Climate Change Committee

Climate Change Committee Members

Member Name Position Term End
Beth Faxon Member 06/30/2023
Jason Veysey Member 06/30/2024
Jessica Veysey-Powell Clerk 06/30/2024
VACANT Member 06/30/2022
James Scarsdale Member 06/30/2023
Robert Cataldo Member 06/30/2022
Ken Hartlage Chairperson 06/30/2023
VACANT Member 06/30/2024
Renee D'Argento Member 06/30/2022

The purpose of the Committee is to advise the community, including staff and other Boards, Committees and Commissions, on issues and initiatives that impact climate change.

A goal of the Committee will be to work with various boards, committees and commissions, including the Master Plan Implementation Team, on Master Plan recommendations related to climate change. Additionally, the Committee will foster education throughout the community on climate change concerns and ways in which individuals and enterprises can make a positive impact on climate change through behavioral choices. By the end of 2021, the committee should provide a multi-faceted plan for Pepperell to address climate change for the immediate and foreseeable future.

The Committee: 

  • shall participate in the climate change initiatives of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environment (DOEE).
  • will be guided by the DOEE policies, regulations and strategizes for climate change.
  • will research and advise on local carbon sequestration and waste disposal strategies designed to sequester carbon or produce green energy.
  • recommendations will include the financial feasibility of proposed projects
  • will advise on Pepperell Master Plan implementation items including:
    • 2.17 Address impediments to solar energy development
    • 5.14 Develop a pilot project under the Green Communities Initiative in collaboration with Enterprise Community Partners, the Commonwealth of MA. And private developers.
    • 8.12 municipal electricity aggregation program that includes renewable energy
    • 8.15 As a Green Community, advance and promote renewable energy
    • 8.18 evaluate community facilities for green energy solar potential

2022 Outlook

The CCC will continue its work on community solar, municipal aggregation, municipal energy usage, and biodiversity and natural resource protection.  Additional projects the CCC intends to work on include the following:

  • Inventory the town’s greenhouse gas emissions footprint and sources to develop a comprehensive plan to meet 2050 net-zero emissions targets.
  • Educate residents and businesses on eco-friendly lighting to reduce light pollution, reduce light trespass, and reduce the stress and impacts to nighttime pollinators.  Work with the LAN committee to measure light levels and progress in reducing pollution.
  • Building a user-friendly website to share climate change related information with the public.
  • Work with the Agricultural Commission to evaluate climate change mitigation benefits of agricultural land and uses.
  • Work with the Invasive Plant Committee to educate the public on climate change adaptation strategies for yards and gardens.
  • Work with the Conservation Commission on the protection of open space.


2021 Review

Background

The Select Board established the Climate Change Council (CCC) in December 2020 with the charge to provide a multi-faceted plan for Pepperell to address climate change for the immediate and foreseeable future.  Guided by this charge, and by the state’s 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap and the Town of Pepperell’s 2020 Master Plan, the CCC developed the following mission statement:

The CCC recommends and implements strategies, policies, and practices to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, protect biodiversity, and ensure the sustainable use of our working lands and natural resources. The CCC educates and advises the town on climate change-related issues and opportunities.

The nine-member, all-volunteer Climate Change Council is organized into multiple workstreams focusing on Energy Production, Energy Procurement, Energy Efficiency, Carbon Storage and Sequestration, Biodiversity and Natural Resources and Community Education and Outreach.   Summarized below is CCC’s accomplishments for 2021.

Accomplishments

The Massachusetts 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap determines that both greenhouse gas emission reduction and natural carbon sequestration are essential to meeting the state’s net-zero emission targets.  In 2021 the CCC commenced four separate projects to better understand Pepperell’s options for contributing to this effort:

    Community Solar - The CCC conducted a feasibility study for installing a solar array at the former town landfill site.  The study determined it may be possible to deploy 1,587 kW of solar PV at the landfill with an estimated electricity output to the grid of 2.1-2.2 GWh per year, the equivalent annual energy use of about 300 homes.  With these positive findings in hand, the CCC submitted and won a grant for $15,000 application from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources to develop a business model for the site.  This work will be undertaken in 2022.

    Municipal Aggregation - The CCC evaluated the potential benefits of the state-sponsored municipal electricity aggregation program to the town.  The study determined that the program would provide energy price certainty and, potentially, lower average energy costs to Pepperell residents and businesses when compared to National Grid’s basic service over the same period.  The CCC also determined that the program could offer Pepperell residents and business more green energy options than currently available.  The CCC will present these findings at town meeting in 2022 and recommend the town create a municipal aggregation plan for approval by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities.

    Carbon Storage and Sequestration - The CCC estimated the carbon storage and sequestration rates of the town’s forested land to understand our potential contribution to the state’s goal.  Pepperell is 70% forested and the figures are significant:  Approximately 1.8 million metric tons of carbon are currently stored and about 8,000 metric tons of carbon are sequestered each year.  In addition to the OSRD bylaw revisions (see below), the CCC will recommend strategies and policies to protect Pepperell’s forests, including a tree retention bylaw, as recommended in the Master Plan, and contributing to the town’s design guidelines for developers.

    Municipal Energy Usage – The CCC initiated discussions with the Town Administrator to inventory municipal building energy usage and sources and develop a plan to reduce their carbon footprint.

Climate change increases the stress on our natural systems, threatening biodiversity and the quality and quantity of natural resources, such as our drinking water.  The CCC undertook two separate projects to raise awareness of these issues and increase the protection of our natural assets.

    OSRD Review – A CCC working group reviewed Pepperell’s Open Space Residential Development (OSRD) bylaw in respect to its conservation goals.  The working group intends to recommend several changes, including increasing the amount of protected open space, and ensuring that land of the highest conservation value be prioritized for protection.

    Naturally Beautiful Pepperell - The CCC developed two information cards for residents and business entitled Land & Water Protection and Earth Friendly Yards, which, for example, cited the benefits of eliminating herbicides, pesticides and fossil-fuel based lawn treatments, and encouraged residents to plant pollinator friendly gardens.  The CCC also collaborated with the Invasive Plant Committee on two additional cards, Remove Invasive Plants and Grow Native Plants.   

In addition to creating and distributing the information cards, the CCC’s community outreach efforts included co-sponsorship of several Counter-Act Climate Change webinars and participation in the town’s fall festival.