Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Warming Wednesdays: small steps in Massachusetts

Since I'm temporarily located in the Bay State, it seemed right to look into what measures are afoot here to reduce carbon emissions. It turns out that even more permanent residents can be unaware of local progress, according to "charley-on-the-mta" writing at Blue Mass Group.

Little known fact, which bears repeating: We in the northeast USA are under a cap-and-trade program right now — the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. It has put an ever-increasing price on carbon emission[s], and spreads the proceeds around to conservation measures, like the terrific MassSave program, which gives big incentives to get your house insulated, sealed-up, and otherwise energy-efficient. (I’ve taken advantage of it personally — they subsidize 75% of insulation work, up to a cap of $2000. It’s a big savings and makes the house more comfortable. What’s not to like?)

Charley goes on to point to a New York Times article about the RGGI that highlights some of the program's challenges linked to the arrival of low cost natural gas (fracked in other folks' states, by the way.) Charley thinks New Englanders should know this is no time to back down on their efforts:

... now is absolutely not the time to back off on carbon pollution, which is a direct threat to … well, everyone on the planet, but certainly those of us who live near the ocean and in the line of hurricanes.

Here on Martha's Vineyard, the local media are celebrating the official launch of a solar project built on a capped landfill that will power the municipal infrastructure in Aquinnah.

The panels are expected to produce enough power to meet all of the town's municipal electrical needs and more. … The town currently spends more than $14,000 per year on its municipal electrical load, including town offices, police and fire stations, the library, street lights, and public bathrooms.

The 50-kW panels are expected to produce approximately 65,000kWh per year. Their life expectancy is almost 30 years. Mr. Wilson said that in ten years when the town buys the panels, he expects they should turn a profit for the town.

Martha's Vineyard Times, 1/23/2013

Other towns have taken note and plan to place solar arrays on their dumps -- got to make something of such valuable municipal land.

The photo shows one of the panel trucks belonging to The South Mountain Company, a builder of the Aquinnah site.

Despite every other legitimate concern, we cannot ignore that our economic and social system is rapidly making the planet less habitable. So I will be posting "Warming Wednesdays" -- reminders of an inconvenient truth.

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