HUDSON – Hudson Select Board members expressed concerns earlier this month about a request to establish a new committee to help Hudson meet statewide greenhouse emission standards.
The request from the environmental and sustainability organization Green Hudson argued that such a committee could more broadly push the town toward a greener future.
“I don’t disagree with your points,” Select Board Member Fred Lucy said during this Dec. 19 discussion. “I just don’t know if we need another committee to tell us the same things.”
Board member Jim Quinn agreed with Lucy. He suggested that Green Hudson take the objectives upon themselves without too much “fanfare” or the establishment of another group.
Green Hudson proposes committee
The aim of the proposed “Energy Use Transition Committee” would not be to “tell people what they already know,” Green Hudson member Brian White said.
“The goal of the committee is to help Hudson concretely take action so the town can do this important work,” White said. “It will provide focus on how to get maximum grant money from the federal government to transition to a greener community.”
White’s proposal consisted of action items the new committee would be tasked with, such as collecting emission data from various businesses and residences to come up with ways to mitigate the gas levels.
He also listed economic and business opportunities that the transition would bring about, including opportunities to attract new residents to Hudson and the possible creation of new jobs in energy conversion and infrastructure installation.
White noted that neighboring Stow, which is a part of the Hudson Light and Power electrical network, recently created a similar committee.
“There are some advantages to standing up our work with them since we share the same municipal utility,” White said.
White added that similar committees have been created in about 100 other Massachusetts communities.
State commitments set 2035, 2050 benchmarks
Green Hudson, which consists of 20 volunteer members who participate in town cleanup activities such as recycling days and plastic reduction, stressed the urgency of beginning to transition toward greener energy.
Gov. Charlie Baker previously signed into law the “Next Generation Roadmap Bill,” committing the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to “net zero” by 2050 and committing to a 50 percent reduction from 1990 greenhouse gas levels by 2035, the Green Hudson proposal cited. State and federal money will be sanctioned across Massachusetts in increments to fund this effort.
“Hudson will be required to meet its share in the obligation,” White said. “The new committee would ensure that Hudson has projects in the pipeline to take advantage of the grant money when it becomes available.”
The proposal White presented indicated that the first step to transitioning is the electrification of homes and vehicles by replacing oil heat with heat pumps and purchasing electric vehicles for the town. With Hudson in the market for a new fire engine, Green Hudson suggested the purchase of an electric fire engine.
Select Board member Shawn Sadowski pushed back against such a purchase, which could cost at least $1.4 million, and the installation of additional electric vehicle charging stations.
“Parking in downtown Hudson is already limited,” Sadowski said. “So we are taking away parking from people who do not have electric vehicles who come into town.”
Lucy pointed out that the installation of heat pumps, which in itself would be expensive, would yield higher heat bills than those from oil heaters.
Select Board Chair Scott Duplisea and member Michael Burks said they worried about pushing Hudson too far, too fast.
“To set something up where we are forcing individuals to retrofit their house from fossil fuel to electric, I think, is a big push on us as a board and us as a community,” Burks said. “I think it’s going to turn off a lot of people.”
Duplisea echoed Burks’ statement, warning the committee of rushing into the transition toward green energy.
“We are all going to be transitioning, and it is going to be uncomfortable,” Green Hudson member Tina Grosowsky said. “I could ask you, what plan do you have? We have a plan, and we want to work together on it.”
The board did not take a vote on the creation of the new committee on Dec. 19 and does not plan to at any future meetings according to Sadowski.
“It is not scheduled to come back for a vote,” he told the Community Advocate on Dec. 22. “We did not establish the committee.”