Electricity

Wayne Alarm: Tips for a pet-friendly home

SAFETY TIP OF THE DAY

SPONSORED BY WAYNE ALARM AND HONEYWELL.

Our four-legged fur friends are not just pets, but a part of our families. Their safety is just as important as ours. Whether is making sure they get enough nutrition in their food or ensuring pavements are not too hot or cold to protect their paws, their safety is just as important. Follow along for some pet-friendly protocols to have in your homes for their safety:

  1. The best way to minimize damage is to create a space just for your furry friend. This helps acclimate and dog friendly near their bed can make a difference.
  2. Dogs enjoy hiding and running around and it can sometimes be too dangerous for them. The best way to prevent them from running out unsupervised is with deadbolts on doors, locks on windows and even baby gates on stairs. Cabinet doors should also maintain secure with latches, as it can cause your dog to get trapped in the cabinet.
  3. Get rid of dangerous items that they can reach and bite such as electrical cords by using cords protectors. Safely store detergents and other household cleaners in locked cabinets or high on a shelf. Be aware that trash cans can also be dangerous for their consumption, consider a closed-lid trash can instead. Prevent falls and kitchen fires by not allowing pets in the kitchen when cooking or when stove is on.
  4. Invest in a video surveillance security to keep track of what your dog does at home when you are not around. View live footage of your pets from work or anytime you are away from home, ensuring they are okay and not in any danger.
  5. It is common for pets to accidentally trigger home security motion detectors and cause false alarms. This is dangerous because an emergency personnel may not know if it is a real threat or if a pet triggered the alarm. The best way to prevent this is to ensure your system accommodates animals during the installation stage.

For additional safety information and security system installation, contact Wayne Alarm by calling us at: 781-595-0000 or visiting us online at www.waynealarm.com.

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Swampscott awarded for use of green power

SWAMPSCOTT — Swampscott has been recognized as a top user of green power, as only one of two Massachusetts municipalities to appear on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Communities list.

The town appears for the first time on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) list at No. 37, town officials said. Wellesley is the other Massachusetts town.

Swampscott is using nearly 17 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power annually, which represents 24 percent of its total power needs. Swampscott’s choice to use green power is helping to advance the green power market and support clean renewable energy alternatives, officials said.

“I’m extremely proud of the direction our town is taking to move toward a greener future,” said Naomi Dreeben, chairwoman of the Board of Selectmen, in a statement. “It’s exciting to not only see Swampscott gain this recognition, but more importantly that we’re leading the way. Swampscott is currently one of only two communities in Massachusetts to receive the designation.”

The town’s green power use is through the community’s electricity aggregation program, Swampscott Community Power. The program was developed with support from the consulting team of Bay State Consultants and Peregrine Energy Group, approved by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities in 2015, and the first electricity supply agreement to provide greener power to residents and businesses started in January 2016, officials said.

Let’s hear it for Jim Hughes

The program, a town electricity program that gives residents and businesses an electricity supply alternative to National Grid, while also helping to support the town’s sustainability efforts, provides 100 percent green energy and ensures that customers have choice because of a three-tier structure and transparency in the supply costs, officials said.

The community power program is an electricity aggregation, a form of group purchasing where a municipality selects an electricity supplier on behalf of its residents and businesses. The program impacts the electricity supply charges on their National Grid bill, officials said.

“Swampscott is proud to be recognized by the U.S. EPA for our green power use,” said Peter Kane, director of community development, in a statement. “Town Meeting members agreed with our desire to bring price-reliable electric supply in 2012 and we married that with the community’s focus on greenhouse gas reduction by developing the aggregation program.

“By making the choice to use clean, renewable energy, our community becomes more sustainable, while also sending a message to others across the United States that using green power is a sound business and community decision. It’s an important tool in reducing one’s carbon footprint in the fight against climate change.”

Green power is zero-emissions electricity that is generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, biogas, eligible biomass and low impact-hydro. Using green power helps build demand for the development of new renewable energy capacity nationwide and helps users reduce their carbon footprints, officials said.

Town officials cited stats from the EPA that shows Swampscott’s green power use of nearly 17 million kWh is equivalent to the electricity use of nearly 2,000 average American homes annually.

Here comes the sun in Malden

COURTESY PHOTO
Pictured is a view of the solar energy panels atop the roof of Malden Catholic High School.

By STEVE FREKER

MALDEN — While many public and private schools have started or expanded programs with the notion of “going green,” Malden Catholic High School appears to be going all in.

Over the past six months, the 525-student regional, parochial school has transitioned to a more energy efficient, schoolwide lighting system and expanded its recycling system across campus.

