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Stories from the Frontlines
Stories from the Frontlines

Season 1, Episode 8 · 6 months ago

Follow the Money

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

It’s the last episode of this season of Stories from the Frontlines!

After talking about seven local energy fights across the Northeast, we’re bringing all the pieces together to discuss the energy grid as a whole. What exactly is ISO-NE, how is it keeping us hooked on fossil fuels, and what does a better energy future look like? Alice Arena (Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station), John Walkey (GreenRoots), and Monte Pearson (350 Massachusetts) share their personal experiences and their energy expertise.

Stories from the Frontlines will be taking a break for a little while, but next season we’ll be back with stories about waste issues in the Northeast!

Learn more about the regional Fix the Grid campaign at https://fixtheisogrid.wordpress.com/.

Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station:

Check out FRRACS’ website at https://www.nocompressor.com/. You can also find the group on Facebook (Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station) and on Twitter (@FRRACS_MA).

You can contact Alice and FRRACS by sending an email to nocompressor@gmail.com.

GreenRoots:

You can support the campaign by checking out GreenRoots’ website (http://www.greenrootschelsea.org/), and finding the group on Facebook (GreenRootsChelsea) or Twitter (@GreenRootsEJ). You can sign up for the mailing list at http://www.greenrootschelsea.org/signup and join the Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/132951814006894/. Check out #NoEastieSubstation and #Neversource on Twitter for relevant content.

350 Massachusetts:

Check out 350 Mass on their website at https://350mass.betterfutureproject.org/, on Facebook (350 Mass for a Better Future), on Twitter (@350Mass), or on Instagram (@350mass).

Learn more about Community Action Works on our website: https://communityactionworks.org/.

We’re also on Facebook (Community Action Works), Twitter (@ComActionWorks), and Instagram (@ComActionWorks).

Hello and welcome back to stories from the front lines brought to you by community action works. At Community Action Works, we believe that environmental threats are big, but the power of well organized community groups is bigger. That's why we work side by side with everyday people to confront those who are polluting and harming the health of our communities. I'm one of your hosts, near a PA Johnny, the Western Massachusetts community organizer with Community Action Works, and I'm shady calf for the Vermont and New Hampshire State Director for Community Action Works. Each episode of this podcast will bring on a new community member activist to share their story of taking on environmental threads from the front lines. This season's beam has been stories around our energy system and our regional grid operator in the northeast, Isa, so New England, and today we're wrapping up this season with an episode all about Isaso, New England, what it is, what's wrong with it and what we want to do about it. We've got a few folks joining us today to share their expertise on personal perspectives. You may recognize some of them from earlier this season. We've got Alice arena from fracts John Rokey from Green Ruth and Monte Pearson from three hundred and fifty maths. Welcome all. So, yeah, if you could just start off by introducing yourself, I'm alice arena. I'm the president of the four residents against the compressor station and we have been fighting a high pressure gas transmission compressor station in the for river basin in Weymouth and environmental justice and an environmentally sensitive designated port, and we've been doing that for seven years. And My name is John Walkee. I'm the director of waterfront and climate justice initiatives at green roots, which is an environmental justice organization that works with the communities along the Chelsea Creek, including Chelsea in the neighborhood of East Boston, and in particular we've gotten involved with IAT New England by fight we've had against an electrical substation. That, at face value, electrical substations are good and necessary things. However, when you put them in a very bad location, this one happens to be on a river bank that's eroding away, on a street that floods regularly and next to, about three hundred feet away from, eight million gallons of jet fuel and on the other side of it about sixty feet away from my playground. So we sort of feel like this is not the highest and best use of this property. And also, as we started to really look into it, we started realizing that maybe this isn't even really needed and for the kind of electrical grid that we want to see in the future for our community, maybe a substation is not the component we want to see invested in and there are other things we'd rather see, like distributed generation and things like that. So that's how we sort of got into this work. Hi, my name is Maudy Pearson. I'm a member of three hundred and fifty Massachusetts and I am the representative to a statewide coalition called fix the grid and fix the grid is doing a campaign this fall to highlight the problems with ISO New England and while I'm also I'm going to talk about how Isso Works, I also want to emphasize that a lot of the local issues that you have heard about on this progres podcast flow from ISSOS particular fossil fuel oriented orientation toward electrical energy and that both their level of excertise and their level of power over pricing and other things are leading to these problems in environmental justice communities and a lot of other situations. So I ISO is definitely related to these community issues that have been coming up that you're hearing about right thanks so much everyone, and I know on this afternoon that we're recording Alice, you are not actually at home because of an issue with our power grids. You want to share a bit about that? Yes, so we had a major north rest are here in and it's very much affected south of Boston, the Cape Islands. In that area. We had ninety four mile an hour winds last night, so we had a lot of trees down, that kind of thing, and we are, John has informed me, were fifty seven percent without power here in Weymouth. We lost our power around for in the morning. National Grid is telling people they will not even give us an estimate as to when power will come back on because they're not working on restoration until the wind dies down and where you can kind...

