Month: March 2014

Death by Chocolate!

Had a wonderful time playing the character of Mayor Ron Bonzo during our murder mystery theater benefit “Death by Chocolate” at the Pembroke Library. The audience members got to participate in the play and discover the clues to figure out whodunnit! I won’t spoil the surprise in case you want to watch it online. Thanks to Director Eve Montague and Art Egerton for putting together this youtube version.

Solar energy benefits ripple home

Patriot Ledger: Solar energy benefits ripple home

By Rep. Josh Cutler

Creating a major new law can be compared to tossing a stone in the water. There is an immediate splash, but often the subtle ripples have a more lasting effect. Such is the case here in Massachusetts in our march toward renewable energy.

Nearly six years ago, Governor Deval Patrick advocated and signed into law a landmark clean energy bill, known as the Green Communities Act. The purpose of the law was to boost production in renewable energy, lessen dependence on fossil fuels and promote energy efficiency.

The Act created the Green Communities program to encourage cities and towns to purchase fuel-efficient vehicles, set new benchmarks for reducing municipal energy consumption and streamline permitting for renewable energy development.

Notably, the law also expanded the concept of “net-metering,” a way of boosting renewable energy production by allowing our electricity grid to essentially become a two-way street. When energy generation at an individual location outpaces consumption, the excess energy flows backward into the grid. The generator of the electricity, whether a homeowner, school, town or business, gets energy credits that can be used to offset their electricity costs.

Combined with a related solar credit program that creates market-based incentives to invest in solar, these innovations have spurred a renewable energy revolution. Massachusetts has rocketed up to the top five in the nation in solar installations, which in turn has created 8,400 new solar industry linked jobs.

Overall the clean energy sector continues to grow rapidly, and in fact here in Southeastern Mass. we’ve seen the highest growth rate in the state. There are now more than 17,000 clean energy jobs just in our region, an increase of 14% in one year, according to the 2013 Clean Energy Industry Report.

Without the state’s commitment to green energy, my hometown of Duxbury would not have been able to break ground this past month on a new kind of power plant; one that has no emissions, no smoke stacks, no moving parts and no spent fuel rods or radioactive waste. There’s no smell, and you can’t even hear it. This is the power plant of the future, relying on our most abundant energy source –­– the sun!

Duxbury is joining an increasing number of cities and towns across the Commonwealth in turning toward renewable energy as a viable and cost-effective alternative. By this summer the town’s capped landfill will be transformed from a vacant and nearly unusable plot of land into an energy-producing solar farm, generating about 600,000 kW hours of clean energy a year.

This is another small step on the road to energy independence and it would not have been possible without the Green Communities Act and our state’s commitment to renewable energy.

We are seeing a paradigm shift before our eyes as the impact of these policies continues to ripple. Consider the numbers: In 1990, solar panels cost about $10 a watt. In 2008, the year the Green Communities Act went into effect, they cost $4. Today they are about 85 cents a watt. In the not too distant future we will reach what is called grid parity, when the cost of solar electricity equals the cost of fossil fuel production, regardless of any subsidy. That will cause a further explosion in growth and with it even more new green jobs and private investment.

Six years ago that day may have seemed like a far away dream, but today we are knocking on the door and Massachusetts is helping to lead the way.

Originally published in the Patriot Ledger 3/22/14. Article link.

Rep. Josh Cutler represents the Sixth Plymouth District in the Mass. State Legislature.

Solar farm groundbreaking in Duxbury

Remarks at solar farm groundbreaking ceremony: Good Morning. I’m Josh Cutler, and I’d like to welcome you all here to our groundbreaking for the Duxbury Solar Farm. This is an exciting day. For me. For the Alternative Energy Committee. For the town. And I hope for all of you.

The other day I heard a catchy song on the radio and the lyrics seem very appropriate. And not just because the band was Green Day! The song went: It’s another turning point, a fork stuck in the road. Time grabs you by the wrist and directs you where to go.

I say that because today is the kind of day that we are going to look back on and call a turning point. Some turning points are big and splashy and we can recognize them immediately. A graduation. A wedding. A major election. Others are more modest: A group of citizens out on a cold Friday morning to shovel some dirt.

We may not always recognize these moments or even appreciate their significance. But looking back we can see that we made a decision that has shifted our course, either as individuals or as a community. And some day in the future, I believe we will look back on this day as a milestone, as a turning point for our community in our march toward renewable energy.

