Student Voice: Signing up for 100% Green Energy

By Arshia Verma (Newton South, Class of 2023), Nov 2019 – 

As we discuss climate change, the solutions to tackle this life-changing situation should be in the forefront. One significant problem is residential energy: how much energy is being used by households, how much they are paying for it and what the origin of the energy is. Environmentally, this is a significant issue because of greenhouse gas emissions – we should avoid dirty fossil fuels.   

The saying “for every problem, there is a solution” is most applicable here. Newton Power Choice is a city-vetted alternative to various electricity offers in the market. Newton Power Choice uses renewable energy providing price stability, consumer protections, and potential for savings. Newton Power Choice is a form of group electricity purchasing known as electricity aggregation. Already, more than 140 communities in the state of Massachusetts are engaged in electricity aggregation. When you join and participate, Newton Power Choice’s price is calculated to supply the charge portion of your Eversource electricity bill. 

Newton Power Choice has three options to choose from that give greater control over environmental characteristics. With Newton Power Choice, Newton supports the development of renewable electricity in New England. Electricity customers who take no action at all match 60% of their electricity use (including the 14% that is mandated by state law) with renewables like solar and wind. However, if customers opt up to 100%, they match all of their electricity use with green sources. One thing to keep in mind is that all energy sources for these programs are New England-based renewable energy projects. 

According to Green Newton: “opting up is a low cost but high impact way to lower your carbon footprint.” 

With this information, the question is: how will you benefit from opting up to 100% at Newton Power Choice? In many ways! Newton will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which helps to protect our health from dirty fossil fuels, it creates regional jobs, and keeps billions of dollars in state. This is a win-win situation that supports the raging topic of climate change and how to fix it and it benefits the city of Newton, your home and people’s well being. 

Opting up to 100% green energy will create a healthier atmosphere that will benefit your children and upcoming generations, and will ultimately benefit you now by giving you affordable renewable energy.

Student Voice: Biking to School

By Arshia Verma (Newton South, Class of 2023), Oct 2019 – 

What is a fun alternative to going to school independently, that is healthy and fun? Biking! Biking to school in Massachusetts is safe according to the state rankings by League of American Bicyclists, since our state is ranked fourth in the U.S. Newton encourages biking by students, and Newton Public Schools (NPS) have shown it by adding bike racks at its schools, which supports healthy habits and climate action. 

The increase of bike racks in 12 out of the 21 schools in Newton has created a lot of buzz, since biking can address climate issues, fix overcrowding buses, and is a healthier option for getting to school. This active transportation has become more supported in students lives due to the increase in bike racks installed in Newton by NPS. Bike Newton – a non-profit 501C3 organization that aims to promote bicycling as a viable method of transportation in Newton – helped paying for bike sheds at the two High Schools.  

A few years ago, Newton embarked on a strategy to make bicycles a desirable option of transportation, be it for commuting or pleasure. Bicycle parking facilities have provided at nodal centers such as major institutions, villages, public buildings, and key transit locations. Now, schools have more options to park their bikes in schools too! Students, of any age, can ride their bike to school and lock them up safely in their designated areas and commute back on their bike when school is over with no hassles. The bike racks creates a feasible way to keep bikes at school and it ensures their safety. 

Newton South High School, one of the two high schools in Newton, has a trial pedestrian path, which is a pathway for students going to school by walking or biking safely. The school is prioritizing students safety and this is another significant reason to travel by bike. According to NPS facilities, “A Phase 1 Trial of safety and circulation improvements was completed at Newton South using flex posts and paint. The trial includes the addition of a separated bike/walk lane from Brandeis Road and also shrinks the entrance and exits with flex posts at the main parent drop-off area to create a more controlled environment. This will be monitored closely and we will look to make further improvements in the future. Principal Stembridge will be handling the communication with staff and students about these improvements.” (Source: Facilities Memo to School Committee – 9-04-19). 

The aim is to ensure the safety and selected spots for bikes and bikers, to decrease emissions released into the air, creating a cleaner atmosphere, and to promote a healthy transportation alternative. 

The bike racks installed in Newton Public Schools have followed the “signs of success” Massachusetts thrives in to follow their criteria for what “biker-friendly” looks like. It’s efficient for parents and students, and makes a better impact in the atmosphere. Give a kid their independence, give them a bike.