February 9, 2011 meeting

Attending: Judy Northrup Bennett, Genevieve Fraser, Hal Gillam, Janice and Steve Kurkoski, Kristin Marquis, Linda Paquet, Tom Rich, Pat Roix, Bruce Spencer, Cathy Stanton

Announcements:

  • Genevieve Fraser is part of Farm-to-School effort in Franklin County School Caucus working on getting local food into public school meals. A meeting of interested people is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, April 2, 8:30-1:30 at Greenfield Middle School. Genevieve and others see this as a way to begin building curriculum and regional/municipal projects (eg. greenhouses for year-round produce) and collaboration among various constituencies to address the various challenges to having more local food in the schools (eg. how to work with the government commodity program).
  • Janice reported that Greenfield Community College is also developing curriculum around local food systems, agriculture, and permaculture. Sandy Thomas, who is now working at GCC, is spear-heading this initiative.
  • Janice also reported that the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association’s big annual “Building Energy” conference is at the Boston World Trade Center on March 8-10.
    Nancy Hazard and others from Greenfield will be presenting a workshop on “greening your community” on the morning of March 8, for just $45 (much cheaper than most of the NESEA conference workshops).
  • The Second Annual Food Forum hosted by Seeds of Solidarity and the Seed Garden will be held on February 26 at the Orange Innovation Center. The forum is free, but registration is limited.
  • Orange is going to start work on its $1.3 million performance contract with its energy contractor. An RFP went out today for a PV system at the landfill system.
  • There is a program at the Petersham School for all grades called “Corn to School” that will plant, harvest, and use corn next year.
  • North Quabbin Home and Energy Expo
    March 19, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    We decided in December not to be a co-sponsor or be part of the planning process for the Home Show this year. Pat met with the new head of the Chamber of Commerce and passed along our list of green vendors and some other materials. The cost for a table in the hall, if we want to be there, is $100. Brian will check whether Plotkin Furniture might be interested in co-sponsoring winsert demonstrations at our table. It looks as though we have enough people to cover the table, so we will go ahead and sign up. CET may want to share our table (Pat will check). We still have light bulbs, Northeast Sun magazines, and various brochures to give out.

    Possible town energy committee meeting in spring
    We talked about whether we should host a follow-up meeting to the all-town gathering from December 2009. This seemed like a good idea, so we will aim for a date in May – possibly May 7. Hal, Janice, and Cathy will be a sub-committee to organize this.

    Local food brochure
    We got $250 from the Petersham Cultural Council to reprint our local food brochure. We need people to tell us about local food producers and sellers. Linda Paquet will send the current brochure to NQE people to pass along to town energy committee members, agricultural commissions, libraries, and others knowledgeable about local agriculture. Linda will take the lead on this and Cathy will help with printing.

    Electricity reduction campaign
    Janice has presented the average figures that we gathered for the North Quabbin towns in various places, including for an upcoming Greenfield Recorder article. We talked about ways to take the data and move somewhere with it, including perhaps proposing to state representatives and senators that they propose legislation mandating a tiered rate. Cathy has drafted a letter about this; Steve and Janice and Bruce will revise the draft for the next meeting and we will try to send it out by March. We will tie this to our Home Show table via a petition about the tiered pricing system and handouts about simple electricity-reducing strategies. We will also ask the town energy committees about circulating the petition.

    We talked about some possible slogans to promote this:

    • “When it pays to be below average!” or “Proud to be below average!”
    • picture of a lightbulb saying, “It turns me on when you turn me off!”

    January winsert workshop
    We had seven people who all went home with winserts. Feedback was generally very positive. Brian is doing another workshop in Gill in February. Linda ran a workshop at the Petersham Town Hall. NESEA hosted a workshop in Greenfield that Steve and Janice ran.

    News articles
    Jinx Hastings wrote a good article about icicles and ice dams that was in the Barre Gazette, the Athol Daily News, and the Warwick e-list last week. Pat talked with Deb Porter at the Athol Daily News about having some kind of “presented by North Quabbin Energy” column in the paper, and Deb was very open to the idea. We will talk about this at our next meeting.

    North Quabbin Solar Power Project
    Hal and Kristin reported on their ongoing efforts to develop a multi-site solar photovoltaic (PV) project to meet 100% of the electricity demand of municipal buildings and facilities and schools throughout the region. Known as the “North Quabbin Solar Power Project,” the concept was inspired by the regional Green Communities Program collaboration during the last two years and the eight-part strategy released in June 2010 that called for a regional solar PV feasibility study.

    Hal and Kristin have obtained letters of commitment from international investors and solar technology manufacturers to implement the first phase–a three-site, six-megawatt project with an estimated value of more than $30 million–on a design-build-own-operate-finance basis. They said they will be reaching out to local officials throughout the region during the next few weeks and are hoping that the towns of the North Quabbin will embrace the opportunity to demonstrate continuing clean energy leadership and to lower energy costs with solar-powered municipal and school buildings and facilities.

    Next meeting
    Monday, March 7, 6:30 at MREC

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