...of understand that, it's still very odd that right around the corner for me and braintree they have power because they are a municipal light plant and they're able to, you know, take care of these things. So the idea of kind of breaking up the grid and making power, I'm going to call it, more democratic, you know, more sourced within the communities, is like a brilliant idea, probably something we should have been doing all along. Sorry to hear you don't have power and hope that that national grade gets that sort of soon. That is so frustrating and ties into how our grid works, as you mentioned. So before we go any further, would love, Monte, if you could share a little bit about what we've talked about. Eyes any when, all season. But what exactly is it? What does that mean to be a grid operator? What do they do? Sure, until in s utilities sort of had subminopolies of regions of the country and it was clear to everyone that the utilities were had a lot of really high prices and not very good service because they were monopolies. And so that was broken up in the S and instead the country was broken up into regions electricity markets. In New England has the six states are electrical region. We have something called Isso, the independent system operator. It's an independent, nonprofit entity with responsibility to manage all the electricity delivered to homes and businesses in New England and national that the deregulation meant that companies like national grid and ever source used to not only have power into your homes, but they also used to have the power plants, and now that's all separated and there are markets where people bid for getting contracts for putting in energy, and so what is so does is it regulates the market. It's not a free market in any sense, because not just anybody is allowed to provide electricity. Isao sets up rules about how you do that. And one thing they do is each year they set up, through a bid process, the basic costs for kilowatt hour. They all so are concerned with making sure that every minute of the day you can turn on the electricity. And the third thing they do is they do future capacity. They give three year forward contracts to new providers so that the amount of electricity being generated in the region expands. And it's now clear that they have xtay. Have a fourth priority to which is protecting the profits of the fossil fuel companies that provide a more jority of electric power in New England, and they do that because they have a board called the New England Power Pool and that power pool, through various manipulations, is dominated by the power gender cop generator companies, the transmission companies, which are utilities, and energy management suppliers. And it's interesting that and users, consumers, the fifteen million people who live in New England, have only one vote at knee pool, while the twelve power companies also have one vote. So it's not exactly a democratically run organization. And you can say, well, what is the end result of that? The end result is that in two two thousand and twenty fifty two percent of the electric energy used in New England comes from natural gas power plants and of course it's not really natural gas, it's actually for gas, a pollution written process that has a delivery system that leaks methane into the atmosphere and is pretty dangerous. Another twenty seven percent of our electric energy comes from nuclear power plants and only four percent comes from wind power and only three percent come from solar power. So the way in which is ISO operates, the way in which it gets new power, all the rules that it has set up lead to an energy grid that is very much oriented towards big nuclear power plants and big natural gas plants and there's no consideration when they're doing things about the cost of fossil fuels, for example, the idea that facilities near a community might increase the amount of asthma in the community, or consideration for social justice in terms of places like Chelsea have four or five energy plants, while towns like...

Wellesley and swamp cut's goot have none. And that's not an accident. The system is run that way because Isao doesn't really care about those kind of issues. And we're going to see, as we you've heard already in some of the podcast and you're going to hear some more from the other participants, the ways in which I iso Naga of affects what goes on in other communities. So I just want to give you a sense of the system behind it. And is ISO is not a mysterious element. It's just an organization, but it's an organization dominated by fossil fuel companies right now. Yeah, and and Monty that thanks for that, that description. I know for us here in these Boston and Chelsea, when we've gotten involved in fighting this this electrical substation, we went like the the the arena where we fought this thing was not at our city or anything. It was actually at the state level and we had to go before the energy facility sighting board and that's where, you know, we had to have it's a whole a judicatory process where you're in a courtroom and you have to present evidence, and the evidence that we got we had to go to is is annoyland to get the data, and that was like my first encounter with them and, as you you talk about all the different acronyms and the groups and things that are meeting, it really is a steep learning curve. Like you go to their website and it's just an overload of stuff and a lot of it is very hard to sift through and understand. So I really appreciate your description of it, because it I wish I had heard that when I first got started with this, because it really is overwhelming when you first get into it. And then if you start interacting, you go to some of the public meetings that they do have, everybody's talking fast and acronyms and they all know each other and they're all in these things around and you've got no clue what they're talking about and you feel like an idiot asking questions. But little by little you start pulling out this information and you realize that this is really kind of as you said, it's set up to benefit one chunk of people and the rules of the game, if you follow them, the most logical solution for a lot of these things are to keep maintaining the status quo and to go with what what works, and that's always like what's been done in the past. And and now we're sort of and that's the situation that we're confronted with. The substation that we're fighting is something that fifty years ago or something this would be considered, yeah, this is what's needed. And now the lay of the land is changed so much and as we're seeing, mean the justification for building this was the fact that we were turning off some of those power generators. So right down the street from US in East Boston and Chelsea, on the Chelsea every border, is the mystic generating station and that's about to go offline. Finally, and little by little, we're starting to see a lot of these fossil fuel plants going, you know, being shut down, and we're having to bring electricity in from somewhere else, and so that long distance transmission, whether it's coming from hydro and Canada or wherever, and even like the offshore wind that's going to be coming in on transmission lines and it'll need substations and such, but that whole setup is set up to sort of support the old infrastructure that we've had, this longdistance transmission, whereas if we go with something like solar panels on your roof, you're not going to need so much of these big substations taking high voltage electricity and stepping it down. You're going to need more like battery storage. You'll need more solar panels on people's houses, you'll need a lot more software systems that help people switch their electricity from one thing to another. And you don't see Eyeso know, England, really prioritizing that. You see them prioritizing the stuff that they've always done, and that's been the real challenge for us, is trying to make the argument in the language that they understand that there's another way of doing this. Definitely I really love that. You know what we all are saying about digging into this cut this set up and who it's meant to benefit, and I know all this. This season we've talked a lot about the importance of kind of lay people who are at least someone experts in this the whatever the fight is in power plants or substations, get, you know, making sure that you have enough knowledge to have credibility in the eyes of state agencies, energy companies, other stakeholders. And, as Monte you kind of laid out, and John even talking about, there's a whole new language, a lot of technical info around this concept of the energy gride and how it works and what it does. How do you deal with that and make sure that you have enough of that information to be able...

