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The Green Blog

State could host renewable power

March 2, 2009
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A new report by the state's Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs shows how much renewable power could be generated on state properties - especially wind farms in forests that are already being harvested or frequented by snowmobilers.

Some 946 megawatts of power - enough for about 300,000 homes - could potentially be built on ridges and windy regions on state lands. The report warns that there will have to be great public discussion about which projects should be built.

Ian Bowles, the state's energy secretary, said the report will serve "as a point of departure for a public discussion" about how best the state can use its public resources to protect the environment.

A letter he wrote to lawmakers points out that "today, environmental stewardship has taken on new meaning," and "we are duty bound to take every appropriate opportunity to replace fossil fuels with clean, renewable energy."

There are more than 12 megawatts of renewable energy projects on state-owned property now, but more are in the works: Wind turbines are promised from the Mass. Turnpike's Blandford rest area to the North Central Correctional Institution in Gardner.

Told of the plan, David Kittredge, a forester at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, said: "If forest lands can contribute in some way to energy independence . . . that is neat."

Google Earth tool lets you see the CO{-2}
A team led by Purdue University has created a Google Earth tool that could one day allow you to see carbon dioxide emissions down to the building level.

The Vulcan project now allows you to view how much heat-trapping CO{-2} emissions in each county are coming from factories, power plants, aircraft, vehicles, and industrial and residential sectors. A video about it is on the blog.

The Vulcan Project used 2002 EPA emissions data, and the maps will get more current and detailed as the data improve. For now, it's a fascinating way to understand where the bulk of our emissions come from.

Click on Suffolk County and you'll see that carbon dioxide emissions were 1,799,247 metric tons in 2002. More-rural Bristol County, meanwhile, released a whopping 3,872,329 metric tons. Why? Because Brayton Point, New England's largest coal-burning power plant, is in Somerset.

"We hope to eventually turn it into an interactive space where the public will feed information into the system to create an even finer picture of emissions down to the street and individual building level," said Kevin Gurney, who led the project.

BETH DALEY

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