City Council Hearing on Safety of Boston’s Gas Infrastructure

October 30, 2018
» Watch full hearing Video on CityofBoston.com
— (Close captioned – 4 hrs., 5 min.)

Councilors O’Malley, Flynn, Pressley, Edwards, McCarthy, Essaibi-George, Zakim, Janey, Wu, Campbell.

3 panels and public testimony.

National Grid did not attend – sent statement letter to O’Malley read at beginning of hearing, offering individual private meetings with Councilors.

All councilors had strong criticism for National Grid’s opting to not participate in the hearing, many advocating for subpoena to bring them to a future hearing. Wu and Pressley also advocated for no new fossil fuel infrastructure.

Summation of introductory statement by Councilor O’Malley:
2016 Gas leaks ordinance signed by Mayor Walsh. National Grid took them to court – status conference in December.

Over 1,000 workers locked out by National Grid since June. Replacement down by over 80%. Metering service work down by over 60%. Work on mains down by over 50%. National Grid is currently finding roughly 7 times more leaks than they can repair – twice as many not being repaired as usual. 42% of its infrastructure is leak-prone and needs to be replaced in the next 17 years (as opposed to 26% state-wide).

Worcester has a “co-operative patching program” since 2001, has saved 57% of it’s repaving cost by being allowed to coordinate with gas company.

Repairing is far more cost effective than replacing – Cost to repair a leak is $3,000, to replace a gas main is $4.7 million. Replacing locks customers into another 50-60 years of use. “We should be talking about repairing, not replacing”.

» Boston City Council Ordinance Regarding Management and Elimination of Natural Gas Leaks

» From HEET (Home Energy Efficiency Team)
Did you know Boston has one of the oldest natural gas infrastructures in the country. One that constantly needs repairs and replacement? The dispute between National Grid and the labor union means that this work is months behind.
» See if your street is affected

Columbia Gas policy change raises questions about its previous oversight

By Matt Rocheleau, Shelley Murphy and Milton J. Valencia, Boston Globe
October 04, 2018

Days after the natural gas calamity in the Merrimack Valley, Columbia Gas of Massachusetts updated internal policies to require additional oversight and safeguards when performing the same underground pipe work that has been suspected as the cause of the disaster.

The edict raises questions about the company’s previous practices, and whether there was a lack of oversight or safeguards at Columbia construction sites on Sept. 13, when a series of explosions and gas fires ripped through three communities, Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren said in a new letter to the utility.

Mark McDonald, president of NatGas Consulting, a Boston-based company that investigates gas explosions, said Columbia Gas’s initial policy failed to follow industry standards and shouldn’t have been approved by the DPU.
He said the DPU should have acted as a “stop gap” to prevent Columbia Gas’s “failure to enforce the safe industry minimum standard.”

» Read the full story

Solar Access

« ENERGY EFFICIENCY HOME
» SOLAR ACCESS » MASS SAVE » HEAT SMART MASS » SMART PROGRAM
» CLEAN ENERGY INCENTIVES & REBATES

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Description:

Solar Access is a new Massachusetts program for middle-income homeowners.The non-profit Center for EcoTechnology (CET), is offering affordable, renewable energy for your community. Solar Access is funded by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) and the Department of Energy Resources (DOER). Working with an energy expert, you will be guided through the program, which adds a special Solar Access incentive to the existing combination of electric utility, state, and federal incentives for renewable energy. By enrolling in a UMassFive College Credit Union loan, you will own your solar panels and a heat pump and will pay less than you spend now.

To see if you qualify go to the following link and fill out the survey: http://tinyurl.com/y9o4w6eq Or call the Center for Eco Technology at  413-341-0418

Customer Benefits:

  • Step-by-step guidance
  • 10 + year equipment and labor warranties
  • One easy monthly payment
  • Increased value of your home

Financial Incentives:

  • 30% Federal solar tax credit
  • 10% Massachusetts solar tax credit
  • MassCEC heat pump rebate
  • Low Interest Mass Solar Loan with a 30% principal reduction of up to $10,500
  • Solar SMART incentive
  • Mass Save heat pump rebate
  • No interest HEAT Loan
  • First 6 months of loan payments made for you by Solar Access

(Source)

Additional Information:

  • Have to be the homeowner in order to apply
  • Multi-units of up to 4-family units are accepted
  • The aim of this program is too set up the loan payments for your solar instillation and electric bill to be equal to, or less than, what you are currently  paying for your monthly heating and electric bill.

For additional questions, please visit CET’s website and hotline.

SOLAR ACCESS NEWS

» Solar Access helping low income homeowners access cost-saving renewable energy
By Nicholas Aresco, WWLP
October 15, 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: www.ener-G-save.com 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.

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

What’s Wrong With Gov. Baker’s Climate Bill

WGBH Commentary by Sen. Marc Pacheco
March 26, 2018

On the morning of [Governor Baker’s] bond bill’s public release, I was finally able to read and analyze the administration’s language. What I found was a watered-down version of the Senate’s bill for a comprehensive climate adaptation management plan. This legislation is being misconstrued as a comprehensive piece of climate adaptation management planning when it is only one step of many. A climate adaptation management plan, even in its best form, is only our foundation.

… this bond bill involves the administration’s language on energy resources. As it stands now, the bill’s new “clean peak standard” would allow the administration to define natural gas or dirty fuel as a “clean peak energy resource.” This is an alarming development, one that flies in the face of true proaction, protection and transparency. Fossil fuels are what got us into this mess in the first place, and we should not use them as a pillar of our climate strategy. If we leave this language on the table, it is a clear win for the fossil fuel industry.

» Read the full story