Letters from the President
Yesterday and Today
September 25, 2017
If you have followed the progress of our case before the Energy Facilities Siting Board, you know that there has been considerable legal activity. We have moved through the majority of the discovery phase and plan to file testimony soon in advance of the evidentiary hearing in October.
If you don’t understand much about the legal process or didn’t have time to read all of the filings and findings, Protect Sudbury has done the legwork for you and will offer a Legal Update at the Goodnow Library on Wednesday, October 4th at 7:00pm.
In advance of the meeting, I offer some insight on our progress and why there is reason for continued optimism about the outcome of our case. First and foremost, my optimism is rooted in the tremendous community support from both the citizens and businesses of Sudbury. From lemonade stands, to matching donations, to birdhouse fundraisers and sign holding in town center by our very own Sudbury Sasquatch, I continue to be impressed and inspired by how we have come together to fight for the values that each of us believes make Sudbury a great place to be.
From the start, we said that the actions that we take today are as much about the generations that follow us as they are about the here and now. That fact was brought home to me in a recent decision by the Siting Board to include property values impacts when evaluating route alternatives despite Eversource’s best efforts to have them excluded. Protect Sudbury filed a brief defending our position and ultimately the Siting board ruled in our favor, overruling Eversource’s assertion to the community that their high voltage transmission line would not impact our property values.
What I found most interesting about the property value ruling was that the EFSB referenced the 1960’s case of “Town of Sudbury vs. Boston Edison,” citing legal precedent to support their decision. The successful fight of our forebears, over eight years, was used to support our position some 60 years later.
And now, Sudbury has been fighting for nearly two years to continue to protect and preserve our community, in part, because this fight is far greater than being just about Sudbury. We have an opportunity to fundamentally change the way utilities conduct business in our State. Our victory will establish legal precedent that will reverberate throughout the halls of justice for generations.
The Energy industry is at a tipping point in its evolution from a centralized, fossil fuel based paradigm to one that is decentralized and driven by solar and other renewable energy sources.
We are fighting for an energy future where impacts on the environment, health, drinking water, endangered species, historic sites, and safety of citizens are valued alongside or even above the cost of a project and its return to the utility’s shareholders.
Plans to Protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact, plans to protect humanity. – (Stewart Udall).
So let’s plan to attend the legal update on October 4th, Goodnow Library at 7:00pm!
A Message from the President, May 15, 2017
Thank you to the entire Protect Sudbury community for the incredible support received over these past 15 months! We have made incredible progress toward our goal of protecting the community from an unnecessary project that poses a clear and present danger to all of what we enjoy and hold dear about this town and community.
Since the filing by Eversource of their petition with the Energy Facilities Siting Board (ESFB), the Protect Sudbury leadership team and legal counsel has thoroughly reviewed the petition’s 2000 pages. The good news is that we have uncovered many flaws and weaknesses in our opponent’s arguments to in their attempt to promote this unnecessary project. The bad news is that we have also discovered that the potential damage and unintended consequences of their actions if this project were to be approved, are far greater than we imagined. Make no mistake, this proposed $100 million dollar infrastructure project, the largest ever in Sudbury’s history, will change the character of our town forever for the worse, but only if allowed to proceed unchecked.
Our ability to impact the outcome will come from the continued unified community support that has been the hallmark of the Protect Sudbury organization from our inception. On Thursday, May 25th we will have the opportunity to again rise up as one and express our feelings about this project directly to the ESFB at LSRHS at 7:00pm.
THIS WILL BE THE MOST IMPORTANT COMMUNITY DRIVEN EVENT IN THE ENTIRE ESFB PROCESS.
IT MAY EVEN BE ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT IN THE HISTORY OF SUDBURY.
