Updated: Jun 3
Published in the Milton Times June 17, 2021, Sustainably Speaking Articles.
The purpose of this column is to promote sustainable solutions and practical steps for a healthier and more resilient Milton. Advocating for town-wide projects and programs in the face of global climate change is at the heart of this mission.
While the first months of 2021 have at times felt like a never-ending extension of 2020, they have also brought change and big news so rapidly it can feel hard to keep up. I’m certain that my grandchildren will be memorizing the years 2020-2021 in their history classes alongside dates like 1945, 1968, and 2001: years where that marked a turning point in our national story and opened new chapters of struggle and growth in our society and culture. They will associate 2021 with political conflict and a new awakening in US race relations, but they will also learn that 2021 was the year when the US got serious about taking on climate change.
The last few months have brought a dizzying flurry of new developments in our response to climate change at the global, national, state, and local levels. While headlines focus on the never-ending conflict in Washington, big things have already happened in Massachusetts and right here in Milton!
In March, the Massachusetts state legislature passed a major upgrade to state climate policy with overwhelming bipartisan support from both Democrats and Republicans (145 yeas to 14 nays). The new law, Senate Bill 9 - An Act Creating a Next Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy, sets a legally binding target for a net zero economy by 2050, with a 50% greenhouse gas reduction (GHG) by 2030. It also significantly increases protections for Environmental Justice communities across Massachusetts and lays out a new, voluntary energy efficient building code for municipalities. This bill lays the foundation for bold and robust statewide climate policy for years to come.
While policy and government programs will play a major role, there is also so much we can do as individuals today. To help you take actions to slow down climate change, Sustainable Milton is partnering with MassEnergize to offer a new online community platform. Find it by visiting sustainablemilton.org and clicking “TAKE ACTION”! On the site, Milton residents can learn about meaningful actions appropriate for their situation, understand the impacts, and receive step by step guides for making them a reality. For example, you can learn about trustworthy ways to buy renewable electricity, learn how to get discounts when purchasing an Electric Vehicle, or find tips and tricks on insulating your home to lower your energy bills through Mass Save.
The actions individuals can take to address climate change are similar from place to place, but the resources and programs available to facilitate these actions depend on where you live. We wanted to create a resource that is tailored to Milton residents that shows them step by step what they can do. Our hope is that it will enable Milton residents to build community by taking action to slow down climate change and seeing and celebrating their collective impact.
One truly impactful action you can take is about to show up in your mailbox over the next couple of weeks. Right here in Milton, the Community Electricity Aggregation (CEA) program approved by Town Meeting in 2018 is finally rolling out this summer. This exciting program will expand access to renewable energy and reduce our town’s dependency on fossil fuels by offering three town-sponsored electricity options as alternatives to the standard Eversource rates or independent electricity suppliers. The three choices are:
Milton Green (Default): +10% renewable electricity in addition to the 18% required by Massachusetts
Milton Green 100: 100% renewable electricity
Milton Basic: Meets all Massachusetts requirements for renewable energy; does not add anything additional.
Rates and timeline details are posted on the program’s website, MiltonCEA.com, so that you can make an informed decision. Anyone in Milton can participate, whether you’re a renter or owner, a resident or a business owner. In fact, anyone who currently gets electricity through the default Eversource option called Basic Service will be automatically enrolled in the “Milton Green” option unless they opt out. Customers can leave the program at any time - either before the program starts or during - without penalty. Watch your mail for messages from the town over the next couple of weeks. A community meeting to explain the program and answer esidents’ questions will be held on June 26th at 6pm - Look for a link on MiltonCEA.com or the Town Calendar.
Additional renewable electricity purchased through Milton’s CEA program is supplied by the Green Energy Consumers Alliance (GECA), a local non-profit organization. Unlike some of the for-profit green energy suppliers who may have approached you with aggressive sales tactics in the past, GECA purchases renewable energy only from New England generators constructed after 1997. Eversource is required to deliver 18% of its electricity from renewable sources in 2021, but the renewable power you buy through GECA does not count towards this requirement, which means your purchase directly increases the total amount of renewable energy delivered into the Massachusetts grid.
Many of the members of Sustainable Milton are already independently purchasing 100% Renewable Electricity through GECA’s “Green Powered” program, and are excited to opt-in to the town-sponsored option. It’s a transparent and trustworthy way to reduce your carbon footprint and support Massachusetts’ transition to a net-zero economy. We hope that everyone in Milton who can afford it will choose the Milton Green 100 product when sign-ups for the CEA program are mailed out in late June (you can also sign up on the program website MiltonCEA.com starting on June 25). And don’t forget to visit the “Green Your Electricity” action on our new website to see what your neighbors are saying about it and share your experience!
Alex Hasha is a Sustainable Milton Member, Sustainable Milton raises awareness, educates and motivates residents, town government and businesses to reduce waste of all forms, to help create a healthy, vibrant future for all.