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“Alternative energy” is a phrase used to describe technologies that help increase energy efficiency and reduce reliance on conventional fossil-fuel based electricity generation, but do not qualify as clean or renewable energy sources. Energy efficiency is often conceptualized as a clean energy resource, and many consider efficiency resources to be nearly unlimited. Although ISO-New England recognizes efficiency as a capacity resource, Massachusetts does not recognize efficiency technologies... Read more
Biomass is essentially the physically stored form of solar energy, which can be released through combustion or other conversion processes. Although biomass has been used as an energy source for all of human history, and many homes in New England continue to heat by burning wood in the winter, renewable biomass refers to biological material that can be sustainably harvested and results in no net carbon emissions over its lifetime (from growth to combustion). Unlike wind and solar energy, biomass... Read more
In order to save energy by retrofitting streetlights with LEDs, municipalities must first own the streetlights. M.G.L. Chapter 164 Section 34A allows municipalities to purchase streetlights from their utility. It was adopted as part of the 1997 Restructuring Act.Municipalities that purchase streetlights in order to complete an LED retrofit can see savings up to 70-80% (see the Retrofit Streetlights with LEDs strategy for more information). However, 30-60% of streetlighting costs can be saved... Read more
The Community Engagement Guide was originally developed by Emily Torres-Cullinane using previous project experiences, ideas submitted by MAPC staff, and guidance from other public agencies, and is intended as an internal tool to assist in achieving MAPC’s outreach objective. This version of the guide has been modified to allow any organization to use the strategies that have been developed internally to pursue their own community engagement efforts. This guide is a tool to assist in... Read more
Outreach campaigns that focus entirely on education or create public awareness of issues can have little or no effect on behavior. Direct personal contact is far more effective. Community-based social marketing (CBSM) goes beyond traditional outreach efforts by leveraging community relationships and social interactions to build upon informational campaigns. CBSM requires those performing outreach to think carefully about their desired goals and how they can utilize local, community-based... Read more
Municipalities interested in solar have multiple options for pursuing it, including direct ownership, community shared solar, or a power purchase agreement (PPA). Each approach to solar has different potential risks and benefits. A solar PPA may be a good option if access to up-front capital to purchase a solar photovoltaic (PV) system is an issue.With a solar energy management services (EMS) contract, Massachusetts municipalities may lease public space, such as a school roof or capped landfill... Read more
A local energy plan comprehensively assesses a community's energy use and past activities, establishes future goals, and identifies projects that will be most effective in meeting those goals. Integrating energy concerns into a municipality's master planning process is important, but specific energy plans are valuable tools to identify opportunities for improvement, evaluate their relative effectiveness, and outline how they will be achieved. Energy plans can address both short- and long-term... Read more
A Community Energy Advisory Committee/Energy Committee is a way for community members to actively participate in local clean energy planning and management. It is a valuable resource for increasing internal municipal capacity for clean energy work, capturing local expertise and public views, generating innovative ideas for future projects and building trust in municipal-community collaborations.In general, an energy committee is a voluntary independent committee, task force, or advisory board... Read more
Schools can be a valuable resource for distributing information about clean energy to youth and their parents. Energy-related curricula with entertaining and interesting hooks educate students about energy issues and increase their awareness of energy opportunities, both in terms of their current behavior and their future interests. The National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project provides energy education and support to teachers and students across the country with the goal of... Read more
With a commercial food waste ban going into effect in Massachusetts in October 2014, businesses and institutions are considering alternatives to disposing of organic waste in the trash. Anaerobic digestion is one such alternative. Similar to composting, but in an environment devoid of oxygen, anaerobic digestion produces byproducts such as methane (which can fuel the generation of heat or electricity) and liquid or solid digestate (which can be used as fertilizer, soil amendment, and more).... Read more