It is imperative that we fill this meeting to overcapacity. This alone will be something that the ESFB has never seen. And that’s important, since after all we do intend to change history! We intend be the first community to overturn the ‘preferred’ utility company option in this process and we intend to change the way that utilities do business in the State of Massachusetts from this point on. This may sound ambitious, and that’s because it is! I believe we have a winning strategy and THE BEST legal representation possible. All we need now is YOU! We need YOU at this meeting. We need YOU to ask questions and express your concerns. And equally important we need YOU to keep the donations coming in so that we can reach our goal of adding $100,000 to our legal fund in 2017. Working alongside the Town, this funding will allow us to implement all facets our legal strategy though out the entire process.
There will be much more information coming in the days ahead. For now, mark your calendar and become a part of making the future we all want for our families and those that follow us!
“Winning” – An Update from Protect Sudbury, April 11, 2017
Having just returned from an inspiring week in our nations capital, and since we are on the eve of the initial major engagement with our opponent, Eversource Energy, I felt that a brief update to the entire Protect Sudbury community was in order. Within the next few weeks, we expect that Eversource will be filing their petition for building the Sudbury to Hudson transmission project with the Energy Facilities Siting Board (ESFB). At this time, the details of Eversource’s plan will finally be made public.
Protect Sudbury still believes that Eversource’s proposal will contain both an overhead and underground siting on the MBTA right of way (ROW) as their preferred option along with an alternative street siting. Protect Sudbury along with the Town of Sudbury is prepared to fully engage Eversource with a multi-faceted intervention strategy during the Siting Board process that we firmly believe will be effective in achieving the goal of proving that this transmission line project is unnecessary and therefore does not need to be built.
A secondary goal, if the first is unreachable, would be to move the project off the MBTA right of way, to an under street siting.
In the words of our attorney, Richard Kanoff, “our case is winnable”, and in fact, I believe that we are ‘winning’. But ‘winning’ should not be confused with victory!
The countless hours of time and effort expended by Protect Sudbury over the past 14 months are finally beginning to yield tangible results. These results have illuminated the vulnerabilities of our enemy and have helped shape our strategy as we head into battle. One such vulnerability has come to light in some recent correspondence between Protect Sudbury and the MBTA. Specifically, as a direct result of the unrelenting pressure placed upon the MBTA by the Town of Sudbury’s lobbying efforts, Senator Eldridge, Representative Gentile, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the Protect Sudbury core team, the MBTA has signed an option agreement with Eversource that would permit an underground siting on the ROW provided that this option is approved by the ESFB.
It is important to note that if the ESFB does not approve the underground siting, or the underground option cannot be physically built the MBTA would then negotiate an overhead siting with Eversource on the ROW.
We continue to insist upon full disclosure by the MBTA. Through our attorney, we have requested that the MBTA release all of the emails, documents and all of the details in the agreement that it has signed with Eversource since all of this information is a matter of public record. To date, they have resisted at least three such requests we have made under the Freedom of Information Act.
We must not lose sight of our key priorities in this effort. We cannot be distracted by the ‘shiny objects’ that Eversource dangles in front of us. Our focus remains on:
Protecting the sole source of drinking water for 18,000 people
Protecting our Health and Safety
Protecting our Conservation Lands
Protecting our Businesses
Protecting our Homes and our Property Values
The fight at the ESFB will be long, and to mount a compelling case requires additional financial resources, for both the Town’s intervention as well as Protect Sudbury’s intervention. I remind everyone to attend the upcoming Town meeting where we will vote on allocating additional funding for the Town’s opposition. Further, I urge all in the community to continue to donate to the efforts of the Protect Sudbury organization.
To put this in context, the proposed project by Eversource is the largest infrastructure project that our town has even been part of. We cannot take the chance that things will take care of themselves. It is only though our combined efforts that we can protect the community that we love, and protect our water supply.
A New Year – January 23rd, 2017
Happy New Year to our Protect Sudbury community! The start of a New Year is a great time to look back over the past year as well as look forward to what lies ahead. For some, it’s also a good time to make resolutions. (More on that later!)
