News

April 18, 2018, Response to Wakefield Daily Item Question: What do you see as the biggest issue now facing the Wakefield Municipal Light Commission and how would you propose to address it?

I thank the Wakefield Daily Item for the opportunity to address this important question. The Wakefield Municipal Gas and Light Department (Department) is an asset to the town. However, the Department and its Board of Commissioners (Board) can do more to assist the town, its citizens, and its businesses with proactively managing energy use and costs in both the near and longer term. I believe the best way for the voters of Wakefield to support this effort is by electing more energy professionals to the Board.

Here’s why we need to elect more energy professionals to our Board:

  1. Wakefield is entering a period of economic development, and our energy needs are changing. We will be renovating or building homes, businesses, schools and municipal buildings in the coming years. The energy performance and associated costs of these buildings will be our responsibility for a long time. It’s important to design buildings that are energy efficient and are conducive to rooftop solar at the time this construction takes place. I want our Department and Board to interact with other town committees and departments to ensure that energy use is a key consideration in the design of new buildings and renovation of existing spaces.
  2. Customer priorities and needs are changing. I have heard from many customers that they want to switch from oil to less costly, cleaner heating systems. Customers also want to generate their own energy. As technologies develop, I want our Department and Board to develop new programs and initiatives to ensure our customers are aware and can take advantage of every opportunity to reduce their energy costs and generate their own energy, if they so choose.
  3. In the coming years, Wakefield should develop a longer term, strategic energy plan that aligns with the town’s vision, values and development plans. We need experts on the Board to champion this effort and work with the Department and town to craft this plan.
  4. The utility business model is changing. On the one hand, energy-efficient equipment and customer-sited solar are reducing the amount of energy we need to purchase. At the same time, electric vehicles and shifts from oil to electric and natural gas heat may increase our procurement needs. Our Board and Department will need to recognize and account for these trends in developing an effective business plan.

Energy experts have valuable technical and analytical skills, knowledge of emerging technologies and trends, and connections with other energy experts. Much like we benefit from having health professionals on our Board of Health, we will benefit from having energy professionals on our Gas and Light Board of Commissioners. We need energy professionals on this Board to ensure we are making the best decisions for Wakefield. Please vote to add me to our Board on April 24th.

Jennifer Kallay, Candidate for Gas & Light Commissioner

April 17, 2018, Wakefield Daily Item, Let’s support a more comprehensive approach to managing our energy use and costs

Some residents and businesses in Wakefield experience higher energy costs, despite our municipal utility’s low energy rates. There are several reasons why this can happen.

First, our energy costs will be higher if we use more energy. Energy costs are the product of energy rates and energy use. Our utility may have low energy rates, but if our homes and businesses have outdated, poor-performing, inefficient equipment we may experience higher energy costs.

Second, our energy costs can vary depending on the fuels we use. In Wakefield, many use oil for heating. These residents may experience higher energy costs than their neighbors who heat with electricity or natural gas.

While the Wakefield Municipal Gas and Light Department and its Board of Commissioners needs to continue to keep rates reasonable, a focus on low rates exclusively misses the bigger picture. In fact, our municipal utility and Board are well-positioned to help residents, businesses and town manage energy costs. For example, our municipal utility and Board can be educating customers on energy efficient technologies, such as electric heat. Electric heat pumps are a cost-effective alternative to oil heating systems, but many people are not aware of this option. Also, our municipal utility and Board can offer incentives and financing to help customers replace oil heating systems with more efficient and cleaner electric heating systems.

Our Department and Board should be helping people in Wakefield manage their energy costs. By broadening our perspective, we can see many opportunities to manage these costs, including promoting energy efficient equipment, enabling our customers to generate their own energy, and reducing our customers’ dependence on costly oil. By voting for me on April 24th, you can support this comprehensive approach to managing energy use and costs in Wakefield.

Jennifer Kallay, Candidate for Gas & Light Commissioner

February 27, 2018, Wakefield Daily Item, Jennifer Kallay Announces Candidacy for Gas and Light Commissioner – Energy expert, engaged community member, mother of two school-aged children

Jennifer Kallay, of 25 Sylvan Avenue, formally announced today that she is seeking a seat on the five-person Wakefield Municipal Board of Gas and Light Commissioners (Board) which oversees the Wakefield Municipal Gas and Light Department (WMGLD).  A Senior Associate with the energy consulting firm Synapse Energy Economics (Synapse), Ms. Kallay is an engaged Wakefield citizen and mother of two Woodville Elementary School students.

