A climate scientist spells it out for us

A packed house at the Wendell Free Library on Thursday night listened to Ray Bradley,  University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Geosciences and Director of the Climate System Research Center at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, talking about the state of current scientific research into the world’s warming climate, as well as the chilling story of how a few climate change deniers in Congress tried to put science on trial by indicting Bradley and two colleagues for “fraudulent” use of federal research funding.  The latter part of the story is related in Bradley’s book, Global Warming and Political Intimidation:  How Politicians Cracked Down on Scientists as the Earth Heated Up (University of Massachusetts Press, 2011).

I came away from the talk not sure whether to be depressed or reassured.  On the one hand, there was plenty in Bradley’s presentation to feel pessimistic about.  He noted that even in the very best imaginable scenario, if all fossil fuel burning were to stop tomorrow, enough greenhouse gases have already been released into the atmosphere over the past 200 years (and particularly since the Second World War) that the world’s climate will continue to warm right through the 21st century and beyond.  In other words, it’s too late to reverse what’s already been done–the best we can possibly do is to deal with the consequences and try to stop making it even worse. Continue reading A climate scientist spells it out for us

New Green Communities

Petersham and Wendell Earn Clean Energy Leadership Status in the Sixth Round of Green Community Designations

Town Energy Committees in both Petersham and Wendell worked to meet five clean energy criteria and write up a 20% energy reduction plan for their town buildings.  In Petersham Linda Paquet provided the leadership for writing the Green Community proposal.   In Wendell, Nan Riebschlaeger and the town energy committee provided leadership for writing the proposal.  Both these communities must now work to implement projects to reduce their energy use in town buildings.  Petersham is now eligible for $138,425 to implement projects.  Wendell is eligible for $138,125.  Both towns will be working with the MA Department of Energy Resources in the coming months in order to receive money for their town.

Grants for the communities designated today will be funded by Alternative Compliance Payments (ACP) made by electricity suppliers who don’t meet their statutory Renewable Portfolio Standard obligation to purchase a sufficient percentage of renewable energy. Green Communities grants also receive funding from proceeds of carbon allowance auctions under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).  There are 110 communities in Massachusetts with Green Community Designation now.

Other towns in the North Quabbin area continue to work on reducing their energy use in town buildings.  Athol, Barre, and New Salem also have Green Community Designation with grants to help them reduce energy consumption in town buildings.   Although Orange does not have Green Community Designation, the Orange Selectboard recently signed an agreement with Borrego Solar for the construction of a PV system on the capped landfill.

Work continues on reducing energy use in town buildings through the work of town energy committees in Athol, Barre,  New Salem,  Orange,  Petersham, Royalston, Warwick and Wendell.  Check out the pull down menu above for town committees to see some updates.


“Deep Energy Retrofit” results at Kurkoski Residence in Warwick

It’s Payback time!

The first winter spent in our “new” house is almost over, and we have some exciting numbers. Besides being very comfortable and warm, we didn’t miss stoking the old wood boiler at all, and the little Fujitsu air-source heat pump did a stellar job heating the house, even in sub-zero temperatures. By the time the winter is really over, we figure we will have used about $200 worth of electricity to provide heat, hot water, and ventilation from Oct – April. That’s not per month – that’s for the entire winter!

On top of that we use about $15/month for the usual lights, fridge, computer, TV, well pump, etc. We hope that the output of our 2.4kw solar system will cover all of our needs.

How did we do it? Through National Grid’s “Deep Energy Retrofit”pilot program, and with technical support from Building Science Inc. The roof, walls and basement were thoroughly air sealed and super-insulated, the windows and doors replaced, and the oil and wood boilers removed. A heat recovery ventilation system now provides fresh air, an air-source heat pump provides heating & cooling, and a future solar thermal system will give us hot water (currently electric) and supplemental heating.

National Grid’s Deep Energy Retrofit Measures for 2013 are now available for homes in National Grid’s electric and/or gas territories in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. National Grid Deep Energy Retrofit (DER) measures upgrade roofs, exterior walls, and basements in existing homes to perform significantly better than current code-compliant new homes. The 2013 DER measures are “Roof-Only”, “Wall-Only”, and “Basement-Only” in order to align with re-roofing, re-siding, and basement fit-out home maintenance upgrades. Projects may pursue multiple DER measures at the same time.

 The base incentive for Deep Energy Retrofit (DER) measures are:
  • Roof/Attic DER Measure – $3.00 per square foot of treated area
  • Exterior Wall DER Measure – $3.50 per square foot of treated area
  • Basement DER Measure – $2.00 per square foot of treated area

The performance incentive for all DER Measures is $1.75 per cubic feet per minute (CFM50) reduced based on pre-construction and post-construction blowerdoor tests performed by National Grid.

