Mass. lawmaker eyes solar energy oversight after Boston 25 News report

By Kerry Kavanaugh; November 28, 2017; Boston 25 News

BOSTON – A Massachusetts lawmaker wants to monitor the solar energy industry more closely after a Boston 25 News report exposed one homeowner’s troubles after an installation.

A homeowner in Hanson said ‘Solar City’ assured him, despite an existing sag to his roof, they would restore it so it could bear the load of solar panels.

Ultimately, he was left with several leaks and portions of his bathroom ceiling collapsed.

Now, Representative Shawn Dooley (R – Norfolk) tells Boston 25 News he is working to create a commission to investigate the advertising and trade practices of the solar energy industry.

 ‘Solar City’ isn’t paying for any of the damage to the homeowner’s roof, despite his claims they guaranteed to maintain the integrity during installation.

Dooley said he’s concerned about poor workmanship, as well as the solar industry over-promising savings to customers.

Rep. Dooley says he too is outfitting his entire home with solar panels and found a fast disparity in marketing promises and a lot of bait and switch tactics.

 

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Local Lawmaker Proposes Increased Oversight for Solar Energy Industry

BOSTON-State Representative Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk) has filed HD4390 An Act to create a commission to investigate the advertising practices of the solar energy industry with the Massachusetts House of Representatives in an effort to ramp up the Commonwealth’s regulation on solar energy and to crack down on deceptive advertising and trade practices in the industry. The bill would create a seven member commission, composed of both members of the legislature and industry experts, to delve deep into investigating the practices of the major players in the solar energy industry and to issue a report on their findings, including recommending any legislative changes they see fit.

Despite being a small state in a meteorologically inconsistent region, Massachusetts actually ranks in the Top 10 for cumulative solar energy production. The state’s success in solar energy production comes mainly from a lofty goal to produce 1,600 Megawatts of solar energy by 2020, a goal which the Baker-Polito Administration expects to exceed, as well as a plethora of incentive programs, including sales and property tax exemptions as well as net metering. Net metering allows those producing solar energy to sell back any unused energy created by their solar facilities to electric companies for a financial credit.

Fast growth in this industry has not come without its issues though. “I have had report after report telling me that we need to look into the promises solar energy companies are making to customers” said Dooley. “I have a lot of constituents telling me that when they looked into installing solar panels they were told exactly what they wanted to hear, but once they installed the panels the reality turned out to be very different.”

Dooley’s own recent personal experiences have only increased his attention to this issue. In an effort to live more sustainably and environmentally friendly, he recently outfitted his entire home with solar panels. “After over a year of research, I realized there was a huge disparity between the facts and what some sales people would try to tell me. I found that the cost for the same size system could swing by nearly 50% depending on the company and some of the payback and output projections were downright absurd” Dooley reports.

The reports Dooley has received and his own experiences seem to be an accurate representation for the average consumer in the Commonwealth. Last year local investigative reporting from the CBS Boston I-Team and WHDH’s Hank Phillippi Ryan uncovered what became dubbed as the “hidden cost of solar panels.” Customers who had installed solar panels on a leasing basis discovered only after they entered into the agreement that it often prevented them from receiving important federal loans, including mortgages and reverse mortgages. Generally, leasing agreements state that the solar company needs to approve of any property transfers, which the federal government considers a disqualifying encumbrance on a property. Property owners are left with the option to outright purchase the panels, but that usually comes to an unaffordable total in the tens of thousands.

More recently, local reporting from WCVB and Fox 25 Boston has shined a light on the sometimes shoddy work done by solar energy companies. The reports point to many customers who have experienced system breakdowns, a lack of cost savings, and even home damage from solar panels. The customers say their complaints were met with reluctance from their solar provider to fix the issue.

Dooley is happy to take the initiative to protect consumers. “This legislation is only a first step in the process” he said. “Solar energy is no doubt a vital piece to our energy infrastructure and its importance as both a renewable and cost saving energy source will only continue to grow; but as with all new up and coming industries, we need to take a closer look. There are some great companies out there, but we need to protect consumers who are trying to do a good thing by going green from predatory companies whose only goal is to make a quick buck.”

