Climate Preparedness Week (Sept 24-30)

Hot on the heals of the youth-led climate strike on September 20th, you can keep your activism alight by attending (or organizing) a local event as part of Climate Preparedness Week.

Climate Preparedness Week is a collaborative effort started by Communities Responding to Extreme Weather (CREW), which is supported by the Better Future Project. CREW is a network of local leaders building grassroots climate resilience through inclusive and hands-on education service and planning.

Throughout next week, community groups, libraries, faith groups, local government agencies and more will be hosting interactive events across Boston and further afield.

From film screenings and book readings, speaker presentations and panel discussions, hands-on workshops to exhibitions, there are plenty of opportunities for everyone to learn, give service, and take action to help better prepare our communities for extreme weather events.  

Check out ‘Wicked Hot Boston’ at the Museum of Science in Boston, dive into the ‘Emergency Preparedness Workshop’ at the First Church in Roxbury, or come together to watch the ‘Paris to Pittsburgh’ film screening at the JP branch of the Boston Public Libraries, co-sponsored by BCAN with Mothers Out Front.

Visit the Climate Preparedness Week website for the full line up across Massachusetts and beyond.

Community Choice Energy hearing at the DPU: Aug. 20

We have been pushing for the last 2 years to increase the renewable electricity coming to all Boston households and businesses through Community Choice Energy (CCE). Now we’ve reached a crucial milestone: a hearing at the Department of Public Utilities (DPU). This state agency has the power to speed up or slow down our progress. Please speak out to ask the DPU to support the prompt implementation of Boston’s plan for Community Choice Energy.

When: Tuesday, August 20th at 2:00 pm 

Where: Dept. of Public Utilities, One South Station, 5th Floor, Boston, MA, 02110

If you can’t attend the hearing, please take advantage of this opportunity to to express your support for CCE by submitting a short comment. Comments must be submitted by 5:00 pm on Aug. 20th.

If you would like to submit a comment to the DPU, please email it to these email addresses:

dpu.efiling@mass.gov and Sarah.Smegal@mass.gov
and CC javery@pierceatwood.com and BostonClimateAction@gmail.com

The text of your email must include:

  • The docket number of the proceeding D.P.U. 19-65
  • Your name and telephone number.
  • Your title if you represent a specific group or agency.
  • It may be useful to identify yourself as a resident of Boston, if you are one.

Please use a clear file name for the attached comment letter that does not exceed 50 characters in length, for instance D.P.U. 19-65 comment (and your name).

We suggest you refer to our CCE website and the City’s CCE website for reasons you might include in your letter to the DPU. It’s fine to include just one reason that’s important to you. Please keep your letter brief.

If you prefer to send a letter via the postal service, note that your letter must be received by Aug. 20 (not postmarked by that date). Mail your comment letter to:

Mark D. Marini
Department of Public Utilities
One South Station, 5th Floor
Boston, MA 02110

Also mail copies of your comment letter to the following two people:

Sarah A. Smegal
Department of Public Utilities
One South Station, 5th Floor
Boston, MA 02110

AND

James M. Avery, Esq.
Pierce Atwood LLP
100 Summer Street
Boston, MA 02110

We Need You! – Help Community Choice Energy Clear its Last Hurdle

Calling all supporters of CCE!  We need you to show up on August 20th at 2pm, when the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) hears public testimony about Boston’s CCE plan. DPU approval is the last regulatory step before Boston can go ahead and implement CCE, so the hearing is a critical turning point. 

Many of you have already helped CCE reach this point. You’ve made phone calls, buttonholed the Mayor at City events, testified before the City Council, and given out information at gatherings in Boston neighborhoods. But if you are new to the cause, you’re not too late. We need as many Boston residents as possible to tell the DPU that we need CCE and want it to start soon.

The hearing takes place at the Department of Public Utilities. Show up by 1:45p outside South Station. There will be a group of BCAN’ers there, and we will go in together. Bring photo ID, as you may need it to get into the building.

There are lots of reasons why CCE is important for Boston. Here are a few of the key reasons:

  • A way to help fight climate change
  • A way to help meet both Boston’s and Massachusetts’ greenhouse gas reduction goals
  • More green energy for Boston residents at affordable prices 
  • More stable electric rates
  • A trustworthy alternative to predatory for-profit energy suppliers
  • More renewable infrastructure and more green jobs in Massachusetts
  • Less pollution from local power plants, and lower rates of asthma

Still have questions? E-mail Andy@bostoncan.org or call 617-971-8568. We look forward to seeing you at the hearing!

