Omnibus Energy Bill Includes Off-Shore Wind and Hydro with NO Ban on Pipeline Tax
On June 8, 2016, the Massachusetts House of Representatives voted on the long-awaited energy bill. The final version of the bill, which passed 154-1, included 1,200 MW of offshore wind — a historic step forward, although we still need to go much further — and a great amendment on fixing gas leaks. Unfortunately, amendments banning the pipeline tax and increasing the RPS were “laid aside” without coming to a vote. From here, the energy bill will go to the Senate, where citizens and State Senators may be able to make some changes. See MassLive news story on passage of House Bill 4377 by House.
Meanwhile the MA Department of Energy Resource is working to develop a new solar incentive program and will hold “listening sessions” and take written comments during June.
Some June and July happenings continue to be posted under Events.
Warwick “Solar Sunday” Open Houses Set For June 5, 2016
Residents of Warwick have graciously agreed to participate in an “Open – Solar – House” self-tour. The homeowners will be available to answer questions about their solar-electric (PV) systems. Take advantage of this great opportunity to see the real deal and get the scoop on what it is like to “Go Solar.”
State Legislature and Energy Bills – The Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy released a large energy bill today. It contains language re: offshore wind and hydropower, and omits language on gas. That is a huge step forward from prior language being thrown around in the legislature!
Local Citizens Launch “Choose Solar Initiative” in Orange, Warwick and Wendell
Several local citizens in area towns formed a working group to start a “Choose Solar Initiative” to inform people of the benefits of buying a home solar system now. This effort was recently launched at an information meeting on homeowner solar electricity (PV) where people learned about the benefits of investing in solar now and taking advantage of tax incentives and a new state solar loan program.
People learned about the benefits of owning solar electricity for their homes from the Solar Store, Northeast Solar and PV Squared recently in Warwick. This was the first information session of the Choose Solar Initiative.
For more information about the Choose Solar Initiative and buying rather than leasing a solar system see
MASS POWER FORWARD Coalition and others lobby for Meaningful Energy Bill in Massachusetts
Both North Quabbin Energy and North Quabbin Pipeline Action are part of this coalition working toward a clean energy future in the state. This includes working with the state legislature in hopes of including the following in the Omnibus Energy Bill scheduled to be released soon.
20% Solar PV by 2025
Eliminate Net Metering caps
Full retail Net Metering credits for community shared solar, low income and municipal projects
No Pipeline Tax/Tariff to help pay for new large gas pipelines
Support meaningful (2000MW) offshore wind development
Ensure consumer and environmental protections for hydro-power brought into the state
Include more energy conservation and energy efficiency programs in energy bill
Build up a diversified array of sources for generating electricity including solar, wind, hydro, and energy efficiency to help the state lessen their carbon footprint instead of using over 50% gas (a fossil fuel) to generated electricity.
All these components for a good energy policy in the state seem important if we are to be able to organize on a local level and move toward the goal of cutting greenhouse gases by 25% by 2020. For immediate actions you can take see Actions.
Come to the Boston Statehouse to Celebrate and Rally for a Renewable Future and No More Pipelines
Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change Hearing: Commonwealth’s Clean Energy Future
We seem to have won a great victory on the NED pipeline – and it’s time to celebrate. It’s also a time to build on our strength to win more! We need to stop all pipeline expansions. We must stop the pipeline tax. And we must get our legislators to support smart, renewable energy and climate legislation to reduce emissions and support clean, renewable energy!
Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016
11:30 Rally, Celebration & Pizza at the State House Steps
12:00 Training/Opportunities to Visit Legislative Offices
and Push Hard on the Pipeline Tax
1:00 Global Warming Committee Hearing, State House Rm. 428
One or more buses to Boston are available on a sliding scale from $5 to $30. For details and to sign up for a bus, send an email to email@example.com.
Please indicate your top three choices ( leaving from/ returning to Pittsfield, Cummington, Greenfield, Orange, Amherst, or Northampton) and we will do our best to accommodate. Your flexibility is appreciated.
Information about MA Dept. of Public Utilities Hearings and Legislative Work on Energy Bills.
Public Dept. of Public Utilities (DPU) Hearings on Tennessee Gas Petition to Survey on Private Land Begins on March 29th with Greenfield Hearing on March 30. For background information and hearing schedule for all 6 locations see Survey Petition by TGP.
Tennessee Gas Files an Injunction Against Massachusetts — Public Court Hearing on April 15th at 1 p.m. in Pittsfield .In this case, Kinder Morgan/Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. is suing the Commonwealth and its Department of Conservation & Recreation to gain the right of eminent domain to access land in Otis State Forest for the Connecticut Expansion pipeline project.
See Article 97 of MA Constitution for information Otis State Forest in Sandisfield — Guidelines for court hearing remain the same. Watch for information about possible rally across from courthouse building.
Important Note on National Grid, Eversource Petitions to DPU – Deadlines Set for Written Testimony –
• National Grid – DPU Dockets 16-05, 16-07 — Deadline for Written Comments is May 11, 2016 • Eversource – DPU Docket 15-181 — Deadline for Written Comments is May 23, 2016 Please submit written comments to the hearing officer identified in the respective notice, and also please firstname.lastname@example.org on your email. ALSO, send a hard copy of any comments to Mark D. Marini, Secretary, Department of Public Utilities, One South Station, Boston, Massachusetts 02110. For information on hearings and background on petitions see Tariff on Electricity Bills.
Several regional groups have filed motions to intervene with FERC. Intervening helps citizens’ groups and individuals keep their options open in future dealings and FERC hearings on the proposed Tennessee Gas NED Pipeline Project.
