Our mission is to drive climate action. We promote sustainability and advocate on a local level for actions that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and safeguard the health of our community for future generations.
Want to "Green" the Electricity Supplied To Your Home? Confused About the Options And/Or Offers You Keep Receiving?
Perhaps you are like me, committed to “greening” the electricity supplied to your home but not able to invest in solar for your home right now. Or perhaps you are confused by the steady stream of offers for “clean energy” arriving in your mailbox or inbox. Happily, there are ready answers to these questions. Thanks to the efforts of Westford Climate Action and the Westford Clean Energy and Sustainability Committee, the Town has enrolled in a community electricity aggregation program to supply power supplied from high quality renewable sources. The program, called the Power Options Program (POP), allows residents and businesses to enroll at fixed rates at three different levels that all meet the MA Renewable Energy requirements. All levels contain more than the Massachusetts mandated minimum Class I Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). Note: A fourth option is available. This option allows you to opt-down to State mandated renewables levels.
Westford POP Green: 10% extra RECs at 10.793¢/kWh
Westford POP Silver: 50% extra RECs at 12.083¢/kWh
Westford POP Gold: 100% extra RECs at 13.695¢/kWh
Note: Rates are fixed for the contract period (through DEC 2023). As a comparison, the basic service rates for National Grid vary semi-annually, currently 14.793¢/kWh (through APR 2022), which are typically lower in the warmer months and higher in the colder months. For more information, or to enroll in Westford POP, click HERE. A few FAQs:
Q: Am I “locked in” if my circumstances change and I wish to disenroll?A: No, subscribers can enroll or disenroll without penalty at any time.
Q: How is the electricity delivered to my home? What happens in an outage? A: Electricity is still delivered to your home by National Grid, who collects fees for “Delivery Services” shown on your bill. National Grid is still responsible for correcting any service outages.
Q: How do I know where my electricity is coming from? I think that I am enrolled in Westford POP; how can I confirm? A: Your electric bill has two sections: Delivery Services (page one), which will always say National Grid; Supply Services (page two) which lists the source of the electricity delivered to your home. If enrolled in Westford POP, the Supplier will read, “Constellation New Energy (Westford POP).” The rate shows your enrollment level.
Q: I have solar on my roof (or am enrolled in community solar), but at times our requirements exceed what we are generating. Can I participate in Westford POP to ensure that all our electricity comes from renewable sources? A: Yes, Westford POP is fully compatible with home (or community) solar installations and does not impact “net metering” agreements or credits.
Tom is the Coordinator of the Power Options Program for the Westford Clean Energy and Sustainability Committee
A Review of WCA's Conversation with Dr. Christopher Chew, Westford Public Schools Superintendent
On January 20 Westford Climate Action and town residents met virtually with Dr. Christopher Chew, Superintendent of Schools to discuss sustainability and climate awareness in the schools. After introductions WCA shared its goals and discussed opportunities to work together on local climate action with the school system.
Dr. Chew answered questions on his support for solar energy in the schools and project-based learning on the environment and climate. WCA shared projects done by students in the Acton-Boxborough and Lexington School systems which Dr. Chew expressed interest in. The prime issue raised by those in attendance centered around sustainability, specifically food waste and recycling. Before Covid, Westford Scouts and the WA Environmental Club constructed greenhouses made from recycled materials which have not been used. WCA is following up on how those structures can be put to use.
Haystack Researchers Paint Grim Picture of Climate Crisis, But Offer Hope Too
Westford Climate Action’s “Meeting the Climate Challenge: The View from an MIT Observatory” webinar in January was a terrific success! A recording of the webinar is available onlinehere.More than 175 people logged in to hear Dr. Colin Lonsdale, radio astronomer and MIT Haystack Observatory’s director, introduce Haystack’s work. He also presented a clear explanation of some of the latest data available on climate change and what we can do about it. He was followed by Dr. Pedro Elosegui, the leader of the geodesy group at Haystack, who described his team’s ongoing research on global climate and sea-level change in the Arctic and Antarctic.
Dr. Lonsdale described the observatory’s emphasis as science through technological innovation. “We work with radio waves,” he said. “We are a radio observatory that looks out at not just the stars and galaxies but also looks at the upper atmosphere and ways that radio techniques can help us understand the world around us.”
“What does that have to do with climate change?” Dr. Lonsdale asked. His answer: the observatory’s researchers use radio techniques to complement and help others “do many different areas of science and that includes climate science.” MIT has identified the climate crisis as a “Grand Challenge,” and Dr. Lonsdale said that Haystack is committed to help in ways that its staff is particularly qualified to do.
The use of incoherent scatter radar is one example of how their research can uncover evidence of climate change. This technique detects many physical properties of the upper atmosphere, including its temperature. Haystack has been using it for decades, and their data show that the upper atmosphere temperature has been going down steadily for about 50 years, which is an expected consequence of climate change. While the lower atmosphere is warming, the upper atmosphere is actually cooling – it’s all part of closely connected processes, Dr. Lonsdale said.
Another example of Haystack’s climate research is its extensive polar research program, led by Dr. Elosegui. Illustrating his talk with stunning photos, Dr. Elosegui described how his team and their international collaborators use a combination of geodesy (which he defined as the science of Earth’s shape, rotation, and gravity, including their evolution in time) and geophysics to study the cryosphere, “where the world is frozen,” he explained.
