Group Pens Open Letter Calling For “Clean Energy” Alternative

A local environmental justice organization and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) recently teamed up to write an open letter to the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board calling for a “clean energy” alternative to the planned Eversource Substation in East Eagle Square. 

Eversource has been planning to build a high-voltage electrical substation in East Boston for close to a decade. 

However, members of GreenRoots and the UCS feel the company has failed to provide up-to-date, transparent information justifying the need for the substation that will cost ratepayers close to $50 million.

“Of much concern to the community is the suggested location of the substation across the street from a heavily used playground, on city-owned land originally slated for a soccer field, and next to 8 million-gallons of jet fuel, in a densely populated residential neighborhood,” said GreenRoots in a statement. “Additionally, its proposed site on the banks of Chelsea Creek floods presently and will be at risk of chronic inundation before the end of this century due to sea-level rise.”

In their open letter, the group argues that new analysis by UNC has found that installing residential rooftop solar panels and battery storage systems in Eastie could be a more appropriate alternative to Eversource’s proposed substation. This clean energy alternative could help to meet possible increases in electricity demand in the area, cut customers’ electricity bills and reduce pollution, including global warming emissions.

“We are proud residents and allies, of East Boston,” the open letter begins. “Some of us were born and raised here. Others of us chose to live here because it’s affordable and accessible to public transportation, and we appreciate the diversity of people and backgrounds. Whether we were born and raised here, or took a while to come to this community, we are all fortunate to call East Boston home. Like many residents, we were shocked to learn about Eversource’s proposal to locate a high-voltage electrical substation right in our neighborhood. The substation is proposed to be built about a football field (around 110 meters) away from an eight million-gallon holding tank of jet fuel, and right across the street from a playground where kids play year-round, in a densely populated neighborhood.”

The group argues in the letter that the quality of life and property value would suffer from having a power substation sited in our neighborhood deserve at minimum that the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) consider the many safer alternatives to meeting the energy needs of the region. 

“UCS has laid out a clean-energy alternative that is forward-looking and would cost millions of dollars less than the proposed substation,” said the letter. 

The letter also states that the EFSB should not make a decision on the substation until and unless Eversource provides: Clear, transparent, and sufficient up-to-date data supporting its necessity; A cost-benefit analysis of clean energy alternatives proving this substation is the most cost-competitive option; An infrastructure plan that shows the substation will be prepared to withstand the worse-case scenarios of sea-level rise; and proof that East Boston was properly consulted and our concerns properly addressed.

The Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) will make a decision on Eversource’s proposed substation before the end of 2019. 

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