Unveiled last Thursday by school officials and city leaders, the extensive solar energy system essentially covers the school’s roof and takes “green” to a whole new level.

With 1,512 solar panels, the rooftop system makes Malden Catholic one of the few schools in Massachusetts to rely on solar power for nearly all of its energy needs.

Malden Catholic officials expect to shave approximately $40,000 annually off the school’s $125,000 National Grid electricity bill.

The bill is about $125,000, but should be reduced to about $85,000 with the new system.

“We feel an obligation to our families, our donors and our community to act responsibly,” Headmaster Thomas Doherty said. “Installing solar has both environmental and financial benefits.”

Malden Catholic has signed a 20-year agreement with Solect Energy of Hopkinton, which will bill the school directly for power use. Doherty noted the contract will save the school the cost of rate hikes which may have been made by traditional power providers.

Congressman Moulton gets an earful in Lynn

Doherty said Malden Catholic is also expanding to an even more thorough recycling program. He announced the school has completed its conversion from print to a wholly-digital marketing system for its admissions and advancement operations. This change supports the school’s initiatives, while “minimizing the environmental impact,” he said.

Teachers also plan on establishing the solar energy conversion as part of their curriculum; this way, students can get a hands-on look at a substantial solar panel setup on the roof.

“Solar is environmentally effective, enabling us to be a good steward of natural resources and reduce Malden Catholic’s carbon footprint,” Doherty said. “Solar is also cost effective, enabling us to be a good steward of the financial resources we receive through tuition payments and through donations to the school.”

“From every angle, it’s the right thing to do,” he said.

Storm topples tree onto Swampscott home

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Power lines were downed after a tree fell onto a single-family home at 14 Roy St.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

SWAMPSCOTT A large tree toppled onto a Roy Street home on Tuesday afternoon, causing major damage to its front awning and roof, downing power lines and knocking out electricity on the street, but the residents weren’t injured.

Firefighters and police responded to the scene at 14 Roy St., shortly after 3 p.m.

Swampscott Fire Capt. Graham Archer said it looked like the tree may have been compromised, which may have contributed to it coming down, along with snow weight and wind from Winter Storm Stella.

“I guess the age of the tree and the wind brought it down,” Archer said.

Lester Otero, 35, said he lives there with his family of five, including his three children. He said he was home when the tree came down, and that it scared him and his family. He said they were waiting to learn whether they could remain there or would have to find somewhere to go for the night.

“Everything’s OK,” Otero said. “Nothing happened inside the house.”

Parking ban up at 12 a.m.; no school Wednesday

Archer said the tree caused structural damage to the single-family home. He said the roof and awning were taken out by the tree, but it didn’t appear to go through any part of the home. He said the side of the house, apart from the awning, was still intact, along with the rest of the dwelling.

“We do have the building inspector coming down for his assessment, but as far as we’re able to see, the house should still be able to be occupied,” Archer said. “The damage doesn’t look that bad.”

Gino Cresta, department of public works director, said about two hours after the incident that National Grid came and took the wires. The street was also opened up. He said DPW crews would be able to clean up the tree by Thursday, as they also have to work to clear out from the rest of the winter storm damage. He said it was a relatively healthy town tree that came down, but there had been no issues or complaints about it before.

The tree damaged several electrical services to homes, and knocked out power in the immediate area. Archer said he expected power to be restored within several hours of the crash.

In addition, Archer said the car in the driveway of 18 Roy St. was also heavily damaged, when the tree toppled on top of it. The residents, a couple living with their young son, declined to give their names or comment, but did say their car was the one damaged.

Jeremy Clay, 40, a neighbor, said he was upstairs in his home when he heard a pole crack. He looked out the window and saw it coming down.

“I just heard a loud crack here and then I heard some scratching and saw all of the wires coming down and hit the front of this building here,” Clay said about the Otero home.

He said the power went off, and predicted that it would be out for three days. He said the tree had been an issue before it came down.

“This tree is rotted out,” Clay said. “It’s rotted all the way to the center. It shouldn’t even have been there. I think the city should have cut it down before now.”

In Revere, no school Weds.; parking ban stays

Neighbor Belkis Cabrera, 59, said she was hoping the trunk of the tree could be moved so crews could fix the wires. Luckily, she said, the power outage wasn’t an immediate concern for her and her family.

“Our computers were charged and our laptops,” she said. “We’re watching movies for now. Thank God I cooked early because we have an electric stove, so I cooked early, being a grandma. It’s kind of scary because it’s dangerous.”

