Monthly Archives: May 2018

Letter to Editor: There’s money on the table

Berkshire Edge Letter to the Editor, May 28, 2018
by Uli Nagel, project manager for Living the Change Berkshires, ener-G-save, of the Greener Gateway Committee

How many Berkshire residents realize that every month, through their electric bill, they contribute to a utility fund for energy efficiency? It’s a few dollars per household that add up to major amounts that the utilities are obliged to spend on supporting energy efficiency measures (yes, they get paid to do this).  There is also a state program, more on that below.

Berkshire residents and towns can benefit substantially from these programs and should, given our region’s economic challenges. Strangely, we don’t fully do that yet.

First, homeowners can receive free energy assessments including perks like LED light bulbs and power strips. Even if you had an assessment before, you can have one every two years and make the improvements you were not able to do last time.

At least 75 percent of the cost of insulation you need for your home will be paid for by the utilities. This is for everyone and without a cap. If your income is low, it’s 100 percent and you can replace inefficient appliances with better ones for free. There really is no reason not to start the process, which can take some persistence. If you need help, you can contact the non-profit ener-G-save: for assistance. With the recent ups and downs in temperature outside, our house stays much more comfortable due to wall insulation, and our heating bills are lower.

Now to the state program: more and more of our towns are becoming so-called Green Communities. They receive grants to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. From Clarksburg and North Adams in the north to Egremont and Great Barrington in the south, towns are taking up the offer to improve boilers, insulation, windows or other infrastructure to save taxpayers’ money.

For example, Becket received $140,000 for assessing the energy efficiency of two municipal buildings and improving insulation and air conditioning.

The conditions for receiving these grants are not that hard to meet and the benefits for towns’ coffers, our health, and the environment are substantial.

Residents should check with their select boards or mayors about taking advantage of this program and thank them if they already are. It is amazing that this opportunity exists. Let’s make use of it to the fullest extent possible for the sake of all of us in the Berkshires.

Uli Nagel — Lee, MA

The author is project manager for Living the Change Berkshires, ener-G-save, of the Greener Gateway Committee.

» Berkshire Edge site

Reprinted with permission of the author.

Windsor MA Makes Bold Steps on Energy at Town Meeting

At the Windsor Annual Town Meeting of May 7, 2018, both articles submitted by the green committee passed. Town voters approved the expenditure of $10,000 for energy improvements to the town office, to supplement the Green Community grant of $137,880. The 100% Renewable Energy resolution also passed.

» Read the resolution here


Report Reveals New England Does Not Need New Gas Pipelines

Joint report debunks ISO claims about shaky fuel security during cold snaps

by Jake O’Neill, Conservation Law Foundation
May 3, 2018

(BOSTON, MA) – Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) has released a joint report, Understanding ISO New England’s Operational Fuel Security Analysis, which disproves several key claims made in a recently issued ISO analysis. Undertaken by Synapse Energy Economics on behalf of CLF and partner organizations, the report demonstrates that New England is already on track to ensure a reliable electric power system during even the coldest winters. According to a revised and corrected analysis by the ISO at the request of stakeholders, and contrary to its initial findings just a few months ago, there is virtually zero risk of rolling blackouts in the winter as long as the New England states continue to successfully invest in clean and renewable energy and energy efficiency on the pace required by existing state laws.

“Even in extreme winters far colder than this year’s, New Englanders don’t need to worry about ISO’s ability to keep the lights on as we transition away from fossil fuel electricity,” said David Ismay, Senior Staff Attorney at CLF. “ISO’s initial predictions unnecessarily sounded the alarm based on flawed assumptions and unrealistic scenarios that ignore what the states are already doing to increase system reliability. But ISO’s revised analysis using corrected data proves that the reliability of our energy system will only improve as we continue our move away from harmful fossil fuels like gas and add more clean energy like solar and wind to the grid.”

The report was completed by Synapse on behalf of CLF, Acadia Center, NH Office of the Consumer Advocate, PowerOptions, RENEW Northeast, and Vermont Energy Investment Corp.

» You can read a copy of the report here