Sept. 14, 2011 meeting

Attending:  Donna Caisse, Cara Cutter, Genevieve Fraser, Paul Goyetch, Aimée Hanson, Janice and Steve Kurkoski, Elaine Reardon, Bruce Spencer, Cathy Stanton


  • Athol just formed an Agricultural Commission to be filled shortly.

Garlic Festival planning:

We talked about various ideas for our electricity-reduction campaign, including ways to use our “fake” electric clothes dryer and real “solar dryer” (i.e. clothes drying rack).  Cara will make the electric dryer and will help Cathy and others with signs and info for the rack.  Aimée will make a tie-dyed T-shirt to hang on the rack.  We need to put together a list of resources for people at the table to consult if people ask questions about specific topics;  Pat will update the list from previous years.

Volunteers are needed for the Friday before and Monday after the festival, as well as for raising tents on the Tuesday before.  The festival organizers are particularly looking for groups of people to help with parking, and are offering incentives for this.

Electricity data-gathering project

Janice sent around an email with a spreadsheet attached for us to put in our electricity use data.

Solar farm proposals

We had an open-ended discussion about the various solar farm proposals currently on the table in Athol, Orange, and elsewhere in the region.  National Grid is allowing only 3 MW per town of solar capacity to be added through these large-scale projects, so those that are already being proposed may take up most or all of that.  There are differences of interpretation about the extent to which towns can control this;  State Law 40B says towns can’t regulate solar production, but some people argue that “reasonable” regulation is allowed, with consideration for health and environmental impacts.

The proposed project for a 3 MW solar farm on a 17-acre private property on Memory Lane in Orange has prompted some opposition on environmental grounds (mostly relating to wildlife habitat).  Opponents are unhappy that the buffer zone, which is already cleared, is much smaller than the state recommendation.

We did not reach a conclusion about what to do in terms of making a public statement or other decision about this, as our group includes both those with an active role in developing solar farms and those who are opposed to some of the current proposals. Janice pointed out that Montague, Northfield, Gill, and some other area towns have created solar overlay districts that specify appropriate places for large-scale solar production, and we talked about whether NQE should recommend to North Quabbin town governments that they do the same (which may be a moot point if the current proposals use up all the capacity allowed by National Grid, but it may be wise for future years).

We will continue this discussion at the next meeting.

Next meeting

Monday, Oct. 17, potluck at 5:30 followed by meeting.  Millers River Environmental Center.


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