At Synapse, Ms. Kallay advises public sector clients on energy and policy issues, with a focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy.  “I have energy and utility experience that I believe are not fully represented on the Board. I look forward to enhancing the expertise of WMGLD and other Board members to ensure we do what is best for Wakefield’s residents and businesses.” Ms. Kallay sees opportunities to better incorporate energy efficiency and renewable energy into the town’s long-term energy planning and to promote in-town renewables. “Evolving policy, technology, and consumer behavior are changing the utility business model. Wakefield deserves a Commissioner with knowledge and expertise to effectively navigate this changing landscape.”

While Ms. Kallay works in many jurisdictions across the U.S. and Canada, many of her clients are Massachusetts-based.  “My work keeps me up-to-date on energy practices in Massachusetts. For example, I’m currently reviewing reporting by the 210 Massachusetts municipalities in the Green Communities Program, which provides grants to help communities reduce their municipal energy use by 20 percent over five years. The energy reductions these communities are achieving can help defer or avoid the need for future transmission and distribution line investments, an issue particularly relevant to Wakefield.”

Ms. Kallay completed her Master’s degree in Energy and Environmental Analysis at Boston University’s Center for Energy and Environmental Studies. Ms. Kallay was appointed by the Board of Selectmen to the Energy Conservation Committee, a group tasked with selecting a vendor to implement energy efficiency measures in Wakefield’s municipal buildings. She is a board member for the Wakefield Climate Action Project (WCAP) and a member of Sustainable Wakefield.  Ms. Kallay is also WCAP’s liaison to the Massachusetts Climate Action Network’s municipal utility working group. “I am proud to offer my time to better our community. Above all, I’m an electric and natural gas customer. I want low rates, a more efficient home, and the option to generate my own energy if I choose. Like many who gladly call Wakefield home, I am investing in my home and community because Wakefield is where my family plans to stay for many years to come.”

      The Committee to Elect Jennifer Kallay includes Chair Saritin Rizzuto and her Treasurer and husband Collier Wilson.  All are invited to a Campaign Kick-Off on Thursday, March 1st, from 7-9 p.m., at the Americal Civic Center on Main Street. For more information on the candidate, please see www.jenniferkallay.com or www.facebook.com/jenniferkallay

January 22, 2018 Letter to the Editor, Wakefield Daily Item, Overview of Rooftop Solar

On January 9th, Wakefield citizens joined three presenters for a Sustainable Wakefield event on installing rooftop solar in Wakefield. The presenters included a solar installer, a Wakefield resident who recently installed rooftop solar, and a representative from Wakefield’s Municipal Gas and Light Department. To date, 23 Wakefield residents and two businesses have installed solar on their roofs. Eighteen of the 23 projects happened over the past three years, a rise in installation activity in Wakefield since early 2015.

For residents and businesses interested in rooftop solar, sooner may be better than later. The state will be phasing out its Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) incentives over the course of 2018. SRECs are payments made by electricity suppliers to rooftop solar owners to help the suppliers meet their solar electric generation requirements. With the elimination of the SREC program Wakefield’s Municipal Gas and Light Department is in the early stages of discussions with the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources to establish an incentive for Wakefield. This incentive will take effect after the SREC incentives phase out and details are scheduled to be announced later this year.

If you’re interested in rooftop solar for your home or business, here’s an overview of the two-step process:

1) Request quotes from several solar installers. The installer will evaluate your site’s suitability for solar, design a system suitable for the size of your home or business, and, when you are ready, install it. Please keep in mind that installation can take several months and the incentives you receive are based on the date when the system is installed.

2) Engage the Wakefield Municipal Gas and Light Department (WMGLD) early in the process by contacting David Polson at 339-219-4212 or dpolson@wmgld.com. You and your solar installer will want to understand WMGLD’s technical and contractual requirements upfront. The WMGLD will need to upgrade your meter to allow energy to flow back to the grid and inspect the interconnection after you pass a town wiring inspection. Once your system is connected, the solar energy you generate will offset your monthly bill, reducing your energy costs.

Slides from the presentations are attached to the January 17th post on the Sustainable Wakefield Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SustainableWakefield/.