Earlier in Lynn, about a three-minute drive away, a large tree branch fell onto a two-family home at 26 Melvin Ave., puncturing the roof and going into the attic, according to Lynn District Fire Chief Tim Collier. The incident occurred around 2:30 p.m.

District Fire Chief Stephen Archer said two second-floor residents were home, a man and a woman. The first-floor residents were not home at the time, he said.

Stephen Archer said the building inspector was notified and the tree would have to be removed before a determination could be made on whether the building is habitable.


Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.

Thousands without electricity during storm

NATIONAL GRID POWER OUTAGE MAP
This screenshot from National Grid shows the number of outages at approximately 4 p.m.

As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, there are 507 power outages across Massachusetts, affecting an estimated 38,144 customers, the National Grid power outage map says.

The outages come as a powerful nor’easter rages, threatening to dump more than a foot of snow in the North Shore area, with strong winds creating the potential of downed trees and power lines.

Across the North Shore area, the outages are in Lynn, Medford, Nahant, Saugus, and on the border of Revere, the map says. At 4 p.m., there appear to be about 1,700 customers affected in Lynn and 4,000 in Saugus. Check here for updates to the map.

To report a local power outage or downed wires, call National Grid at (1-800) 465-1212.

Nor’easter pounds Lynn Shore Drive

More or less for schools in Saugus

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

SAUGUS — Members of the School Committee will discuss the Board of Selectmen’s recommendation for a $300,000 budget increase from Fiscal Year 2017 at a meeting today.

Selectmen voted on a $28.4 million school department budget, $1.6 million less than the $29.6 million appropriation the School Committee requested.

Town Manager Scott Crabtree noted that, at this time, the schools have been allocated about $300,000 more than what they were given last year in their operating budget. With charge-backs, the school department has about $41 million to go toward education, he said.

The Board of Selectmen supported the town manager’s $79.9 million budget proposal last week. The Finance Committee will review the request and make a recommendation to Town Meeting in May.

“This is very early in our process — this is a preliminary estimate,” said Crabtree. “We try to put together the best we can do. This is the sixth budget we’ve put together and this is probably the most challenging budget, in the sense of fiscally, because of the continued increase in fixed costs with a 2½ levy increase with limited new growth.”

The budget includes an estimated fixed-cost increase of $1.9 million. Health insurance providers for the town asked that health insurance costs be budgeted at a 12 percent, or $1.2 million increase, from last year. Crabtree called the increase “pretty significant.

“Also, our personal contribution is mandated by state law,” Crabtree said. “We are on a schedule that has been set out by the retirement board and in that schedule, this year calls for an aggressive increase in the contributions on behalf of the town.”

The $580,000 increase brings the pension appropriation to $6.5 million. The increase keeps the town on track to fully funding its pension obligation by 2029.

Regional and vocational education cost increases and an 8 percent property and liability insurance increase are also included in the fixed costs. Contractual and wage adjustments are not factored in.

“This is one of the most challenging budgets as far as funding and because we are at the very top of the levy,” Crabtree said. “We’ve anticipated new growth but it’s not something that’s going to be realized until (major development) projects are completed.

“I think, some of the perception is that there is some sort of windfall money because of the new development and new growth that we’re going to be realizing,” he said. “That’s not happening this fiscal year and it’s likely that it won’t happen for at least another fiscal year.

“What we’re trying to do, I think, as a board, is support and prioritize looking at ways to grow our levy and grow our town.”

Ten thousand dollars will cover the costs of police dispatcher training.

The legal counsel budget jumped from about $273,700 to $323,500.

“Legal, in general, has been under-budgeted for many years,” Crabtree said. “If you’re getting the right advice in the beginning or during, you save a lot of money in the long run.”

He also expressed interest in creating a position for a town hall floater to fill in when others are out of the office, but didn’t include money for the job in this year’s budget.

Partners’ cuts hurt Lynn

About $775,000 was allocated to repair, maintain and provide electricity for the town’s street lights, up from $550,000 in FY17.

The library’s request for $611,243, the Department of Youth and Recreation’s request for $127,262 and Council on Aging’s $277,053 request were all supported.

“I remember it wasn’t that long ago that we talked about closing Youth and Rec, the senior center and the library,” said Debra Panetta, chairwoman of the Board of Selectmen. “Kudos to the town manager and our treasurer.”


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.

Are you experiencing a power outage?

SCREENSHOT FROM NATIONAL GRID
Pictured is a screenshot of National Grid’s Massachusetts Power Outage Map.

Update: As of 8:08 p.m., the map shows that power to the Salem area has been restored.