That’s because in a few short months from now, before the summer visitors return to Duxbury beach or the parade goers return to Halls Corner, there will be a power plant behind me on this capped landfill.

This power plant will provide 594,000 kW hours of energy per year, enough to power the homes of all of those present for a year with energy to spare. But don’t be alarmed! This won’t be your typical power plant. You won’t be able to hear it. You won’t smell anything. You won’t see a smoke stack or any spent fuel rods. There are no emissions, no moving parts.

This is the power plant of the future. When the sun shines, electricity is produced. It’s a simple as that. The sun is really our ultimate energy source. In fact, every minute, enough energy from the sun hits the earth’s surface to power the planet for an entire year! Think about that for a moment. We’re just scratching the surface here.

Now, as solar farms go, this is a modest one. It is not going to replace our reliance on fossil fuels and the savings to the town, while welcome, will not magically fill our town coffers. Still being able to take a parcel of land that could not readily be used for any other purpose and turning it into something that is both energy-generating and revenue generating is truly a win-win situation.

But what I find most exciting about this whole project is much harder to quantify. It’s the idea that some Duxbury High School student who got stuck taking out the trash on a Saturday morning is going to stumble past these panels and it’s going to change the way he or she sees energy. Maybe it will inspire them to become an engineer, or a scientist, or even a state legislator who wants to work on energy policy.

It’s the idea that a middle school student playing with his iPad is going to check out the online kiosk and watch in real time as renewable energy is produced from the sun right in our town.

It’s the pride I will share with all of you when I bring my own young children to the Duxbury Mall for some bargain shopping and my son asks, “what are those mirror things over there dad?” Just think about the conversations that will ensue.

Today is just the first step, but it is certainly an exciting one and I thank all of you for joining us today as we take it.

Before we move ahead I want to make sure I recognize a few individuals starting with Jim Goldenberg who is chairman of our committee. Jim had a last minute business trip and was unable to be here this morning, but certainly without his expertise and know-how this project would not be where it is today.

I want to thank the members of our Alternative Energy Committee. Their names are listed in the program and I especially want to mention Lynn Smith who first brought up the idea of a solar array at the landfill nearly four years ago.

I also want to thank Peter Buttkus, our DPW director, because this is his turf and he has been kind enough to share it with us. Town Planner Tom Broadrick and Assessor Stephen Dunn, have been key parts of the team and Town Manager Rene Reed and former Town Manager Richard McDonald also deserve recognition for their tremendous support and foresight.

We want to thank our partners at ACE, American Capital Energy. They have been fantastic to work with and I can’t say enough good things about them. We also appreciate the support of our Board of Selectman, Dave Madigan, Shawn Dahlen and Ted Flynn.

It is now my pleasure to introduce one of those members, someone who has served as a liaison for our committee and been a great friend to energy issues. I’m pleased to introduce Mr. Ted Flynn….

Help with PANDAS/PANS bill

Many of you may be aware of the alarming rise in cases of PANDAS/PANS in our area. There is a bill that would help provide insurance coverage for these kids and their families dealing with this debilitating autoimmune disorder and we need to get as many voices as we can to speak in support by the March 19 deadline. You can help with a quick email.

I encourage you to personalize as much as you can, but if you are not sure what to write I have modified the following letter with everything you need to make it happen. Just change the second paragraph and plug in your own name at the end. Your email should go to the chairs of the Financial Services Committee: Michael.Costello@mahouse.gov and Anthony.Petruccelli@masenate.gov.

Make sure to reference the bill number (H.984) or PANDAS in the subject line. If you want to learn more about the issue or connect with other parents I encourage you to visit this facebook link.

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Dear Chairman Costello and Chairman Petruccelli,

I’m writing to ask you to support H.984, An Act Relative to Insurance Coverage for PANDAS/PANS.

As the (GRANDPARENT, FAMILY MEMBER, FRIEND) of a PANDAS/PANS child I have personally witnessed the toll that this disorder takes on families. In addition to the difficulty of caring for a child with this disorder, many families are shouldered with the additional burden of selling their homes, running up credit card debt, and decimating life savings in order to treat their children.

A vote for this legislation will provide doctors with the ability to treat our children in the manner that their professional experiences dictate without burdening families with the additional task of fighting with insurance companies, while they are fighting for their children.

Please help our doctors make the best medical choices without worrying about the implications of insurance company denials.

I respectfully request that you report this bill out favorably by March 19 in order to allow this critical legislation the chance to be passed during the current session.

Thank you,

YOUR NAME
TOWN