The City of Boston’s Department of Environment, Energy, and Open Space (EEOS) has initiated a formal process of information gathering to help it understand the implications of providing a Community Choice Energy program. EEOS Chief Austin Blackmon has released a document called “Request for Information Relating to Community Choice Aggregation Program” (the RFI), which invites electricity consultants, suppliers, and brokers, as well as non-profits, residents, and business owners, to respond to a series of detailed questions by March 20, 2018. The questions cover issues such as potential costs to customers and to city administration, methods of communicating effectively with approximately 673,000 residents, the optimal timing and length of contracts with suppliers, and the experiences of electricity aggregation programs in other municipalities, including opt-out rates and cases where programs have been terminated.
The order passed last October by the Boston City Council did not specifically mandate an RFI, but more generally authorized Mayor Walsh to “direct appropriate departments to research, develop, and participate in a contract or contracts” regarding CCE. The text of the RFI specifies that it is for information only. The decision whether or not to respond will not affect a company’s chances of getting a CCE contract in the future, and the RFI does not obligate the city to issue an RFP.
You can see the announcement of the RFI on page 13 of the City Record newsletter, including instructions on how to get a copy of the RFI itself.
Last Wednesday, 2/8, many of us attended the City’s “Let’s Talk Carbon Neutral” program. Presenters included Environment, Energy and Open Space Chief, Austin Blackmon; Director of Climate and Environmental Planning, Alison Brizius; Professor of Earth and Environment at Boston University and lead researcher on the Carbon Free Boston project, Cutler Cleveland; and Boston University Sustainability Director, Dennis Carlberg.
This was the first time the public was welcomed to hear presentations about Carbon Free Boston, a research initiative designed to quantify the choices that Boston must make in its efforts to reduce our collective contribution to global climate change. The data will be used to shape the 2018 iteration of the City’s Climate Action Plan. We were told that our opinions would be important in helping City officials make “tough choices.” Unfortunately we weren’t offered anything concrete about what options the City is considering, or even an overview of where we stand now on achieving the goals identified in Boston’s 2014 Climate Action Plan.
Climate action advocates we spoke with after the event generally shared our sense that the program conveyed very little information about how the City is defining “carbon free” or “carbon neutral,” what metrics Carbon Free Boston researchers are using, and what the process will be for community engagement in shaping the plan. This is especially disappointing given the extensive outreach and community education that influenced the writing of the City’s 2011 and 2014 Climate Action Plans.
Boston has set a goal of being “carbon free” by 2050. Tough choices demand more detailed understanding of the assumptions underlying the options.
Should anyone invest in a company that profits twice from a disaster it helped cause? Social justice activists say NO!
Community Labor United (CLU), with its partners Hedge Clippers, Harvard Student Labor Action Movement (SLAM), and Massachusetts Jobs with Justice, will demonstrate on the Harvard campus this Wednesday, January 24, to demand that the university divest from the financial firm Baupost Group. Baupost holds over $900 million in the debt of Puerto Rico, the island recently devastated by Hurricane Maria, one of 2017’s dramatic manifestations of climate change. Baupost is demanding that Puerto Rico, financially strapped and in desperate need of infrastructure repairs, adopt austerity measures to be able to pay its debt. At the same time, Baupost also owns $1.8 billion in oil and natural gas stock, and its CEO, Seth Klarman, is on the board of American Enterprise Institute, a think tank that denies climate change.
Local citizens are urged to join the event, which is titled “Harvard, Stand with Puerto Rico! Divest from Hate!” Meet at 1:00 PM in Harvard Yard. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/2078067229147222/ , or call Khalida Smalls, CLU’s Organizing Director, at (857) 891-9466.
2017 marked a major milestone in the campaign for Community Choice Energy in Boston — an order passed unanimously by the City Council and signed by Mayor Walsh.
Come celebrate! Boston Climate Action Network invites you to join us this Thursday:
Community Choice Energy Celebration
January 18, from 6-8 PM
The Nate Smith House
155 Lamartine Street, Jamaica Plain
The Nate Smith House is near the Stony Brook T stop. With campaign partners Boston Node 350MA, Sierra Club, Green Justice Coalition, and Mothers Out Front, we will update you on the progress toward implementation and discuss the next steps to keep CCE moving forward. There will be refreshments, music, and time to network and socialize.
