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Article 33 – Concord Town Meeting, 2012

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  1. Article 33 is about reducing greenhouse impact. (Its starting points are not some technology, such as wind power or solar.)
  2. The article offers a better way forward for Concord. Specifically, it repairs the damage from two years lost in a now-defunct project (the aborted Tioga solar project) that followed from the 2010 TM, as documented.

The motion that will be moved under Article 33

New language – we encourage reading it. The motion zeroes in on greenhouse reduction.
  • Whereas a goal of the Town of Concord is to promote a sustainable future, meeting current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs, and
  • Whereas it is therefore necessary to responsibly reduce the dependence on fossil fuels and the production of greenhouse gases, efficiently utilizing any economic and natural resources expended in this task,
  • It is the sense of Town Meeting that the Town's officers and employees, when planning, contracting for, or participating in the construction of new utility-scale electric power sources, are urged to give priority to technologies and practices that maximize the environmental benefits relative to the total economic, social, and environmental costs, measured by criteria such as
    • Greenhouse gas reduction per dollar invested (including subsidies) over the product lifecycle;
    • Levelized costs of new generation resources; and
    • Energy return on investment (EROI).

Click to see a recent Concord Patch article

  • The Town Manager attempts, unfortunately, to falsify cost comparisons between wind and solar ... falsehoods once again, which were central to the failures of the 2010 Article 64.
  • Don't be misled.
    • The Town Manager tries to dismiss and brush aside wind power for Concord as exorbitantly expensive.
    • →  Article 33 provides, in fact, for both sustainability and affordable cost, including with wind power.

In the two tabs following, see

  • a Commentary by Team Kermit, in the Concord Journal April 19

With a tip o' the hat to the Journal for granting permission to use – thanks!
And with tribute to the late Jim Henson and his Muppets, especially for his Kermit.

  • to download / view: The presentation. The charts, now with ten studies. The motion, also the original text of the article.

Greenhouse reduction and leadership

How can we make Concord’s best contribution to a greener future?

Particularly, what bold leadership thinking might elevate us to the tradition of America’s early, great environmentalist, our own Mr. Thoreau? To make our small, nonetheless consequential, dent in the otherwise dire prospects from global warming.

Conservation – the simple reduction in the use of energy – is the most effective, informed folks agree.  Our Light Plant has diligent programs to support conservation in Concord. After conservation – when we deploy the Light Plant’s considerable staff resources proactively to secure bulk electricity supplies, beyond just purchasing electricity – what is most effective?

Our first step is to be clear about the basis on which we ask the Light Plant staff to proceed.

We let the main goal be our guide, of course: To reduce greenhouse impacts. That introduces opportunity for some leadership thinking. For proactive projects to secure bulk sustainable electricity supplies, our two main choices in Concord are wind and solar power. Numerous studies show that, today, wind power reduces about twice the greenhouse impact, per dollar required – with wind today, solar probably later, we meet our goal.

How could Concord initiate its own wind power? A century ago, our forebears realized we should supplement our water supply; they went out of town to acquire rights in Nagog pond. Relevant wind resources in New England are concentrated along mountaintops, which are also outside our town. A few decades from now, most those locations will have wind installations on them ­– benefitting those with prescient and bold enough thinking to go there, parallel to a century ago and securing a water supply.

Such wind installations, besides serving our parochial interests, also make our best contribution to reduce greenhouse impacts. Is this feasible?

New England, as a region, is particularly focused on wind power for sustainable sources (rather than on solar) – with a developer community ready to partner with us. The Light Plant presently buys wind power, as a customer. Our experience with that current contract illustrates we can do our own proactive wind projects at competitive costs.

In fact, are passive purchases of wind power enough? Should we otherwise put our staff resources on solar, for the proactive work?

If the failed Article 64 solar array, voted at the 2010 Town Meeting, had proceeded, we almost certainly would be paying much more than, for instance, a solar project initiated just a couple years later, today. The price of solar is declining – a rush to solar is not a fiscally prudent step at the present. Nor is northerly New England an obvious place for solar. Though buying the WR Grace land (if we can be assured about the liabilities), is surely smart. Then there would be place for solar – if and when solar does become competitive with wind for greenhouse reduction. And the WR Grace land is useful for other purposes, no matter what.

In our quest, we want our town staff, our most precious resource, focused on the main goal. We want the proactive projects, where they put their time, to reduce greenhouse impacts most effectively – which today is wind power projects. In the future, hopefully solar costs decline far enough so we can justify solar also.

To establish this leadership position, we have opportunity for a new day in how we proceed as a town.

The Article 64 failure, over the couple years from 2010, needlessly consumed going-on a thousand hours, from some of our most senior and best people. It set back Concord’s potential contribution to a greener future by a couple years. It did not even inquire what would be Concord’s best contribution to greenhouse reduction, instead proceeded only from an unvetted dollars-and-cents distraction.

The roles of the main actors in this, the Light Plant board, the Selectmen, Concord’s Sustainable Energy committee, can instead – with new, bold thinking – transform into leadership.

We could be proud of our leadership. Rather than wondering why they rush into more solar, without the promised dialog across town on land use. Before they have acknowledged the failures of the past couple years. Most consequentially, before asking what will make Concord’s best contribution to green. And after even earlier, similar failures in the Morgan Stanley episode, which unfortunately pushed up Light Plant rates, because of losses incurred from speculating in a highly volatile market.

Team Kermit in Concord looks forward to this renewed leadership, from our neighbors entrusted to these positions.

Shortly here online, we will have the outlines of a prospective real wind project that Concord might do – you can ‘kick the tires’ a little, to discover this is all quite practically possible, actually.

At Town Meeting, we hope you will come and listen carefully to the discussion of Article 33.

Team Kermit

Presentation

Watch the original presentation on Article 33, above (for the video controls, hover over the box). Also, download the presentation at these links

Charts

Compare carbon reduction among different available technologies. View the chart, full scale with attribution, here. Or right click to download it

Then, see

  • two other national studies that draw the same conclusion, here.
  • seven other studies summarized from a literature search, a pdf, here. Five of the studies reach a similar conclusion; two raise additional questions.
  • →  With very much thanks to a lead member of Concord's environmental community, for bringing this to our attention.

Motion under the Article, original text of the article

Read the motion under the article, above. Or download the text, including to print, here.

Read the original text of the article here. Or download the text at these links

 

Please do be in touch with further questions. This is a complicated subject, and the above items can only begin the understanding. Email is here.