...to work on these campaigns? Well, I think that what you need is for people who are spending a fair amount of time looking into it to try to translate for other people. I've written a number of blogs and we've posted on at three s websites information about Isso and so. We're trying to kind of make it easier. The camp that fix the grid campaign has a series of demands. There are seven of them, at least I have seven written down here, and I do think that some of the technical stuff is beside the point and that if you can do things like, say, stop prolonging the life of fossil fuel power plants by using them as speaker plants, then that's kind of a value and you say, well, that's this is what we want. What kind of math do we need to figure that out? And that's how you got to change issoh is not change their equations, but change where they're starting from. What are the goals we want to reach? The goals they want to reach are to continue natural gas and other kind of fossil fuel power plants being running the system, and that's not a goal we want anymore. You know, climate change is happening. There's a conference, World Conference, where they just came out with the report this week that says everybody's behind and nobody has done anything since the Paris of agreement the five years ago, and so they have to have new goals and they can then do their own equations about how to get to those goals, but they need to have different goals, and knowing the goals that we want are is something that the ordinary people can understand. The goal is to not have infrastructure in places that's going to flood in a few years. You know, I mean that doesn't make any sense if you're doing anything other than short term investment and making profits, if you're trying to do a long term investment in the community's energy supply, then you got to think ahead and not do stuff like that. And I just want to interject off of that, Monty, because you were, you know, talking about this long range and these investments and things. So one of the things that we try to make people understand is that this is all about profit hearing, and it really really is. And this is how the ISS though, has been operating with the operators and with the fossil fuel industry. So, for instance, and this is going to sound crazy, but the somerset plant, the coal fire plant, that was decommissioned, several years before they decommissioned it, the owner went about retooling the plant to run on natural gas. They had spent millions and millions of dollars for that rytunoint and then they ended up just someone else bought it and they tore it down. So you say to yourself, what's the financials in this? Why the heck would you do that just to tear it down? Right, I'm going to build a house and tear it down, and it's because they don't lose money on this. When they build something new like our compressor station, they get a guaranteed fourteen percent on their investment. And you know who pays for that? The rate payers. And with us, the the DPU was looking at the fourteen year contracts for national grid and ever source, you know, this goes back to two thousand and nineteen. National Grid never source said we don't need the way with compressor station, we're not going to use it. The attorney general said you can't charge the rate payers for that, then you cannot charge the rap pairs for the building of that compressor station. But because she did not take the DPU uncord, the DPU said, yeah, you can charge is the rate payers for the waymouth compressor station, even though we don't need it. And this is what's happening with power plants, is that they want to build new because on new they don't lose a dime. They get fourteen percent on an on the investment, and it comes out of our pockets. And that's the other thing people need to understand about how the ISSO was entrenched with these opera. You just it's all about whose pocket you're widing. So thanks for bringing that up on yeah, that, Alice, that is exactly actually, I just got done writing a bunch of letters to the editor we as part of our campaign against this substation. You know, it's a very hyperlocal thing. It's down the street from my house, so I can get everybody an East Boston riled up about it. But we managed to get a non binding ballot referendum question in the city of Boston on on on this project. And of course we have we have the question pretty stacked,...

