At a time when we must urgently reduce our reliance on fossil fuels such as methane gas and oil to mitigate the looming climate crisis, critical agencies and institutions are fighting a rear guard action that threatens us all.
So here we are, watching a new but already obsolete methane gas-fueled electric generator being installed to help meet the responsibility of 14 municipal light plants to provide power to meet the peak needs of the electric system. This Project 2015A, the Peabody peaker plant, developed by the Massachusetts Wholesale Electric Company (MMWEC), has no rational basis consistent with public health, environmental concerns, or climate warming. There are better solutions, nonpolluting, more reliable, and less expensive.
But our regulators have not adapted to the changing technology options and do not recognize the danger of the climate crisis in determining policy. The regulators at the regional and national level claim to use competition on price as a means of regulating and serving the common good. But we know that people and institutions motivated by profit tend to be vulnerable to economic and political influence that can punish innovation and harm the public good. Today, we see policies that protect fossil fuel plants that cause harm and create unfair challenges for renewable sources of energy and battery storage.
Guest post by Judith Black
As I listened to their presentations, it was really difficult to understand how they could be allowed to ballyhoo these same technologies year after year, with no real progress, while renewables are here, available, proven, and more affordable. Clearly, their real desire is to maintain the centralized creation, domination, and thus, capitalization of energy production.
This industry is fighting for their lives…not ours.
What will we do for our grandchildren?
On a bright November Saturday, advocates for clean energy from across Massachusetts joined Peabody residents in the "Peabody Peaker Push" at the courthouse in Peabody Square to advocate against the proposed gas- and oil-fired electric generator (“Project 2015A”).
Among them was Peabody resident Hunter, a young man of 8 years, holding a sign that said, “Non Renewable Energy is Peak Stupidity.”
So many social and protest movements have been held together by song and story. Woody Guthrie. Joan Baez. Marion Anderson. Is that tradition only a memory? No longer! We're truly lucky to have a new generation of creative activists, with song and a documentary film.
We need to have a process that can bring together citizens, producers of power, experts in community development, and community organizers.
For the process to be effective, several issues must be addressed at the start.
“Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”
Our survival is at risk. The world is on fire, drowning in flood, thirsty in drought, hungry in famine, devastated by tornadoes. Climate change caused by human activities, mainly from burning of fossil fuel—gas and oil, is threatening all of nature along with our civilization. In Peabody, fossil fuel generators and cars harm our health. Is cheap energy worth the disaster?
What can we do in Peabody to address our share of this world problem? We must focus on eliminating all sources of greenhouse gases— that trap heat in the atmosphere and change the climate. Our use of fossil fuel is harming us now and threatens the future of our grandchildren.
Although the Supervisor of Public Records on reconsideration has denied our request to MMWEC for certain public records about Project 2015A, the Peabody peaker, we are planning to continue our efforts through the Superior Court of the Commonwealth. See G. L. c. 66, § 10(b) (pursuing administrative appeal does not limit the availability of applicable judicial remedies).
How can leaders of Peabody, elected officials, faith leaders, and others with prominence in the community justify the negative impacts on health, the environment, and the climate from the proposed peaker plant?