June 10, 2009 meeting

North Quabbin Energy
June 10, 2009 meeting
Wendell Library

Attending: Donna Caisse, Janice and Steve Kurkoski, Pat Larson, Brian Nugent, Elaine Reardon, Bruce Spencer, Jonathan van Ranson, Cathy Stanton

We began the evening with a tour of the new Wendell Library by library director Rosie Heidcamp. For some photos from the tour, click here.

Announcements:
• The new North Quabbin Food Coop is getting ready to start up. Organizers have been meeting weekly and are planning to start ordering soon. Anyone interested in being in their Yahoo group can do so by going to the group’s home page.
• We have heard from a state DOER worker who is looking for energy group contacts in order to spread the word about the Green Communities act and possible future funding possibilities. It looks as though it would be good for town energy committees to get onto their radar in some way.
Seeds of Solidarity is doing a garden tour and workshop this Saturday on no-till gardening.
• While Wendell does not have a town energy committee per se, it does have a group called Wendell Sustainable which is doing similar work. This group is promoting the idea of Wendell as an “intentional energy-saving community” and will work to get a resolution on energy conservation onto the next town warrant, with the possibility of asking the selectboard to appoint a town committee.
• This year’s SolarFest in Tinmouth, Vermont will be on July 10-12. There will be almost 100 workshops! Steve and Janice will be there, as always.

Going Green at Red Apple Farm
We are invited to be part of the ribbon-cutting festivities for Red Apple Farm‘s new 15 kw wind turbine in Phillipston on June 24 from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. We will have a table, Brian will demonstrate winserts, and we will hand out various things including our new biomass statement, the local food brochure, and our pledge form. There will be a panel discussion as part of the event. Pat, Brian, Cathy, and perhaps others will be there.

Survey of electricity use
Elaine and Janice have been gathering data about electricity use in our area. This is part of an effort to present evidence to counter the Entergy and Madera Companies’ assertion that their nuclear plant expansions or big biomass plants are needed because of demand that has been calculated using the average figure of about 650 kwh per household per month. We discussed this effort, and it was suggested that it might be more effective to try to get this information from National Grid (i.e. town-specific averages). The overall goal is to make the case that people in the area can use much less if they put their minds to it, and to support conservation over construction of big generating facilities.

Possible nuclear information session
Randy Kehler is interested in doing a presentation to our group on Vermont Yankee. We will send an email asking if there’s interest. Elaine will write a paragraph about it. This might be an informational event, perhaps held at a library, for the fall.

Biomass plant
We discussed the Pioneer Renewable Energy plant proposal in Greenfield at some length. The Greenfield Zoning Board of Appeals meeting has been rescheduled for Monday, June 15 at 7 p.m. in the Middle School cafeteria. A citizens’ group is recruiting experts to talk about various aspects of the plan; this is part of the strategic opposition to the proposal. Bruce pointed out that state forest management policy is in some disarray at the moment, with no consistent management plans or policies, which is making it difficult to assess what might happen with biomass harvesting on public lands. After considerable discussion, we refined our basic statement as we have been drafting it. We focused on two key points: that expanded biomass harvesting is likely to damage the long-term health of the forest, given current harvesting methods and prices, and that the proposal as it stands is simply too big. Ideas that circulated in this discussion included:
• We need to walk before we can run – there is a “panic push” for green energy now, but this kind of big facility is too large and it poses too many unanswered questions.
• This idea is premature at best – we should start smaller, and probably stay smaller.
• Sound ecology has to be the base for green energy – large, centralized power generation is inherently not green!
• This project is likely to take the wind out of the sails of any potential smaller or more local biomass plants
Janice and Bruce will work on coming up with a list of names of officials that we can send our letter/statement to. Cathy will re-draft the statement for letters, and will customize the statement for specific officials or agencies. Cathy will also finalize a two-sided handout for the general public.

Next meeting
Tuesday, July 14, 2009. Potluck dinner at 6, meeting at 6:30. Millers River Environmental Center, 100 Main Street, Athol.

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