Hope to see you there! For more information, email us at email@example.com.
As we have reported, National Grid has proposed to construct a new, mile-long gas pipeline through Boston’s Back Bay and South End. The line would carry “fracked” gas to service new buildings. On Thursday, December 7, the City of Boston’s Public Improvement Commission (PIC) will hold a public hearing to discuss this proposal. Located within Boston’s Public Works Department, PIC has the authority to grant or deny permits for projects which use public space for business ventures. Like the previous PIC hearing on November 2, this is a strategic opportunity for citizens to speak out against the pipeline.
Boston Public Improvement Commission – Back Bay Pipeline Hearings
Thursday, December 7th, at 10:00 AM
Boston City Hall, Room 801
Opposition to the pipeline is being spearheaded by the Boston Clean Energy Coalition (BCEC), a grassroots group with eleven member environmental organizations, including the Boston Climate Action Network. According to its website, BCEC’s mission is accelerate Boston’s “transition to a clean, green economy,” and its current focus is “on halting the expansion of fracked gas and other fossil-fuel infrastructure while promoting net-zero carbon standards for the built environment.”
BCEC hopes to pack the house for the hearing, which takes place this Thursday at 10:00 AM, Boston City Hall, Room 801. To request more information, or to sign a petition against the pipeline, go to BCEC’s site.
Low- and moderate-income people make up 40 percent of the country’s population, but account for less than 5 percent of all solar customers. And “An equitable and complete transition to renewable energy cannot occur without the full participation of low- and moderate-income households,” says Dr. Martha Nathan of Climate Action Now.
Community Choice Energy would make renewable energy available to all Boston households, including low- and moderate-income residents who rent (67% of the city), lack the credit to put solar panels on their roofs, or can’t use tax credits to recover part of that cost. That’s why we want Community Choice Energy now. And that’s why we support a solar access bill that the state legislature is supporting. Click here for an article about that bill.
This Tuesday, BCAN and our allies will argue before Boston’s City Council that the city government must take a crucial step to speed up its actions to fight climate change: implement Community Choice Energy. Be there: anytime from 1:30 till 5pm, in the City Council’s temporary meeting room at 26 Court Street, one block up hill from State Street Station.
Boston’s leaders know that addressing climate change with a range of tactics is essential, but hardly any attention has been focused on switching our energy dollars from fossil fuels to clean, safe and renewable energy. Community Choice Energy is a tactic that numerous other cities and towns in eastern Mass. have already embraced. It’s time for Boston to take this step too.
This can’t wait for another plan to be created. Climate change is already affecting Boston residents with heat waves and stronger storms. Just this past Saturday a torrential downpour produced severe flooding in East Boston and other North Shore communities. Here’s a report compiled by The Harborkeepers:
“Yesterday was another warning sign of the increasing impacts of the changing climate and the increase of more frequent and intense storm events and precipitation. East Boston received 4.54 inches of rain within a matter of hours. Other North Shore towns like Winthrop and Lynn underwent a worse fate, in some ways. I took some notes and did a recap.
- East Boston received 4.54 inches, most of it in a matter of hours
- Homes in East Boston which typically don’t get basement flooding got their basements flooded
- The stormwater drainage system & sewers could not handle the amount of rain hence they overflowed
- Route 1A in East Boston both South and North by the Chelsea Street bridge and right next to the oil terminal got flooded causing an accident, at least 1 car stuck and backups on the highway
- 2 neighborhoods in particular in Lynn and Winthrop (Michael’s Mall & Ingleside Park) were flooded with more than three feet of water causing cars to get stuck and forcing evacuations of homes and rescues
- Power outages were reported in Winthrop, East Boston and Lynn
- Unprecedented amounts of rain gushed down the hills of Orient Heights causing a mudslide from Gladstone to Leyden streets which broke a retaining wall and pushed mud and silt down city streets and sewers
- Some roads and streets were flooded to the point of being impassable including in Winthrop, Lynn, Chelsea, Revere and East Boston
- A house fire was reported at around 3am in the area where there was flooding in Winthrop
- Downed distribution poles also were reported.”
Community choice energy would significantly speed up our transition to renewable power. Come out on Tuesday and let the City Council and the Mayor know it’s time to step it up on reducing Boston’s use of fossil fuels.