Almost a year has passed since we first realized the threat to our community posed by the proposed Eversource project, and what a year it has been! The Sudbury community rallied and unified in a fashion that would make our Revolutionary War era forbearers proud. A group of concerned citizens gathered together one evening in February and created an organization that it is a formidable opponent. No better measure of success has been our ability to delay the submission of the proposed project to the Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) by almost one year! While this accomplishment is significant, a new stage of our battle has begun.
We continue to put pressure on Eversource to modify or abandon their proposed solution, while also preparing for the possibility that they will submit their petition to the ESFB with any substantive change.
We have seen the damage Eversource has inflicted on many communities across New England; all threatened by one corporations business practices. Any sign of weakness or compromise by Eversource at this point would set in motion a chain of events that could jeopardize their ability to continue doing business using a flawed and archaic approval and siting process. The stakes are high for both Eversource and Sudbury.
Our community is once again ground zero for this battle. The opposition to this project and Eversource’s intractable position and insistence on moving forward with technology and business practices of a past era create a crucible for change that will forever echo in communities throughout this region. This project represents the confluence of every possible negative consequence and outcome. This is the inevitable result of a process in which projects are approved using ‘lowest cost’ as their sole criteria. The ‘unintended consequences’ of such a process results in things such as contaminated drinking water, economic depression within a community, destruction of protected conservation land, and the threat to the health and safety of the community in general. The threat is still very much a real and present danger.
We are about to enter into what may be a long and protracted legal battle with Eversource, both within the ESFB and potentially within the State and Federal judicial system. We are fortunate to have the support of not only the Town of Sudbury but also the Town of Hudson in what looks to be a costly legal battle. It is a battle I believe that we can win. It is a battle requires the time, treasure and talents of our entire community if we are to prevail. On behalf of the Protect Sudbury organization, I appeal to each member of the community to participate in this fight in whatever way you can. We need your help.
This fight is about our children, our homes and our community. Is there anything more important? Make your New Year’s resolution a donation of your time, treasure and talent to Protect Sudbury in 2017. Thank you all and let’s make 2017 a Happy New Year!
Thank you – October 26, 2016
I want to personally thank all of the members of the Sudbury community that turned out tonight to assist in delivering our message to Eversource. It is exactly because of this level of community support and involvement that values such as self-determination and home rule will ultimately prevail. Sudbury has preserved and protected these values since it was founded in 1639 and we are not about to stop! Thank you citizens of Sudbury!
Pelham Island Is a Wake Up Call – May 19, 2016
The recent news regarding Eversource’s activities on Pelham Island Road are disturbing, but not surprising. While Eversource could have taken a much more responsible approach and informed and educated the homeowners and the community regarding their planned actions, particularly given the opposition by this community regarding their present proposal, they chose not to.
Despite what you might read on their website, see in their videos, hear in their ‘open houses’ this is exactly how Eversource conducts business. If you have been a resident of Sudbury for any length of time, this should be abundantly clear to you given their track record within our town.
The unfortunate reality of Pelham Island is that Eversource already owns the Right of Way on that route and as such are free to do as they please when it comes to maintaining/upgrading existing transmission line facilities.
Eversource makes the following statement on their web site regarding Right of Way for Customers:
“Eversource may require the removal of or deny use or activity that is inconsistent with our easement rights, that interfere with our ability to operate and maintain a safe and reliable system”.
In other words, once they obtain an easement, your ability as a municipality or homeowner is severely limited.
That said, Protect Sudbury will do whatever we can to assist the citizens affected by the events on Pelham Island Road.
These events hopefully will provide a ‘wake up’ call to those community members that still believe that the proposed Eversource project can’t possibly happen. Or believe that a ‘sit back and wait’ approach is the most prudent one.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
If we had not taken action, the community would one day have awoken to the sound of chain saws on the right of way and in their own back yards as Eversource clear cuts the 60+ acres within Sudbury to begin construction and placement of fifty four, 100 foot mono poles, spaced 200 feet apart.