 

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King Philip at DECA on the Hill

By Lexi Mutascio; November 22, 2017; DECA Direct

On Wednesday November 15, the King Philip DECA chapter officers and DECA Inc. high school division president, Jaron May, went to the State House in Boston, Mass., to participate in the annual DECA on the Hill ceremony.

State legislators, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, Massachusetts DECA officers and Jaron May, provided the group of DECA members and advisors with advice and commended the program as a whole.

Representative Shawn Dooley kindly recognized the King Philip DECA chapter and gave the chapter citations from the State Senate and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in which president Jeff Yatsuhashi received for the chapter.

The King Philip officers interacted with other Massachusetts DECA members and experienced different areas of the State house including the Senate chamber and the House of Representatives chamber.

DECA on the Hill was an exciting opportunity and reinstated the purpose of the DECA program-  prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe.

 

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Plainville, state pen Community Compact

November 8, 2017; Wicked Local Plainville

The town on Tuesday became the 312th community to sign a Community Compact with the state.
Officials gathered in the second floor function room at An Unlikely Bookstore to complete the compact, with Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Board of Selectmen Chairman Rob Rose both putting their names to the agreement. State Sen. Richard Ross, state Rep. Shawn Dooley and several town officials were also on hand for the ceremony.
A Community Compact is a voluntary, mutual agreement entered into between the Baker-Polito Administration and individual cities and towns. In a Community Compact, a community agrees to implement at least one best practice that they select from across a variety of areas. Plainville chose two best practice areas: Transportation and Information Technology.
Town Administrator Jennifer Thompson detailed the two best practices areas, highlighting the need for a strategic plan for technology and adoption of a complete streets program in Plainville. Both of these initiatives could make the town eligible for state grant funding for technology and transportation improvements.
“Attaining the status of a Community Compact Town would not have been possible without the dedication of our town hall staff, Town Administrator Jen Thompson, Director of Planning & Development Chris Yarworth, DPW Director Paul Scott, IT technician Sean-Eric Civitarese and public safety chiefs Jim Alfred and Justin Alexander,” said Rose. “Plainville will now be in a position to work with the state to a greater degree than in the past to fund projects for our mutual benefit. I congratulate our team for bringing this accomplishment to fruition.”

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Plainville signs pact with state

Plainville Compacts

 

By Stephen Peterson; November 8, 2017; The Sun Chronicle

The town has joined a long line of communities in Massachusetts to sign an agreement with the state that creates an enhanced partnership between both.

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and selectmen Chairman Rob Rose Tuesday signed the Community Compact before several other town officials and state legislators, including state Sen. Richard Ross, R-Wrentham, and state Rep. Shawn Dooley, R-Norfolk, at An Unlikely Story Bookstore downtown.

“The Commonwealth is thrilled to announce a new partnership between state government and the town of Plainville,” Polito said.

Participating communities agree to implement at least one “best practice” they select from across a variety of areas, and the state agrees to assist.

Plainville officials chose two areas to focus on: transportation and information technology.

Town Administrator Jennifer Thompson highlighted the need for a Strategic Plan for Technology and adoption of a Complete Streets Program in Plainville.

Both of the initiatives could make the town eligible for state grants for technology and transportation improvements.

“Attaining the status of a Community Compact Town would not have been possible without the dedication of our Town Hall staff, Town Administrator Jen Thompson, Director of Planning & Development Chris Yarworth, DPW Director Paul Scott, IT Technician Sean-Eric Civitarese and Public Safety Chiefs Jim Alfred and Justin Alexander,” Rose said. “Plainville will now be in a position to work with the state to a greater degree than in the past to fund projects for our mutual benefit. I congratulate our team for bringing this accomplishment to fruition.”

As of Tuesday, 312 cities and towns have signed such pacts with the state.

