hudson sun
Group pushes utility to provide a ‘green’ option
By Jeff Adair/Staff Writer Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The old expression “think globally and act locally” is the perfect motto for the Hudson Area Climate Action Network, a newly formed grass-roots organization that hopes to change minds and attitudes.

The group was started two months ago and right now has about 15 members from Hudson and surrounding communities, said the main organizer Denise Frizzell.

“We hope to grow bigger,” she said. “Those around the table are concerned about the impact of global warming. We’ll look at ways we can organize local actions to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions. That’s the charge: What as citizens can we do to help address this planetary crisis?”

As a start, the group, HCAN for short, is sponsoring two lecture and slide show presentations next month of “An Inconvenient Truth.” The presentations March 29 at 7:30 p.m. and March 31 at 3 p.m. will be held in the auditorium of Town Hall . Each will last about an hour and a half. A $5 donation is requested to offset the cost to rent the hall.

The bigger project the group has its sights set on is to get the municipal utility, Hudson Light & Power, to offer customers a green energy alternative like the two big utilities in Massachusetts, NSTAR and National Grid.

“You can on your bill say I want green electricity. You check a box, and you pay a little bit more for it,” said Mark Durrenberger, a member of HCAN.

“You can get wind generated electricity, solar generated electricity, you can get water generated — hydro,” he said. “In Hudson we don’t have that kind of an option and a lot of municipal utilities are starting to do this.”

Yakov Levin, general manager of Hudson Light & Power, said there’s nothing from a technical standpoint preventing his department from doing this. He said he has started to investigate the pros and cons.

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“I haven’t made up my mind but as I see it, it will cost us money to implement a new rate or charge in a billing system. Also it will cost us human resources, labor to do the billing every month.”

He said unlike the big utilities which have hundreds of customer, it could cost the local power company a substantial amount of money to make the changes.

There are other options though, he said, suggesting that Hudson Light & Power could set up a link on its Web site to direct customers to companies and businesses trading in clean energy.

“So if a customer wants to participate, they can go to the site and make a one time donation, or subscribe a certain amount of money every month. This would not cost the department any money or resources, we would put the site link to that Web site and we could periodically describe it in our newsletter.”

Frizzell said HCAN is not locked into a certain method of action. She said the group is willing to work with the power company, and can tap into technical experts from the state level to give advice.

“We’re not saying we know the answers,” she said. “We are extending our hand in partnership. That’s the language we’re using. That’s the approach we would like to take.”