 All allowable DER roof, wall, and basement designs are included in the new “Deep Energy Retrofit Builder’s Guide” created by Building Science Corporation.
Visit https://www1.nationalgridus.com/DeepEnergyRetrofit-MA-RES for more info and to download the excellent Builder’s Guide mentioned above.

A special “Thank You” goes to Hamshaw Lumber, FastenMaster, and our builders Bick Corsa and Chris Martin. You can still see the house before the “finish” goes on…come on by! Deep Energy Retrofit

Home of Steve and Janice after Energy Retrofit Work – 2012

Politicians connecting the dots: The “superstorm” and climate change

Here’s a short list of some good articles about the connections between the changing climate and this week’s “superstorm,” particularly as it relates to political responses to the storm.

NOAA satellite image of Hurricane Sandy, Oct. 29/12

2012 Local Food Brochure Now Available

brochure coverNorth Quabbin Energy’s 2012 “Fresh & Local Food Guide” is now available.  The annual listing highlights local farms and food producers in the North Quabbin towns (Athol, New Salem, Orange, Petersham, Phillipston, Royalston, Warwick, and Wendell) and neighboring Barre and Shutesbury.  Foods grown locally include fruits, vegetables, meats, grains, flowers, eggs, dairy products, mushrooms, and herbs.  The brochure also lists area specialties plus non-food and “value-added” products like honey, maple syrup, local cheeses, bakery goods, hay, compost, wool and fleece, and imported fair-trade coffee.  Look for information about area farmers markets, festivals, the local food co-op, “Community Supported Agriculture” (CSA) farms, and more.

Eating locally is an energy-related issue because the food industry in the U.S. is based on energy-intensive modes of farming, processing, shipping, and storing food.  Produce and other foods are typically shipped over hundreds of miles from the source to the consumer, adding to the “carbon footprint” of products that are usually grown with petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides.  Buying closer to local sources not only reduces the energy required to grow and ship food, but helps support area farmers and food producers who are working to strengthen more sustainable regional food systems.

The 2012 “Fresh & Local” brochure is available in locations throughout the area, including libraries and general stores, town offices, and many of the farms and businesses listed in the guide.  You can also download it here as a PDF file.

River Rat Canoe Race

Congratulations to Bruce Spencer and Janice Kurkoski, who represented North Quabbin Energy in the River Rat Canoe Race.  They finished in spot #109 out of 270 canoes.  It was a great day for them.  They also ranked third in the category of canvas canoes.  Congratulations and thanks for carrying NQE signs.

canoeists on riverbank
Bruce and Janice get ready for start of race
canoeist in race
NQE afloat!
canoe team
A great team!

Good Energy at the 2011 Garlic and Arts Festival!

The North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival is always a highlight of the year in our region and beyond, and North Quabbin Energy is always excited to be part of this great event. As in previous years, we’ll have a table at the festival where visitors can learn about conservation and much more.

We’re also helping with the festival Energy Tent, which will be the site of a multi-town gathering of energy committee representatives and a great lineup of speakers throughout the weekend.

Most of the North Quabbin and neighboring towns have created town energy committees in the past few years, and members of these groups are invited to join in the First Annual Power of Solutions Forum from 10:15 to 12:30 at the Energy Tent. The forum will showcase committees’ recent projects, share ideas and experiences, and consider possible future regional collaborations.

Below are the times and titles of presentations on Saturday and Sunday. For full details on the speakers and their topics, click here.

Saturday, Oct. 1
Is Solar Domestic Hot Water Right For You?
Brandon Turner

2 p.m.
How Infrared Thermography Can Lead You to Deep Energy Savings
Neil Anders

3 p.m.
Making and Using Low-Tunnel Hoophouses
Dan Botkin and John DiMatteo

Sunday, Oct. 2

12 p.m.
Integrating Renewables Into Existing Fossil Fuel Homes
Paul Voiland and Jared Alvord

1 p.m.
Converting Your Bike to Electric – real green transportation now
Peter Talmage

2 p.m.
Bring Your House into the 21st Century (without selling the farm!)
Bick Corsa and Laura Biddulph

3 p.m.
Forestry as If the Future Mattered
Bruce Spencer

Welcome to North Quabbin Energy

We’re an informal group of people in north-central Massachusetts who are concerned about issues relating to energy use. We seek to educate ourselves and our neighbors about the true social and environmental costs of our current energy consumption patterns. We also work to find ways of changing our individual and collective habits of energy use through conservation, use of renewable fuels, and support for local and regional enterprises that reduce our dependence on imported resources.