The other King Philip towns of Norfolk and Wrentham had earlier signed Community Compacts. In fact, all 10 cities and towns in The Sun Chronicle coverage area are now in the program.

 

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Safety improvement work begins at Plainville’s George Street and Rte. 1

By Heather McCarron; November 8, 2017; Wicked Local Plainville
Work toward addressing concerns about the Rte. 1 and George Street intersection got underway Tuesday as crews from the state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) began making safety improvements there.
MassDOT advises drivers that access at Rte. 1 to and from George Street will be restricted to right-in, right out turns only. The project is expected to take several days, weather permitting.

“Those traveling through the area should expect delays, reduce speed, and use caution,” MassDOT indicated in a release.
The turn restrictions are being implemented as part of measures to address the high crash intersection.
Work began less than three weeks after selectmen voted unanimously to endorse the state’s quickly devised plans for temporary safety measures at the intersection, and just shy of two months since an accident at the location claimed the life of 35-year-old Aaron Hahn of Sharon.
Hahn was killed Sept. 17 as he was traveling northbound on his 2014 Suzuki motorcycle on Rte. 1 toward Wrentham, colliding with a vehicle at the George Street intersection that was attempting to cross over Rte. 1, according to police.
The fatality immediately prompted a citizens’ petition by Dawn Denizkurt and Missy Imbaro, and renewed efforts by town officials to get their long-time concerns about the intersection heard and addressed by the state. With pressure from Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and the town’s legislators, Sen. Richard Ross and Rep. Shawn Dooley, a project to bring immediate safety relief to the intersection was fast tracked in the aftermath of the accident.
It was the latest in a string of accidents at the location. Between 2010 and 2015, there were 23 accidents at the intersection, according to an August 2015 safety audit conducted by Baystate Engineering. There have been an additional 10 accidents since the report came out, according to officials.
Town Administrator Jennifer Thompson recently detailed the plans for the intersection at a mid October meeting during which selectmen endorsed the plan. MassDOT is installing Qwick Krub, she said, which is a temporary barrier to ensure immediate safety improvements while a longer-term plan is devised.
A Qwick Kurb strip with upright flexisticks placed at intervals will be placed down the center of Rte. 1 in the area of George Street. The barrier “will, at a minimum, prevent people from crossing over Rte. 1” from one side of George Street to the other, Thompson said.
“The other thing they’re proposing is small, raised islands on each side of George Street that would prohibit left turns on either side of George Street, so people could only do right turn in and right turn out on each side of George Street,” she explained.
There will be new signage installed as well to warn drivers of the changes on both Rte. 1 and on George Street.
Plainville’s police and fire chiefs have both endorsed the short-term improvement plan. Police Chief James Alfred in October noted that most accidents at the intersection have been the result of left-turn attempts. He said the islands should help, since they “will channel people so that they can only take a right turn – a right turn off of George Street and a right turn onto Rte. 1.”\
“We may not prevent all of the accidents there, but we may prevent those types of very serious accidents,” he said.
In tandem with the physical improvements now underway, Alfred said his department has petitioned the state to decrease the speed limit past George Street from 55 to 45 mph.
Selectmen said they are committed to keeping on track toward a permanent solution, and will be working with MassDOT to ensure the ball keeps rolling. The expectation is that there will be a permanent plan by 2021. MassDOT has already started some survey work toward that end, officials said.

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State Rep. Shawn Dooley Participates in National Adoption Month

State Representative Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk) is proud to announce his participation as a host
during National Adoption Month. Throughout the month of November, his State House Office
will display a photo of Eddie, an energetic 12 year old currently awaitiDooley with Eddieng adoption. Eddie enjoys sharing stories, telling jokes, and making others laugh. He loves to build with Legos and hopes one day to be a WWE wrestler.

The event, organized by the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE), is intended to raise awareness about adoption of children from foster care. The month culminates with National Adoption Day, which celebrates the adoption of hundreds of children from foster care into permanent families throughout Massachusetts.

