Movement Initiates Shift to Renewable Energy

Amy Mevorach
Issue Date: 
April, 2018
Article Body: 

A small group of thoughtful, committed citizens has begun to seriously consider the question, what can we do about fossil fuels? A grassroots movement called Renewable Natick has taken on the challenge of developing a strategy to phase out Natick’s use of fossil fuels and switch to 100% renewable energy.
With the guidance of Mass Power Forward, a coalition of organizations dedicated to improving our environment, Amherst, Cambridge, Framingham, Lowell and other Massachusetts towns have passed resolutions to convert to 100% renewable energy. Mass Power Forward highlights their successes and challenges on their website, which states: “This unprecedented threat we face is also an unprecedented opportunity to create clean energy jobs, develop sustainable neighborhoods, and clean up our air and water.... We can live better lives while creating good jobs, making great neighborhoods, and saving our green space.”
Debby Marion, an active supporter of Renewable Natick, said, “Society has to shift. We have to keep greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. This is about figuring out what part our town can play in the solution.”
Renewable Natick plans to present a resolution to the Fall Town Meeting calling for a commitment to end dependence on fossil fuels in several stages, including electricity, transportation, and heating, for municipal and private citizens’ buildings and vehicles.
The group will research innovations in energy efficiency, green transportation, and energy storage technologies. Widespread adoption of electric vehicles with installation of local charging stations is one example, complemented by increased accessibility for walkers and bikers. Solarization has been rapidly embraced by Natick residents.
The movement toward sustainable energy has been instigated by rapid climate change, evidenced by record year-round temperatures and increased frequency and scale of storms. A draft of Renewable Natick’s resolution from February 25 stipulated that in addition to fostering clean energy use, no action would be taken to increase use of fossil fuels, a necessary step toward health of the global ecosystem. The draft also anticipates a complete transfer of energy sources by 2050.
The shift from one power source to another is momentous beyond our heating, driving, and electricity. Sustainable energy, in creating employment opportunities and economic growth in communities, in establishing local control and ownership over energy options, and in inspiring grassroots movements that catalyze major social and ecosystemic change, represents a restoration of power back to the people.
The members of Renewable Natick embrace this shift. Social equity will be considered and accomodated for as part of the plan, to ensure that costs are not falling disproportionately on any individuals. As the group meets to clarify the vision and consider the steps they might take to meet it, they invite individuals, organizations, and businesses to participate in the process. “We are hoping to engage people in the town in a conversation about what this could look like,” Marion said. “We want to hear from different perspectives.”
The next meeting will be April 8 at 3pm at Common Street Spiritual Center, 13 Common Street, Natick.