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Bostonians could vote this fall on whether Eversource should be allowed to build a substation in East Boston

A group of East Boston residents have asked the city for a non-binding referendum this fall calling on Eversource to move a substation proposed for East Eagle Street on Chelsea Creek someplace else, like Logan Airport.

If the City Council formally approves the proposal - and it voted unanimously today to support a resolution by Councilor Lydia Edwards to do that - and the mayor signs off, the measure would go on the November ballot. Because of state law, the question, like an earlier one on changing the name of Dudley Square to Nubian Square, has to go before voters across the city.

But that's not a bad thing, Councilor Lydia Edwards (East Boston, North End, Charlestown), said. In proposing her resolution, she said the proposed substation, next to a playground, near homes in a densely populated part of East Boston, and not that far from Logan fuel tanks, should be an affront to all Bostonians, that if one neighborhood is hurt, "all of our neighborhoods are hurt."

"It is not only a slap in our face, but a kick in the gut to a neighborhood already burned by airport pollution," she said. "It's time for us as a city to say no more."

Edwards acknowledged the state Energy Facilities Siting Board this week approved the Eversource project, but said residents vowed to "go down swinging" and are trying to get every city elected official to go on record that this should never happen again.

PDF icon Edwards's resolution126.18 KB



For the memory of Robert Palmer.

Voting closed 12

Only fair.

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simply irresistible.

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Will vote on it.

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There's no other way to go

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If the East Boston residents don't want a substation, then they should dramatically reduce their electric usage. Eversource needs to install the substation to handle increased capacity. East Boston residents would have no problems with the substation if Eversource located it in Chelsea. NIMBY at work.

Voting closed 14

This isn't about THEIR electric usage.

It is about INDUSTRIAL usage that mostly benefits people not in their community.

If you bothered to read you would know that.

Where did you get those spiffy talking points from, honey? Someone in Texas?

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Many residents of East Boston and Chelsea work at the airport. Many more are employed in the hospitality industry (hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions, etc.), an industry made possible by people coming into Boston via the airport (at least pre-COVID). So, not only do they benefit from the airport, they actually depend on it for their livelihoods.

When one chooses to live near the airport, one should expect to have airport-related infrastructure in the vicinity. Basic economics dictate that poor people end up living in less desirable areas (in this case, less desirable due to noise). Less desirable areas = less desirable surroundings and infrastructure. If cities (and city councils) want to prevent poor people from getting the short end of the stick, they should perhaps build low-income housing in more desirable neighborhoods instead.

Blaming the infrastructure is attacking the symptoms, not the problem itself.

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For better or worse, East Boston is arguably the hottest real estate market in the city right now and has been for years.

But that aside, way to double down and insinuate poor people should suck up living in undesirable, dangerous conditions. Or that working class people automatically = poor. What an absolute fu*%ing clown you are.

And just for good measure: the fight isn’t about the substation existing. It’s about the location of the substation. There is zero reason to stick this thing literally in the middle of a park, jet fuel, residential neighborhood, and a waterway, instead of a safe area of the airport.

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"For better or worse, East Boston is arguably the hottest real estate market in the city right now and has been for years."

If you're talking about percentage increase over the past few years, then maybe. But absolutely NO ONE thinks Eastie is a hotter neighborhood than: Waterfront, Fenway, Southie or probably the South End.

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talking about growth and development. It's boomtown over here, and prices are going insane. Not necessarily a good thing at the scale we're seeing, but the point is, to call it an "undesirable" neighborhood is a joke.

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Seriously, if you want to have electricity, you need to have the infrastructure to deliver it.

The misinformation about this project is maddening. Substations ARE NOT fossil fuel infrastructure. They are needed to step down power from high voltage and send it out to distribution feeders. With all of the development and load growth, there has to be the infrastructure to support it.

Substations don't produce any emissions. There are some oils used to cool equipment, but that's it. I honestly don't get how any of this is controversial

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Do you know what EMF is?

Or why they moved it away from the processing plant because of EMF?

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Or because they need to put one there?

My guess is they put them where they are needed and no matter where it is people complain.

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No one there will mind.

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They're not trying to annoy people and no doubt the engineers wearing belts and suspenders truly believe that this thing is necessary given their parameters. The reality is that Eversource's business model depends on continued investment in transmission infrastructure (a capital investment where 100% of the cost is passed on to the rate payer). Eversource's revenues last year from transmission increased with investments in transmission infrastructure. The growth in revenue came even as electric sales dropped almost 3 percent in Connecticut and 3.4 percent in Massachusetts. All our energy efficiency programs worked! We're using less electricity despite all the development in the neighborhood.

The Union of Concerned Scientists did a study on the feasibility of meeting the residential neighborhood's electricity demands using distributed generation (rooftop solar) and battery storage, and it worked out cheaper. If in fact this thing is needed for the airport's benefit (expansion of Terminal E, principally) then stick it on their campus where the taxpayer has already paid for shoring up against flooding and there is 24 hour security. As it is they're proposing to site this thing in filled tidelands on the banks of the Chelsea Creek where we know it WILL flood repeatedly during the operational lifespan of the facility. And when that happens they can rebuild it and pass on 100% of the cost to all the ratepayers.

Also I agree with the frustrated person above who stated that a substation is not fossil fuel infrastructure. It is however a component of an electrical grid design that depends on point sources of generation of high voltage for transmission (as its purpose is to step it down to distribution level). And those point sources (in Mass) tend to be fossil fuel, nuclear and incinerators. Eventually off-shore wind will behave this way as it will all come on land in one big-ass transmission cable - but so far that doesn't seem to be moving forward. Huge substations will increasingly be throw-backs to a different time as large battery storage sites and other technologies come into play. Just because one company wants to keep making money the way they used to doesn't mean the rest of us have to go along with it.

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I read that joke of a UCS back of the envelope napkin "study", and I have a hard time believing that was done to the standards of the professionals in the planning field. You size the substation requirements to the worst case, so in the report it says it is 300MW peak load in the case of two transmission line failures in low sunlight scenarios. I have a hard time believing rooftop distributed solar and storage at a maximum of 14MW (which is a marginal amount to begin with) is going to move the needle at all with respect to worst case analysis.

Using a public policy/environmental justice person to questioning electrical distribution professionals on matters of electrical distribution is like using a radiologist to question epidemiologists on matters of the pandemics. It is bad practice either way.

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