New Statewide Coalition Pushes For Environmentally Friendly Energy Policies

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Representatives from various groups in the coalition announced the new efforts in Pittsfield on Wednesday.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A new statewide coalition of community groups was launched on Wednesday to advocate for environmental friendly energy policies.
On Wednesday afternoon a half-dozen representatives from groups involved announced the coalition, Mass Power Forward, in Pittsfield and similar events were held across the state.
"We're a diverse group of faith, environmental, business groups, community groups, that are fighting for climate justice, fighting to make a better future for our families," Marlon Washington, of 350 Mass Better Future Project, said.
"We believe there is a moral responsibility to make this happen. We really want to see a bill that involves solar and off shore wind to make Massachusetts the leader its always been in making sure there is clean energy that is sustainable."
The group numbers 90 strong across the state and will fight against fossil fuel projects such as Kinder Morgan's proposed Tennessee Gas Pipeline and instead advocate for investment in renewable energy projects. Washington said hope is for a state bill expanding the renewable industries and limiting fossil fuels.
"It is truly statewide and a very diverse coalition," Washington said. 
Jane Winn of the Berkshire Environmental Action Team said by investing in clean energy, pollution can be reduced by 80 percent by 2050. She is calling on Gov. Charlie Baker and state lawmakers for policies to do so.
"The choices we make this year are ones we will have to live with for decades to come. We can chain ourselves to fracked gas and have our heating and electricity costs go up and down with the price of this fuel — and sending those dollars our of the state and continue to spew carbon into the air. Or we can invest in clean energy that has no fuel cost, keeps us on track to reduce our climate change pollution by no less than 80 percent by 2050 as required by state law, keeping our energy dollars local, and create local, full-time permanent jobs," she said.
Winn said the state is overreliant on natural gas and it pollutes the air while sending money out of the state. Christopher Kilfoyle of Berkshire Photovoltaic Services is calling for more incentives in the solar industry.
"Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources show that solar installations actually benefit customers by saving them tax and health care costs as well as reducing utility transmission distribution and energy purchasing costs," Kilfoyle said. "The recent study by the Acadia Center shows that under the present net metering and incentive structure solar production is undervalued by a third."
He said the Baker administration is trying to reduce solar incentives.

Tags: alternative energy,   green technology,   natural gas,   solar,   

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Berkshire County Kids' Place Gala Celebrates Courage

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

Michael Supranowicz was presented with the Founders Award. He was president of the Kids' Place board for two years and retired from Hillcrest Educational Centers. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The "Wizard of Oz's" the Cowardly Lion finds his courage by facing his fears with the help of his friends. 
"Like the Lion, many children just need someone to help them realize that the courage they need to heal from the abuse they have suffered is already inside of them," said Rosemarie  Phelps, chairman of the Berkshire County Kids' Place Board of Directors. "For 26 years, the Kids' Place has helped lead these children and their families down the path to recovery."
The path on Friday night was a yellow brick road to "A Night in the Emerald City," the theme for these year's fundraising gala for the nonprofit that was held at Country Club of Pittsfield. Phelps donned a purple witch's hat to welcome guests to the event that also included recognition of several individuals for their work for Kids' Place. 
Berkshire County Kids' Place has been providing a safe and healing place for abused children for more than a quarter century. The agency is funded through the state Department of Children and Families, grants and donations. It works closely with related agencies and the Berkshire County district attorney's office to serve the more than 400 children that pass through its doors each year. 
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