...like should they build a dangerous electrical substation and a flood zone next to a playground and and eight million gallon gallons of jet fuel? Obviously people are going to say no, but we're trying to make sure people understand this and I don't have to convince many people in East Boston, but for the rest of Boston on the other side of the harbor, a lot of people are just like, well, I don't know, that's your deal. I don't know what it is. Maybe it's needed, I don't know. Why should I vote? Know it doesn't affect me and I'm trying to get across the people. You know, this is a fifty million plus dollar project and it's all showing up in your electrical bill for precisely that reason, that that you just describe that. They get reimbursed a hundred percent of this. This is their business model. You just keep investing in transmission because, like Monty said, they no longer own the generating facilities, and that's why you have people going door to door asking to look at your electrical bill, trying to get you to switch atrical like the source of your electricity, get different providers. But in the end the transmission of that stuff from the generating facility to your house is handled by national grid or ever source or whoever, and those investor owned utilities are reaping the profit not just from getting it to you but from investing in that system regardless of whether it's needed or not. And so the the double whammy for us is that if you build, like in Weymouth, a compressor station right on the shoreline or in East Boston a substation right on the shoreline and that thing floods and they have to rebuild it, hey, it's no no skin off their back, because the great payers will just pay to rebuild. And we ask that at the Energy Facility Sighting Board. We under oath or whatever, and in the process we ask the question if this facility were to be flooded and destroyed, who would pay for the repairs? Would that be on the rate payer? Again and ever, source admitted that yes, they would pass on that onto the rate payer. So in the same way that people complain about folks living on the coast and like their house gets like down the Cape or something, or on Plumb Island, their their house gets flooded and then they rebuild back in that same location and people say, why should we be paying to rebuild somebody in that location? And this is the same thing. Why should we be paying this private company to do something stupid that we're on the hook for? They make all the profit, we assume all the risk. That just it doesn't make any sense. And as Monty said, that the whole Isosoo England is just set up for their benefit and they keep promoting that kind of project. So any time there's a lot of people working towards the same goal, in my experience there's bound to be different opinions on how to exactly reach that goal. You know, so goals of been Vermont where I am, might be different than Massachusetts, where you all are, and so how is this shown up in this effort? Like what has it been like to agree to disagree on some aspects of this campaign to fix the grid. Actually, I can, I can start off here and he's things done with with this, that kind of thing of agreeing to disagree, because we actually had there was a big rally. There were a lot of our allies, three hundred and fifty dot org and all Sierra Club, all the sorts of folks that we are are friends and allies and these fights all sort of showed up and we had it in East Boston. The whole point was to kind of there were lots of teachins and things and we focused on a bunch of different issues, but the substation was a big part of it and we did a march from over in a park over to the location of the of the grid and while we were marching, this one guy was there and he started asked me and he was obviously very much into the energy sector and he was very much an advocate of electrification, which, you know, electric cars, let get a convection of and all that sort of stuff, get off a fossil fuel and all good stuff, and he was talking to me about he said, well, you know, we really do need electrical infrastructure and you know we're going to need substations. So don't you think that really this is necessary? And I was going back and forth with him, being very nice, and finally asked them like so, because of the environmental justice aspect, we're walking as we're walking, walking through the streets of East Boston as well. Where do you live? He so I live in Lincoln. So well, Ei there any substations near you? He's a well, not really, because we're much more spread out and like the need is and so intense. They're as like, well, we've got a substation, like we've got electrical infrastructure already here. This is more of it. And did you notice the airport over there? And did you notice all of the oil tanks, all the home heating oil, all the jet fuel, all the gasoline? Have you noticed the New England Produce Center? Have you noticed the huge salt pile that surprised that supplies road salt to like all...

