Left In Lowell

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November 12, 2013

Going Solar: A Massachusetts Journey

by at 9:11 am.

(What follows is a very long, comprehensive post filled to the brim with everything I’ve learned about going solar. Our installation is now feeding green energy into the grid, I obsess about cloudy days, and I’m looking forward to our new investment paying us back in both money, and in knowing we’re contributing a great deal towards a green future.)

The flurry of activity in and around my homestead during two days in the week of October 7th was very disturbing to my poor dogs, but exciting for us. After a journey of more than five years in researching and planning (more on that in a bit) the contractors we hired, NuWatt Energy Inc, were on our roof installing our 4.16kWh solar electric system. A system that, it is estimated, will be providing around 80% of our current electricity usage.

Why did it take us so long, and how did we finally decide on the path we did? The answer to that, I’m hoping, will give other people a shortcut to the knowledge we got the hard way, and give you several paths to solar for your own home or business if you think you’ve got the roof for it. (more…)

September 4, 2013

Bipedal Blog Power

by at 4:05 pm.

Since the chicken issue has flown the coop & the Blog of Record ashamedly went on a witch hunt, we have to have some poltical salt water taffy to chew on, as we head towards the September 24th Preliminary Election.

We The People are binging on Bicycles! And, the local Blogs play the tune!

From the yucksters over at Sons of Franky Cabot, Ned brings us:

The revolution has started. (-snip)
It was only a matter of time before the city took notice. Enter the City employee bike share program. Sure it’s only four bikes right now, but we expect this wave of enthusiasm to extend to the council chambers. Since its time to get into it, I thought I should take it upon myself to thoughtfully recommend the most appropriate pedal powered options for our sitting council.
Mayor Murphy
Unicycle: Trading performance and efficiency for showmanship and nonconformity.

Councilors Mercier & Elliott.
2-man Tandem: The ultimate intersection of team work and strategy. Plus, you can harness Rita’s wind when Rodney gets tired of pedaling.

Take it from a seasoned blogger. It is totally NSFW, but do make a habit out of visiting SoFC. I consider it a ‘guilty pleasure.’ Who knew, Joe Rogan would be my latest internet swami? Snuggle up with a pitbull, crack a Zima, kick back and let SoFC take you away.
(more…)

April 18, 2013

WTF FERC?!

by at 3:47 pm.

FERC had a brainfart.

The cub reporter quickly blurted out the bits his Editor want to float:

“We find that the proposed pneumatic crest gate system can be installed without unacceptably altering the dam or adversely affecting the park and historic districts,” FERC wrote in its ruling. “The crest gate system will also provide important benefits to recreation, fish passage, dam and worker safety, and project generation, and will help alleviate upstream backwater and flooding effects to the maximum extent possible.”

Of course, there are little gems stashed in the “Order Amending License.” (h/t Corey Sciuto)

Project Economics
47. The licensees’ proposal to install an inflatable crest gate system has an estimated capital cost of $5,980,000. This capital cost results in an average, annualized cost of $956,000. We estimate that the annual cost to operate the system would be minimal.

48. Operation of an inflatable crest gate system instead of flashboards could enable the project to generate more power, because the gates could be reinflated relatively soon after high flows. In contrast, the flashboards would be washed out for an estimated three months. The licensees estimate that project operation with the inflatable crest gates would result in an increase in annual generation of approximately 8,000 megwatt hours (MWh). Using a regional estimated alternative energy value of $38.74/MWh, as determined from the Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook for 2012, this additional generation would be valued at $310,000 annually. Therefore, the net cost of the licensee’s proposed action, including total capital costs and generation benefits, would be approximately $646,000 annually.

49. Although our analysis shows that the cost of installing the crest gates would exceed the value of the increased generation, it is the applicant who must decide whether to accept this license amendment and any financial risk that entails.
(bold mine)

There is a lot to digest. Please give it a go, then chime in here.

PS. We are about to find out, if the Dept. of Interior folks are willing to take it to the next level. The Dept. of the Interior(Parks) has a brand new Secretary and Energy(FERC) is due to get a new Secretary. So, leadership may come from the locals until Obama’s Cabinet members can find their way around. This matter may be determined by which Department has better insulated its ‘Legal Eagles’ from sequestration. :v\

October 18, 2012

Wherefor Art Thou Climate Change?

by at 9:45 am.

Whatever your political stripe, if you are an environmentalist you are probably disappointed in this year’s presidential and downticket races. Of course, it’s natural that the economy would be high up on the radar for the candidates, but for there to be zero talk about the environment, not to mention global climate change, the biggest national security risk of our time? It is, to make an understatement, utterly incomprehensible.

