Inside Arlington

Experimental News Digest for Arlington, MA

Clean Energy Future Committee, September 22, 2023

Fossil Fuel Free (FFF) Bylaw Updates

The Clean Energy Future Committee meeting discussed updates to the Fossil Fuel Free (FFF) Bylaw. The committee previously voted to eliminate the across-the-board exemption for gas cooking in major renovation projects and new constructions. In the revised draft bylaw, the use of gas for cooking is prohibited, with a waiver available for specific use cases where an exception is deemed necessary. The thresholds for what constitutes a major renovation are more than 50% of the conditioned floor area or 1,000 square feet being altered. This restriction extends to commercial spaces when alterations exceed 50% or 20,000 square feet. Arlington submitted an application for the FFF pilot, which is now publicly accessible on the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (MA DOER) website. The town is still required to pass the bylaw officially, now designated as Warrant Article #14, which has minor modifications to align with the state model, for Special Town Meeting commencing on October 14th.

MBTA Communities Bylaw

Sustainability Manager Talia Fox submitted a letter endorsing the MBTA Communities Act to the Arlington Redevelopment Board (ARB) as a follow-up from the previous meeting. The committee deliberated on the possibility of writing another letter to the Town Meeting to further support the Act.

Sustainability – Arlington Community Choice Electricity (ACE) Update

The community choice electricity program requires contract renewal every few years. Previously, ACE managed to offer rates below Eversource’s basic service, but the rates are now slightly higher as Eversource’s rates change biannually. During the last renewal, the CEFC intended to eliminate the 50% “opt-up” product and adjust the purchase of Class I Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) to align with a genuine 100% above baseline. These changes could not be implemented due to the Department of Public Utilities’ (DPU) regulations at the time. New legislation is being considered that could alter the DPU’s review process, allowing communities more flexibility with their ACE programs. The CEFC aims to shift the default offering to 100% renewable, moving up from the 30% default. The CEFC discussed and motioned to endorse the town’s testimony to the state in advocating for these changes, ensuring the motion accommodates members with conflicts of interest due to state employment.

Town Day and Related Updates

For the upcoming Town Day, several environmentally focused organizations will have tables, including Electrify Arlington and Home Works Energy. A ribbon-cutting event is scheduled for the newly operational electric buses marked with a distinct logo, symbolizing a significant step towards town electrification. The challenge of finding parking for the expanding electric fleet was noted. John Alessi discussed the Mass Ave and Appleton Safety and Accessibility project, emphasizing its safety and transit enhancements, despite the controversy over reduced parking. However, the committee decided not to draft a letter of support due to a lack of complete information on the proposal.



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