Marblehead's 100% Carbon-Free Resolution

On May 7, 2018, at Marblehead Town Meeting, voters overwhelmingly supported the following warrant articles to address climate change and help protect and preserve the town's quality of life for future generations. 

Article 45: 100% Carbon Free Energy Goal

 

Voters overwhelmingly supported a goal of using 100% carbon free energy, including in electricity production, building energy use and transportation, and moving with fiscal responsibility and all deliberate speed to achieve this goal.

 

Why is this important?

  • As a coastal community, Marblehead is vulnerable to rising sea levels and unpredictable and more intense weather patterns.

  • The damage from the 2018 winter storms caused significant damage (broken sea walls and fences, damaged property, flooding, and land erosion) and safety concerns (fallen trees and multiple closures of the Causeway to Marblehead Neck).

  • Marblehead can take meaningful action to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing the earth’s temperatures to increase, polar ice caps to melt, oceans to rise, and unusual weather events to become more common.

Is the use of 100% carbon free energy even possible?

  • A number of Massachusetts communities have already passed similar energy resolutions and are working to reduce their use of fossil fuels, including Amherst, Cambridge, Lowell and Salem. Concord and Hingham, which also have their own municipal light plants, have committed to 100% renewable energy and 100% carbon free power, respectively. 

  • Five cities and towns (Aspen, CO, Burlington, VT, Greensburg, KS, Rockport, MO, and Kodiak Island, AK) currently generate 100% of their energy from clean, non-polluting and renewable sources.

Can Marblehead do this?

  • Marblehead has its own Municipal Light Department (MLP) which purchases and provides electricity to meet residents’ energy needs. As a result, residents already have a direct say in our energy mix.

  • Passage of this article does not dictate how and when the town must accomplish these goals, but affirms a desire to reduce town-wide carbon emissions with all deliberate speed and in a fiscally responsible way.

Article 44: Stretch Energy Code Adoption for Green Communities Designation

Voters overwhelmingly adopted the stretch energy code, one of several requirements for Marblehead to qualify as a Green Community and become eligible for state grants to fund municipal energy savings projects.  

 

What is the stretch energy code?

  • Massachusetts requires that all new construction follow certain rules designed to ensure safety and energy efficiency.

  • In addition to the “base” building requirements, Massachusetts has encouraged cities and towns to adopt energy efficiency standards that “stretch” beyond this base code. Every three years the base code is updated, typically encompassing existing stretch code requirements.

  • To date, 220 of the state's 351 cities and towns have adopted the stretch code to improve energy efficiency and reduce costs. Nahant was the most recent town to adopt the stretch energy code.

  • The newest version of the stretch code, which Marblehead voters adopted, only applies to new construction, NOT additions, renovations or repairs to existing residential or commercial buildings.

Why is this important?

What are the benefits of being a Green Community?

  • Helps reduce our municipal energy costs and keep our taxes low.

  • Provides access to grants for clean and affordable energy projects.

  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Promotes energy-efficient building construction that drives the market for better built and lower cost homes.

  • Fosters renewable energy and clean energy technologies.

  • Helps our town to be seen as a clean energy leader and a better place to live, work, and raise a family.

Source: https://www.mass.gov/guides/becoming-a-designated-green-community

Article 33: Public Access over Railroad Right of Way

Voters approved relieving the Water and Sewer Department of the responsibility for maintaining the Rail trail (Railroad Right of Way). This will allow the town to access funds for maintenance and repair, improving access to the Rail Trail for walkers and bicyclists and providing an alternative to car travel. Currently, more than a quarter of Marblehead's greenhouse gas emissions come from the cars we drive.

Marblehead, Mass., USA