I am definitely going to watch this Frontline next Tuesday, “Climate of Doubt.” In it, they will examine the reasons why this topic has become persona non grata. Where once we as a nation were starting to agree that climate change was happening and that we needed to address it, there is doubt being raised by the extremely profitable industries that benefit from the status quo.



Watch Climate of Doubt on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

(more…)

April 18, 2012

Wanna Screw With Enel & Their Bladder Dam?

by at 12:43 pm.

.
Do what these folks did:

Photobucket

I’ve heard a few “important” Lowellians opine that the desecration of the Pawtucket Falls Dam is a done deal. Really? Well, for sure, if Lowellians roll over.
(more…)

February 7, 2011

Converting the Fleet

by at 10:30 am.

A constant priority of Lt. Governor Tim Murray, today I got a little announcement from the administration that the first of several replacement commuter rail trains that are efficient diesel-electric have been put into service in the commuter rail system:

Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray today joined commuter rail riders and state officials aboard a new diesel-electric locomotive on its inaugural ride from Worcester to Boston. The state-of-the-art diesel-electric locomotive is one of two new trains purchased from the Utah Transit Authority, and marks the first time in more than two decades that new locomotives will join the MBTA’s commuter rail fleet.

[…]

By employing new technology that makes the engines more fuel efficient and prevents unnecessary idling, the new locomotives will reduce nitrogen oxide levels by 20 tons per engine annually. Each locomotive in the existing fleet burns 228,000 gallons of fuel per year, resulting in the release of 241 tons of nitrogen oxide. These new locomotives will burn about 36,500 fewer gallons while generating more horsepower. The energy savings will be about $78,000 a year per locomotive.

In June 2010, the MassDOT Board of Directors approved the purchase of an additional 20 new diesel-electric locomotives from Motive Power, Inc. of Boise, Idaho at a cost of $114 million. The 20 new locomotives will be brought into service in 2013 to replace the 20 oldest units in the fleet.

Since the Mr. takes the commuter rail daily, which is not only great for avoiding traffic snarls, but keeps our personal gas consumption fairly low, commuter rail news like this is music to my ears…we can realize great savings and lower our dependence on foreign oil, as well as reduce the impact of global warming, AND create jobs in our nation, by continuing to do this. Win all around.

July 30, 2010

Oh, By All Means, Drill Baby Drill

by at 3:46 pm.

A pretty predictable but still disturbing outcome of the mishandling of the Gulf spill crisis by BP (via dkos):

Scientists have found signs of an oil-and-dispersant mix under the shells of tiny blue crab larvae in the Gulf of Mexico, the first clear indication that the unprecedented use of dispersants in the BP oil spill has broken up the oil into toxic droplets so tiny that they can easily enter the foodchain.

Marine biologists started finding orange blobs under the translucent shells of crab larvae in May, and have continued to find them “in almost all” of the larvae they collect, all the way from Grand Isle, Louisiana, to Pensacola, Fla. — more than 300 miles of coastline — said Harriet Perry, a biologist with the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory.

Good god. What have we done to our planet?? We need renewable replacements for oil and coal right now. Of course, our do-nothing Senate (thanks to Senator Brown and the Nelson/Landreu wing of the Dems) will produce no useful energy policy bill in the foreseeable future.

This, on top of the news that over a million acres of the high-altitude pine trees in the region of Yellowstone are dying from an infestation of beetle, likely due to climate change.

Sometimes, I am so glad I do not have any kids whose future I have to worry about.

May 25, 2010

Lowell Designated in First Round of “Green Communities”

by at 2:00 pm.

Hey, wicked. Excerpts of the official press release:

PATRICK-MURRAY ADMINISTRATION DESIGNATES COMMONWEALTH’S FIRST OFFICIAL “GREEN COMMUNITIES”
35 cities and towns across the state are ranked as clean energy leaders, eligible for municipal renewable power and energy efficiency grants

HOPKINTON – Tuesday, May 25, 2010 – Governor Deval Patrick today designated 35 cities and towns from the Berkshires to Cape Cod as the Commonwealth’s first official “Green Communities” - a status that makes them eligible for $8.1 million in grants for local renewable power and energy efficiency projects. The projects promise to create green jobs and advance both municipal and state clean energy goals.
[…]
The signature program of the landmark Green Communities Act of 2008, the Department of Energy Resources’ (DOER) Green Communities Grant Program uses funding from auctions of carbon emissions permits under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to reward communities that win Green Communities designation by meeting five clean energy benchmarks:

  • Adopting local zoning bylaw or ordinance that allows “as-of-right-siting” of renewable energy projects;
  • Adopting an expedited permitting process related to the as-of-right facilities;
  • Establishing a municipal energy use baseline and a program designed to reduce use by 20 percent within five years;
  • Purchasing only fuel-efficient vehicles for municipal use, whenever such vehicles are commercially available and practicable; and
  • Requiring all new residential construction over 3,000 square feet and all new commercial and industrial real estate construction to reduce lifecycle energy costs (i.e., adoption of an energy-saving building “stretch code”).