North Quabbin Pipeline Action filed a motion to intervene just before Christmas. This letter to FERC states that NQPA opposes the NED project because it is not needed and encourages more use of fossil fuels instead of working toward meeting the goals set forth in the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Action. This law passed in 2008 calls for the state to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2020. Other groups in this region filing motions to intervene with FERC include North Quabbin Energy, Warwick Town Energy and Building Committee, Millers River Watershed Council, Mt. Grace Land Conservation Trust, several towns and other groups. Individuals are encouraged to write short motions to intervene. See information under events.
FERC extended deadline for filing motions to intervene regarding Tennessee Gas Northeast Energy Direct (NED) proposal – Docket #CP16-21 until January 15th. This happened on Monday, Jan. 4th after e-filing portal of FERC was shut down for 4 days over New Year’s week-end and four days over Christmas week-end. People emailed and called FERC, elected officials and other government officials protesting this unfair shutdown. It is important individuals and groups file motions to intervene now. See Intervening at FERC Directionsfor step-by-step information on how to file a motion (thanks to NoFrackedGasinMass and others for this information. Also see EVENTS.
Views of North Quabbin March for the Earth – Nov. 29th
People from many small towns in the region came together and joined with thousands participating in events around the world before the Climate Talks in Paris (11/30-12/11/2015)
As the Paris Climate Summit (Nov. 30-Dec. 11) approaches, we all must step up and raise our voices. On the eve of the biggest U.N. climate talks of the decade, we’re taking to the streets — all around the world. With news from Paris that security will prohibit many of the Paris mobilizations and events from happening this means all people must make their voices heard around the world and be louder everywhere. Join with people from around the North Quabbin and other places on Sunday, Nov. 29th from 1-2 p.m. at the Uptown Common in Athol for a short march, speakers and music.
Other Local and Regional Events
Winsert Making Workshops (interior storms) took place in both Orange and Royalston during November. North Quabbin Energy and town energy committees in Orange and Royalston helped town residents build winserts for the Water Department Building in Orange and the Town Hall in Royalston. These interior inexpensive winserts help increase the R-value of windows and cut down on heating costs. See winsert page for information on using the “wrap method” to make winserts.
Public Lands Protected by Article 97 in Massachusetts — Close to 20 people from the North Quabbin area were among the almost 150 people from across the state who attended a hearing in Boston recently on Article 97 and the proposed pipeline.
People from across the state attended to give testimony to uphold Article 97 and keep Otis State Forest land from being taken out of Article 97 protection for a proposed gas pipeline running into Connecticut — another Kinder Morgan/TGP proposal.
Other News on Kinder Morgan/TGP proposed pipeline – Northeast Energy Direct Project — On Nov. 20, FERC posted the formal application submitted to them by Tennessee Gas Pipeline. In the application Tennessee Gas makes the following comment about Article 97: “Tennessee anticipates that it will seek Article 97 authorization from the Massachusetts legislature to obtain easement rights on lands that promote conservation purposes and that are owned by the Commonwealth or by a town or city.” (Nov. 20, 2015 application by Tennessee Gas Pipeline to FERC, Attachment A – Scoping Summary Matrix Responses, p. 40.). For a listing of all sections of the application go to www.nofrackedgasinmass.org
Solar Legislation — No Bill was passed by the MA State Legislature so works on this continues.
Both North Quabbin Energy and North Quabbin Pipeline Action continue to plan events to educate people about energy conservation and efficiency as well as working to stop the proposed gas pipeline.
In the area of energy conservation, winsert making workshops are alive and well. North Quabbin Energy along with town energy committees will co-ordinate two workshops in November – one on Nov. 7th at the Royalston Town Hall and the other on Nov. 14th at the Orange Armory. For information about these workshops see events and for instructions on how to make inexpensive interior storms (winserts) see Winserts – the Wrap Method.
People from the North Quabbin area also attended recent hearings at the State House in Boston. These hearings before the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy considered several energy bills. People working on these issues hope that the net metering cap affecting solar development projects in National Grid territory will be lifted this fall, and that a favorable energy bill will be passed by the State Legislature.
North Quabbin Pipeline Action had a presence at the Garlic and Arts Festival in Orange recently. People staffed a table and got over 100 people to sign and write short letters to State Senators asking them to commit to upholding Article 97 of the State Constitution – an article pertaining to protected public lands in the state (see Resources and Research). See Events for more information about upcoming activities.
Watch for Local Actions on Nov. 29th — Week-end of Climate Action on Road to Paris — Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground. See http://350.org/roadthroughparis/ — “This huge weekend of action is being dubbed the Global Climate March, and a lot of organizations will be taking part. There will be a big march in Paris with hundreds of thousands of people, as well as key marches on every continent. Here in the U.S. it will be a holiday weekend, so we’re anticipating that many events will be a bit smaller. We’re still fired up to add our voices to the global call for action though, and we hope that you are too.”
Energy Bills in MA Legislature — As August ends it is still unclear what energy bills will be considered by the State Legislature this Fall. It is important to keep contacting state officials and legislators about the Net Metering Cap. Before the Legislature recessed for August, Senator Rosenberg’s office reported that nothing could be done until this fall. It is still unclear if any energy bills will be considered this Fall. Meanwhile there is a cap on large solar developments and community solar in National Grid territory which includes 171 communities in Massachusetts. Continue calling legislators and Governor Baker asking them to lift the Net Metering cap (contacts for government officials).
On the proposed KM/TGP gas pipeline FERC is continuing to take comments for a couple of weeks in September on concerns pertaining to the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for PF14-22.
For September Activities see Events under Gas Pipeline.