Next Hingham Net Zero meeting – Wed. April 22, 7 pm via Zoom – please email HinghamNetZero@gmail.com for the link to attend.
Agenda: discuss our response to light plant action (see report below), hear the plans the forum subcommittee has been working on for community education and ask how we each can help, think about planning for town meeting next year – does anybody know what’s happening with the town’s climate planning task force?
Light board reverses its plan to retain RECS and carbon-free designation. Many HNZ members attended, were disappointed.
Last Wednesday, the Hingham Light board reversed its decision of April 1 to maintain HMLP’s carbon free portfolio. This decision authorizes the plant manager to sell 100% of Hingham’s renewable energy, represented in the marketplace as RECs, (Renewable Energy Certificates), generating possibly up to $500,000 in revenue. Board member John Stoddard had asked the board to hold this special meeting for him to change his vote on the policy in light of the worsening Cover-19 pandemic. He now felt that HMLP should generate additional funds by selling its renewable energy to address the financial uncertainty resulting from the pandemic and potentially assist customers who might have trouble paying their light bills.
Roger Freeman voted to keep Hingham carbon free and to retain the town’s investment in renewable energy, pointing out that the light plant has at least $12 million in current reserves that are already more than sufficient to weather the challenges from the drop in revenues expected, and also are adequate to provide help to customers in need. He felt that keeping our energy carbon free is the least we can do right now to address the ever worsening climate breakdown we are facing, and would not hamper the light plant’s operation in the current conditions. He pointed out that there have been recent savings in projected capital expenses which are far greater than the cost of retaining renewable energy.
Jack Ryan voted, as he did on April 1, in favor of selling the RECs, arguing that because the light plant is purchasing as much renewable energy as is available to buy, and is committed to continuing that practice, that making those purchases was the real work of greening the portfolio. He contended that retiring rather than selling the RECs is a symbolic gesture that he is happy to surrender in lieu of $500,000. He did not address the concern that when Hingham sells the RECs it is selling the right for the buyer to pollute with an equivalent amount of dirty energy, in effect cancelling out Hingham’s renewable investment, and making Hingham zero renewable.
At least 20 residents attended the meeting, held remotely on Zoom, and many spoke in favor of the town remaining carbon free. None advocated for Hingham to sell its renewable portfolio. The chair did not acknowledge the unusually high attendance at the meeting or whether they were taking into consideration the unanimous position expressed by the attendees that Hingham retain its renewable energy. The Board moved ahead and reversed its vote of April 1, 2-1, Freeman voting nay, and adjourned the meeting.