...of Massachusetts? All of this stuff sits in our neighborhoods and so we really don't need more of it. And it's a lot easier when you're in a location that's a bit removed from that necessary infrastructure and you don't have to deal with it and you are able to afford an electric car. Nobody in Chelsea has an electric car because they're expensive. So there was this sort of disconnect and we had to sort of talk them through it and at the time I wasn't totally glommed onto are locked in on the energy democracy side of things. It was more of just the environmental justice argument, but as I've come to learn more of it, if I could bump into that guy again, I would say, you know, rather than having a substation here, would you rather see everybody in this neighborhood with a solar panel and a battery storage on the side of their house? Because now we're getting off a fossil fuels like you want, but then we have something that's going to support us in a much more independent fashion and there's a chance for us, like when you have that distributed generation and with like neighborhood level battery storage, we could be in a situation of a microgrid where, unlike Alice's situation this morning of being without electricity, you could island off your neighborhood and so if the grid goes down, we could still have electricity up and running in a given neighborhood if we have the battery storage there. So there are other other alternatives and I think sometimes your allies are kind of focused on one thing and we're trying to pull them back around to see the big picture of this and realize we're all on the same page, but we're on different parts of the book, if you want to think it. It's some people aren't page one on others are on the CODA on this thing. I'm just going to interject something here because I'm not sure that everyone knows about this and I don't think we talked about it. So in our neighborhood again we are in the middle of environment until justice neighborhoods. The basin has been overburdened with polluters. There's ten polluters within a one mile radius and this compressor station just adds to that. So, like you say, unfortunately, John Sighting is a huge deal about whether or not you're going to do it now with this compressor station, we said doesn't belong on the planet, get it out of here, and there was sort of that was there was pushback and and we learned. We really learned on this. There was pushed back from our brothers and sisters in the rural areas in the West saying, well, you want to put it here. We're like no, no, we don't want to put it there, we don't want to put it anywhere. This compressor station, this fract gas, this has to stop. It doesn't belong in my neighborhood, it doesn't belong in your neighborhood. Now we are now at a juncture with that. It's gotten a little bit weird. Is that Calpine, which is a power generator right across the street from the compressor station, has put in a bid to put lithium battery storage on their site. Now, whereas fracts is all about renewables and all about things like storage, there's a little bit of problem with living batteries. They overheat and they catch fire, and this is in a it's like feet from people's homes, literally feet from their homes, and there was actually a zoning board meeting that get canceled for tonight because we're without power where they we're going to be bringing this up again, and so we're in this really weird space of listen, we want renewables, but they have to be put in the right place. So before we opened our big mouths. We talked to our allies in the West and said, do you guys want this story to they're like yes, because they're trying to shut down some peakers out there that are so polluting, but they're not like close to people, where as we're definitely in urban neighborhood like Chelsea. So when they said yes, we want them out here, they're trying to shut down a care of seeing peek or out your pits field, I'm like, Oh my God, so it's this. It's a dance, you know. And when we talk about breaking up the grid and things like that, the first question gefferent people is, well, don't you want the lights to come on where you flip the switch? Yes, we do, but how you get there is the story. Yeah, I might add with that that a lot of people know about that. There's a new natural gas plant being planned for peabody and the first reason for doing that is that there's already another one there and so they're going to put it next to the one that's already there, and the theory is is that it's easier because there's a lot of electrical infrastructure already there, so you can just plop the plant in. In fact, the fact that it doubles the amount of folution and that community doesn't seem to have any effect on the...

...decision makers, probably because they don't live in that community, you know, and I think that Isso. Doesn't really that have any ability to look at the energy grid and say how can we disperse energy infrastructure so the no one communities being burdened with this is ISO doesn't care. All they care is algorithms about how energy gets delivered. And it fits with everything else they do. Is that there's what are the algorithms? What is the cheapest way of doing it now? And there are no other values. And there are, you know, there are lots of things about, for example, Frat Gass. Is ISO hasn't looked at for ask all they look at Frat gasses. SAY WHAT IS THE PRICE? That's the only thing they look at. But you know, the facility that's going into waymouth isn't for even for New England. It's to export fract gas to other countries. And why is the United States in two thousand and twenty one, with the planet heating up and you know California continues to burn and rain and burn, why is the United States building infrastructure so we can export, for act, gas to someone else, you know, and you put it that way it makes no sense at all. And so the only way they are looking at stuff is, what is this short term economic benefits? A handful of people are going to get out of this, because it certainly burdens all the communities are in. The gas is coming from Pennsylvania and other places and it's and the coming on pipelines all through that area and going, I think, to a port in Nova Scotia or something like that. So they're creating all this infrastructure so that they can export it. Do we want to export more gas? I mean, that isn't where we should be heading right now, you know. I mean a lot of people didn't didn't hear it, but President Biden actually put out a proposal. The initial proposal that is being, you know, round to pieces in Congress right now included the idea that electric power companies would switch entirely to renewals by two thousand and thirty five, that that was something you wanted to happen fast so that the all of the electrical energy that was going to electric cars and all that kind of stuff would be clean and no one in the ISSO world, in the site planning world, is there. Their idea is is that I will do this in two thousand and fifty. Two Thousand and fifty is too late. I mean immagine the idea that is nineteen years and I imagine that nineteen years from now will still be burning natural gas and burning coal. You know, think about what things are going to be like then. So you know, they need to begin thinking now about how are we going to replace gas natural gas plants? How we going to replace nuclear plants with solar and with wind power? That's the future and our job is to look at the future and say how can we begin this transition, and not to look at the future and say how many more years can we get a little bit more profit out of this fossil fuel economy? It's it's time to begin the transition and you know, you can't just sort of say well, now it's two thousand and forty and we're going to build a whole bunch of electric windmills. You can't do that. You have to do it over a period of time and so you have to have a plan and you have to get started Lokay, I'm going to jump in here because I think you're you're you're taking us in a direction that I want to to frame a little bit more and have John and Alice jump in on too, and I also want to I love, Alice, what you were saying about the dance between different you know, figuring out where the piece of the pieces, some pieces can make more sense in some places than others. Inciting is a key part of figuring out, you know, infrastructure and and how we get from point a to point B of this this future that we want to be living in. And so kind of going off of that, what is y'All's vision for the future of our grid? If you were in charge of Isso and could take steps to to change what's going on and and build the grid of the future, what does that look like for you? So I've been called a communist because I believe that, you know, what it had this has to be in the hands of the people. The the grid has to be broken up,...

