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SB Meeting:
Solar Tariff Discussion

Sept 3rd, 7 PM
Library Assembly Room

For our regular meeting this month, community members actively working to review the proposed changes to Belmont's Distributed Generation Tariff (Phase 2 and Phase 3) that will, in practice, restrict solar in Belmont to the wealthiest few, will present and discuss the concerns and potential alternatives.

Approximately 173 individuals have submitted comments against the proposed changes and 2 in support. On September 19th, Belmont’s Municipal Light Advisory Board is expected to hold a public hearing in the Town Hall Auditorium at 7 PM.

To view the detailed comment letter prepared by Sustainable Belmont Energy Working Group and additional resources, please visit our homepage.

Green Garden Tour!

September 7th, 12 - 3 p.m.

Printed maps will be available at the Beech Street Center. You may also download the brochure from our site or follow via our Google Map. You will see everything from home composting to bunny tractors to the lasagna method of preparing a garden bed to working with perennial edibles. Enter our raffle for a DPW-donated compost bin at the Beech St Center; drawing at 3 PM that day. 

Belmont on course

Watertown Police Station - solar panels installed as part of the Green Community energy conservation measures apply become a Green Community

Sustainable Belmont members Becky Rosen, Roger Colton (Energy Committee), Kate Bowen and others continue to prepare Belmont's potential application as a Green Community in conjunction with David Kale (Town Administrator) and Gerald Boyle (Dir. of Facilities). A recent update to the Board of Selectmen confirmed town support to go forward with preparations. A re-presentation to the Board of Selectmen is anticipated just prior to the October 17th deadline.

If approved by the town to apply and if approved by the Green Community Division, awards would be received in January of 2015 towards identified energy reduction measures in town facilities. Initial awards and completion of projects, allow Belmont to continue for competitive awards. The average award is $184K.

Towns shaded in green have received initial awards with the Green Communities designation.

Similar to Watertown (building pictured above), Belmont may expect initial projects to be retrofits to LED streetlights. Watertown saves and estimated $29,806 per year with an annual kWh energy savings of 203,363 per year from their replacement of over 1200 lamps.
Belmont is surrounded by neighboring towns that have already been designated Green Communities.

Easy Peasy

Volunteers are always welcome. One of the easiest ways to volunteer is to simply share! A few minutes in your month to share our news via social media, a sidewalk chat or a note to elected officials is greatly appreciated.

Groups you may wish to be involved in that are working on sustainability efforts in the Belmont community – please contact them to learn about their current needs for volunteers:

Members Share

100 Homes in 100 Days

Congratulations to Belmont Light & the Energy Committee!

MA DOER has awarded Belmont Light with $240,250 for the three energy efficiency programs/projects that were proposed last spring:
  • 100 oil heated homes insulated in 100 days
  • mini-split heat pump rebates
  • LED street light retrofits
Sagewell will administer the programs, and the Better Homes Belmont website will help with outreach for the two residential programs. The implementation date is yet to be announced; contact Sagewell or Belmont Light for more info.

Rep. Dave Rogers shares on Solar & H4185  from the Statehouse News

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, JULY 31, 2014…….Legislative leaders have abandoned their hopes of passing a comprehensive overhaul of the system used by the state to facilitate solar energy projects, opting instead for a simple lift of the cap on solar production to ensure that municipal and home projects in the pipeline don’t stall.

A bill passed by the House Thursday evening would lift the cap on public projects from 3 percent to 5 percent of a utility’s total power generation, while the cap for private projects would rise to 4 percent.

The bill (S 2214) would also create a task force to study net metering in Massachusetts and Gov. Deval Patrick’s stated goal of installing 1,600 megawatts of solar energy by 2020.

Patrick has called for legislation to be passed this session to avoid hitting the cap and stalling growth within an industry that has created thousands of jobs in the past several years. He was also hoping to codify his solar goals into statute to avoid the risk of the next administration scaling back his ambition.

“Massachusetts leads the nation in clean energy and energy efficiency because of this Administration’s policies and strong partnership with the Legislature. This bill will ensure that we continue to be a leader. By eliminating the cap on net metering and enshrining in statute our commitment to achieve 1600 MW of solar by 2020, this bill will reduce ratepayer costs and greenhouse gas emissions, create jobs, and spur growth in the clean energy industry in Massachusetts,” Patrick said in a statement earlier this week.

Public solar installations are bumping up against the cap, while there is still some room under the private cap, according to stakeholders.

Earlier this summer, National Grid, representatives from the solar industry and the Department of Energy Resources announced that they had come to agreement on complex new system for solar energy that would replace the current strategy of trading what are known as solar renewable energy credits on an open marketplace and avoid having to repeatedly return to the Legislature seeking approval for additional solar cap space.

The proposal would have established a flat rate for solar energy that officials hoped would make financing projects easier and more predictable. The draft bill put forward by the stakeholders also would have codified Patrick’s long-term goal for solar energy, locking the next administration into hitting the 1,600 megawatt target.

A proposal to implement minimum billing that would charge electric customers a set monthly fee even if the homeowner produces enough energy to cover their usage appeared to become a sticking point in the broader legislation. Utilities say the billing is necessary to cover the expense of maintaining the infrastructure needed to deliver electricity to homes.

Beaton said there were discussions of grandfathering existing homeowners with solar installations from the minimum billing provision, but those talks faltered.

“I’m surprised this got pulled. I thought we were getting somewhere. I think it was just too much in the 11th hour for people to get comfortable with it,” Beaton said.
Sustainable Belmont is an all-volunteer organization that has regular discussions, workshops and presentations to enable the community to be environmentally sustainable. Meetings and events are open to the public.

Kind regards,
Kate Bowen, Chair
Darrell King, Co-Chair
John Kolterman, Adviser

In nature nothing exists alone. — Rachel Carson
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