“I love this event and look forward to participating every year” said Dooley. “As an elected official, I’ve had to deal with a number of issues surrounding adoptions, so I am unfortunately keenly aware of how difficult a situation these kids are in. I want to be able to help in any way I can.”

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BAKER-POLITO ADMINISTRATION AWARD $1.8 MILLION TO DRIVE $75 MILLION PRIVATE DEVELOPMENT, 216 NEW HOUSING UNITS IN NORFOLK

Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development Press Release

MassWorks Infrastructure Program funds include construction of 90 affordable housing units

NORFOLK, MA – November 3, 2017 – Today, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash joined local officials and community leaders to award a $1.8 million MassWorks Infrastructure Program grant to the Town of Norfolk for the Lawrence Street Infrastructure Improvement Project. The grant will leverage $395,000 in private funding to extend water services to support the construction of a 216-unit, mixed-income housing development with rental and homeownership opportunities.

“Our administration is committed to programs like MassWorks that help cities and towns invest in public infrastructure and unlock opportunities for private investment, housing and new jobs,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “This award will help Norfolk support open space and hundreds of critical mixed-income housing opportunities for the region, attract $75 million in private investment and create nearly a hundred new jobs. We continue to work closely with all our local partners to advance important projects like this one that drive development and prosperity in our communities.”

“MassWorks reflects our administration’s support for flexible funding that also leverages local and private resources to meet the economic development needs of Massachusetts’ cities and towns,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “We are proud to have increased funding and secured reauthorization for this critical program that has supported thousands of new housing units, industrial expansion and new mixed-use development space across every region of the Commonwealth.”

The MassWorks Infrastructure Program makes grants to municipalities for public infrastructure projects that generate additional private sector investment.

This award will give Norfolk the resources to increase the town’s affordable housing stock, by supporting infrastructure necessary for the project, which is being permitted through the 40B comprehensive permit program. The 216-unit development will include 90 affordable units with a mix of rental and homeownership opportunities. The 200-acre site will reserve 140-acres for open green space, represents $75 million in private investment, and will generate 15 full-time positions and 75 part-time positions. The development is also consistent with the 495/MetroWest Development Compact Plan.

“The effectiveness of the MassWorks Infrastructure Program and the reason that it has been successful at unlocking development is the program’s ability to support projects across a wide range of sizes and scope,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash. “Each year we fund high-quality, shovel-ready projects, and this year is no exception. I congratulate the cities and towns for pursuing projects that strengthen communities and promote sustainable economic growth and development across the Commonwealth.”

The MassWorks Infrastructure Program provides a one-stop shop for municipalities and other eligible public entities seeking public infrastructure funding to support housing production, economic development, and job creation. Since 2015, and including this year’s awards, the Baker-Polito Administration has awarded over $274 million to 134 projects in 106 communities throughout the Commonwealth, spurring the development of over 2 million square feet of commercial and retail space, over 7,000 immediate housing units, at least 7,000 square feet of new public space and 1,200 new hotel rooms and commercial/retail space.

“MassWorks funding provides our communities with flexibility to address critical projects that support local economic growth and job creation,” said Administration and Finance Secretary Michael J. Heffernan. “We have prioritized engaging and supporting our cities and towns in our capital budget plan, and the MassWorks program is one of the best ways in which we can do this.”

“We are extremely happy to win this award through MassWorks Program,” Town Administrator Jack Hathaway. “It will help Norfolk improve through new infrastructure, unlock economic development and provide beautiful new amenities for our residents.”

“I am pleased the Town of Norfolk has the opportunity to participate in the Mass Works Infrastructure Program,” said Senator Richard J. Ross. “This project will completely reconstruct the Lawrence Street Bridge, a bridge that has needed attention for some time. The infrastructure will connect existing neighborhoods to new developments while providing residents with commuter rail access. Thank you to the Baker-Polito administration for investing billions of dollars into infrastructure improvements in my district and across Massachusetts.”

“This has been a long time coming and I am so happy this project has come full circle,” said Representative Shawn Dooley. “My very first bill was for funding the engineering for the Lawrence Street bridge repairs as it is such a critical piece of infrastructure for our town.”