...the operators have to be showed in the door because power, electric, power, energy, this is a public good. I feel the same way about medical things too, but it is a public good and it is not right that if you're wealthy you know, you can use all the power you want and because you can pay for it or whatever, but if your middle income or your lower income, you've got your lights turned off and your heat turned down and you can't have your conditioning and all these things because you can't afford it. So that's, you know, sort of I look at this and you've got to break this up. I had this weird fantasy. I live on a street and it's a cult stack and I thought to myself, couldn't we put a windmill up in Bruce's backyard, my neighbor, you have a fit given. Could a wind milock bruces backyard just like electrify the whole neighborhood? That one when Melmone we should think about that. But it's that kind of thing that, you know, they entered the idea of energy democracy that we have to go to. But just riffing off of what Monty said about the future. Thank you, John Roolutionary power. You know what Monty said about they're actually taking us backwards, you know. So like the compression station and Waymouth, this was a step backwards. I mean after fighting them and they only started constructing in December of two thousand and nineteen, but after finding them for all of those years. Number one, they never needed it, ever needed it. They didn't even need it to export it to Canada. That's the truth. But they were hoping for this access in northeast just to make it bigger and get that exportation part, you know, going. They took us backwards with that and with every facility, the L G plant plan for Charles, Charleston, Charlton, you know, those kind of things. They're taking us backwards instead of forwards. And you know Monty's idea of you know, you got to start building the windmills now, you've got to start getting the solar raised now. But you are fighting a system that rewards the wealthy. In this situation, they are the investors, they're controlling everything, and this the system that we have set up within the IR so, within the the power generators all over the country, is that they don't want to they don't want to lose that control. You know, you communist, we can't let you have cheap energy. We can't do this, we can't do that. And that's where we're at. And we always say the sounds crazy. It's like, you know, we're all about the environment, the earth and all that. Follow the money. Follow that money. Yeah, that that is definitely follow the money is it's not just for Watergate anymore. It's it's the everything is follow the money. And I I worked in and doing flood mapping and things, and work the hydrologist who told me hydrology is easy. There's three rules to hydrology. Water runs downhill. The second rule is, with enough money, water will run uphill and you get paid every other Thursday and that's that's basically it. And I apply that to everything because they're like the the rules of the game are pretty straightforward. However, you notice that they will bend the rules and make it work. They'll make water run up hill when they need to. So right now, ever, source and all these companies will say, you know, this is just not viable, we just can't do this, we can't do this, we can't do that, and they said you couldn't put somebody on the moon, and they did it in a record amount of time. And if you put the money towards it, we could tomorrow shut down all these peaker plans, shut down all this fossil fuel and do solar power in wind, offshore wind, onshore wind, geothermal, all these things, for the problem is it's not set up to do that right now. We're not making the decisions, we're not setting our priorities to say we want renewable energy by twenty and thirty by two thousand and thirty five or in a really fast track time frame, which is a late fast track. It should have been done already. But, and we've known this for a while, but now it's becoming so clear and it's becoming clear to just the regular, everyday people on the street that this is a great opportunity. So, in terms of question about like what is our vision, I think our vision is to see a lot of things that Isso New England and utility companies jealously guard with a wall of jargon and really confusing policies,...

