East Boston murals celebrating the community’s immigrant identity.

East Boston and Power: An Environmental Justice Community in Transition

John Walkey, Waterfront Initiative Coordinator, , UCS

En español

This is the first in a four-part blog series on East Boston, a Controversial Substation, and Opportunities for a Clean Energy Transition.  

Welcome to Eastie

Of all the neighborhoods of Boston, East Boston quite literally stands apart: physically separated from the rest of the city by Boston Harbor. Originally a collection of small islands, it was eventually merged into one land mass, and its northern shore was connected to the mainland through a land filling and development process in the late nineteenth century. The character of East Boston has been defined by its waterfront in two main ways: the industries that have thrived along its wharves, and the immigrants who passed from those docks to live in the neighborhood’s tightly packed blocks of triple-decker homes. Now in the 21st century, change is rippling across this waterfront community.

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Norman B. Leventhal Map Center, Boston Public Library.
John Walkey
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A chromolithograph print of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago
Bird's-eye view of the World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893 Library of Congress, no known restrictions on publication.

The Current War: Why Did Westinghouse (AC) Beat Edison (DC)?

, Energy analyst

As communities across California face widespread power outages and the debate over how to keep the grid reliable rages on, I decided to go to the movies for some historical context on our electric grid, seeing The Current War: Director’s Cut on opening night. With a big-name cast, my hopes were high, but the movie was just OK.

It’s a shame the movie wasn’t more compelling, because this is a fascinating story that deserves much more attention. The movie portrays the late 19th century “war” between George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison that would ultimately determine which technologies were used to build the foundation of the electric grid we use today. While Edison championed direct current (DC) systems, Westinghouse promoted alternating current (AC) systems, and the competition between the two was fierce.

While walking out of the theater, I couldn’t stop wondering: why exactly did Westinghouse’s AC systems triumph over Edison’s DC systems?

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Library of Congress, no known restrictions on publication.
Creative Commons
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Here Is Why State Regulators Are Rejecting Utility Resource Plans

, Senior Energy Analyst

Utility resource plans, which often take the form of “Integrated Resource Plans” (IRP), are a business plan, of sorts, for utilities. It lays out what utilities plan on doing to meet customer’s demands. In California, the process tends to look like this. Outside California, the primary questions being looked at are how much coal will be retired, how quickly it will be retired, and what resources will replace that coal. Read more >

"Rejected (Trending Twitter Topics from 07.08.2019)" by trendingtopics is licensed under CC BY 2.0
John Wilson (left) and LBNL (right)
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Photo: Christian Naenny/Flickr

Why Berkeley Banned Natural Gas in New Buildings

, Energy analyst

Two weeks ago, Berkeley, California became the first city in the nation to ban natural gas hook-ups in new construction. The ordinance passed unanimously with overwhelming public support, but the gas industry has been quietly fighting back by stealthily funding “consumer” groups that criticize gas bans like Berkeley’s. So let me explain what the rule actually does and why it’s a great idea.

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Photo: Christian Naenny/Flickr
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Offshore Wind in the US: Scale, Jobs and Innovation

, energy analyst

When I visited Block Island’s offshore wind farm 2 years ago I knew I was seeing history in the making. This project, the first one in operation in the US, has 5 powerful wind turbines and an installed capacity of 30 megawatts (MW). I just attended the US Offshore Wind 2019 conference and my mind is blown with the progress this industry is experiencing. Let me share 3 exciting facts that I learned at the conference. Read more >

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