Chelsea Stands in Solidarity with East Boston over Proposed Eversource Substation

Chelsea Stands in Solidarity with East Boston over Proposed Eversource Substation

Environmentalists, activists, residents and elected officials on both sides of the Chelsea Creek are standing in solidarity with one another in firm opposition to Eversources plan to place a substation at the City Yards in East Boston along the Chelsea Creek.

On Tuesday night in Eastie the the state’s Energy Facility Siting Board (EFSB) held a public meeting to discuss Eversource’s Notice of Project Change that moves the proposed substation from the eastern corner of the City Yards in East Eagle Square to the western corner. The original location on the eastern portion of the city-owned parcel was approved by the EFSB last year.

In its Notice of Project Change Eversource seeks approval to move the Substation 190 feet to the western side of the City Yards lot. The scope of the upcoming meeting is limited to Eversource’s proposed relocation of the substation from its current site on the eastern side of the city parcel to its new proposed location.

Eversource said the two 115-kV transmission lines that would connect to the substation would no longer be routed along Condor and East Eagle Streets if the substation is placed in the western portion of the parcel.

Local environmentalists from Eastie and Chelsea have called on the EFSB explore alternatives to placing Eversource’s proposed substation along the Chelsea Creek.

For two years local environmentalists on the Eastie and Chelsea sides of the Creek have launched a visual, media and talking campaign against Eversource’s plans to place the substation at the City Yards in Eagle Square.

At Tuesday night’s meeting Chelsea City Council President Damali Vidot attended the meeting and gave testimony in opposition to the substation.

“I’m here tonight to express my opposition,” said Vidot. “Although I represent Chelsea, a community of 40,000 low income, hardworking immigrants and people of color who are always the afterthoughts of corporate greed and irresponsible planning, I am here today as an ally with my brothers and sisters of the Eagle Hill East Boston neighborhood whose demographics are reminiscent of home. Planes, a salt bile, fuel and now a high voltage electrical substation–I am tired of communities like Chelsea and East Boston forced to bear the burden of environmental injustice at the hands of greedy corporations. We are environmental justice communities and the civic engagement in this neighborhood, or lack thereof, is a blatant disregard and inconsideration of the densely populated areas of hardworking men and women forced to bear the environmental ignorance of others for the sake of protecting profits.”

Vidot called for an independent study to see whether or not a substation is even needed in the area and, if so, does it need to be placed an area susceptible to future climate change issues and sea level rise.

U.S. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, who represents both East Boston and Chelsea, sent a video testimony from her office in Washington D.C.

“I’m your sister in solidarity,” said Pressley. “This at its best is boor urban planning and at its worst and injustice. It is unconscionable that a community already overburdened with environmental injustices would be put in harm’s way and have those existing health hazards exacerbated. The community should be a part of planning and I know when we organize we win and this is a fight like so many others we are taking on and I stand with you.”

Last year the EFSB ruled in favor of placing the substation at the City Yards. However, the final ruling came with some provisos. According to the state board the EFSB vote to approve the substations and 115 kV underground cables in Eastie, Chelsea and Everett came with some conditions. The EFSB directed Eversource to enter into discussions with the City of Boston regarding the possible relocation of the new substation and the related cable on the Chelsea Creek site.

Local activist John Walkey, who lives in Eastie and works with Greenroots Chelsea argues that the project represents an increased risk in both communities already bearing a huge environmental burden in the region by playing host to Logan International Airport, highways and jet fuel storage tanks along the Chelsea Creek.

Walkey made a push for the EFSB to see a more logical place to site the substation.

“If only there was a place in East Boston with restricted access that would a more appropriate location. Maybe a place that already had millions of dollars invested in raising the ground level so it is more flood resilient. Maybe a place that already much more secure with state police oversight and very limited access. Maybe a place that takes up over a third of the land mass in East Boston. And just maybe a place that is going to be a consumer of over half the electricity that goes through the substation anyway. Obviously the (Logan) Airport is a far more logical place,” said Walkey.

As part of its decision the EFSB directed Eversource to provide an update to the board on the status of discussions between the community and city before construction on the substation commences. This has given additional time for Eversource, the City of Boston, and residents to iron out the alternative locations for the substation. The substation was initially slated to be built on an Eversource-owned parcel on Bremen Street. However, under the former late Mayor Thomas Menino Boston executed a land swap with Eversource. Eversource have the City of Boston the Bremen Street parcel so the city could build the new East Boston Branch Library in return for a city-owned parcel in East Eagle Square.