Boston Takes Next Step on CCE!

Mayor Walsh announced today that the City of Boston will issue a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a consultant to design and set up a Community Choice Energy (CCE) program. With this action, the Walsh administration embarks on the actual implementation of CCE.

Readers who remember BostonCAN’s disappointment when the city issued an RFI (Request for Information), and our insistence on a timely RFP (Request for Proposals), may wonder what an RFQ is. Unlike the RFI, which collected data without promising further action, the RFQ announces the city’s intent to issue a contract and invites companies to apply. An RFQ differs from an RFP in that it does not require a proposal (in this case, a program design) as part of the application. An RFQ is more appropriate for CCE because the intent is for the consultant, once hired, to work with Boston’s Office of Environment, Energy, and Open Space (EEOS) and community representatives to design the program.

The RFQ will be issued on August 27, and the deadline for responses is October 10, 2018. EEOS will also form an advisory group of community stakeholders, and we will share more details about that process when we have them.

BostonCAN couldn’t be more thrilled that Boston has decided to move forward with CCE. Not only will CCE reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it will do so in a way that is inclusive of all Boston’s residents and small businesses. This is truly a win for the entire city.

Questions about Boston’s New Large Scale Renewable Buying Plan

Boston’s Mayor Marty Walsh announced a new plan on Thursday, June 7, to potentially join forces with other large cities around the country to buy into large-scale renewable energy projects together. The initiative will start with an information-gathering phase, to be conducted by Boston and six other cities. Mayor Walsh claimed that the plan will “help power our cities and create more clean energy jobs.”

BostonCAN is excited to see the administration taking this active new step toward carbon reduction. We’re interested in the details of how this large-scale purchasing plan is going to be set up, and what effects it will have, both on our own city and on the country as a whole. Below are some questions that we hope the city will answer as more information becomes available.

Would this project meet the environmental principle of additionality?

The term “additionality” means the extent to which an investment creates more greenhouse gas reduction than would have occurred without it. In particular, we want to know if Boston’s investment would create additional reduction that would not have occurred anyway.

An example of a project that would not meet the additionality criterion would be a wind farm sited in the Midwest. Wind power is already commercially competitive in states with strong natural wind resources and large rural areas with low real estate costs. In these states, market forces are already yielding many wind power projects, which are profitable without government or environmentalists needing to invest in them. Another decision that would limit the additionality of a project would be to put it in a state with a weak regulatory mandate for renewable energy.

Would the city’s investment yield other public benefits to Boston residents besides low-cost renewable energy?

Would our air be cleaner, or our public health improved? Would local innovative energy businesses be stimulated? Would Boston residents gain employment opportunities? In particular, Boston should not try to cut costs by locating clean energy projects in “Right to Work” states with poor worker protections.

How soon could such a plan be implemented?

Climate change is already damaging our cities, and the more slowly we reduce greenhouse gases, the more problems we will have. The potential effectiveness of a project is a combination of how much it will reduce annual emissions and how soon it will start.

A final note: We hope that this new project will not distract from the effort to implement Community Choice Energy (CCE). Multiple industry experts have said that CCE is relatively straightforward. BostonCAN recommends that EEOS follow through with the directive from City Council to set up an advisory group and issue a Request for Proposals to get the ball really rolling on CCE. By implementing it as soon as possible, the city will score a win on carbon reduction even as it explores other promising proposals.

 

City Issues CCE Request for Information

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.

Upcoming CCE City Council Hearing

Boston City Councilors Michelle Wu and Matt O’Malley recently filed a new order to monitor the progress of the implementation of CCE for the City of Boston.  The direct result of the order will be a new hearing:

THEREFORE BE IT ORDERED:
That the appropriate committee of the Boston City Council hold a hearing to discuss the implementation of Community Choice Energy in Boston, and representatives from the Office of Environment, Energy and Open Space and other interested parties and members of the public be invited to testify.

We don’t know when the hearing will take place, but BostonCAN and its allies will need to show up in full force again to let our officials know that we expect them to take quick and resolute action to implement this energy policy as part of their climate mitigation plans.

We’ll keep you posted on when the hearing happens, so check back here in the coming days.