High Wind Advisory Monday, Tree Damage, Power Outages Likely During Gusty Conditions

Photo: Trees will be buffeted by high winds this afternoon and night.

The National Weather Service has issued a High Wind Warn for Belmont and eastern Massachusetts beginning at 3 p.m., Monday, Nov. 30, and lasting until 1 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 1.

Residents can expect steady west winds between 20 to 30 mph with gusts between 50 to 60 mph which could result in trees or large branches coming down causing scattered power outages.

Belmont Light’s number to report power outages is 617-993-2800. Do not call 911 for a non-emergency call.

During the advisory, people should follow these precautions:

  • Use caution if you must drive. Travel will be difficult especially for high-profile vehicles such as trucks and buses. 
  • People should also avoid being outside in forested areas and around trees and branches.
  • If possible, remain in the lower levels of your home during the windstorm, and avoid windows.

Wednesday’s High Winds Create Outages In Belmont

Photo: Downed trees due to high winds are causing power outages this morning

Gusty winds are the cause of a number of moderate sized outages throughout Belmont on Wednesday morning, Sept. 30.

Belmont Light reported two distinct outage areas on the east and on the west side of town. One is located in and just to the south of Belmont Center while the other is in the Bright Road/Concord Avenue intersection.

Outage map of Belmont, Sept. 30.

“The outage on the west side of town was caused by a fallen tree on Concord Avenue,” reported the utility. It said customers in the Douglas and Gale area will be out longer as additional repairs are made.

Most customers in the Bright Road/ Baker Street neighborhood should have the lights back on by 9:30 a.m.

Belmont Superintendent John Phelan issued an email saying that the district was aware of a power outage impacting several neighborhoods in Belmont with power to be restored by approximately 10:30 a.m.

“The School Administration, principals, and teachers are aware of the inability of some students to access the internet due to these outages. Please know there is no culpability for students who are in this situation, and when power is restored, they can return to their classes,” said Phelan.

The National Weather Service issued a Wind Advisory early this morning that will last until 1 p.m. It said for residents of Eastern Massachusetts to expect southernly winds between 15 to 25 mph with gusts between 40 and 50 mph.

If you are experiencing an outage, CALL 617-993-2800

Town of Belmont High Heat/Humidity Advisory

Photo: The heat map from the National Weather Service.

Due to the current period of high heat and humidity, the Town of Belmont encourages everyone to stay cool and hydrated and to check on elderly friends and neighbors while following good social distancing practices. 

Seniors with questions about staying cool during this especially warm period are encouraged to contact the Beech Street Center by phone at 617-993-2970

Please help Belmont save energy by reducing your electricity consumption between 4 pm and 8 pm. Reducing electricity consumption helps Belmont Light maintain a safe electric delivery system and ultimately saves you money on your bill.

Please see http://www.BelmontLight.com, Belmont Light’s Facebook page or the bottom of the page for tips on how to conserve energy at your home.  If you have any questions, please call 617-993-2800.

Here are some tips to reduce Belmont peak electricity consumption:

  • Adjust air conditioners and turn off the AC in rooms that are not used. Adjusting the thermostat even by 2-3 degrees helps.
  • Use a microwave oven or an outdoor grill instead of a stove or a regular oven.
  • Shift laundry and dishwashing activities until after 8 p.m.
  • Unplug DVRs or gaming consoles when not in use.
  • Hold off charging electric vehicles until later in the evening.

Light Board Names Asst. GM Craig Spinale To Belmont Light’s Top Post

Photo: Craig Spinale, Belmont Light

Craig Spinale will be dropping the “assistant” from his title as he was named the new General Manager at Belmont Light.

The eight-year veteran of Belmont’s independent electric utility was appointed to Belmont Light’s top position by the town’s Light Board – which is made up of the three members fo the Select Board – at a brief meeting on Monday, June 22.

“I really appreciate the confidence you putting me,” said Spinale, who will be the acting general manager on July 14 when Roy leaves until a contract is agreed.

“I’m excited to continue my work at Belmont Light and to lead the organization” in regards to green energy and Energy Saving Motors programming that we go to great pains to put in place, he said.

