Pulseline, October 5, 2012

Dear PulseLine. With fall foliage and Halloween coming up, how about a ghost town tour! It will start at the Strathmore Paper Company plant in Russell. The mill buildings were closed down in 1999 and the new tenants cannot be found. This is because Russell has gotten the reputation of being anti-industry. The next stop on our ghost town tour is the Westfield River Paper Company that went out of business in 1993. A biomass plant was going to occupy this site but the residents said “No Biomass in Russell, Mass.” So this valuable property will sit abandon and vacant for years to come! Our final stop will be the Texon Paper Company that is leaving Russell. They wanted to burn pallets for heat but the Concerned Citizens of Russell stopped them cold. Now CCR members are being blamed for lost of industry and rising taxes. They are now blaming all the ghosts that did not come to town meetings and save their ghost town!

The last time I checked you could still take a right on red unless it is otherwise posted. So for all you drivers going south on Elm Street to take a right onto Franklin Street, you can take that right on red but yield to oncoming traffic. It’s O.K. to do so.

This is in response to the person who wrote into the PulseLine about the Proud Chef on College Highway in Southwick. The restaurant will be re-opening on October 15. I, like many others, am looking forward to going back. It is a great restaurant that just closed temporarily. Thank you.

Christmas shopping is just around the corner and I have a good suggestion for shoppers. A better option than a lay-away plan is to join a Christmas club at a bank or union. Open an account this year and deposit whatever amount weekly and next year you will have money for Christmas shopping. If you go the route of a lay-away plan, please read and double read the fine print on all sales ad. Thank you.

I just would like to say to the PulseLine what a wonderful Harvest Day we had on Court Street and thank the people who organized it. And regarding 16 Washington Street and anyone who is 21 years or older who works or isn’t disabled or can’t afford a rest home does come to any building of the Westfield Housing Authority. I would like to thank the police, firemen and the Red Cross for helping out all the tenants in this building regardless of age or how much money they have. Thank you, very much.

Recently, My wife and I purchased a solar system for our house in Westfield, Ma. My reasoning for this investment was to first go green (reduce our carbon footprint), secondly to save money on our energy consumption. This was no small investment as my wife and I invested in a system we thought, would provide us 100 percent of our yearly usage. This was not an irrational purchase as we investigated and researched this decision for many months. We trusted and believed the information we received from various companies to be true and factual. Here lies our problem, once we purchased the system we discovered Westfield Gas and Electric does not participate in the Mass. CEC Rebate, which means we did not qualify for a $4,000 rebate on our system. The second problem is in NET METERING, we have now discovered Westfield Gas and Electric does not participate in NET METERING. As you may not be aware NET METERING, NET METERING means the generator of the power consumes the power they generate from their solar panel and sells the excess back to the electric company. Why would anyone invest in solar energy in Westfield , if the Gas and Electric is going to purchase 100 percent of your electric energy for .048 cents and sell you back your energy for .128 cents + a customer charge (they also charge you for transmission and Distribution of your own power). Don’t believe the reiterate about taking part in the program will cause Westfield Gas and Electric to go up on their rates. Less than 1 percent of Westfield Gas and Electric customers can afford or are able to partake in Renewable Energy (upfront costs are extremely high). I seriously doubt 1 percent would make a difference on our electric bill. In closing I find the investment in Green Energy, in a Municipality owned City/Town to not be worth the money. And further more find this whole Municipality issue to be discriminatory, every citizen who produces their own power, whether it is in a Corporate Electric Power Company owned area or a Municipality owned area, should be subject to the same rules. This customer did contact the WG&E on this issue yesterday. Much of what you see in this response has already been conveyed to this person and we thank the Westfield News for the opportunity to publically address these concerns. First and foremost, the WG&E is a strong advocate for energy efficiency and alternative energy sources, as evidenced by the conservation and efficiency programs we have long administered and the two large solar projects we are presently partnering in with the City. As for the CEC, the WG&E chose not participate in the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (CEC) membership as it requires a mandatory charge to each and every customer of the WG&E and is an irrevocable membership that would result in an annual charge of about $250,000 to our ratepayers. In our most recent customer satisfaction survey done in 2012, where over 4,500 customers replied, WG&E customers responded that they do not wish to pay extra on their bills to subsidize renewable energy projects. We are, in fact, following the direction given. WG&E does have a net metering policy that pays customers for their generation output. WG&E’s policy addressing net metering can be found on our web site located under Helpful Resources/Policies and Procedures/ Interconnection Standards and Procedures/ Section 19- Reimbursement Policy. Having a municipal utility typically means you benefit from lower rates, better service and higher levels of investment back into the distribution system versus paying shareholders. As a WG&E customer, you pay 14 percent less for utility bills than the state average and upwards of 30 percent less than those “Corporate Electric Power” companies this customer references. While we can appreciate this (or any) customer’s efforts at pursuing “green” energy to reduce both the carbon footprint and utility bills, we wish either the customer or the solar vendor had contacted the WG&E to discuss options during their research. We would have been able to convey our Net Metering Reimbursement Policy or CEC status. – Dan Howard, General Manager, WG&E

When are they going to start paving Elm Street? it’s been three weeks since they removed the top layer of asphalt and the asphalt plants will be closing soon.  Please get this done – remember last October? Paving was expected to start and be completed this week.  Due to the rain, completion has been delayed. To ensure a solid foundation it is best to pave when it is dry. Some of the feeder streets into Elm were completed and Elm is expected to be finished very soon.

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