...of seeing that wall breakdown so that people can understand, Hey, wait a minute, this is and it's not even just a question of Oh, it's a communist thing, it's it's just being answerable to people. So you mentioned Alice, that like next door and you've braintree, you've got a municipality that has a Muni utility and like if your utility company isn't doing it for you and Braintree, you call up the mayor and you vote the guy out. You know you you can go after there's there's a an accountability there because your town is in charge of this, as opposed to I can't judge, I can't vote the CEO out of ever source. I mean, these people have control of stuff and they are answerable to no one. And the way the system has set up, and one of the things we've seen is the revolving door between the regulators and the industry, and people are going back and forth between this permeal, permeable membrane. It's actually not even a door, it's just the same room and actually literally we found this out that in city hall that the Chief of Energy next to him was a desk that is reserved for the ever source representative, because obviously the city has to work very closely with the main energy provider. But he has a desk in City Hall, and so that just tells you all you need to know that there's we need to be able to have these people on speed dial to say fix this, and we need to start having people in the street, the people paying the bills, understanding hey, you know what you're getting screwed this. This should not work this way. You should be in charge. You should be able to pick up the phone and call somebody and get a response and and it's your government, it's your energy. Like you said, energy is a public good, the same way view healthcare, housing and transit. These are all things that should be provided. There was a small article in the globe today that kind of kind of highlights what John is talking about, and it's was a thing that General Electric said that it's Turbo Division, the bills, the arms of the windmills that they use out at sea, is going to lose money next year because the federal government hasn't yet extended a tax credit for companies that do solar wind power out in the ocean. And so they said that the and so that Ge said that the number of windmills out in the ocean is going to be less, they're going to be producing fewer of them next year because this tax credit isn't going on. And it's like it's not like, oh, we need to be speeding up and doing this, it's well, we can't make enough money if we don't get this thing, and so we just won't bother this next year to build with mills and it's like, well, that's not really the attitude you got to have if you want to deal with climate change. You can't wait until you're going to make a fourteen percent profit for sure before you start doing stuff. And and so it's just kind of a it just fits right in with with with John and Alice are saying about, you know, if people are making money, they'll do it, and if they're not making money, then doesn't happen. Yeah, and I just want to bring up something that I keep going back to is that FDR and in the war powers act. You know, way back during World War I, he shut down the automobile and distrait for five years. He said it's a public private partnership. You guys are making tanks to make complains, you're making you know whatever, but you're not making cars. And this is actually true. They retooled, retooled in six months and because they had the public private partnership going on, of course the car industry made money, you know, from the from the government to make the tanks and whatever. And this we are. I look at this and I don't see this any different than World War Two. We are in the war, but we're in a war against ourselves, basically. But if we had the political will and we didn't have the slimy lobbyists and the industry in owning Washington and we had someone who could go in and say no, this is what we're doing and we're going to fix this, it'd be done in five years. It really would be done in five years. Thanks for all those thoughts on where we should be headed and how we should be getting there. And we have the tools, we have the ability and that's more question of will than anything else. And the money is being put in the wrong places. Is there anything else I didn't get covered? Any like story or hoping to tell? I know we like talk about briefly in the beginning, but like as we kind of like went along with the conversation, where you like, I really wanted...

...to make sure I hit on this point or told the story. The only thing I would I would interject hears that you know for people that you know when you talk about evolve in door and Monty talked about that, is that Ryl la floor so used to be a commissioner at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and you know so John and Monty Know Waymouth, the energy facility sighting board, the FSB in Massachusetts had no authority over the sighting of this because it's federal, so we couldn't even go up there and pound on them. Cheryl la floor, yes, missile floor, so she is now the head of the board of the ISS o New England and she was one of the votes that put the waymouth compressor station where it is. I actually accosted her in a nice way conference in New Hampshire when she was still a commissioner, try to appeal to her sense of justice or whatever, and of course got nowhere. But yeah, now she's the head of the of the board. I guess that the guy is someone wins. and Oh and she lives in Wellesley to so you know, don't worry about it, there's no substations or compressed stations in her neighborhood. Yeah, we had the the two scenarios. Was the that we dealt with was when this project was being gestated. The chief of Energy and environment for the Menino Administration, it's at Boston City Hall, was a guy who, when minieal left office, went on to become the vice president of governmental affairs for ever source and the because it's on the waterfront. There's a sort of esoteric permit they have to get called the chapter ninety one license, and the Chapter Ninety one license was written by consulting firm vhb, and they submitted it on behalf of ever source to the DP, and the guy who was working at vhb who wrote it is now currently the director of the office that reviews those permits. So he actually had to refuse himself because he was looking at a document he had written for a permit. So he refused himself and gave it to one of his underlings. Wow, like this is ridiculous and and at the hurried he's who you know, a lovely person and her husband's a vice president and national grid. So you're just like this is all in the family here. This is yeah, and for folks who don't know, the second secretary, the heart's is the secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs in Massachusetts. The thing that freaked me out is there were a bunch of other really parochial kind of local connections involved in this and I mapped at all out sort of like conspiracy theorist kind of you know chart with a little lines connecting all these people and everything and we were talking about like political candidates and this was the brother of that guy who then went to work for this person. I had all laid out and I presented it to a globe reporter and he looked at me like yeah, so, like this is this is how government works, like you want me to report that water's way, this is business as usual, and I'm like, but this is crazy. And Yeah, yeah, well, it's one of the reasons why one of the six voting groups, it Isso, is the municipal power plants people. And it's not. It's not a progressive group, because what they do is that they bring in people from the private sector to be on the board and to be the top management. Yeah, so they're not really public sector companies. Their private sector companies that are part of the town municipal so, I mean that's why teabody is getting a pod. This this speaker plant is to serve just the municipalities. So the municipalities, which you would think of as being a little bit more forward thinking, are the ones that are building a brand new natural gas plant. And you know, I mean that's just a certain way of approaching issues that is just completely distorted. It's amazing, but you know, I mean that's that's the personnels moving back and forth kind of thing. You know I mean I bet if you looked at all the municipal light boards you'd find people from them, you know, from the private sector, all over through the boards, and it actually highlights a lot of like community action works. The the important aspect of the work that you guys do and working with all the different community groups around doing which you are fighting these things, is the training to get people up to speed on understanding this, because what we need to start having. Me You don't want people. I want my brain surgeon to actually know brain surgery. I don't want to...