Negotiations on Spinale’s contract will get underway next week.

Spinale is the director of operations overseeing the day-to-day internal operations including utility line functions, customer service, meter operations, line operations, and engineering operations.

Spinale takes the helm from Chris Roy who accepted the GM’s position in Shrewsbury. Spinale was a finalist for the GM’s position in 2018 but lost out to Roy.

Before coming to Belmont in 2012, Spinale spent 14 years with National Grid as a Lead Design Engineer and a Supervisor of Distribution Design. Spinale holds an associate’s degree and bachelor’s of science from Wentworth Institute of Technology.

Belmont Light’s Chris Roy Leaving To Run Shrewsbury’s Utility

Photo: Chris Roy, Belmont Light GM

Belmont Light’s General Manager Christopher Roy, who brought much needed stability to a sometimes troubled utility, is leaving his post to take over the running of the Shrewsbury Electric and Cable Operations.

Roy told the Light Board at its Monday, May 18 meeting that his first day in his new position will be Monday, July 13. He is replacing Mike Hale, who spent 32 years managing the utility.

“I’ve really appreciated the things we’ve been able to do so far and really enjoy the opportunity to talk transition planning,” said Roy, who was hired two years ago last month. Roy said he’s willing to provide his suggestions on the transition including personnel moves in executive session.

“I guess I can speak for the rest of us that we were surprised and disappointed but also wish you well because when you’re good, you get outside offers and that’s the way the world works,” said Belmont Light Board Chair Roy Epstein.

Belmont Light’s Winter Celebration/Blanket Drive Set For Thursday

Photo: Part of the poster for Belmont Light’s Winter Celebration and Blanket Drive.

The town’s electrical utility, Belmont Light, will be celebrating the Winter season with its customers at the 40 Prince St. office on Thursday, Dec. 19 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.   

The event is open to all Belmont Light customers. Those attending are encouraged to bring a new or very gently used blanket, bedspread, comforter, or quilt with them to the event to help share the warmth with others in need.

Customers will have an opportunity to enjoy a mug of hot cider or hot chocolate and say “hello” to special guest Frosty the Snowman.

Belmont Light customers will be able to pick up a free LED light bulb and an LED nightlight.

For more information, visit the website www.belmontlight.com or call 617-993-2800.

What To Know When The Lights Go Out In Belmont

Photo: Downed trees could cause electric outages.

Falling trees and and broken branches could cause electric outages throughout Belmont as the region is buffered by a fall nor’easter.

National Weather Service forecasters said that “strong to damaging winds” with maximum gusts of up to 40 miles per hour are expected to peak Thursday afternoon into the evening, especially along the coastline of Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The winds are expected to diminish Friday into Friday night.

Below are telephone numbers to keep at the ready during the storm:

Belmont Light (to report outages): 617-993-2800.

The Town of Belmont EMERGENCY HOTLINE: (617) 993-2698.

Unless it is an emergency, do not call 911.

Changes Coming to Online Payments for Belmont Light Customers

Photo: Belmont Light will soon turn to a new online payment processor.

Starting Monday, Sept. 9, Belmont Light will be switching its online payment processor from InvoiceCloud to NISC’s SmartHub

SmartHub can be accessed by following the link on the front page of www.BelmontLight.com or by visiting BelmontLight.SmartHub.coop  To start, customers will need only their account number and the name on the account, which can be found on all Belmont Light and Town DPW Water bills.

Customers wishing to continue or begin paying online for their electric or water accounts after September 9 will need to log in to SmartHub to submit new payment information, including any autopayment information.  Payments will no longer be accepted through InvoiceCloud after that date.

“Having two customer portals – one to view their account and one to pay their bill – has proven cumbersome and difficult for many customers,” said Jim Zocco, Belmont Light’s customer care and enterprise resources manager.  “We heard the feedback from these customers and have worked over the last few years to provide a simpler and more efficient experience.”

Zocco said that he hopes the new system will erase many of the headaches customers have faced since the two-portal system launched. 

