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NEW: Smart Meters on Worcester Zoning Board Agenda Tonight

Monday, January 13, 2014

 

The Worcester Zoning Board of Appeals meets tonight to discuss the controversial proposal for a communications tower in Tatnuck Square.

The Worcester Zoning Board of Appeals will hold a meeting later today to decide the fate of two proposed National Grid “smart meter” towers in Tatnuck square. The locations are 597 Mill Street (Tatnuck Plaza) and Tory Fort Lane. The meeting will be held at 5:30pm at the Levi Lincoln Chamber, City Hall.

The proposed towers and smart meters are key components of National Grid's Smart Energy Solutions/Smart Grid program.

To view tonight’s full list of agenda items, go here.

Smart Grid Technology

According to National Grid, the National Grid Smart Energy Solutions program was developed in partnership with customers and strategic partners in the city of Worcester and is designed to provide select customers a new level of choice and control over their energy use. The program offers new technologies and upgraded infrastructure to these customers, with the goals of empowering customers to save energy, increasing electric service reliability and improving response to power outages. Smart grid technology is also seen as better accommodating plug-in electric vehicles and home renewable energy sources including solar power systems and wind turbines.

The smart grid pilot program in Worcester plans to include 15,000 customers, who'll be the first in the state to adopt the wireless metering technology.

Controversy

Opponents of wireless meters, in Massachusetts and other states, cite possible health risks and privacy concerns — in addition to the cost of implementation.

One of the most vocal critics has been Stop Smart Meters In Massachusetts, a statewide group organized against the wireless meters in the Bay State. Local activist Steve Quist has organized Worcester residents against the rollout.

National Grid Response

Previously responding to health and privacy concerns related to the wireless meters, National Grid spokesperson Deborah Drew told GoLocal that the equipment used was in compliance with Federal Communications Commission guidelines and that the company would continue to comply with laws and regulations designed to protect consumer information.

 

Related Slideshow: 9 Challenges Facing Worcester’s New City Manager

Now the Edward Augustus is serving as City Manager for Worcester, GoLocal reached out to the city's leaders to find out what they believe are the biggest challenges Augustus will face in his new role. 

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Keep Forward Momentum

Paul Giorgio, publisher of Pagio, Inc. and a GoLocalWorcester MINDSETTER™:

“Priority One: Keep up the momentum.

Two: Work with the mayor on creating a task force for the north end of Main Street.

Three: Insure that we keep our school renovation plan on track.”

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Economic Development

Councilor Anthony Economou:

“Economic development is huge. We have a lot going on, and we have to keep the momentum up,” Economou said. “Make sure we don't miss a beat. You don't want to lose a period of nine months and not have forward progress.”

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Financial Management

Roberta Schaefer, former president of the Worcester Regional Research Bureau:

Schaefer said continuing the sound financial management of former City Manager Michael O'Brien was the greatest task for Augustus. But in addition to financial questions, she called for Augustus to “follow the lead of Michael O'Brien, to make sure he represents all the interests of the city, as the CEO of the city.

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Business Climate

Tim Murray, president and chief executive officer of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce:

In addition to budgeting and economic development, Murray pointed to fostering the business climate in the city. “Try to make Worcester as business-friendly a place as possible,” he said. Whether through permitting, customer service, or other incentive, “whatever we can do to make the city a supportive (place for business).”

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Budget Concerns

Christopher Pinto, member of the Worcester Republican City Committee:

“Can he really do pension reform? Can he spare the taxpayers from more abusive taxes?” asked Pinto, who wonders what Augustus will do about the Responsible Employer Ordinance and how the new city manager will make appointments to boards and commissions.

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Capital Improvements

Councilor Frederick Rushton:

Rushton said the number one challenge Augustus will face is following through toward new buildings and/or renovations to area high schools in need of capital improvements.

"Second," he said, “is completing CitySquare.”

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Public Safety

Councilor Sarai Rivera:

Rivera points to economic development, neighborhood development, and continuing to support public safety and public service, as well as “working with private and labor to support the (Responsible Employer Ordinance) and look into an apprentice program.”

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Neighborhood Development

Councilor George Russell:

“It's not necessarily 'A, B, and C,' it's more what you want to see overall,” Russell said. “For me, it's more neighborhood orientation.”

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Collective Bargaining

Councilor Anthony Economou:

Economou also cited the upcoming task of collective bargaining with union city workers. “One of the challenges will be the contracts,” Economou said. “I imagine it's on his radar, to get those discussions going.”

 
 

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