Act Now!

SUGGESTIONS FOR ACTION – Pick one or many!

WHAT YOU CAN DO

COMMENT PERIODS

MASSACHUSETTS
Department of Public Utilities (DPU) and Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB)
Docket Numbers: DPU21-50 & EFSB21-01
Improving public and stakeholder involvement in DPU and EFSB proceedings
Comment Deadline: September 16, 2022

The Department of Public Utilities (DPU) and Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) are the state regulatory agencies that decide on and permit things like utility rate increases, and utility infrastructure projects and maintenance programs like tree cutting or herbicide spraying along transmission lines. The permits for these projects are awarded after a proposal comment period where the public is supposed to be notified about hearings and how to submit written comments on the projects.

The DPU and EFSB are seeking comments from the public, answering the questions listed below, and providing insight into how they can better make sure the public is aware of proceedings. If you’ve ever noticed a sudden spike in your utility rates, saw a tree cutting or energy project spring up without warning, that means that proceedings and comment periods happened without them reaching the general public or even directly affected stakeholders.

On August 25, 2022, the DPU and EFSB conducted a joint stakeholder roundtable to gather input on improving public and stakeholder involvement in our proceedings.

The roundtable addressed the following three topics:

• Improved communication with customers, community-based organizations, and
local government officials to maximize public engagement in our proceedings.
• Whether all notices for agency proceedings should receive the same level of
publication and outreach, or whether there should be some prioritization or
variation in approach to avoid overwhelming or desensitizing readers with
frequent notices. If there should be variation, discuss the types of proceedings
that warrant additional publication and outreach efforts.
• The most effective methods that Distribution Companies use currently to reach
customers.

The DPU invites any interested person to provide written comments on the above-noted matters.

– A recording of the Roundtable (all 6-1/2 hours!) is available here.

All written comments should be filed with the DPU no later than Friday,
September 16, 2022. All comments must be submitted to the Department by email attachment to:
dpu.efiling@mass.gov
laurie.e.weisman@mass.gov
scott.seigal@mass.gov
donna.sharkey@mass.gov

The text of the email must specify:
(1) the docket number of the proceeding (D.P.U. 21-50);
(2) the name and contact information of the person or company submitting the filing; and
(3) a brief descriptive title of the document
(i.e. “Comments on DPU 21-50 from Jane Doe of Town Name or Organization Name”)

The electronic file name should identify the document but should not exceed 50 characters in length. Importantly, all large files submitted must be broken down into electronic files that do not exceed 20 MB. Written comments will be posted on the Department’s website through our online file room at:
» DPU 21-50
» EFSB 21-01

For any questions regarding this proceeding, please contact one or more of these hearing officers:
– Laurie Ellen Weisman, Hearing Officer, at laurie.e.weisman@mass.gov
– Scott Seigal, Hearing Officer, at scott.seigal@mass.gov
– Donna Sharkey, Hearing Officer, at donna.sharkey@mass.gov

*Also remember to Cc anyone you think should be aware of the proceeding. This may be your local leaders, State Legislators (search here to find contact info for yours), or the Massachusetts Attorney General if there seems to be a potential legal problem.


MASSACHUSETTS
Eversource “WT-11” Tree Cutting Plan – Pioneer Valley
Comment deadline: Friday Sep. 23, 2022

PROJECT DESCRIPTION
Eversource is proposing cutting any and all trees up to 100 ft. from the power lines closest to the edge of the current transmission line corridor, WT-11 Right-of-Way, which runs from the Northfield Substation in Northfield, south through the towns of Erving, Wendell, Montague, Leverett, Shutesbury, Pelham, Belchertown, Amherst and Granby, to the Ludlow Substation in Ludlow. It crosses 2 EJ communities: Wendell (income); and Amherst (minority).

370.6 acres of forested land will be permanently converted to successional scrub-shrub habitat; 10.1 acres of temporary impacts will occur due to the placement of construction mats to support equipment through research areas during tree clearing activities. Approximately 34.3 acres of bordering vegetated wetland and 2 acres of isolated vegetated wetland will be permanently converted from forested to scrub-shrub/emergent community types. The wetland impacts include crossing rivers, streams and certified vernal pools.

PERMITTING PROCESS
Beyond concern for environmental impact, what’s concerning about the project is how much of it is undefined. When pressed for a detailed presentation called for by Sen. Jo Comerford, Eversource included more detail than is filed on the EENF application with MEPA. But, Eversource also stated several times that this is just “an early stage”, and the project is not fully scoped and that full details will come during and after MEPA.

Scoping and developing the plan happens during the MEPA process and local Conservation Commission meetings. Yet because Eversource is asking for only a Single Environmental Impact Report (SEIR), the only state-level public comment period is in this “early stage” of the MEPA process.

If MEPA demands Draft *and* Final Environmental Impact Reports (DEIR and FEIR), it would allow the public input on the scope of the report during the DEIR AND later on the final plan submitted for the FEIR.

» View the Expanded Environmental Notification Form filed by Eversource with MEPA

Massachusetts State Senator Jo Comerford requested an additional meeting with Eversource and multiple elected officials, including all legislators whose districts are impacted by this plan.