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Beacham, Robin, and Dexter in Everett to Basically Shut Down through October

Beacham, Robin, and Dexter in Everett to Basically Shut Down through October

Facing a do-or-die situation for the completion of major off-site roadwork this summer, and a slower-than-expected work schedule on an Eversource project, Encore Boston Harbor and the City of Everett have announced on Tuesday the areas of Beacham, Dexter and Robin Streets will basically be closed off from Aug. 8 through October.

The change will likely have much more dire consequences for Chelsea than for Everett, as the roadway in and out of the New England Produce Center will be shut down for all intents and purposes. Beyond that, cab traffic from the airport will also be diverted away from the normal route through Beacham Street.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said they’ll have to take a wait and see approach in the coming weeks to figure out the proper response.

“It’s just hard to say what the impact will be,” he said. “Given the Second Street alternative (for the Produce Center), I’m hoping the impact is not too substantial. But, we will have to wait and see.”

Chief Brian Kyes said the Police Department would employ its message boards around the city to inform people of the sudden change.

Many had hoped that the work could get done side-by-side, and by making the Eversource transmission line project and the Encore traffic project a dual project Ð it could bring down the pain associated with so much construction work in one small location.

However, that ended up not happening, said Everett Planner Jay Monti, who indicated that Eversource moved too slow on their project. That, in turn, has put things in jeopardy for the casino to get its work done before the end of the outdoor construction season Ð which closes in early November when the asphalt plants shut down.

“Due to delays in permitting and obstructions on the road, Eversource has gotten behind schedule to the point it’s going to threaten Encore in getting its [off-site] roadwork done and without that work they can’t open the casino next year. We’re up against a wall and the only way to get it to work is to go 24 hours a day and essentially shut down the roadsÉThings got critical last week and Eversource was just not making progress. Encore came to us and said they can’t wait any longer. They can’t risk not opening up the casino on time because of the Eversource project running behind.”

The shut-down began Aug. 8, and will run for about 10 weeks into October so that Eversource can work around the clock, three shifts, to get their work in the area done and move on to Chelsea and East Boston. Following that, the shutdown will allow Encore to work around the clock to get the work done that has been held up due to Eversource running behind.

Monti said the corridor will be open to pedestrians and bicycles during the 10-week shutdown.  To be clear, though, the roads will be open for drivers, but it will be more than difficult to get through at all hours of the day. So, they are suggesting people use other ways to get places like the airport, the Produce Center and other areas. “For all intents and purposes, it’s closed because anyone who goes down there will sit in traffic for three hours,” he said. “We want to send a message to people who use that corridor. If you’re a cabbie going to or coming from the airport, you have to take the Tobin and pay the toll. If you’re a delivery driver for Amazon, we don’t want you in that area because this work needs to get done. If you’re a driver for the Produce Center, we encourage you to take Rt. 16 and Second Street into Chelsea.”

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Eversource Energy Teams with Chelsea Schools for Unique Fundraising

One-hundred percent profit for a school holding a fundraiser is practically unheard of—but that’s exactly what students at Chelsea schools will earn when they take part in the Eversource Energy’s Change a Light, Change the World Fundraiser. The campaign teaches students in 1st through 12th grade the importance of energy efficiency while providing schools an opportunity to raise a significant amount of money with no cost to the school.

“We’ve found that when students are taught about energy efficiency at an early age, it forms habits that stay with them for life,” said Bill Stack, Eversource Energy Efficiency Spokesperson. “The Change a Light, Change the World Fundraiser is a win-win–empowering students and bringing much needed money into their schools.”

Eversource donates a wide-range of energy-efficient items such as light bulbs and advanced power strips for students to sell. The participating schools keep 100% of the proceeds and can raise up to $20,000 based upon the number of products sold. Since its inception, this fundraiser has pumped thousands of dollars into local schools with the school deciding how it wants to spend the money raised.

All Chelsea schools are eligible to participate. Schools kick-off the fundraising drive with a presentation, where two Eversource “Secret Agents” visit the school and lead students in an energy efficiency program including a trivia game, skit and Energy Efficiency Pact.

With a commitment to New England and the environment, Eversource continues to partner with local communities to teach students the benefits of making greener choices. Public and private schools in the Eversource service territory are eligible. To find out more about participating in the fundraiser or Eversource’s educational programs, visit Eversourceinschool.com or email Mary McCarthy at mary.mccarthy@eversource.com or eversourcechallenge@eversource.com.

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