AUBUCHON HARDWARE AND RELAY POWER ANNOUNCE COMMUNITY SOLAR PARTNERSHIP

Aubuchon Hardware and Relay Power Announce Community Solar Partnership

PRESS RELEASE

Wednesday, August 21, 2019
AUBUCHON HARDWARE AND RELAY POWER ANNOUNCE COMMUNITY SOLAR PARTNERSHIP

Aubuchon Hardware and Relay Power have entered into a partnership agreement to get the word out to Aubuchon customers and employees about the opportunity to sign up for Relay Power Community Solar. Those who participate will receive guaranteed savings on their electricity, while supporting and facilitating clean energy production here in Massachusetts. Participants will also receive a gift card to use at any Aubuchon Hardware location. The solar farms are all located in Massachusetts. All National Grid electricity and Western Massachusetts Eversource electricity customers are eligible to participate.

“Relay Power is very pleased to partner with Aubuchon Hardware on this exciting partnership,” said Bill Kanzer, Co-Founder at Relay Power. “Connecting the Aubuchon Hardware customers and employees to community solar farms provides them with additional value – both in savings and in being able to help combat climate change and other pollution.”

Aubuchon Hardware Vice President of Marketing, Mike Mattson added, “This is a great partnership. I particularly love how, through Relay Power, we now have the ability to provide our customers with a great electricity option that provides both value to their wallets and the environment.”

Qualified residents who sign up for the solar program will receive discounted credits from their solar farm on their monthly electric bills while supporting clean, local solar power in Massachusetts. Interested residents can contact Relay Power for a free consultation about the solar opportunity by visiting www.relaypower.com/aubuchon, or by calling 617-315-4980 and mentioning the Aubuchon Rewards offer.

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For additional press information please contact:

Bill Kanzer, President, Relay Power
781-530-4525
marketing@relaypower.com

Mike Mattson, Vice President of Marketing, Aubuchon Hardware
978-874-0521 x1119
mmattson@aubuchon.com

About Relay Power
Relay Power’s mission is to engage residential customers to power their homes with clean, local renewable power using simple, accessible and affordable options. The Relay Power team has contracted residential and small commercial customers for over 30 MW of Community Solar projects to date. To learn more about Relay Power please visit www.relaypower.com/aubuchon.

About Aubuchon Hardware
Founded in 1908, in Fitchburg, MA, Aubuchon Hardware is the oldest family-owned and managed hardware store chain in America. With more than 100 stores in New England and Upstate New York, Aubuchon has been a mainstay for generations. Aubuchon relies on convenient in-town locations, personalized customer service and its HardwareStore.com e-commerce site.
www.hardwarestore.com

PR NEWSWIRE: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/aubuchon-hardware-and-relay-power-announce-community-solar-partnership-300904832.html

Commuting for the Climate

Anyone who’s had to sit in rush hour traffic, or cram themselves onto public transportation, knows the pain of commuting. And it’s a big source of pollution – in 2014, the US transportation sector emitted 1,786 million metric tons of CO2, with over 85% of commuters traveling by car. Luckily, the tides seem to be turning, and there are more choices you can make to reduce your commute’s carbon footprint.

More People are Working Remotely

There’s no better way to reduce your commuting carbon footprint than to just eliminate your commute. The rise in technology has allowed more people to work remotely. According to a study from Zug, 70% of professionals work remotely at least some of the time, and 53% work remotely more than half the week. There are real benefits to this – besides reducing greenhouse gas emissions, higher productivity and/or satisfaction can result from less time spent commuting. In addition, more remote workers also means less strain on public transit and roads. State governments are pushing for this trend – in MA, governor Charlie Baker has proposed a tax credit for companies that allow employees to work remotely. Vermont also has an incentive program to attract new residents who can work remotely.

Ride Sharing and Bike Renting

Maybe the nature of your job doesn’t allow working remotely and thinking about the subway makes your blood pressure spike. Many people have turned to ride-hailing apps for their commute in recent years, but one person being driven around still has a big carbon footprint. If you can give yourself a few extra minutes, Lyft and Uber both have a carpooling option. The app will group you up with other riders heading the same way. You’ll save some money and reduce your environmental impact.

Another trend that’s been popping up is bike renting – many people ride their bikes to work, but it can be inconvenient to lug your bike around and find a place to lock it up securely. Bike sharing apps in certain cities let you check out a bike from a rack near you, and return it near your destination for someone else to use.