» 8/19 Sen. Comerford meeting recording

» Eversource project slides

» FRCOG’s MEPA comment

Our Action Guide provides specific concerns over this tree cutting program, lack of study and alternatives, and likely impacts.


MASSACHUSETTS

Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR): 10 year review of the DCR Landscape Designations and Management Guidelines
Written comments are due September 28, 2022

Remaining public meetings on this subject:

Thursday, September 8th
6:30pm-8:30pm
MassWildlife Field Headquarters, 1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581

Monday, September 12th
Start time: 4pm
Field Walk at Otter River State Forest
» Register here
(registration closes Thursday 9/8 and instructions to join will be emailed on 9/9)

Tuesday, September 13th
6:30pm-8:30pm
Pittsfield Athenaeum, One Wendell Avenue, Pittsfield, MA 01201
Wednesday, September 14th
6:30pm-8:30pm
» Register here

In this series of public meetings, please join DCR to discuss the 2012 DCR Landscape Designations and Management Guidelines, to provide feedback on the review assessment, incorporate feedback on evolving climate concerns, and discuss designations for properties acquired since 2012.

DCR encourages the public to share additional feedback, with a deadline for receipt of comments by DCR of September 28th, 2022. Comments may be submitted online at http://www.mass.gov/dcr/public-comment. Please note that the content of comments you submit to DCR, along with your name, town, and zip code, will be posted on DCR’s website. Additional contact information required when commenting, notably email address, will only be used for outreach on future updates on the subject project or property.

» More info available here
» The current DCR plan, written in 2012, is here


From Save Massachusetts Forests
To prepare for these DCR listening sessions, we have scheduled an on-line event for Tuesday September 6th from 6:30 to 8:00 pm.

Calling for Carbon and Biodiversity Reserves on Our State Lands: Serving the Public Interest

This event will provide background, grounded in the science, from experts in their fields, to help us better understand both the issues and how to frame our comments to DCR. Presenters include Michael Kellett, Executive Director of RESTORE: The North Woods, climate scientist Dr. Bill Moomaw, and biologist Bill Stubblefield, Ph.D. There will be time for Q & A after the presentations.

We hope that you can attend this presentation, and if you register, you will get a recording sent to you when it is available.

» Register in advance for this meeting

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing your personal link for joining the meeting.

Janet Sinclair, Save Massachusetts Forests
Michael Kellett, RESTORE: The North Woods


• Put Peakers in the Past •
See our Put Peakers in the Past campaign for info on how these power generation plants are the oldest and most polluting … and the easiest to replace with zero emissions alternatives!
» Join the Peaker Coalition – organizations, school, faith groups or businesses

• Stop the Eversource “Reliability Project” in Longmeadow & Springfield •
Visit Longmeadow Pipeline Awareness Group’s site and make sure to visit both the “Take Action Longmeadow” and “Take Action Springfield” pages. They have two separate petitions – sign both! – and see what actions can take for help each side of this fight.

• Help to Shave the Peak!
Peak energy is the period of time in the year when the electric grid experiences its highest demand for energy. These peaks correlate with very high temperatures or very low temperatures and usually occurs in the late afternoon when buildings are using the most electricity to power air conditioning and other loads. 

When demand for energy peaks, dirty fossil fuels such as kerosene, coal, and natural gas are deployed to the electric grid through the powering up of peaker power plants – energy generators that are only used when demand is significantly higher than usual. As a result, peak energy results in higher than usual emissions of toxic chemicals and greenhouse gases. 

The good news is that there is that something we can do about it! If we work to lower our personal energy use at times when there are demand peaks, we will directly reduce emissions during these peaks as well as the need to power up dirty peaker power plants. Here’s how you do it!

Step 1: Sign up to receive alerts from the Green Energy Consumers about when energy demand is peaking. We recommend that you sign up to recieve both text and email results to make sure you are notified

Step 2: When you receive alerts, take steps to reduce your energy consumption during peak energy times. Examples of what you can do include: 

  1. Don’t use appliances unnecessarily during peak times.
  2. Avoid using TV, computers, and other electronic devices during peak hours
  3. In the winter, you can warm the room up a little extra, then turn the heat down or off during the peak hours
  4. In the summer, cool your room down a little extra before the predicted peak, then turn your air conditioner thermostat up during the peak

It sounds small, but making these changes make a real difference. To learn more, visit our page about shaving the peak


• GET A HOME ENERGY ASSESSMENT  •

Cut Emissions, Save Money!

There are several changes to Mass Save triggered by COVID-19. One is the advent of Virtual Energy Assessments, a no-in-house visit by video conference for carrying out energy efficiency assessments.

WorkersHome

They’re also offering increased no-cost options in connection with these new assessments.

RESIDENTIAL – Fill out the Online Home Energy Assessment to see if you qualify for 100% free insulation work. (Even if you don’t, discounts of at least 75% are available).

BUSINESSES – Small businesses, get a Virtual Energy Assessment to see if you qualify any of multiple efficiency offers that apply to their business. 
If ever there was a time to take advantage of the Mass Save program, it’s now!
» Info slide show
» Visit EEPittsfield.org for links for scheduling (this website is for the Pittsfield initiative, but the Mass Save program is state-wide).