May 14 was the deadline for municipalities to apply for Green Community designation in order to qualify for the first round of $8.1 million in Green Communities grants. Today’s Green Communities designees - Acton, Arlington, Athol, Andover, Becket, Belchertown, Cambridge, Chelmsford, Easthampton, Greenfield, Hamilton, Hanover, Holyoke, Hopkinton, Kingston, Lancaster, Lenox, Lexington, Lincoln, Lowell, Mashpee, Medford, Melrose, Montague, Natick, Newton, Northampton, Palmer, Pittsfield, Salem, Springfield, Sudbury, Tyngsboro, Wenham, and Worcester - have until June 4 to submit applications for grants that will be awarded in late June.

Also pretty knifty:

In addition to grant eligibility, each Green Community designated today will receive a Big Belly solar waste compactor, to be delivered by June 30 in time for the summer parks and beaches season. Purchased with DOER energy efficiency funding, Big Belly compactors can hold several times more trash and litter than similarly sized regular trash receptacles - thereby reducing the number of garbage truck trips required to empty them. Each municipality will also receive a certificate from the Commonwealth congratulating it on becoming an official Green Community.

Congrats Lowell and other upper Merrimack Valley communities for getting the win!

April 29, 2010

Massachusetts is 1/5th of the Country?

by at 5:23 pm.

Holy crap! David’s headline says it all. “US awards $106 million for energy research; MA gets over 20% of it.”

We got 1/5th of the grants for this? Whoa! Now, tell me again whether or not you think the green energy initiatives by the lege and Governor are working or not?

David also quotes the whole list of awarded projects. Those grants will produce new jobs, and create the green tech of the future. I don’t know if I’ve said this lately but, I do so love living in Massachusetts. We rock.

April 28, 2010

‘Bout Time!!

by at 4:29 pm.

OK, can we just build the damn things already?? LOL. Yay for Dems in state and federal government. Obama’s Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has approved Cape Wind in what I think is the final hurdle for the project. Amen and let’s get some renewable energy!

I also found some of the commentary on where other candidates have stood on Cape Wind ’til now (when you can be sure they’ll be for it).

Out of curiosity, I tried to figure out where Charlie Baker stands on Cape Wind.  Couldn’t for the life of me figure it out.  There’s nothing I could find on his website, so no help there.  Here are a couple of nuggets I picked up via the Google.

Baker, former CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare, tiptoed around the topic and refused to outright state whether he supported or opposed the Cape Wind project. He said a decision will already be finalized at the federal level before he enters office, if elected governor, therefore “the state doesn’t really matter at this point.”

Ah, a real profile in courage right there.  That one’s from last September.  Here’s a more recent one, from March:

Baker said Massachusetts residents pay the fourth-highest rates for electricity in the country, and he blasted Cape Wind for failing to say exactly how much ratepayers would save from the proposed wind energy project.
“The whole thing looks like a no-bid contract,” Baker said.

Uh, OK - so you’re against it?  But wait - MA residents pay high electricity rates.  So you’re for it?  I’m still confused.

And we also get an outline of Senator Brown’s um, interesting take from stomv in comments:

“With unemployment hovering near ten percent in Massachusetts, the Cape Wind project will jeopardize industries that are vital to the Cape’s economy, such as tourism and fishing, and will also impact aviation safety and the rights of the Native American tribes in the area. I am also skeptical about the cost-savings and job number predictions we have heard from proponents of the project,” Brown said in a statement.

So, to recap:
* Despite the fact that Cape Wind will create 1,000 construction jobs, Brown leads with 10 percent unemployment in MA.
* He’s worried about the impact on tourism, but not at all worried about the impact oil spills have on tourism?
* He’s completely ignored the reality that these will have zero impact on fishing. Good grief — if a fisherman can navigate his boat in a port, he can certainly steer clear of monopoles which are each 1/3 to 1/2 mile apart.
* Aviation safety? The studies are done — no negative impact on RADAR.
* Native American tribes? Really? I look forward to Senator Brown’s insistence of funding the Bureau of Indian Affairs to drive education, health, and employment numbers closer to the national average. I won’t hold my breath.
* He’s skeptical of the numbers which show the project will have a favorable impact. Of course he is. I’m skeptical that Scott Brown has any ability to be critical of those reports, because I’m skeptical the man has any idea of which he speaks when it comes to the economics or engineering of wind power.

*Smacks head* Are ANY of the Republicans/pseudo-independent candidates/recently elected more than empty suits?? Or do any of them care more about good policy rather than scoring political points with misdirection and lies, at least?

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