Of course, you can also help reduce our collective carbon footprint by joining a solar farm…

See how you can help Fight Climate Change locally by joining a Community Solar Farm.

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A Toolkit to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Most people would like to be more environmentally friendly – according to Pew, 74% of Americans polled thought “the country should do whatever it takes to protect the environment,” and 55% thought the environment should be the top priority for policy in Washington. While policy is important, the environment is one area that individuals can make a big impact with their own choices. But it can be challenging to know where to start, or what changes are actually the most impactful to make. Here is a list of some great resources to get you started.

  1. Know Your Impact

The best place to start is to find out where you stand. The EPA has a calculator to find out your carbon footprint: epa.gov/carbon-footprint-calculator/ This is a great starting point because the calculator breaks things down by categories like transportation, housing, etc. so you’ll be able to tell what’s contributing most to your carbon footprint and where you can make adjustments for the best results.

  1. Get a Guide

The issues facing our planet are overwhelming and complicated, and sometimes the advice out there can seem contradictory. Is it better to use an old car as long as possible to avoid making a new one, or to get a hybrid or electric car to reduce gas? Should we stop shopping online to reduce packaging and shipping emissions, or is it more efficient to have things delivered to you rather than driving around for errands? There are guides out there for the consumer and lifestyle choices we make, for example “Cooler Smarter: Practical Steps for Low-Carbon Living,” published by the Union of Concerned Scientists: amzn.to/2Y0eqCj

  1. Find a Group

Joining an organization that shares your concern for the environment is a great way to stay motivated and make a difference. Sites like idealist.org will connect you to local volunteering opportunities. You can also join groups like the Sierra Club (sierraclub.org) that do meaningful work for the environment, host local events, and can connect you to more resources.

  1. Choose Clean Energy

Depending on where you live, there are many ways to choose cleaner energy. In Massachusetts and several other states, community or shared solar is a way to support clean energy locally while sharing in the financial and environmental benefits of solar. 

 

See how you can help Fight Climate Change locally by joining a Community Solar Farm.

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Reducing Your Carbon “Pawprint”

Everyone loves their furry friends. What are some simple things we can do to lower their “pawprint?” The household cat or dog is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about your carbon footprint, but producing the meat needed to feed the US’s cat and dog population puts out an estimated 64 million tons of greenhouse gas every year. There has also been a trend of heavy marketing and increased consumerism for pets; people are encouraged to treat them as a family member and services like monthly subscription boxes of toys and even caskets for pets have become trendy. Pet ownership can be done sustainably, as long as we stay mindful.

Consider What Kind of Pet to get and from where.

If you’re starting out on the path to pet ownership and haven’t decided what you want, consider a smaller pet or an herbivore. Small dogs and cats eat less than large dogs, and pets that are herbivores like rabbits or hamsters will have a lower carbon footprint than meat-eaters. If you opt for a dog or a cat, consider a “rescue” – one that needs to be adopted. Roughly six and a half million animals enter shelters each year.

Make Sure Your Pet is Fixed

This one is a good recommendation for any pet owner, even if you don’t have sustainability on your mind. Making sure that populations stay under control, and adopting rather than buying from a breeder, helps to keep the overall pet population and the resources they consume under control.

Feed Them Poultry

Eating chicken rather than red meat like beef can reduce the carbon footprint of a human by about 50%. Dogs and cats are carnivores and can’t eat plant-based diets, but you can reduce their carbon footprint by choosing less resource-intensive meats in their food. Also, watch how much you feed your pets – many in the US are overfed, which isn’t good for their health or for the planet. There’s a trend of pet owners are moving to more luxury types of foods – refrigerated meats, individually-packaged meals in disposable plastic single-use containers and the like.  Just like in our own lives, reducing the amount of packaging and energy-intensiveness is important.   

Pet Consumer Choices

Pets are becoming bigger consumers. We’re encouraged to buy everything from monthly toy and treat subscription boxes to elaborate burial services and caskets. Producing all of these things uses resources and generates carbon, so before you buy something for your pet consider if they really need it – just as we can for ourselves.

Pets in the Big Picture

Having a pet does not necessarily mean that someone’s carbon footprint is huge – the issue comes if having a pet is part of a larger consumer trend. If there’s a household with a big car, a big home, a large family and a big dog that eats beef and has similar consumer patterns to their owners, that magnifies the issue. Pet ownership is on the rise, but that may not be a bad thing for the planet. The birthrate in the US has been dropping, and 2019 marked the lowest point in 32 years. There are different reasons this could be happening; some blame the great recession and lingering economic instability. It could also be par for the course for a wealthier country. As birthrates have fallen, pet ownership has been on the rise, and it’s been suggested that many are filling their drive to nurture with “fur-babies,” which even when pampered have a lower carbon footprint than a human baby.

The bottom line when it comes to pets and the environment is to enjoy them, but keep them in mind when you’re considering your impact on the environment.

See how you can help Fight Climate Change locally by joining a Community Solar Farm.

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meat is murder

A Digestible Solution to Climate Change

Climate Change can seem overwhelming. As one person, it’s difficult to know where to start, or to believe that you can make any impact on a problem so big. But many people making a series of small changes can make a real difference, and a great place to start is with what you eat.

Why Rethink Your Diet?

Over a quarter of carbon emissions come from food production. Of that, 47.6% of emissions are from raising meat; 18.9% come from dairy; 13.9% come from eggs, fish, and poultry; and only 11.5% come from veggies, grains, and fruits. At the same time, meat consumption has increased by about 20% globally over the past decade. Eating meat has ‘dire’ consequences for the planet – in the U.S. we’ll need to reduce meat and sugar consumption by 50% to avoid serious repercussions. It’s clear we need to find a solution to curb these figures.  

You Don’t Have to go Vegan to Lower Your Footprint

Just this past October, a study published in the journal Nature explored guidelines for reducing meat and sugar consumption, a “Great Food Transformation,” it outlines a wide range of strategies and the steps necessary to put such a change into place.  Similarly, A new report, published in the British medical journal The Lancet, recommends a largely plant-based diet, with small, occasional allowances for meat, dairy, and sugar.

While asking everyone to adopt a fully vegan lifestyle ASAP would certainly cut down on emissions, it’s just not realistic. For example, simply making changes such as picking chicken over beef would cut your carbon emissions in half. Climate change is a large-scale problem, and it will take participation from everyone to solve it.

See how you can help Fight Climate Change locally by joining a Community Solar Farm.

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Climate Change is a Main Issue in 2020

There are 23 Democratic candidates running for President in 2020 so far, and for the first time, climate change appears to be a main topic voters want to hear about. Even Al Gore, the well-known climate activist, didn’t have climate change as his main campaign issue, and climate change was not discussed at all during the 2016 presidential debates.

Why Now?

There are several factors that might be causing voters to put their focus on the environment. For one thing, there have been a lot of news stories that put climate change front and center. The IPCC report recently gave us a deadline of 2030 to drastically reduce emissions if we want to avoid catastrophic results. The next four years are almost half of that time, and if a president gets two terms that effectively makes climate change a one-president issue. Movements like Fridays for Future (led by school-children) and proposals like the Green New Deal have kept our attention on the issue. Besides press coverage, more and more people are also seeing climate change beginning to impact them directly. Wildfires in California, droughts wiping out crops, and unusual weather patterns across the country have turned climate change from a distant concern to a pressing worry we need to address now.

Voters are Motivated

There has been a lot of lost ground for environmental protection and climate change at the federal level over the last few years. This appears to have activated many states and individuals to take stronger action independently. Voter activism around climate change has prompted many of the Democratic candidates to issue detailed proposals as part of their platform. There also appears to be a demographic shift from last election cycle, with groups that see climate change as a major issue making up a larger share of the voter pool for 2020 than ever before.

2020 Has to Be the Year We Take Action

With a tight deadline to make some drastic changes, this election cycle is the time to make sure climate change is the priority. The conditions are right, and the candidates are prioritizing it for the first time, so it’s more crucial than ever to get out and vote.

See how you can help Fight Climate Change locally by joining a Community Solar Farm.

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Why Nuclear isn’t an Answer for Climate Change

Overall, nuclear power has been on the decline for a number of years. Of the 99 reactors online in the US in 2016, only one had been built since 1996 and it looks unlikely that more will be built. This month, Massachusetts closed their last nuclear power plant in Plymouth. This closure is part of a national trend for nuclear power, as plants in Pennsylvania and Illinois also close ahead of schedule, and another estimated fifteen to twenty plants are likely to close early over the next ten years. The industry is facing mounting pressure both from environmentalists concerned about the dangers posed by nuclear power plants, and from dropping energy prices driven by fracking and new energy sources.

Nuclear Less Cost-Effective

Nuclear power plants are tightly regulated and expensive both to build and to repair. Their main fuel source, uranium, is also costly to obtain and to enrich before it can be used. When nuclear was competing against coal, these figures were cost effective. But the rise of cheap natural gas from fracking, and the plummeting costs of other renewable energies like solar, have brought energy prices down to a point that nuclear power can’t compete with in states with an open electricity market.

Safety Concerns

There is some controversy among environmentalists about closing nuclear power plants. On one hand, they do reduce our carbon emissions, which is something the world sorely needs right now. But when nuclear power plants fail, they can have catastrophic consequences. Infamous incidents like those at Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and Fukushima gave many second thoughts about using nuclear power. The immediate impact of a meltdown is devastating, but the long-term consequences may be worse. Chernobyl will not be habitable anytime soon, estimates range from a minimum of several hundred years up to several thousand before the radiation levels are safe for humans to live in the area.

In addition, nuclear materials are often cited as a national security threat from would-be terrorists using them to make a nuclear or “dirty” bomb.

No Long-Term Radioactive Waste Disposal Solution

Even when nuclear plants are operating as designed, they put out hazardous waste that remains dangerous for tens of thousands of years. The US currently has no long-term storage solution for this waste; most is stored at the power plants themselves. And recently, there has been a proposal by the federal administration to classify radioactive waste as a lower threat level so it can be more easily disposed of at a lower cost. This is a concern for many states that have waste dating back to World War II, as “The new rules would allow the energy department to eventually abandon storage tanks containing more than 100m gallons (378m liters) of radioactive waste in the three states, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.” This waste would not be buried as previously thought necessary, and the tanks of waste would remain a threat to nearby residents.

A Better Way to Reduce Carbon

Ultimately, the best argument to keeping nuclear plants is to reduce our carbon footprint. But the health and safety costs of nuclear energy are too high, and we don’t have a solution to deal with the radioactive waste produced. Nuclear is no longer cost effective.  We do have access to other lower-cost, carbon-free technologies, like solar and wind. It would only take installing solar panels on about 17,500 square miles of the US’s roughly 3.7 million square miles of landmass (or about 0.4%) to power the country. This year, the US passed the two million installation mark in the solar industry, and the industry is still growing.

See how you can help Fight Climate Change locally by joining a Community Solar Farm.

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Fed Up with the Federal Government, States Form Climate Alliance

It’s the two year anniversary of the US government pulling out of the Paris Agreement, but all hope is not lost. Many states and local governments have stepped up and committed to uphold their commitment to fight climate change.

The US Climate Alliance

The US Climate Alliance is, in their own words, “…a bipartisan coalition of 24 governors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement. The Alliance represents 55 percent of the U.S. population and an $11.7 trillion economy – an economy larger than all countries but the United States and China.” And states are still joining – this April, Nevada and Pennsylvania became the 23rd and 24th states to join the alliance.

The states in the alliance have not only cut their carbon emissions by 14% from 2005-2016, they also saw an economic benefit. These same states saw a 16% growth in economic output, as compared to the national average of 14%.

Coastal Communities and Cities Lead the Charge

Climate Change may seem like a distant or nonexistent threat to some, but many of the country’s largest populations are on the coast. According to NOAA, as of 2010 39% of America’s population lived in coastal areas. These communities have been increasingly active on the issue of climate change. Florida’s newly elected governor Desantis has made climate change a top priority – a big pivot from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection banning the term “climate change” just four years ago.

New York City and Boston have already accepted that climate change is happening and will have a huge impact on them, and both cities have ongoing initiatives to prepare. Boston also hosted an International Mayors Climate Summit, where mayors from around the world met to share ideas on effective climate action. Locally, cities like Everett are choosing to buy solar credits to offset their municipal carbon footprint and save money.

The key to solving climate change is not looking to come in time from the federal level. It’s up to local action to get us where we need to be – taking individual action and, crucially, voting in local elections will determine our success in tackling climate change.

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See how you can help Fight Climate Change locally by joining a Community Solar Farm.

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New Activists Forcing Attention on Climate Change

Climate change first came out as front page news thirty years ago. Since then, a familiar pattern has developed – scientists issue increasingly dire warnings, which create a stir, but emissions continue to rise. That’s the issue with the climate crisis – changes are gradual, and for the most part, people can go on with their everyday lives. But there is a new generation of activists starting movements that are forcing us to pay attention to climate change.

Child Activists and Fridays for Future

One of the largest movements has been the “Fridays for Future” movement, led by Greta Thunberg. What makes it notable is that it’s led by school kids. Children around the world walked out of class to try and force their countries to adhere to the Paris agreement. Friday, May 24, is on track to be the largest walk-out to date. The last strike on March 15 made quite a stir as well, with 1.6 million students from 125 countries walking out of school to demand climate change action. Here in the US, Haven Coleman leads the US Youth Climate Strike and coordinated the strike in March. Their objectives include reframing the conversation about our heating planet as a climate crisis, and to make sure it stays a top global priority – and so far, it seems to be working.

The Time for Action is Now

The past year has included a few alarming reports on the environment. We’ve gotten dire warnings from the IPCC about the consequences of letting the globe warm more than 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. There was also a recent report arguing that “One million of the planet’s eight million species are threatened with extinction by humans.” Many of the young climate strikers have been motivated by experiencing the effects of climate change already. Student activists have cited bushfires in Tasmania, wildfires in California, flash flooding and coral bleaching in Mauritius as some of their reasons for joining the Fridays for Future movement. But the positive side of all of this is that it seems to be waking us up to the reality we’re facing, and motivated many to take action. Even staunch Republican Lindsey Graham conceded that climate change is caused by humans, and endorsed a price on carbon. On May 1st, the UK became the first country to declare a climate emergency. Here in the U.S., many states have banded together to try and tackle climate change. Nevada became the 23rd state to join the United States Climate Alliance in March. The hour is late but we still have time to solve the climate crisis, and it seems like we may have finally started to find the motivation.

You can help make good energy choices by joining a Community Solar Farm.

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electricity customer

How Third-Party Suppliers Soured the Clean Energy Market

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A Guide to Choosing Clean Power in MA

Utilities and energy are a complicated space, and for a busy consumer it can be confusing when trying to make a switch to cleaner energy. In particular, third party suppliers with inflated rates and shady tactics have been an ongoing problem in Massachusetts. Poor experiences with them have turned many customers into skeptics, but there are legitimate ways to reduce your carbon footprint with your electricity choices.

What is competitive supply?

Utility bills are split into two parts – delivery and supply. Delivery is what you pay the utility to be connected to their grid, and have energy brought to your home. Supply is what you pay for the actual energy you use. By default you get your “supply” from the utility itself, but to try and avoid monopolies, Massachusetts also allows what is called “competitive supply” or “third-party supply.” This means getting  the supply portion of your bill from another company that’s not the utility. The problem comes when this supplier has a variable rate – that is, their pricing is set “…at the discretion of the competitive supplier.” Some residents that have used these suppliers may have joined looking at a rate that was much lower than the utilities, only to have it jump up above the utility “standard offer” rate a short time later, leaving them worse off than they started.

What are legitimate clean energy offerings?

Some suppliers may market as being a clean energy offering, but they usually have a mix of energy that is not 100% renewable, and they will often be priced at a slight premium. There are better ways to know you’re choosing clean energy.

Solar

Perhaps the most obvious one is to install a solar array yourself – you know what’s being produced is clean energy that’s feeding directly into your meter. But for many people, solar requires good credit or a large upfront payment or their home is not sited well for solar.

RECs

A REC, or Renewable Energy Certificate, is defined by Mass Climate Action as  “… proof of purchase for the attributes of renewable energy generation.” An individual, company, or nonprofit that wants to cut their carbon footprint can buy RECs to offset their usage. This is a way to directly support clean power projects because the project owner gets the money for the RECs, thereby raising the project’s value.

Community Solar

Community solar, or community shared solar (CSS,) is a way to share the benefits of a solar array with multiple participants in a given region. Participants generally save money by getting a discount for on-bill credits that offset their utility bill. A host with good siting for solar will install the array; this installation is supported by the participants who invest or buy credit from the farm. This form of solar is meant as a solution for those who cannot install a solar array themselves. Currently this is one of the best ways to both support local, clean solar energy and benefit by getting electricity bill savings.

You can help make good energy choices by joining a Community Solar Farm.

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Ready to go Community Solar?
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