In August 2016, Governor Baker signed An Act Relative to Job Creation and Workforce Development (H.4569) to reauthorize MassWorks and support $500 million of future investment in critical infrastructure, a significant commitment by the Commonwealth.

 

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Norfolk gets grant for mixed-income housing development

By Stephen Peterson; November 5, 2017; The Sun Chronicle

A $1.8 million state grant has been awarded that will help move along a large affordable housing development planned off Park Street.
Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash joined local officials Friday in announcing the MassWorks Infrastructure Program grant to the town for the so-called Lawrence Street Infrastructure Improvement Project.
The grant will leverage $395,000 in funding from Wrentham developer Thomas DiPlacido to extend water service to what would be a 216-unit, mixed-income development where the Buckley and Mann industrial site had been located.
The grant money will also be used to improve Lawrence Street and its bridge.
The housing project, dubbed Abbyville, would have about 50 apartments and 150 homes, including 90 affordable units.
The development will set aside 140 of 200 acres on the site for green space, represents $75 million in private investment and will generate 15 full-time and 75 part-time jobs, officials said.
“Our administration is committed to programs like MassWorks that help cities and towns invest in public infrastructure and unlock opportunities for private investment, housing and new jobs,” Gov. Charlie Baker said. “This award will help Norfolk support open space and hundreds of critical mixed-income housing opportunities for the region.”
The MassWorks Infrastructure Program makes grants to municipalities for public infrastructure projects that generate additional private sector investment.
“This project will completely reconstruct the Lawrence Street Bridge, a bridge that has needed attention for some time,” State Sen. Richard Ross, R-Wrentham, said. “The infrastructure will connect existing neighborhoods to new developments while providing residents with commuter rail access.”
“This has been a long time coming and I am so happy this project has come full circle,” state Rep. Shawn Dooley, R-Norfolk, added. “My very first bill was for funding the engineering for the Lawrence Street bridge repairs as it is such a critical piece of infrastructure for our town.”
Town officials have been working on the project as well.
“We are extremely happy to win this award,” Town Administrator Jack Hathaway said. “It will help Norfolk improve through new infrastructure, unlock economic development and provide beautiful new amenities for our residents.”
“We can only do this because of development. Some people look at it as if we are supporting development,” Hathaway said. “If development is inevitable, we’re looking for the state to pay” for the improvements.
The project is before the zoning board, and neighbors have been turning out in large numbers because of several concerns, including health and safety of residents and the environment.
The property has had some contamination from its industrial past, but that has been mostly cleaned up.
Neighbors are particularly concerned with impacts on area wells, as well as truck traffic and resulting noise and dust as plans call for a lot of earth removal over a lengthy period of time.
The development is consistent with the 495/MetroWest Development Compact Plan, officials said.

 

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State Rep. Shawn Dooley Addresses Opioid Epidemic

Rep. Dooley at No Shame Rally

Over the weekend State Representative Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk) addressed the “No Shame, Erasing the Stigma” rally put together by the Trinity Church on the Wrentham Town Common. Held on Saturday morning, the rally sought to support all those affected by the opioid epidemic in the local community.

Attendees included survivors, first responders, and family members who were brought together for meaningful reflection, swapping personal stories of how opioids have affected them and played a role in their lives. All those in attendance agreed that a major contributing factor to the epidemic is the feeling of shame surrounding opioid use, which oftentimes drives addicts to avoid getting the help they need. By promoting compassion and education on the subject, the rally hoped to encourage those in need to get help and treat their issue just like they would any other ailment

“This is not a partisan issue, but rather it is a people issue” said Dooley, who is a Plainville firefighter; EMT; and SAFE Coalition board member. “You don’t have to go far to see someone struggling with opioid addiction. It ruins lives, tears families apart, and can even destroy communities entirely. I was honored to speak at the rally, and I have pledged my full-fledged support to their movement as well as any effort to completely eradicate this faceless enemy from our society.”

 

 

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