By Doug Struck
The prospect of solar power here poses a question for armchair psychologists: on a very long trip, is it better to rejoice in the steps you’ve taken, or lament how far you have to go?
The steps so far are impressive. Massachusetts is in the midst of a gangbusters expansion of solar energy. The state had a little more than 3 megawatts of installed solar power just six years ago when Governor Deval Patrick set a goal of boosting that to 250 megawatts by 2017. In May, the state surpassed that goal -- four years early.
Massachusetts ranks seventh in the nation for installed solar capacity. It’s not California or Arizona, but not bad for our spot in a region more renowned for grey snow clouds than sunny days. With a Chinese-made glut of solar panels helping drive down prices, solar installation companies are enjoying the equivalent of a dot.com boom, and the state says the clean energy industry grew by 11 percent in 2012, outpacing the economy by tenfold.
Gloucester has become the first community north of Boston with three turbines, taking advantage of an average daily wind speed of nearly 16 miles per hour.
“It’s a statement about choosing our own destiny and becoming independent from oil,” said Mayor Carolyn Kirk. “We’re a progressive community that has always relied on the wind. This is a natural fit for Gloucester.”
Read more of Globe Staff Writer Steven Rosenberg's story here.
Several Scituate residents are going through the town's Board of Health to try to remove the newly installed wind turbine on The Driftway.
At a meeting Monday night, resident David Dardi and several neighbors met with town health officials to discuss the issue and formally request that something be done.
Dardi, a summertime resident of Scituate, said that since he moved back to town and found the turbine several hundred feet from his backyard, he has suffered from sleep deprivation because of the turbine noise.
Other residents who live nearby complain of ringing of the ears, dizziness, and vertigo, Dardi said.
“This is the first shot forward in the Scituate community against the wind turbine. I think it’s a big move. And it’s not just one person, and it’s all around – to the north, west and east of it. There is a big problem,” Dardi said in a phone interview.
Read the rest of the story here.
The sun has been pretty relentless this summer, and Boston wants to take full advantage of that. The City of Boston is one of 17 communities that were chosen to participate in Solarize Mass, a campaign to make solar energy more affordable and accessible for residents and small businesses using a grassroots model. Run by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and the Green Communities Division of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, Solarize Mass ran a pilot last year in Harvard, Hatfield, Scituate, and Winchester. The successful pilot resulted in 829 kW of solar that has been installed or contracted to be installed, which over its lifetime, is the equivalent of taking 2,500 cars off the road.
Solarize Mass will host a series of free "Solar 201" workshops in Mattapan and Jamaica Plain next week. Solarize Mass is part of the Governor's goal to install 250 megawatts of solar photovoltaics by 2017 and Mayor Menino's goal to double the number of residential solar pv installations in Boston.
"I encourage all to join the clean energy revolution in Boston," said Mayor Thomas M. Menino. "Residents and businesses can lock in lower energy costs, new clean energy jobs are created right here in Boston and we all get to help make Boston a greener and more sustainable city."
Residents can sign up for a free solar consultation at: http://www.renewboston.org/Solar
Wednesday, July 11 - 6pm to 8pm
Curtis Hall Community Center, 20 South Street, Jamaica Plain
Tuesday, July 17 - 6pm to 8pm
Mattapan Public Library, 1350 Blue Hill Avenue, Mattapan
Solarize Mass is also available to residents of Arlington, Acton, Melrose, Wayland, and a number of other towns. More information on the program can be found at: www.SolarizeMass.com
Who is Boston’s greenest commuting champion? Local institutions are competing in the Green Streets Initiative’s (GSI) Walk/Ride Day Corporate Challenge, a seven-month competition to encourage active, sustainable commutes.
“The great thing about Walk/Ride Days is that we set the bar very low,” said Janie Katz-Christy, GSI’s Executive Director. “It’s only one day a month and it’s multi-modal, so it’s easy for employers to encourage their staff to walk, ride a bike, carpool, or take public transportation on this basis."
Participants include: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Cambridge Health Alliance, Children's Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School and School of Public Health, Massachusetts General Hospital, Merck Boston, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, and many others.
“Many of these once-a-month changes become daily, permanent habits,” Katz-Christy continued. “We’ve already seen things change in a great way.”
Employers wishing to register for the Challenge must do so by March 28 at http://gogreenstreets.org/sign-walkride-day-corporate-challenge.
As part of Walk/Ride Day, GSI partners with area organizations to host monthly Green Drinks events in both Cambridge and Boston. This month, Green Drinks will take place on March 28 at Freshii in Boston and Area Four in Cambridge, with co-hosts Cambridge Energy Alliance, Cambridge Local First, and the Boston Society of Architects’ Committee on the Environment. To RSVP, visit marchgreendrinks.eventbrite.com or bostonmarchgreendrinks.eventbrite.com.
The assembling of the 400-foot-tall wind turbine on Scituate’s Driftway was the culminating moment for a project that required years of study and approvals.
Take a look at the impressive and arduous process of installing a wind turbine in this photo gallery from Your Town Scituate.
The turbine will be owned and operated by Scituate Wind LLC, a company created with Solaya Energy LLC and principals of Palmer Capital Corp. in 2009. Their funding, along with a $3 million bond from MassDevelopment, enabled the project to be built on land that the town is leasing to Scituate Wind for a 15-year term. The town has the option of renewing the lease with the company for two consecutive five-year terms.
In exchange for leasing the land for $1, the town will obtain electricity for one-half its municipal needs at a discounted rate, saving an estimated $4.5 million over the next 15 years.
Read more here.
The Green Streets Initiative is celebrating June’s Walk/Ride Day with a special wild and edible plants walking and bicycling tour with David Craft in Cambridge’s silver maple woodlands. Meet at the Alewife T at 5:30pm. A picnic at the Friends of Alewife Reservation summer ecology camp follows the tour.
If you’re not able to make the tour, you can still participate in Walk/Ride Days each month by not driving to work or school, checking in online (you can win a raffle prize), and wearing green to get discounts at local businesses.
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) states that a two panel system for a 4-5 person family would cost about $8,000-$10,000. Residents can save more money on their system (the MassCEC estimates up to half the cost) with other state and federal incentives, such as the 30% federal renewable energy tax credit and Massachusetts' renewable energy tax credit and property tax exemption.
Residents must be an electric customer of NSTAR, National Grid, Unitil, Western Massachusetts Electric Company, or from Ashburnham, Templeton, Holden, Holyoke or Russell to qualify. The rebate program has $1 million and is funded through the MassCEC's Renewable Energy Trust.
In addition to the solar thermal rebates, MassCEC distributes residential rebates for solar electric panels and small wind.
The Patriots aren't just winning on the field. Their owners are also ahead of the pack when it comes to energy and recycling initiatives at Gillette Stadium.
Recycling bags are handed out at the parking lot. In and around the stadium, solar-powered compactors collect plastic bottles and cans. There's a solar arrray atop Patriot Place and there's talk of a wind turbines to generate power for the complex.
You can read more in this recent Globe South story.
“[Robert] Kraft and his organization believe this is the way the world is going. And, as usual, he wants to be ahead of it,’’ said Dan Krantz, the Kraft Group’s director of site development.
About the green blog
Helping Boston live a greener, more environmentally friendly life.
Christopher Reidy covers business for the Globe.
Doug Struck covers environmental issues from Boston.
Glenn Yoder produces Boston.com's Lifestyle pages.
Eric Bauer is site architect of Boston.com.
Bennie DiNardo is the Boston Globe's deputy managing editor/multimedia.
Dara Olmsted is a local sustainability professional focusing on green living.