Western Mass Electric Co. Teams Up With Mass Energy to Offer Renewable Energy to Customers!

By Erin Taylor, Marketing Director at Mass Energy

Coming up on July 27th is Mass Energy and People’s Power & Light’s 4th annual Berkshire East Wind Turbine Festival in Charlemont, Mass.  (get your tickets here). Local wind power at Berkshire East is a huge success story—it literally helped keep this family-run ski and zip-lining resort from shutting its doors. Mass Energy/PP&L was able to play a role in Berkshire East’s success by contracting to purchase renewable energy certificates (RECs) from their local wind turbine long-term.


WMECO service territory (in green)

This summer, our green power programs will finally become available to folks living in Western Mass Electric Co. (WMECO) service territory. That means WMECO customers can make the switch from fossil fuels to local renewable energy, like Berkshire East’s local wind turbine! The simple action of signing up to make the switch helps Mass Energy/PP&L invest in local projects, making them financially viable to build. Our green power members continue to support the Berkshire East turbine to this day. What better place to celebrate?

How local wind power helped a small business

Berkshire East, located in northwestern Massachusetts, knows first-hand the benefits of alternative energy. Some years ago, the folks at Berkshire East weren’t enjoying business as usual, and were facing astronomical electricity costs, due to an enormous lack of snow. Because the ideal skiing conditions were not there, Berkshire East had to make their own snow, and you can imagine how expensive the cost can be! The cost of their electricity skyrocketed and they could not afford to continue operating as they were, so they decided that something had to be done and turned to renewable energy. A 900 kW wind turbine was built over the span of two years and was up and running in 2010.

local wind turbine Berkshire East

Berkshire East wind turbine

Now, the turbine is connected into the electric grid, feeding it power, so Berkshire East has cut a deal in return to fix their electricity rates at 2007 levels. This has saved the resort large amounts of money and allowed Berkshire East to stay open despite a few winters that our warming climate has made less snowy than desirable.

The ultimate summer event: BBQ, local wind turbine tour, discounted zip-lining & more

On July 27th at the Berkshire East Wind Festival, we’ll celebrate not only alternative energy and our launch in WMECO territory, but the success that wind power has brought to Berkshire East as well! Mouth-watering BBQ by our friends at Cliff’s Smokin’ Backyard BBQ, a scenic chairlift ride up the mountain to tour the local wind turbine, and a discount on a Mountain Top zip-line adventure are all part of the festivities for the event.

Get tickets!

Charlemont is approximately 2.5 hours away from Boston so if you’re traveling from far, bring the family and make it an outing for the day. There are plenty of other things to do in the area after the tour—from hiking, to horseback riding, to rafting, all right nearby.

What’s it like to tour a local wind turbine?

Mass Energy & People’s Power & Light have held many local wind turbine tours, and they’re a lot of fun. Our attendees learn about the different parts of the turbine—from blades and nacelle (the gearbox up top) to the tower and base.

We like to bring people up close to wind turbines to debunk myths, such as that wind turbines are noisy and cause adverse health effects. In fact, most of our turbines are very close to schools and residences (and skiers) and have been received positively by their communities with very few complaints and zero proven health effects. Our attendees learn, by being up-close, that turbines are non-disruptive, beautiful, and beloved when properly sited. 

So, we hope to see you at the Berkshire East Wind Festival! If you are interested in getting tickets or more information, you can do so online or you can contact Marinna Teixeira at 800-287-3950 ext. 142 or Marinna@massenergy.org.


See You at the Berkshire East Wind Festival!

Berk East Wind NEGSPhotoMake the Switch! Mass Energy launches the Western Mass Electric Company (WMECO) green electricity program at the fourth annual Berkshire East Wind Festival on Sunday, July 27, 2014, starting at 12 pm. The festival will be held at the lodge at Berkshire East Resort & Canopy Tours, 66 South River Road, in Charlemont, Mass.

Massachusetts Energy Consumers Alliance (Mass Energy), CET, and Berkshire East Canopy Tours invite you to attend the Berkshire East Wind Festival to celebrate the launch of our green power programs in Western Mass Electric Company territory. Take a chairlift ride up to Berkshire East’s 277-foot tall turbine to learn how it helps keep this family-run business thriving. Enjoy amazing BBQ lunch from Cliff’s Smokin’ Backyard BBQ and a discount on mountain-top zip-lining!

Tickets are just $5! Tickets for zip-lining are available at a discount price of $70. 

You must RSVP: Please book your tickets by Sunday, July 20.

Learn more about signing up for green power options on your power bill.