We need to learn from Pelham Island. It will happen that fast, that unexpectedly, and with greater impact. And just like the residents near the Pelham Island project and we will be left with little or no recourse unless we act now.
Protect Sudbury through the hard work of its volunteers and contributors, has been able to delay the filing by Eversource of their petition to site these lines through the heart of our town.
We have gained some valuable time.
If we had not acted, this project would have already been filed with the Energy Facility Siting Board. Intervening at the Siting board is an even more daunting challenge that the one in front of us right now. I can’t emphasize this strongly enough, we all must act NOW to stop this project. RIGHT NOW.
Our strategy is to fight this project through legal action and political means. To that end we need to fully fund the legal work that is anticipated right now. Further, we need to reach the highest levels of our elected officials, right now.
While I am grateful for the contributions made to date, we need to do better. We need to see 100% participation from abutters and business that will be affected by this project. We are not close to that level of participation. Residents and businesses that have not contributed in a meaningful way seriously need to reexamine their priorities.
Eversource is a clear and present danger. Hoping and wishing that this project will go away is not a strategy; it is a recipe for economic and environmental disaster.
The fifty or so volunteers that make up the core group of Protect Sudbury have worked countless hours in getting us this far. They have accomplished an incredible amount since February. They have earned your trust. You can support their work on your behalf by participating through your donations, letter writing and support of the fundraising activities.
The board of Protect Sudbury represents you! Every one of the leadership team is available to speak with you individually, or in one of the group environments we hold weekly, if you want more data on the legal strategy in detail and to give your input. Find out how to reach us here: http://www.protectsudbury.org/our-team/
Everyone in the community is welcome, and needed, to participate and contribute their time and treasure in this effort to protect our town.
– With public sentiment anything is possible. Without it nothing is possible.
Answering the Call – May 2, 2016
In the autumn of 1774, Sudbury was training 400 militiamen for potential hostilities against the crown. This force was by far the largest in Massachusetts. At least 302 served on April 19, 1775, the day in which the ‘shot was heard ‘round the world’. The residents of your town ‘answered the call’ and were willing to sacrifice all in order to preserve their right of self-determination. Sudbury is again threatened by outside forces that are determined to change the essence of what makes Sudbury such a special place to live and work. Once again, we are being asked to answer the call.
I am asking all members of Protect Sudbury to attend the Special Town meeting on May 3, 2016 and vote “Yes” on Article 2. Demonstrating our resolve, in force, at Town Meeting will be another ‘shot’ that will be heard throughout our New England. We want to make it clear that any and all threats to the community will not be tolerated and that we will bring the necessary political, legal and citizen support to defeat these forces. In addition to the vote to fund the Town’s legal opposition to the Eversource project, there are other important articles that evening including the vote to fund the opposition to the Sudbury Station project. These proposals are equally important and also deserve your consideration and vote at the Special Town meeting. We are fortunate to have the resources to bring to bear on so many fronts, but more importantly it is a question of values and our determination. Sudbury demonstrated its commitment to these values in 1775 and I am confident that we will again demonstrate this commitment in 2016. Thank you for your support.
The Power of One – April 14, 2016
We don’t have to look very far to see the effect that one person can have in shaping the future. Most of us are familiar with the rich history associated with Henry Ford and the Town of Sudbury. Ford planned to open one of his Ford Motors “village industries” here in Sudbury. He got as far as buying up more than 100 acres of land surrounding Hop Brook and the Parmenter Mill, the power source that would drive his manufacturing plant. That plant would have changed the town of Sudbury drastically, if it weren’t for one stubborn farmer who refused to sell out to Mr. Ford despite years of negotiations.
Today, we face a similar challenge from the proponents of so called “progress” and “reliability”. The proposed power line project would forever change the essence and character of our town. Our town has answered the call and emphatically stated that the values that we embrace as a community will not be trampled on by a soulless corporate entity that cares more about profits than the welfare of a community. In fact, descendants of that very stubborn farmer are part of Protect Sudbury today.