Their research involves field-based projects in Greenland, the Arctic Ocean, and Antarctica with the goal of understanding the response of the cryosphere to recent and future climate change. Using a range of techniques, including GPS, radar, lasers, and seismometers, the researchers take measurements in real time – with accuracy within a few millimeters – of glaciers, icebergs, sea ice, and ice shelves.
What their research has shown, Dr. Elosegui said, is “huge rapid changes” in arctic sea ice loss, ice sheet mass loss, and global sea level rise. And what happens in the Arctic and Antarctic, he emphasized, “has an impact everywhere.”
Dr. Lonsdale’s presentation stressed the same conclusions. Using data primarily taken from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2021 report, which he called “the gold standard” of research studies, he demonstrated that there’s no longer any question that the earth is warming, and it’s warming very quickly. He summarized the consequences of unchecked climate change with a list of “what to be really afraid of”:
Changing flood and drought patterns, disrupted agriculture
Faltering ecosystems, spread of disease (especially insect-borne diseases)
“Headwinds” for developing economies – poverty and exploitation
All these will lead to Economic and environmental refugee scenarios on vast scales, political instability, rising nationalism, persecution, regional conflict, and other scenarios and ensuing chains of consequences.
While acknowledging that “we are in deep trouble with the climate,” Dr. Lonsdale spelled out things that can be done to mitigate climate change:
Sound economics can help set priorities (e.g., carbon tax).
Government policy can accelerate clean technologies (Research plus economic incentives are key)
Bad government policy can lock in burning of fossil reserves.
Public opinion is central to ensure that key options, such as new technologies in nuclear energy, continue to be developed. Advocacy groups and individuals are essential to offset “Big Energy’s” lobbying to continue using and building permanent, carbon-producing infrastructure.
An audience member asked Dr. Lonsdale how can he be optimistic, given the dire picture he painted of the state of the climate. “We humans are incredibly creative,” he responded. “So it's true that we have not been able yet to make a significant impact on the behavior of the fossil fuel industry or on the governments that subsidize them but what we have been doing is innovating like crazy on energy generation….I think there’s plenty of room for optimism that with a combination of things – not with any one thing, not with one government resolution or a Paris agreement or something else – but with a combination of these things that we can indeed avoid the more severe consequences going forward.”
Our wholehearted thanks to everyone at Haystack for working with WCA to put the webinar together. Nancy Wolfe Kotary, Haystack’s communications officer, moderated it expertly and, along with Heidi Johnson, organized the webinar and ran it very smoothly. John Tsai and Andrew Crowley helped with the webinar’s technology. And of course, we deeply appreciate Dr. Lonsdale and Dr. Elosegui for their time and very thorough and convincing presentations for us, and for all the research they are doing on climate change.
WCA Earth Day 2022 Activities
Mark your calendars for Westford’s Earth Day Festival, an event for the whole family. The event, sponsored by Westford Climate Action, the Town’s Clean Energy and Sustainability and others, will take place on Friday, April 22nd from 3 to 5 pm on the Westford Town Common. Music will be provided by Oh Contraire and Momentum Rocks. There will be information tables on alternative energy, sustainability, recycling, and Mass Save rebates. A poster making workshop will be set up for kids at 2 pm to enter a free drawing for prizes. An array of speakers will be on hand to inspire and bring us up to date on the Town’s climate plan. Learn how we can all reduce our carbon footprint and help preserve the planet.
Take Action: Support The Expanded Bottle Bill!
At least 75 Massachusetts organizations and 16 businesses have endorsed An Act to Expand the Bottle Bill sponsored by Rep. Marjorie Decker and Sen. Cynthia Creem. The updated MA Bottle Bill will cover bottled water, sports drinks, iced teas, juices, and nips, and increase the container deposit from 5¢ to 10¢.
You can learn more about the bill, the problem, solution, and successes (in Oregon and Michigan) in this fact sheet from the bill's sponsors.
“Not only would the (updated) bill keep beverage containers out of polluting landfills and incinerators where they can leach harmful chemicals that contaminate our groundwater and release toxic gases and heavy metals into the air we breathe,… but it also reduces municipal recycling costs.“ (MASSPIRG)
Status of the expanded bottle bill:
Currently the bill is still in the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy (TUE) having been extended until May 2 for study.
Call or write to our representatives and ask them to sponsor the bill:
To date, 72 state House Representatives and Senators have cosponsored the Bottle Bill (H.3289/S.2149), not including our local Representative and Senator. To contact them to co-sponsor:
State Representative, James Arciero (617-722-2012, James.Arciero@mahouse.gov)
State Senator, Edward Kennedy (617-722-1630, email@example.com)
Westford Climate Roadmap Update
Learn about Westford Climate Roadmap and Give Us Your Feedback!
The Clean Energy and Sustainability Committee is providing the public with opportunities to learn about the Westford Climate Roadmap: A plan to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050. The initial version of this Roadmap serves as a baseline to be reviewed by the community and will be expanded and revised based on feedback from Town management, boards, residents, and businesses. Find out more about the Roadmap and the schedule of presentations here. We will be updating the schedule during the month of February. Please contact Beth Perkins or Mike Berlinski with any questions or to schedule an additional presentation.