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At new job, Matt O'Malley will get to let off some steam

Matt O'Malley, stepping down as a city councilor at the end of the month, announced this morning he'll be taking on a new job as chief sustainability officer for Vicinity, which runs the underground steam system that heats and provides hot water for large buildings in Boston and Cambridge.

Boston can be the first US city to completely decarbonize our steam system and allow for a clean renewable energy source that’s able to service so many buildings. This is something that is going to be a game changer for our city, region and I hope the country.

As a councilor, O'Malley long championed environmental causes - and sometimes butted heads with National Grid over leaks from its own underground network.

The Globe reports that the company is looking to move from away from its own natural-gas boilers to heat pumps - and using power generated by local electricity generators.

It also plans to shut down its recently troubled Kneeland Street plant - which it says will require it to build a new steam conduit under the Charles from its Kendall Square plant, which will require winning approval from various state and city agencies.

O'Malley's predecessor as District 6 (Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury) councilor, John Tobin, also left for a job at a local private employer with frequent contact with government - Northeastern University.


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Good news for the city and O'Malley. He's been a very good councilor. Refreshing to see an elected official going to the private sector to do some good.

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Is it still the best way to distribute heat/hot water in this kind of scale or has greater electrical efficiency made it kind of a dead end? Feels antiquated but I'm not a building systems engineer...

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It was about steam in New York. If I remember correctly, the energy companies figured out how to produce steam and electricity at the same time, making the process efficient.

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We have it too, the Kendall Cogeneration Station.

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At least his education credentials allowed him to fall back on something. The steam dream machine structure which caught fire recently in town must be older and less inspected than the steam dream machine he'll be babysitting maybe?

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