City Council aims for 100 percent green

  • The creation of Northampton’s new solar array atop the closed Glendale Road landfill is the type of action the City Council wants to encourage. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Published: 1/21/2018 11:14:09 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The City Council has formally expressed its support for the city and state to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy.

The resolution passed unanimously in its first reading at the council’s Thursday meeting.

City Councilor At-Large William Dwight said that the resolution was an aspirational move, and that he hoped the example Northampton is trying to set with it will be followed by other communities around the state and country.

He also contrasted the city’s leadership position with what he described as an abdication of responsibility on the issue by President Donald Trump.

The resolution cites the desirability of going to 100 percent renewable energy to help mitigate climate change. It notes the efforts that Northampton has already made, including the construction of a large solar array on the capped landfill in Florence off of Glendale Road.

While resolutions do not have legal power, they do express the feelings of the council. That said, this particular resolution encourages the city to take significant action.

The resolution calls on the city to weigh all decisions with the goal of achieving 100 percent renewable energy in mind and to “continue to take actions that promote clean energy and reduce fossil fuel use.”

Those actions include continuing to encourage energy efficiency in both public and private buildings within the city and the consideration of Community Choice Energy, also known electrical aggregation. CCE arrangements enable communities to join together to purchase electric power from a single supplier.

Before the councilors voted on the resolution, local activist Sam Titleman explained the desirability of CCE arrangements and suggested that Northampton come up with a joint CCE plan with Amherst and Pelham.

Ward 5 Councilor David Murphy said that he was in favor of renewable energy, but expressed worry that its traditionally more expensive cost could disadvantage low-income residents.

In the prior public comment period, a number of residents voiced their support for the resolution.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, the council passed a resolution, on its second reading, in favor of legislation that would institute a $15 an hour minimum wage in the commonwealth.

Prior to this vote, a number of councilors expressed opposition to the idea of a lower wage for younger workers, which was floated in previous discussions of the resolution, but was not a part of the resolution under consideration.

That passed 8-0-1, with Murphy providing the only abstention.

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