Keep Your Cool!

img-title-blogExtreme weather events, such as heat waves and winter storms, can drastically effect people’s comfort at home, and cause their energy costs to skyrocket.

Mark Newey, building scientist at the Center for EcoTechnology, says that people in the region can take action now to keep cool and save money. But, says Newey, people should also now be considering making simple home improvements that will keep them comfortable – and reduce their energy costs – year-round.

To keep cool and reduce your energy costs:

  • Now’s the time to explore air sealing and insulating your attic. The biggest difference you can make to your comfort and energy expenses is to keep the hot air from pouring out of your attic into your house. An insulation professional can seal the access points into your attic (an often forgotten space) and insulate the attic itself. This work will also pay dividends in the winter, keeping warm air from escaping into the attic. CET helps homeowners get started by scheduling home energy assessments, which may help homeowners become eligible for assistance through MassSave’s energy efficiency program.
  • Shade your windows from the outside. It’s most effective to keep the sun’s heat out of your house by installing awnings outside your windows.  You might also consider planting tall shrubs outside your windows, or installing a trellis and growing climbing plants up this.
  • Shade your windows from the inside, using light-colored curtains or blinds.
  • Humidity makes the heat feel worse. Run your bathroom exhaust fan when you use the shower, and consider running a dehumidifier to remove moisture from the air in your home.
  • If you’re using air conditioning to cool your home, consider using window units to cool specific spaces, and closing off those rooms that you don’t need to cool. By reducing the space you want to cool, you’ll be more comfortable and you’ll save money.
  • Use ceiling and portable fans to blow air on you and your family members. Remember, fans don’t cool a room; they cool you. So turn them off when you’re not in the same room.
  • If you don’t have air conditioning, cool your house at night by opening windows and using fans to cool off. Close windows early in the morning and keep them closed all day.
  • Electrical appliances generate heat. Keep your lights, computer, and television turned off and try to cook outside.


Put a price on carbon – and let markets find the most efficient way to reduce it

By John Majercak, Executive Director

There’s been lots of news lately concerning the regulation of carbon emissions from power plants in the United States. Here’s a quick read from the New York Times on why putting a price on carbon is the best way to move forward in addressing climate change.

From the article:

“Economists have long praised cap-and-trade programs, compared with detailed mandates from regulators, because they create a market in which businesses are responsible for finding the cheapest way to comply with the regulation. Businesses that devise less expensive ways to reduce pollution can sell their permits to those that cannot change their habits so easily.”

Let’s harness our ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit to have our country lead the way in developing the technologies and practices the world needs to reduce carbon emissions. See how it is working right now in our state and region with RGGI – the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. It’s part of the amazing policy and program framework in Massachusetts that supports the Center for EcoTechnology’s work to help people and business save energy and reduce waste.

Builders! Get up to speed with new energy code changes!

Duct8editMassachusetts is a leader when it comes to energy efficiency. The latest measure to help the state use even less energy comes into force on July 1: An updated set of energy codes that will improve the energy efficiency of new homes.

These energy code changes will affect all builders in Massachusetts. The codes require the new home construction projects pass more stringent “tightness” tests – all intended to prevent warm air from escaping houses or cold air from entering.

The updated energy codes increase requirements for the airtight construction and blower door test, the tight ductwork and duct leakage test, and the continuous ventilation and airflow test. There will be increased insulation requirements, and 75 percent of lighting in new homes will need to be LED or CFL products.

So how can builders and other professionals quickly get up to speed with these changes? By working with the Center for EcoTechnology of course!

CET’s Green Building Services offers building professionals training workshops, focused site visits, test services, and other resources. Our home energy raters work with building professionals every day: In the past three years our team has performed more than 2,000 Home Energy (HERS) Ratings.

How to get up to speed with the new energy codes

Register now! Attend one of our FREE energy code workshops, being held now through August. Our building scientist and HERS rater Mark Newey will describe the new requirements and will provide handouts explaining the list of new requirements. These two-hour workshops will be held at EcoBuilding Bargains, located at 83 Warwick Street in Springfield, exit 4 off Route 291.

Order our new Code Testing Package. This testing service performed by our HERS raters will help you understand your air barrier design, identify your biggest air sealing opportunities, and develop air sealing strategies that will achieve the new building tightness standards. For more information, contact us at 413-586-7350 x242 or e-mail greenhome@cetonline.org. 

Contact us to schedule a meeting, blower door test, duct leakage test, or ventilation airflow test: 413-586-7350 x242 or e-mail greenhome@cetonline.org.

If you know a builder, please help us spread the word that CET is here to help!



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