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State approves controversial East Boston power substation

WBUR reports.

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The state does not care about actual residents.

It cares about special interests, money, and money from special interests.

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Genuine question having not followed it closely. Eastie has seen lots of development (mostly for the good, as the area has desperately needed it and they can't start Suffolk Downs fast enough). Without a doubt it is going to need this investment/capacity on the grid.

So is it mostly "airport or bust", or just "no substation at all because [industry]"? Because I instinctively agree w/ the article that energy disruption in the future is likely worse for all residents of Eastie than most other concerns.

Is there something particular about this substation that is dirty? A lot of "climate justice" stuff is… not always particularly concrete in their actual plan/goals.

This snippet from the linked article says it all:

East Boston is a state-designated Environmental Justice Community with a long history of pollution and environmental burdens. It is home to Logan Airport, bisected by multiple highways, and houses all of the region’s jet fuel and most of its heating oil. The proposed substation is in the densely populated Eagle Hill neighborhood and will be constructed on a parcel of land adjacent to Chelsea Creek and directly across the street from a popular playground.

And if you click through to the article, you'll see the actual proximity to the jet and heating fuel tanks as well.

And on top of that, they moved it CLOSER to the playground/park and residential housing after a fish processing plant raised concerns about electromagnetic radiation causing problems in the initial planned location on the same lot.

Also, nobody seems to come right out and say it, bit it has been reported that Logan will be the primary beneficiary. Put it there.

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Kind of a loose term.

Did you know a lot of Lexington is considered to be an environmental justice community?

Why - Because Lexington has a large Asian American population. I'm not kidding. Million dollar teardowns but somehow Lexington needs "environmental justice". It also appears that parts of Sharon are environmental hellscape, or there is a growing suburban African American community in Sharon.

Here; Look at the map; http://maps.massgis.state.ma.us/map_ol/ej.php The factor that qualifies a place to need environmental justice is a wee disingenuous.

This terms needs to be tightened up a bit. Listen, everyone needs electricity. The grid has changed and moving away from fossil fuels is on the rise. No one likes it when the lights go out and we need places like this. East Boston needs juice, so does everyplace else. Does East Boston and by extension Chelsea have a lot of "broom closet" uses, you bet and they have been there for over 125 years. The Globe beats their breast over having salt piles in Chelsea and oil tanks as well, but I haven't seen them advocate to relocation to Fisher Hill or downtown Concord or Wellesley Farms.

I don't have an answer but it might be time a few wealthy communities to share the light.

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It has been defined primarily by EEA in response to an executive order in the 2000s, but now other agencies are working on their policies as well.

And EEA is tightening up its definitions now that more maps and data are available. The Office of Technical Assistance - part of EEA - even has complete maps of existing toxics use and storage sites for the entire Commonwealth that are complemented by flood plain data and hurricane surge data.

This location does not look good on that map: https://mass-eoeea.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=485fe...

So, yes, the designation criteria are somewhat crude and dated - and more than just EEA is working on that now. In the meantime, check out the OTA map to see how heavily burdened this area already is.

As Texas just showed us, a grid is a terrible thing to have go kaput, so we don't want that to happen. The reality of the electrical grid is actually pretty complicated and not intuitive - but the thing to remember is that companies like Eversource don't make any money off of the electricity you use - they make it off the transmission and distribution of it. And the regulated system was set up to give incentives to invest in that transmission and distribution (especially when there were rural areas that still needed to be hooked up).

So their business model is predicated on continued investment in infrastructure whether it's need or not. 100% of the cost of that investment is passed on to rate-payers, for a capital investment that the company then owns.

"Clearly with all the building we need more electricity" -- a reasonable but ultimately false assumption. In 2014 when they proposed this thing they called out a number of big waterfront developments in Eastie and said if we don't have this substation there will be blackouts. Guess what? Those developments got built and there's been no impact. In fact electricity demand has decreased as energy efficiency measures have been continuing to cut back on demand.

But eventually we will need more capacity (especially with the expansion of Logan's Terminal E -- Logan also happens to be the largest electricity user in Eastie - Eversource estimated about a third of the electricity that would go through the substation would be going to Logan - so why not locate it at Logan? one might reasonably ask and be ignored by all concerned). Well the Union of Concerned Scientists came up with an alternative involving distributed solar generation and battery storage in the neighborhood. That would meet the capacity needs and be cheaper. But that doesn't put money in Eversource's pockets, so fuck that ...I mean..."it's not feasible at this time."

And just remember when this project was originally conceived during the Menino Administration (yes, THAT far back) - the Chief of Energy and Environment who helped broker the land swap deals with the City so this project could happen, was a guy from Dorchester who went on to become the VP for govt affairs for Eversource. Eversource, the company which has over the years provided $1,000s to Prince Charlie Baker to make sure his Energy and Enviro Secretaries green light these projects. You know like the last Secretary who greenlighted the compressor station in Weymouth and then went on to work for one of the consulting firms working on that project. Or the current Secretary whose husband is a VP at National Grid.

Nothing to see here...move along move along....it quacks..it waddles...but that's not a duck...move along....