In the early morning hours of July 26, Stoughton MA residents and businesses were greeted by a problem we fear will only get worse and become more common, a power outage. According to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) approximately 86% of the town was out of power. Fortunately, unlike last weeks incidents, power was restored shortly after noon-time.
Reading reports from National Grid, the provider of energy in this area, they attributed the power outage to downed trees near a substation that controls the towns power. Last week, Eversource reported many outages including those affecting the towns of Medford and Acton that took many hours to restore. Those outages were attributed to too much power being required off the grid that wasn’t able to meet demand.
For over 6 months, PHCC of MA, working alongside representatives from the Greater Boston Plumbing Contractor’s Association, Plumber’s Local 12, UA, and the New England Mechanical Contractors Association have been meeting with Massachusetts Legislators provide providing comment and guidance, when allowed, on various phases of the Climate legislation that was put before Governor Baker on Thursday evening. The legislation originally called for a stricter focus on wind power when it was a House Bill and in the Senate, it had originally called for restricting anything that was a direct link to green-house emissions – natural gas and oil as two of the largest targets. The combined focus was on fossil fuel reduction while using electricity as a main source of energy supply. An idea that with the proper nurturing and implementation anyone can stand behind, however, the process that is outlined to get there is not sustainable.
With Mass Saves Rebate programs phasing out natural gas rebates and having a higher focus on electricity based appliance installs and the focus on electric run cars verse gasoline, the electric demand on the grid without new supply chain resources (like windfarms already in existence before this takes place) are going to lead to more and more brown/blackouts especially when the weather conditions are not optimal (heat waves and pro-longed cold spells).
The grid like most major projects was set to handle the power requirements of decades ago. Without additional support from windfarms and other sources, the supply verse demand issue will create more frequently depletions and leave many people in the dark without cooling or heating options in addition to the lack of ability to drive because charging stations run off the same power grid.
We face the possibility of these outages usually a couple times a year with a strong repetitive heat pattern, like seen last week, where people turn on their air systems and leave them running at full speed for comfort. Also seen in winter during a nor-easter as power lines that are still above ground get covered in heavy ice and snow or simply whipped around a little too hard by the wind and end up falling. Cancellation of natural gas, and other fossil will eliminate the power of a generator to supplement while the natural electricity is out. How will hospitals, nursing homes, grocery stores, pharmacies and other organizations that need power to keep people going survive. Do you have a mask to aid in sleeping, without power, will you sleep at night? Will your groceries hold? We need to stop for a moment and realize that most everyone would be in favor of a properly thought-out plan. Today, the cost of converting your house to electric is astronomical, rebates need to be offered so everyone has a fair chance. The supply chain can’t meet the demand, we need to logically focus on how to increase supply without increasing cost, and finally as houses become bigger and bigger, there needs to be enough planning to make this plan sustainable and not something that has to be revisited every other or every third year to keep up.
Please contact your local PHCC member with thoughts about the issue or call your House and Senate representation. While we all want a better tomorrow for the future, we need to be able to live here today.
PHCC of MA is part of the oldest trade association in the country. Its members are all licensed by the State Board of Examiners of Plumbers and Gasfitters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Association strives to bring top notch education to our members to stay on-top of the latest innovation while also providing legislative advocacy and networking opportunities. For more information, visit phccma.org.