Belmont Light will be holding training session this fall for customers who want to learn how to get the most out of SmartHub. Information about these events will be posted on the Town website and the Belmont Light website, as well as other Town media outlets.

More information and a tutorial on how to use SmartHub for payments will be available on Belmont Light’s website shortly.  For any other questions, customers can reach out to Belmont Light’s Customer Service at (617) 993-2800 or email customerservice@belmontlight.com

With Heat Wave Coming, Belmont Light Asks Customers To Cut Energy Use

Photo: Belmont Light is requesting customers to lower energy usage as temperatures climb.

With a significant heatwave set to blanket Belmont over the coming weekend, the town’s electrical utility is requesting consumers to save energy and money by reducing usage during peak times.

With temperatures rising to the 90s on Friday, July 19 to Sunday, July 21 and possibly breaking the century mark on Saturday, July 20, Belmont Light is asking customers to curtail electricity consumption between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Electricity cut during peak times helps Belmont mitigate energy supply costs and lowers strain on the regional electricity grid.

Here are some tips to reduce Belmont peak electricity consumption:

  • Adjust air conditioners and turn off the AC in rooms that are not used. Adjusting the thermostat even by 2-3 degrees helps.
  • Use a microwave oven or an outdoor grill instead of a stove or a regular oven.
  • Shift laundry and dishwashing activities until after 8 p.m.
  • Unplug DVRs or gaming consoles when not in use
  • Hold off charging electric vehicles until later in the evening

For more advice on reducing peak energy consumption, call Belmont Light at 617-993-2800.

All Electric: Selectmen OK Power Storage, Solar Farm At Incinerator Site

Photo: An example of a battery storage site.

Where once Belmont burned its trash will become an electrical park as the Belmont Board of Selectmen voted to install a combined battery storage facility and solar farm at the former town’s incinerator on Concord Avenue near the Lexington town line.

“That’s the beauty of this use. It’s not tall, it’s not noisy, it’s not disruptive and it will not cause issues,” said Belmont Selectmen Chair Adam Dash.

But the public will need to wait upwards to three years before the new electrical hub is up and running; the town will need to design a “cap” over the contaminated ash produced over nearly 20 years the incinerator was in operation. In addition, the town is looking at a $800,000 gap between the $3.6 million cost of the barrier and $2.8 million in a community stabilization fund to pay of the cap. 

Installed in what resemble cargo shipping containers, the battery storage units will be used to both store electricity from both the solar panels and from the electrical grid during times when energy costs are low – the middle of the night – and distribute it during “peak” hours such as the late afternoon and evening.. 

By using the entire parcel with the exception of land used by the town’s Department of Public Works, the solar segment could generate the two megawatts of electricity that would make the facility financially viable for Belmont Light, the town’s electrical utility which would manage the operation.

The selection process which began in 2017 with 17 options came down to three; the storage facility, a bike/skate play area and open space. Two more controversial uses; an anaerobic digester and a multi-rink ice skating rink, where deemed unacceptable in February by the state’s Department of Capital Assets and Management Maintainance – which transferred the site to the town in 2015 – as both would generate revenue for a third party and was not seen as a municipal use.

The open space was attractive as the town is wanting of recreational space but it is a polluted site, the topography is challenging and the DPW will actively be on site for composting and other uses. While Dash described it as a “great idea”, maintaining and cleaning a “remote” bike/skate park would be a handful as the town is overburdened with patrolling the existing inventory of parks and playgrounds. 

The battery storage/solar farm was seen as the most practical use with the greatest upside. It is a passive use, was not opposed by homeowners on the backside of Belmont Hill and has the added advantage of meeting the town’s climate action goals and both the solar array and storage units can be replaced when technology improves.

“I just love the idea of having a use that can help solve so many issues,” said Selectman Mark Paolillo who has long been a support of the energy storage concept.

In addition, Belmont will have some expertise in the installation of electrical solar power. Belmont Light General Manager Christopher Roy led the Concord utility in the building of a solar facility on an old land ll, which generates up to 1.7 megawatts of electricity. Roy also submitted data to the Belmont Selectmen of the potental of cost savings with the creation of a combined solar and storage park.