In the face of such a threat, can one person really make a difference?
The answer is yes. One person makes all the difference!
- ONE conversation with your neighbor about the power line threat educates.
- ONE letter to your Senator or Congressman makes change.
- ONE hour of holding a sign in Sudbury Center creates awareness.
- ONE more donation to the legal fund means we can focus on the fight rather than fundraise.
- ONE vote at town meeting to fund the Town’s legal opposition means getting funds approved
- ONE more person volunteering, helps lessen the load for others.The list is endless.
We are making extraordinary progress and we continue to build an organization capable of taking on and defeating a foe as formidable as Eversource would like you to think they are. Our mission to preserve and protect the historic character of our town, its environmentally sensitive areas, as well the physical and economic health of our community has resonated with the citizens and businesses throughout Sudbury. The battle lines have been drawn as we launch tactical initiatives on all fronts to block the ‘preferred’ Eversource siting of power lines along the MBTA right of way. From a strategic standpoint, we believe that winning this key battle can potentially eliminate any power line siting associated with this project within Sudbury.
Our Public Relations and Media team has drawn over 3,000 people into the Protect Sudbury fold. Evidence of their success can be seen on virtually every street in Sudbury as Protect Sudbury lawn signs pop up faster than spring flowers. Each week Protect Sudbury is covered multiple times in print and online media, and you can expect to see more of Protect Sudbury in the media in the coming months as new initiatives are launched and events unfold surrounding our response.
Fundraising has begun in earnest as we engage weekly with our neighbors in small groups to explain the impact this proposed project will have on all of us. Local businesses throughout Sudbury have offered direct donations as well as sponsored events. The first such event will be the Lotus Blossom Fundraiser on April 19th.
Events are planned throughout the year and we ask you to support these events and the business partners that make them possible. Visit our events page
Though we are only one third of the way toward reaching the fundraising goal, I’m encouraged by our progress and confident that as we reach more residents and businesses and then launch our fundraising events we will meet the ambitious goal we have set for ourselves.
We are fortunate to have volunteers with exceptional in-depth expertise in areas ranging from electrical, and environmental engineering, molecular biology, finance, computer science, and utility planning and development on our Research team. This team has nine projects underway that will provide fact based studies to help equip Protect Sudbury members in their meetings and discussions as well as serve as a valuable resource to our Legal team.
Our Legal team provides guidance and support to Burns and Levinson, our legal counsel, as well as coordinates the efforts of the Town of Sudbury’s legal team. Protect Sudbury Inc. and the Town of Sudbury have unique legal standings and we leverage each group’s advantages in a coordinated fashion.
Our Government relations team has built bridges to our neighbors in Hudson, Stow and Marlborough with an end goal of presenting a unified opposition to the project. We have also reached out to senior level State and Federal officials to garner their support.
Finally, our Environmental team continues to build strong relationships with local, state and federal regulatory agencies. This team also conducts research into the health and safety issues, and potential risks to both residents and the environment.
Important events on our horizon are the Town Meeting, and Special Town Meeting on May 2nd and 3rd, respectively. There is at least one warrant article on securing funding the Town needs to continue our legal effort over the course of the next fiscal year. We absolutely need each and every one’s support on these important articles. Details are available through both Protect Sudbury and the Town web sites.