There appear to be some power outages in the North Shore area as of around 8 p.m. Tuesday. According to National Grid’s Massachusetts Power Outage Map at 7:53 p.m., crews are dispatched to the Salem area where they are approximately 42 customers affected. In Nahant, less than five customers are affected, the map says.

 

Wheelabrator generates $4.5M in economic activity

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Pictured is Wheelabrator Saugus.

SAUGUS — A maintenance and upgrade project at the Wheelabrator Saugus energy-from-waste facility during October and November generated more than $4.5 million in additional economic activity for the local area, creating more than 150 new jobs, the company said in a statement.

“Periodic upgrades that maintain our state-of-the-art facility are part of our commitment to the environment and the communities we serve, beginning with Saugus,” said Wheelabrator Saugus General Manager Peter Kendrigan. “They are intended to make us a more efficient producer of electricity, and they have the added benefit of making a major economic contribution to Saugus and surrounding communities.”

The maintenance and upgrade project ran from Oct. 23 to Nov. 23 with a $4.5 million investment in wages and capital equipment. Local vendors and workers were, as always, given preference on the work, and in addition to the investment with the plant, workers on the project spent approximately $20,000 on local lodging facilities in Saugus.

Wheelabrator Saugus recognized for excellence

The economic benefits of this project are an addition to the $28 million in economic activity and 130 full-time jobs that Wheelabrator Saugus generates in the region directly and indirectly every year. In Saugus alone, that equates to $15 million in economic activity, 46 full-time jobs, and $4 million in taxes and additional philanthropy, Wheelabrator officials said.

Wheelabrator Saugus has an electric generating capacity of 37 megawatts, the equivalent of supplying the electrical needs of 38,000 Massachusetts homes as well as its own operations.

Wheelabrator Technologies is the second largest U.S. energy-from-waste business, and is an industry leader in the conversion of everyday residential and business waste into clean energy.

Swampscott plugged into conservation

By GAYLA CAWLEY

SWAMPSCOTT Residents participating in the Swampscott Community Power program may begin to see a lower electricity bill in February.

Town officials have entered into a new six-month contract for electricity supply through Baltimore-based Constellation New Energy, Inc., formerly ConEdison Solutions.

The Swampscott Community Power Program offers three options for consumers: the standard option, which most residents and businesses participating are enrolled in, and the greener and basic options. With the new contract, the program prices will be fixed rates of 10.343, 11.009 and 10.285 cents per kWh for each option, respectively.

The power program delivers 100 percent green energy for the first two options, but the basic program meets the minimum state renewable energy requirements.

The lower prices for participants take effect with the first meter read after Jan. 1. Residents will see a new price on their National Grid bill beginning in February, according to town officials.  

Last year’s rates, which was the first year the power program went into effect, through a contract with ConEdison Solutions, were 10.465 for standard, 11.255 for greener and 10.155 cents per kWh for the basic option, according to Peter Kane, director of community development.

A higher calling in Swampscott

Participation in the community program is voluntary, Kane said. Residents are automatically enrolled in the default standard option, but can opt out and choose the basic rates they would otherwise see on their National Grid bill, he added. They can also either upgrade to the greener option or downgrade to the basic if they opt to remain with the community power program.

Residents opting out and sticking with National Grid basic service rates would see lower rates on their bill at least through April 2017. National Grid sets their fixed rates in November and May for residential households and small business and every three months for larger businesses, Kane said. The rates are currently 9.787 cents per kWH for residential, 9.094 for small businesses and 9.326 for larger businesses, according to numbers provided by Swampscott officials.

The lower community program rates were achieved through a public bidding process, with Constellation coming in at the lowest rate, Kane said. When the current contract ends, the town will go out to bid for a new supplier, he said, adding that longer-term contracts are avoided as the electric market is volatile.

Kane said there were multiple purposes for starting the community aggregation program in Swampscott, where electricity is purchased in bulk for the town. He said that rather than letting National Grid decide where they would buy their electricity from to deliver to the town, Swampscott officials decided to control the process. He said it creates better pricing options for residents, offers greener electricity and creates stability because National Grid’s rates could change as often as monthly for the company’s customers on a variable price option.

“This program is having a measurable and significant impact on Swampscott’s carbon footprint,” Kane said in statement. “Based on actual program electricity use through September and estimated use for October through December, Swampscott is on track to reduce its carbon footprint by more than 9,700 tons of carbon dioxide in the program’s first year. This is the equivalent of removing more than 2,000 passenger vehicles from the road for one year.”


Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley