Quincy CAN

Quincy Climate Action Network promotes energy conservation and efficiency, and the use of renewable energy by Quincy government, businesses, and residents.

QCAN came together in early 2012 in response to the city’s abandonment of plans for a 1.5 megawatt wind turbine on Moon Island. Since our founding we have made our views known in the media and in numerous meetings with city officials. Many QCAN members serve on the mayor’s Climate Change Committee, finding ways to reduce fossil fuel usage and increase the production of clean renewable energy in our city.

In just a few years we’ve done all this and more:

  • Successfully lobbied the city of Quincy to hire a qualified energy manager, resulting in substantial reductions of energy use by city government.
  • Successfully lobbied the city of Quincy to install a total of 2 megawatts of solar panels on the rooftops of fourteen city-owned buildings.
  • Helped the city apply (three times) for a grant under the Solarize Mass program, and provided 90%+ of the volunteer energy once we won the grant; results: more than 600 kilowatts of solar under contract for rooftops of city houses and commercial buildings.
  • Sent a delegation, and the QCAN banner, to the 2014 People’s Climate March in New York City.
  • Cosponsored the Kill-a-Watt program, which has put this home energy-use assessment tool in the hands of many dozens of Quincy library patrons.
  • Cosponsored the well-attended showing of the film Chasing Ice at the Thomas Crane Public Library.
  • Cosponsored the well-attended showing of a film on Rhode Island’s Deepwater wind turbine project, also at the library.
  • Cosponsored, with the library, a well-attended talk on climate change by a Salem State U. geographer.
  • Organized a forum for candidates seeking city office.
  • Signed 100 Quincy residents up for home energy assessments.

We welcome Quincy residents and others to our monthly meetings. We’re always eager for new members, and we welcome guests, so come and bring your energy and ideas! For more information or to join, contact info@QuincyCAN.org.

Harvard Physicist to Give Talk on the Transition to Renewable Energy

November 3, 2015

Using technologies like solar panels, wind turbines, and electric cars, the world can get all its energy from renewable sources–not at some point in the future but today. So says Mara Prentiss, a Harvard physics professor who will be speaking on the topic at the Thomas Crane Public Library, 40 Washington Street, at 7:00 p.m. on November 18.

In her talk, cosponsored by the library and Quincy Climate Action Network, Prentiss, the author of the new book Energy Revolution, will argue that the transition to renewables is not only technically feasible but also economically advantageous. For example, she says, “the price of solar panels has dropped enormously.… Bloomberg has reported that in 36 states it will be cheaper next year to produce your own solar electricity than get your power from the grid.” Meanwhile, she says, midwestern US states are already using wind turbines to supply a big chunk of their electric power, with Iowa getting more than 40% of their power from wind in peak months.

In addition to renewable energy production, Prentiss will also discuss grid and storage technologies that can assure a constant flow of electricity even when the electrons come from intermittent sources like wind and solar.

To get our energy by burning fossil fuels is inherently inefficient, Prentiss says. Because of a physics principle called Carnot’s Theorem, devices that use heat to generate energy, including gasoline engines and coal- or gas-fired power plants, peak out at 50 percent efficiency, she says, no matter how ingenious their design, with the rest of the energy in their fuel given off as waste heat. Motors like the ones in electric cars, by contrast, have efficiencies ranging from 90 to 98 percent.

Besides, burning fossil fuels, whether it’s in cars or power plants, “creates a whole lot of problems,” Prentiss says. “In the US, we focus on climate change, but in the developing world, air quality is a bigger issue. In places like New Delhi and Beijing the air is often so polluted it is hard to breathe.”

Nevertheless, she says, “I’m not trying to tell people what to do. I’m just explaining choices of which they may not be aware.”

Mayor and City Council Hopefuls Talk Energy at QCAN Candidate Forum


Climate Action Network to Host Candidate Night

September 21, 2015

Quincy Climate Action Network will host a candidate night at 7 p.m. on Tuesday evening October 6 in the church hall at United First Parish Church of Quincy, at 1306 Hancock Street, across from City Hall. QCAN has invited all candidates in contested city races.

All questions to the candidates will involve environmental issues, with an emphasis on climate change and energy usage and production, said David Reich, QCAN’s board chair.

“As residents of a coastal city, everyone in Quincy has a personal stake in climate change,” Reich said. “And if you have a stake in climate change, you will want to hear what the candidates say about their plans for slowing it and managing its effects.”

BU Professor, Senator to Speak at Gas Leaks Workshop

On Wednesday, October 7, Quincy Climate Action Network will sponsor a workshop on a leading source of greenhouse gas emissions in Massachusetts: leaks from underground natural gas pipes. In Quincy alone, 613 leaks have been reported. The two-hour workshop, for both municipal workers and the general public, will start at 9:30 a.m. at the main branch of the Thomas Crane Public Library, 300 Washington Street in Quincy Center.

Speakers will include Nathan Phillips, a Boston University professor of earth and environment, who will talk about his ground-breaking research on gas leaks. Also speaking will be state Senator Jamie Eldridge, from Acton, who will discuss legislation he has filed on Beacon Hill to encourage gas utilities to repair leaks more promptly.

A manager from the Cambridge DPW will speak on how cities and towns can coordinate with utilities to hasten repairs. Officials from several utilities have also been invited.

Gas leaks account for 10 percent of the Massachusetts carbon footprint, as much as all the state’s factories and retail stores combined, said Audrey Schulman, president of the Home Energy Efficiency Team, a Cambridge nonprofit that is helping organize the workshop along with QCAN and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. According to Schulman, about 2.7 percent of natural gas in Massachusetts is lost to leaks, a loss that is charged to ratepayers.

Cities and towns should care about gas leaks not only because of their contribution to climate change but also because they kill street trees, at a cost of $3000 to $6000 per mile of roadway, Schulman added. In addition, they increase ground-level ozone, a major cause of asthma.

“I’ve been working on energy efficiency in houses for the last eight years,” she said. “Well, underground leaks lose more gas than [the state’s efficiency programs] save. It’s got to be easier to plug these leaks than go house-to-house improving efficiency.”

Survey request

The Quincy Planning Department is asking the public to weigh in on climate change adaptation. If you’re a Quincy resident, please help the city plan for the effects of climate change by taking the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/quincyclimate.

Officeholders Sign Up for Solar Assessments

June 12, 2015

“My wife and I were pleased to hear that our home and garage may provide a good platform for a solar energy installation,” said Ward 3 City Councilor Kevin Coughlin. Four officeholders, including Coughlin, Sen. John Keenan, Mayor Thomas Koch, and School Committeewoman Anne Mahoney, have signed up for an assessment from Solarize Quincy, a state- and city-sponsored program that provides discounted solar panels to Quincy residents and businesses, but Coughlin is the first to have his property assessed.

The assessment, including satellite imaging and a site visit, determined that Coughlin “has a southern-facing roof, limited shading, and enough room on the roof” for an 18-panel system, said Brian Hession, a residential sales associate with Solar Flair, the exclusive installer for Solarize Quincy. The system would supply 82 percent of Coughlin’s household electricity, according documents provided by Hession, and with discounts and incentives, it would pay for itself in about three years and yield almost $70,000 in savings over its 25-year expected lifetime. By replacing electricity from fossil-fuel-fired generators, the system would also result in 3.8 fewer tons of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, emitted into the atmosphere yearly.

In explaining his interest in solar panels, Coughlin cited the environment as well as the potential savings. “I am a supporter of alternative energy both as a resident homeowner and as a local elected official,” he said, pointing out that he has supported the installation of solar panels on city property and introduced environmental laws and resolutions as a city councilor.

Rebecca McWilliams, lead volunteer with Solarize Quincy and past chair of the Quincy Climate Action Network, praised Coughlin for “showing leadership on energy and environmental issues by participating in the Solarize Quincy program and getting a free solar assessment.”

Residents have until June 30 to sign up for solar panels through Solarize Quincy. The program will hold an educational event for home- and business owners on Monday June 22 at 6:30 p.m. at the Thomas Crane Public Library, 40 Washington Street, Quincy, MA.

For more information or to sign up for an assessment, go to solarizequincy.weebly.com.

Solarize Program Passes Milestone

May 8, 2015

As of early May, Solarize Quincy, a state- and city-sponsored program providing discounted solar panels to Quincy residents, has contracted to install a total of 147 kilowatts of solar panels at 26 Quincy residences, with the smallest installation consisting of nine panels, or 2.3 kilowatts, and the largest consisting of 52 panels, for over 14 kilowatts.

Because the program has surpassed 100 kilowatts, homeowners will get 10 percent off the program’s already discounted price, said Dan Barnett, residential sales manager for SolarFlair, the Ashland-based contractor that won a competitive bidding process to be Solarize Quincy’s exclusive installer. He predicted the program will soon hit 200 kilowatts, at which point all participants will enjoy an additional 3 percent discount.

Installation of the panels will begin in early June and continue through the summer, said Barnett.

“It’s exciting to see so many Quincy households enroll in Solarize, and take advantage of the discounted pricing,” said Shelly Dein, the city’s energy manager. “The payback for residential solar systems is often about 5 years, and through Solarize Quincy, it will be even quicker, making solar a smart financial decision and making Quincy a more environmentally sustainable community.”

“Solarize Quincy has moved along very quickly compared to similar programs that SolarFlair has participated in,” added Barnett. “Without the help of the City and Solarize Quincy volunteers, we wouldn’t have reached 100 kilowatts this quickly.”

Quincy Climate Action Network has supplied the vast majority of volunteers, according to David Reich, QCAN board chair. To get discounted solar through Solarize Quincy, homeowners must sign a contract before the end of June. Rebecca McWilliams, the program’s chief volunteer, encourages all Quincy residents to learn more about solar by attending solar open houses on May 16 and May 30. “Come and see solar panels in action and speak with homeowners who have installed solar systems, Solarize Quincy volunteers, and SolarFlair,” McWilliams said.

For more information on the open houses and Solarize Quincy, visit www.SolarizeQuincy.weebly.com.


Join our campaign to tackle this global challenge on a local level! QCAN is on Facebook, Meetup, and http://www.quincycan.org and we are recruiting new members.