Let’s take Charlie’s foot off the gas and stop accelerating climate change

Gas meters 4 2MB

I once taught elementary science in Andover, Massachusetts, and raised my family there. So my heart goes out to all the people suffering from at least 39 house fires and explosions in South Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover. An eighteen-year-old was killed sitting in his van when natural gas exploded a house and the brick chimney toppled on to it. At least eighteen people were injured, likely many more. Given the massive destruction of epic proportions, it is miraculous more people were not killed.

Entire blocks were evacuated in case other homes ignited. 8,600 households had to shut off their natural gas lines. With hundreds of utility crews at work insuring homeowner safety, it will take weeks before all undamaged houses have gas again.

The gas lines were being worked on in the neighborhood. It appears that a gas transport pipe, carrying gas at 60 pounds per square inch, was accidentally connected to the domestic supply line, carrying gas at one quarter of a pound per square inch. Pilot lights turned into blow torches. In some houses the rapid escape of natural gas caused explosions.

Governor Baker wants more natural gas in Greater Boston. He says it is due to a snow storm in 2015 and another one in 2018 that constrained energy supplies. Although, there were no brownouts or interruptions in services. He wants a pipeline from the fracking fields of New York built across the state. Easy for him to say because the state is not paying for it. The rate payers must pay for it. That’s right. We must pay more for the natural gas we are using to cover the costs of a pipeline for more gas that we don’t need.

In Massachusetts, our use of energy from utilities is going down one percent a year. This despite our population going up.

Concerned with declining energy use, Baker and the utilities want a pipeline across our state to sell natural gas overseas where the price is twice what we pay. They get the revenue while we pay the expenses and get no gas.

Bakers actions against home and business installations of solar panels tell a different story then what he tells the media.

Mark Sandeen of Mass Solar compiled a score card for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Bill

The Senate called for eliminating net metering caps – No, said Baker

The Senate called for eliminating residential demand charges – Baker would not even consider commenting.

The Senate called to restore full net metering for low income and community solar – No, said Baker.

The Senate called for prohibiting the pipeline tax – No, said Baker.

The Senate offered opt-in time for use rates to all customers – No, said Baker.

The Senate called for Energy Storage Target of 2,000 MWh. Baker proposed 200 MWh. He signed 1,000 MWh. (Meanwhile, PG&E installed a 2,200 MWh energy storage system in Monterrey, CA that replaced 3 peaking natural gas power plants!)

Senate Bill for Renewable Portfolio Standard (100% Target Date) 2047 – Baker made it 2095.

Senate Bill Global Warming Solutions Act Plan and Interim Targets – No targets, said Baker.

Senate Bill Carbon Pricing – No, said Baker

Senate Bill Lost Natural Gas Accountability – Yes, said Baker

Mark observed that in 2014 when Patrick was Governor, solar energy grew in Massachusetts by 43%. Baker took office in January 2015. 2015 solar energy grew by 26%. In 2016 solar energy grew by -3%. Businesses intending to build solar could not. In 2017 solar energy grew by -21%, with the loss of about 3,000 jobs.

To put a stop to this, take Charlies foot off the gas. Vote on November 6 for Jay Gonzales. Gonzales served as Governor Patrick’s Chief of Finance, the governor who enabled Massachusetts residents and businesses to install more solar in a year than the entire state of California.

P.S. One day when I was working at home I heard an enormous but distant BOOM. A mile or two away, a McMansion house on three acres had exploded from a natural gas leak. Fortunately, the work was outside and no one was injured. No walls were left standing. Just a pile of rubble on the foundation, and there were clothes spread on foliage on top of thirty-forty-foot-high trees set back from the house.

With wind, solar, or heat-pumps there will be no explosions; no solar spills, either.

It’s time for a change on Beacon Hill. A vote for Jay Gonzales, is a vote for more solar and less gas.

Rob Moir is Treasurer of Global Warming Solutions Independent Expenditure PAC, Executive Director of the Ocean River Institute, Clerk of Scientists Warning Initiative, and Founding Chairman of Ocean Champions. His wife and he live in Somerville Massachusetts. Somerville is the most densely inhabited municipality in New England. Rail transport of natural gas inland through Somerville is an additional concern for the neighborhood and reason to act.


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