from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., after which the lane reverted back to being a parking lane. (read more)
Massachusetts public health officials want gas health and safety studies (Energy News Network 11/16/18)
Massachusetts public health officials are asking Gov. Charlie Baker to require studies of potential health and safety dangers before approving any new natural gas infrastructure in the state.
“What we want to say to him is: No more fracked gas infrastructure without a comprehensive study in advance of how it is going to affect the health and safety of the people nearby,” said Deb Pasternak, interim president of the Massachusetts Sierra Club, which is coordinating the effort.
Campaign organizers delivered letters to the governor and legislative leaders last week signed by 77 local boards of health representing more than 40 percent of the state’s population. The smallest municipality to join the effort thus far is the western Massachusetts town of Peru, population 847; the largest is the capital city of Boston, representing more than 617,000 residents. (read more)
A state health impact assessment of airborne volatile organic compounds in the Fore River Basin were below the state Department of Environmental Protection’s mandated reporting requirement, but the results are based on the wrong premise, according to Alice Arena, leader of the Fore River Residents Against the Compressor.
“They are saying we have bad (air) stuff in Boston, Lynn and Chicopee,” she said, Friday. “All they are saying it is not big deal. We are saying you should look at what is happening here and see how the numbers can be lowered.”
The air quality findings in the Fore River Basin are contained in a state health impact assessment report that was highlighted during an information meeting held Thursday, Nov. 15, by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council with residents from Weymouth, Braintree, Quincy, and Hingham.
Gov. Charlie Baker ordered the health impact assessment by the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Public Health in July 2017 in response to concerns raised by town officials and foes about a proposed 7,700 horsepower compressor station in the Fore River Basin. (read more)
HINGHAM — With temperatures stuck in the upper 20s Thursday morning, many of the commuters waiting for trains at the West Hingham station could be found huddled in parked cars under a cavernous metal canopy that now stretches over much of the station’s parking lot. Above it sat hundreds of solar panels waiting to convert the sun’s energy into electricity.
“I think it’s a good use of space, I love it,” Sita Thottempudi of Hingham said as she waited for the train.
But the canopy, one of 37 solar arrays the MBTA hopes to have installed at stations across the South Shore and in suburbs around Boston, wasn’t doing anything Thursday except keeping snow off commuter’s cars. Despite being completed more than a month ago, the panels atop the canopies at West Hingham station and others at Nantasket Junction Station have remained offline amid a dispute between the MBTA and the town’s municipal power utility over environmental liabilities. Construction on the Hingham canopies started over the summer. (read more)
FALMOUTH — Wednesday’s session of town meeting opened with some heated opposition to the Planning Board’s proposed yearlong moratorium on permits for solar arrays on business-zoned properties.
Members ultimately soundly defeated the proposal.
“It would be unconscionable for a coastal town to suspend solar energy for an entire year,” said Energy Committee member Rosemary Dreger Carey, referring to the need to increase green energy in light of climate change. “We just don’t have more time: Time’s up.”
Town meeting member Joseph Netto called the moratorium “anti-business.”
Speaking for the Planning Board, member Charlotte Harris said the panel needed a year to put together appropriate regulations for solar arrays in the business district.
Peter Hargraves, speaking in favor of the yearlong break, said the discussion reflected a “mischaracterization of the issue as a debate between people for solar energy and against solar energy.”
Earlier, town meeting had defeated the Planning Board’s proposal to regulate solar canopies through site plan review, Hargraves said. The moratorium would allow time for the board to develop some oversight of solar arrays on business properties. (read more)
On Nov. 14, you have a chance to do something good for the planet — by doing absolutely nothing at all.
That’s the day when Gloucester Community Electricity Aggregation program takes effect. If you get your power from National Grid you will automatically be included in the program, which provides reliable, greener electricity for all those who participate.
Under the program, you will automatically be switched from National Grid to Direct Energy as your electric supplier. The rate the city has negotiated with Direct Energy is more than two cents per kilowatt-hour cheaper than National Grid’s winter rate (11.08 cents vs. 13.71 cents). You will be guaranteed that rate for the next three years. Gloucester’s default “Local Green” option (11.08 cents per kilowatt hour) incorporates 5 percent more locally generated renewable energy than required by state law.
This is part of the city’s overall effort to lower our carbon footprint. We have made great strides in the past few years —the wind turbines at Blackburn Industrial Park, modern heating plants in all our schools and new LED street lights are some examples. (read more)
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