Information related to the upcoming Primary election for PMLP Light Commission

A survey was sent to each of the six candidates for Peabody Light Commission in order to see their respective positions and vision for the Peabody Municipal Light Plants future plans – with the climate crisis and many new laws and regulations recently passed at the State and Federal level, we felt this was important for all Peabody residents to know in order to make an informed decision on who will lead the City into our collective Energy Future. Below is the only response received. Other candidates either simply ignored the survey, or informed us they were not seeking our endorsement. This is unfortunate as the survey is not simply about an endorsement but about informing Peabody citizens/ratepayers about the candidates views. (we are in the process of sending a similar survey to ALL candidates on this years election ballot and will publish responses prior to the general election)

Survey Response from Tracy Valletti:

MMWEC is proposing to build a gas power plant in Peabody. What is your stance on this proposal, and why? (200 words max)

I am completely against a fossil fuel power plant being built. Burning fossil fuels is dangerous to our health and environment and people who live in the area have an increased risk of respiratory illnesses. This project is moving us backwards in terms of global climate initiatives and frankly, I’m surprised this was approved not only because of the obvious dangerous environmental impact but because no health and environmental impact study was performed on behalf of those who live here. It sits right on the river and this project comes on the heels of Salem and the North Shore residents fighting to take the Salem coal plant down. We need to be aligned with the States Decarbonization Roadmap and according to different studies, after 2050, those goals will be impossible to meet if we are still operating these types of plants and it will then become a stranded asset.

Why are you running? 150 words or less. 

I am running because I’m concerned about the health and future of our city and am against the proposed fossil fuel Peaker Project. We need a commissioner that will lead with a vision aligned with the residents and city departments to maintain and improve our quality of life. The negative health and climate effects of a polluting plant in our city and our world is real. I can no longer stand by as these warnings are ignored. I will advocate for investments in renewable energy sources that keep our communities clean and affordable. I will engage the residents to come together as a community to create a future that is clean, affordable and accessible to all. And, while the peaker plant isn’t the only reason I’m running, it does perfectly encapsulate the biggest issue this city is facing in moving forward.

How would you describe and rate PMLPs current transparency and communication practices? How would you improve them?

There are no publicly posted meeting minutes for the last 6 years when the Peaker Project began except when, under public pressure, they recently voted to post them online. I think the public and I are on the same page on how we would rate their transparency.

As Light Commissioner, I will advocate that PMLP be the catalyst for a new Peabody Master Plan that will engage the city, its departments, and its residents to strategically address a vision that not only aligns with the legal requirements recently put forth in the Massachusetts Decarbonization Road Map but also addresses economic development, zoning and the city’s future. To fully satisfy trust and transparency, I would like to set clear goals by further clarifying solid public awareness, engagement, participation, and activity goals with feedback mechanisms in order to ensure future success. 

What is your vision of the future of the energy grid in Peabody and in the Northeast (under the ISO-NE)? 150 words or less

My vision is to not only advocate for renewable microgrids in new developments but also to existing structures and those that are undergoing significant renovations. I’d like to help lead PMLP in partnership with the city on championing environmentally friendly initiatives for individuals and companies to realize and benefit from savings, not only from our Net Metering Policy but additional incentives such as tax credits, equipment sales tax exemptions, and property tax exemptions. I would advocate to further educate the public, both residential and commercial users, on these environmental initiatives including Demand Reduction Strategies that will help to minimize grid loads and reduce fuel importation. Massachusetts is one of the highest importers of energy and in order to change that, we need to start locally so we can all enjoy a healthy local and global environment. 

How would you reduce peak demand and meet peak demand as electricifiation increases? 150 words

In order to reduce and meet peak demand, I would advocate intensifying Demand Reduction Strategies (DRS) and Behavior Change Education. It will take concerted efforts to implement and manage this but we have the ability to influence energy demands that can immediately impact usage with little cost by simple strategies such as turning off computers and lights when not in use. 

One DRS is Peak Distribution Scheduling. Educating and advocating for commercial owners to automate building systems to run at off peak times or alternating their cycles to alternate the load effect. This is but one DRS that could impact significant peak reduction and it’s just scratching the surface of the impact that could be made.

By making small changes we can become energy resilient and influence the overall demands on our system and as a new voice on the board I’d like a broader public campaign encompassing these messages.