...get somebody WHO's not interested in making any money, but I'll work on your brain, you know. No, I don't want I want someone who knows what they're doing. But unfortunately, over time systems get put in place that are self serving and self perpetuating and eventually the priority becomes the money, making the the you know, feathering your nest and keeping yourself employed, and we need sort of a flushing out of the system and some people coming in who have some knowledge, have been trained up in this and actually have a desire to see, you know, things work properly and not just be like, all right, I'm going to get this job with ever source once I get this degree. No, it'd be like I want to see, I want to be a good municipal employee that's going to run this power plant the cleanness that I can and the most reliable that I can. Yeah, you know, and it's just hard to to get that these days. It's we got to really change the system, we got emplace. Yeah, and I really from from each from each local group. It's it's just tremendously frustrating to realize that your issue involves this power structure going all the way up to the federal level, regional level of stuff. You know that you're not just it's not just a local you're not trying to change the local stuff you're in. Frequently your town officials will go along with you, right, A. None of these people care about local officials, right, you know? I mean and Wayn Thatt, are most of the public officials on your side, Alice, they support us. Nobody wanted this compressor station. We've had several o'connors office did the you know, one of his AIDS shout out to Daria did the brief for firk that was signed by the reps and senators, you know, on the hill. That just went in there. And this is the kind of support we have. And we still have a compressor station because they do not have as much power as the industry. If you think about it, we have the support of all of these politicians and yet they do not have as much power as the industry, and so it's really, really very bonkers that this is the case and it shows you where we're at sort of, you know, as the country and municipalities and all of that that are elected officials have less power than private industry. And I can thatt go that there is one place where the buck does stop, and that individual has not lowered himself to speak to any of us, and that as our beloved governor, and he's the guy that actually could stick his finger on the scale here or just slow things up and say, wait a minute, let's look at this, and he refuses to even admit that these campaigns exist, and that is is very frustrating and I think in your port podcast, Alice, you refer to him as like the teflon down. He really is like Prince Charlie, where he is just little Lord Fauntleroy. He gets everything his way. Nothing ever sticks to him, and I think it's time. It's high time for people to sort of say listen, you know, there's some stuff out here that people don't like and we've gotten everybody on our side. There's only one voice that's not there and it's yours, and we need you to speak up and at the very least pick a side, if you know, show some Hutzpa here and come out and say, you know what, I'm against you people. I'm for the investor own utility and just say it. But if you can't say that, then you're a coward and we'd like to call out the governor, and I would like to do that here publicly, to call out the governor to say which side are you on? You know that famous song? Will sing it out in front of his house and swamps good if necessary, right next to the pink boat blocking his driveway. It's funny you say that. We sang that to him. He was in Waymouth a number of years ago. He was campaigning for somebody and we were on the other side of the street. We had we had at least a hundred and fifty people and we were singing him that song. Well, he was giving a speech, but yeah, I feel like saying to you, John, welcome to my nightmare. Yeah, Baker has just been horrible and you know, the bottom line is he doesn't care. The bottom line is he's lining his pocket. The substation isn't in swamps. Good, if not, you mentioned, and he just does not care. So thank you so so much to all of you, Alice, Monty and John, for joining us to share...

...your expertise in your perspectives on this issue to support the ISSO campaign. Check out the links in the show notes. will also have the links to the groups that Alice, John and Monte work with. Thank you all for tuning in today and this season in general. It has been such a joy sharing these stories about energy with you. We are signing off for this season, but join us next season to dig into waste in the northeast. And, if you haven't yet, be sure to subscribe to this podcast, forever podcast. That from me. Use that you don't miss new episodes when they get posted and right as a review to help others signed us to and to learn more about community action works, check out our website and in social media, and again, all those links are in the show note. Thanks for listening and talk to you next season. Stories from the front lines is brought to you by community action works. It is recorded by me near a PA Johnny, with support from Shana Casper, edited and produced by Lilly McLaughlin. Special thanks to Theo Rosen for research and development, to Gage Calhoun for supporting this project through her fundraising work and to Aaron Matthew for composing and recording the original music. We wouldn't be able to make this happen without the incredible work of the movement and the support of the community action works team, especially Ruthy rickenbacker. Our campaigns are made possible through our do paying members, donors and funders, but really through the hard and tireless work of our community leaders who've been fighting pollution and seating solutions across the region since one thousand nine hundred and seven. Thank you.

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