How did Newton do it?
By Ellie Goldberg, Mothers Out Front Newton, November 29, 2018
On November 27, the City of Newton signed a contract for Newton Power Choice, a community choice electricity aggregation (CCA) program that will provide 60% local renewable energy (46% above the State requirement for renewables).
The Newton Coalition for Climate Action, inspired by Councilor Emily Norton’s introduction of CCA to Newton, has been working on this campaign for almost 2 years, advocating for at least 40% MORE renewables than the state requirement. This goal was based on a survey showing citizens willingness to pay $8-10 more for renewables and was calculated using Spring 2018 prices.
The day the contract was signed, the price had plummeted. That allowed Mayor Fuller to include an additional 46% green energy while saving ratepayers money (compared to Eversource’s basic winter rate). For such low rates the average ratepayer can opt up to 100% for only $3 more. 60% local green energy is a great start to greening our grid and weaning us off fossil fuels. It’s a milestone worth celebrating, and the first of many as we tackle the serious threat of climate change.
Forming the Newton Coalition for Climate Action
In the spring of 2017, members of Newton's environmental organizations and activist groups held their first meeting to discuss how to work together to face the climate crisis. We agreed that Newton can lead by example.
Uniting Local Groups. The Coalition included leaders of long-standing organizations such as Green Newton, Newton Conservators, League of Women Voters and The Citizens Commission on Energy, as well as newer local chapters of national and statewide organizations, 350mass, Sierra Club and Mothers Out Front, and newly formed groups with local chapters, Indivisible and Forward MA. It included City Council members, professors, architects, doctors, scientists and business leaders. Coalition Members: (http://newtonclimateaction.org/coalition-members/)
Sponsoring Community Candidate Forums. The Coalition prioritized the Fall 2017 Newton elections, by co-sponsoring two environmental forums for mayoral candidates and inviting City Council members to weigh in on climate change issues. This process was educational for candidates and for the public and led to serious consideration of what Newton should be doing to quickly transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.
Supporting Community Aggregation. The Coalition members spoke up to support the City Council vote in favor of Newton Power Choice and began advocating for as much renewable power in the first contract as possible.
Setting Ambitious Goals. The Coalition asked Green Newton to design and lead a statistically reliable survey to determine how much more people would be willing to pay for green electricity. Based on the overwhelmingly positive results, the Coalition then launched a campaign for a high standard for the renewable component of Newton Power Choice.
Growing Community Support. To further the group's mission to "green the grid," the Coalition wrote a “letter of support” recommending 40% more renewables. It was posted on the Coalition website and members collected signatures at community events, house parties, and meetings, while assisting the City in educating residents about the program.
Supporters included 20 of 24 City Councilors, Newton Representatives Kay Khan and Ruth Balser, Senator Cynthia Creem, 13 Community Organizations, and more than 1000 residents. NCCA met with Mayor Ruthanne Fuller and Sustainability Director Ann Berwick and Peregrine Energy Group to discuss community outreach for Newton Power Choice.
The Newton Coalition for Climate Action (NCCA) is open to all local groups who want to respond to the urgent reality of climate change with meaningful solutions.
The Coalition members are dedicated to partnering with the City to encourage everyone to OPT UP to 100% renewables and promoting significant commitments to mitigate climate change in Newton's Vulnerability Assessment and Climate Action Plan.
For more information, visit NCAA at http://newtonclimateaction.org, or contact Cory Alperstein (firstname.lastname@example.org), the NCCA founder and head of the leadership team.