In Pittsfield?
Help us help Pittsfield reach increased Energy Efficiency Goals!

EE Pittsfield is our initiative to bring awareness of energy efficiency options to the people of Pittsfield. We started in 2019 with door to door outreach in downtown neighborhoods and this year, we’re working with the City to help them reach increased efficiency among residents and small businesses. Visit eepittsfield.org for more info.

Would you like to engage your community group, small business association, neighborhood association or employees in participating in the MassSave program?  Talk to us! We’re happy to help get your group stared.

Let us know what method works best for you during this time of social isolation: info for your regular organization newsletters, conference call, Zoom presentation or workshop or even virtual sign-up guidance for individuals? Let’s talk.

Contact Rose at BEAT, rose@thebeatnews.org


• SIGN THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S PETITION TO ISO NEW ENGLAND •
Tell ISO New England that you want rules to promote affordable clean energy, healthy communities, and climate protection.
» SIGN THE PETITION


• GET YOUR LOCAL BOARD OF HEALTH TO CHIME IN •

BOHheader
The Massachusetts Association of Health Boards (MAHB) are asking local Boards of Health to sign on to a letter to Governor Baker, asking him to say no to further fracked gas infrastructure or, at the very least, not allow any to be approved without a full, independent study of health effects.

Over 100 Boards of Health have approved signing onto it, or written their own!

Residents of our other towns and cities to should ask their Board of Health to sign on to this letter as well. It would be a powerful message to send if every municipality in the state signed on!

» Learn how to participate


OTHER INDIVIDUAL ACTIONS

• JOIN A NATIONWIDE PUSH TO DE-FUND FOSSIL FUEL •
Check out StopTheMoneyPipeline.com

• Spread the word!
Write OpEds or Letters to the Editor about the pipeline issue. This especially important to counter inaccurate or one-sided reports you may see, but writing about the pipeline issue preemptively is a good way to bring the subject to the general public.

— Talk to your local selectboard, planning board, conservation commission about what their plans are or what you think they should be. Even if your town isn’t affected by fossil fuel infrastructure expansion, consider creating a 100% Renewables plant for your town (more info coming soon!), becoming a Green Community, or organizing to participate in the Solarize Mass program

— Talk to your neighbors and friends about pipeline projects near you and let them know why they’re of concern. Maybe share your favorite environmental documentaries with friends.

— Talk to your State Legislators
Here are links to the major Massachusetts Legislative Committees who would have sway over these issues. These would be key people to contact first, but definitely feel free to contact more:
» Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy
» Joint Committee on Ways and Means
»
Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

Consider spending some time at the State House.
Nothing beats an actual person talking to you about the issues. Consider making an appointment with either your own Legislators, or with some on the Committees show above to talk to them about your concerns and present some of the evidence for why more fossil fuel expansion is the wrong direction.


— In Your Own Home or Business
• Contact MassSAVE for a free home energy audit. Find out where you can improve your energy efficiency and what incentive programs and rebates you qualify for.

• Sign up for Shave The Peak email or text alerts so you can voluntarily cut back electricity use during “peak” days, when utilities may need to draw on oil- or coal- fired power plants to meet unusually high demand. Small adjustments to air conditioning or household appliance use for a few hours can make a big difference, and help to green the grid.

• Talk to a nearby rooftop or small-scale wind energy provider about systems you could use to generate your own clean energy. If you’re not sure where to find someone, NESEA’s Sustainable Green Pages could be a good place to start.

• If your own energy system isn’t an option, consider adding New England Green Start to your utility account. For pennies more per KWh, you can ensure that the amount of energy you use is purchased by your utility company from clean energy sources.

» WHAT BUSINESSES CAN DO
» WHAT YOUR COMMUNITY CAN DO

DONATE to help keep our efforts moving and expanding!

» Help other communities fighting similar battles against fossil fuel infrastructure expansion across the country


— Get behind solutions!
» FOCUS ON EFFICIENCY
• Encourage your State Reps. and the Governor to focus on energy efficiency as a way to close the energy gap, not bringing in more fossil fuels to feed existing and fire up more leaky gas-fired plants.

» FOCUS ON ALTERNATIVES
• Support solar, wind, micro-wind, energy efficiency and conservation measures.

REDUCE PLASTIC CONSUMPTION

Plastics aren’t only a pollution problem. Their production relies on fracking to extract ethane along with natural gas. Reducing your plastic use can reduce demand for more fracking wells in communities hosting fossil fuel extraction.

Paper or plastics? How about neither!
Both plastic and paper disposable shopping bags use far more energy and resources than using re-usable canvas bags. Talk to your local officials about starting a bag-ban in your town, and start a local BagShare program.

The Bag Share
 — The goal of the BagShare is to transition stores to going disposable bag free. Volunteers sew and donate cloth bags to stores, libraries, farmer’s markets, and other venues that want to reduce their bag waste.
thebagshare.org

Buy in bulk. Instead of purchasing groceries plastic packaging, find stores that offer products in bulk bins and ask if you can bring your own reusable bags or containers.


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