Conservation and smart load management are, indeed, very important elements of the business startegy for Belmont Light. As Chair of the Municipal Light Advisory Board, it is important to point out that outr Board is pushing for more and better load management and conservation. We fully intend to be more aggressive on thaty front as time goes on. Conservation alone, however, will not resolve our capacity problems. Our interconnection with N-Star, on which we are 100% dependendt for electricity supply is less than our peak demand, a situation whichj is simply not sustainable for reliable electric service. The growth in actual and anticipated demand for electricity in Belmont has been driven largely by 3 factors, new home electronics, increased use of air conditioning, and new development, particularly at McLean’s. Moreover, the spike in demand is occurring at times where some tarditional means of conservation, suchj a efficient lighting, will do little to alleviate the demansd on the system. By law in Massachusetts, the Light Department is requitred to plan to meet the peak demand, so systematic involuntary curtailment of supply is both leaglly problematic, and almost certain to make customers highly dissatisfied. Thus, whikle, we do need to improve our demand side effciency programs, send better price signals to our customers in terms of providing incentives to be more efficient in their use of electricity, doing all of those things will not, in and of themselves, rersolve the tranmisssion capacity problems we ahve in Belmont. It is fo that reason that the Light Department needs to pursue conservations verty seruiously, but cannot rely on them exclusively to meeet the demand of our communityfor energy.
I disagree with and challenge the claim, “doing all of those things will not, in and of themselves, rersolve the tranmisssion capacity problems we ahve in Belmont.” Here I cross link my own response to a related post (I hope this works):
I would feel better about Belmont electric conservation efforts if Belmont Electric and the Town of Belmont created and engaged the community to conserve more by expanding support for more efficient practices though out the town. Better light bulbs saves money and reduce electric demand at the margin but real conservation will require real changes in building practices, changes in zoning and in attitudes towards conservation vs environment. The electric company will need to revamp both the transmission system to support more conservation with a smart grid, peak demand pricing of electricity and to support micro generation so bringing in outside transmission and generation is less necessary in the future. It may be necessary to do the substation. But is the town moving towards a future where we are connected to the larger grid, but we are creating local resources so our town is as efficient as possible with the resources we create and use as possible. It may come about that we are creating more than we use and the that our electric grid becomes a source of revenue for the town in the future.
I would like to see a electric company run program to financially support the installation of solar panels on roof tops of homes, commercial property and town owned property, paid through a lean on the structure and collected through the property tax. This approach is being taken in Palm Springs CA and is very successful. Solar power is most plentiful at the same time as peak AC loads. Through having the loan secured on the building and paid through the property tax also works better because the loan goes on the property, so if the property is sold, the loan stays with the property, allowing for a longer payback horizon vs a loan with a person. A good place to start such an effort would be between the High School and the the electric department. Saving money for the school department and adding a small but significant peak solar power source to the town. I am not sure about problems that will arise with the town’s electric grid or the towns zoning bylaws and if state property tax law needs to change. But if we are serious about changes we would need to make the necessary local changes so that both the local grid and the zoning bylaws encourage these kinds of investments.
I also think that the town along with the electric department to copy the town of Hull and due the necessary studies to see if installing several large wind turbines in town or near the town. I think along the Route 2 hill access road or in the median of that road, at the High School East Parking Lot would be relatively low impact and provide the town with energy.
Finally the town should study converting as many town owned buildings as possible to Geothermal heating & cooling from fossil fuels and electricity. Town buildings likely will use 5 times less energy for heating or cooling with Geothermal. It is a proven technology. The town could also require new commercial construction to use it and reward its use with a reduction of property tax of say 50,000 dollars, (10,000 dollars a year for 5 years) for any commercial building built or retro fitted with geothermal heating and cooling. Geothermal installations will add 100,000 dollars to the cost of a construction project but the savings are large over the life of the building. If the electric company and the town is serious about lowering demand, then each Geothermal installation will lower cooling costs in a large way for the electric company, and lower fossil fuel use in the winter too. Again I do not know what changes to bylaws or state law would be required to have such a policy.
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