Finally, if you can still find one, take a look at the back of a one cent coin. The lowly ‘penny’ and find the inscription. (Better yet, if you have kids or grandkids, make this a ‘teachable moment’ and read it to them.) “E Pluribus Unum” Translated:
Out of many, ONE
Tip of the Spear – April 2, 2016
Sometimes the cost of being the driving force behind a behind a powerful grass roots movement like Protect Sudbury seems like more than you ever bargained for. I remember the excitement of finally being tall enough to be admitted to my first roller coaster ride; I had looked forward to it for years. When I finally got on board and the coaster began the ascent up the rickety wooden structure my excitement began to change to fear. I began to question my decision to get on in the first place and I began to doubt if I would ever get off alive as the coaster descended down that first steep incline. Maybe you, like me, have experienced some of that same type of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) over the past week as events have unfolded around the fight to stop the power line project. That is not a coincidence. Fear, uncertainty and doubt are the primary weapons that our adversary will try and use to defeat us. They will influence the media with articles such as the “Eversource Rethinks Power Line Route” story that appeared this week in the Town Crier. Eversource, quick to take credit for providing the forum for citizen input, pointed out that it was only because of THEIR Open House that they are now “considering other options”. You might have even started to believe that we had won the war after reading that article. Nothing could be further from the truth. When you are in the grip of “FUD”, you will sometimes reach for any glimmer of hope that an acceptable outcome is at hand. Next week Eversource will crush that glimmer of hope when they announce that they are still going to submit their MBTA right of way options as their “preferred route”. This is their strategy. They will create the fear, uncertainty and doubt in order to wear you down and leave you with a feeling of hopelessness. Fortunately, for Protect Sudbury, nothing could be further from the truth!
Protect Sudbury is the ‘tip of the spear’ in the fight against Eversource. We are leading the charge. I realize that it is particularly frustrating when as an informed and educated Protect Sudbury member, you find other citizens and even your elected officials not quite up to speed on the threat that is posed by the monster that is Eversource. And we should be upset when the people that should be leading this fight are not quite on board or up to speed. That alone is not a good enough reason to take our eyes off of our collective objective. We have come a long way in a very short time. We have assembled a highly motivated group of citizens with extraordinary skills and talents all focused on a common goal. We have enlisted the assistance of one of the most prestigious law firms in Boston to represent us in our legal fight. We have almost 3,000 members today and will have 5,000 in just a couple of weeks. That is 20% of the Sudbury population. Our fundraising is underway and we are confident of meeting our goal if we are able to maintain our momentum. We have successfully stopped Eversource from filing their petition with the EFSB in April and have gained valuable time to build an even bigger and more powerful organization. We have received important letters of support from both environmental and governmental organizations. In short, we have a lot to feel good about. In just six weeks we have built a citizens army, engaged the enemy and slowed their march.
The first battle, however, has yet to begin. Expect that soon, our legal initiatives, will begin to be take shape. Expect that we will provide the needed guidance to our elected officials so that they can stand with us in a united front against a common enemy. Expect great things from Protect Sudbury and they will happen!
Significance of Eversource Delaying Filing of the Petition – March 30, 2016
We do not yet understand the significance of Eversource’s announcement that they are now reconsidering the alternate routes that they originally proposed. Protect Sudbury’s position is that those alternatives should never have been taken out of consideration to begin with, and that they are now finally following the process that the Energy Facilities Siting Board has regarding the need to have geographically diverse alternative routes in their filing. I compared this announcement to Eversource finally restoring the houses that were ‘missing’ from the pictures they presented to the Town and to residents at their Open House. They corrected an error and omission. The significance of which is yet to be understood.
The most important take away from seeing Eversource react, is that a group like Protect Sudbury could get the attention of Eversource and get them to do ANYTHING. This speaks to the power and resolve of the group to be heard, both by the Town as well as Eversource.
We continue to press on with a sense of urgency. Yesterday we met with our attorney for two hours and feel encouraged by the legal options that we have to fight this in both the short and long term if necessary. There will be a press release on this shortly.
The significance of Eversource’ s decision to consider alternatives be revealed if and when they agree to accept the town manager’s invitation to meet with the Town of Sudbury and discuss removing both the overhead and underground alternatives from their petition. Until then, Protect Sudbury is encouraged by the fact that our message is getting out there and with this success we will redouble our efforts to inform and educate the community and continue to build an organization that can work effectively with the town over whatever period of time is necessary to prevail in this matter.
Be encouraged by knowing that what you are doing is being heard…. loud and clear! But don’t doubt for a second that the our opponent is still at our doorstep, is aware of what we are doing and is re-formulating their own strategy.