Inside Arlington

Experimental News Digest for Arlington, MA

Clean Energy Future Committee, December 15, 2023

Fossil Fuel Free Demonstration Program (FFF Pilot) Update

Arlington’s sustainability manager, Talia Fox, updated the committee on the status of the Fossil Fuel Free Demonstration Program (FFF Pilot), explaining that the Department of Energy Resources had conditionally approved Arlington for participation. Approval is pending on state acceptance of Arlington’s MBTA Communities bylaw. The committee also discussed the need to refine bylaw language related to “major renovations” to more closely reflect the state model, although whether or not it is modified, Arlington remains eligible to participate in the pilot.

The Buildings Working Group was tasked with reviewing past commitments to the Town Meeting and to consider whether to propose a more restrictive bylaw amendment. This review would ensure alignment with state guidelines and local objectives toward fossil fuel reduction in building practices.

“Climate Leader Communities” Program

The new “Climate Leader Communities” program initiated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was presented as a complement and successor to the Green Communities Program, which Arlington has been engaged in since 2010. To participate, communities must fulfill six requirements, some of which Arlington has already completed, such as being a Green Community in good standing, and establishing a municipal decarbonization commitment for 2050.

The committee discussed the remaining requirements, like creating a roadmap for decarbonizing municipal operations and designing a zero-emission-first vehicle policy. Arlington has until June 30, 2024, to submit the necessary documents for the first certification round, potentially qualifying for funding to support various projects.

Policy adoption does not require a Town Meeting vote but must be approved by the Town Manager and the Select Board, and policies must be endorsed by the Arlington Public Schools. Discussion also clarified the need to establish baseline measurements for emissions, aiming to use 2022 as the reference year. Although funding amounts and allocation were uncertain, incentives for studies and projects were anticipated, with mentions of $25,000 for studies and up to $500,000 for actual projects.

Sustainability Updates

Chair Ryan Katofsky shared updates on solar initiatives, including the reinstallation of a 260 kW solar array on the new high school and a pending agreement for an additional 500 kW array combined with a parking lot canopy. The town aims to meet a quarter to a third of the high school’s energy needs with approximately 750 kW of solar installations.

Further expansions on purchasing solar arrays directly are under exploration, with considerations for the Bishop and Hardy schools. The committee also touched on the potential creation of a revolving fund to manage energy efficiency incentive money, which would require Town Meeting approval.

An important reminder was given regarding the Specialized Stretch Code regulations taking effect on January 1, 2024, and the mandatory conflict of interest training for committee members.

The next meeting date was announced for January 19th. The minutes were submitted by Nellie Aikenhead on January 16, 2024.



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