All Things Sustainable

By Mark Sandeen, Chair, Sustainable Lexington Committee  |

Are you curious whether solar power makes sense for your home? How you can lower your energy bills? How our local climate is changing? Will electric cars make a difference? How safe is our water supply? Should I buy my food locally? Send your sustainability questions to and we’ll have the Sustainable Lexington committee get back to you.

Q: Do we have enough sunshine to make solar power practical in Massachusetts? Can solar power really make a difference?

A:  Yes and Yes. The Boston area is a great location for solar installations. A solar energy system installed in the Boston area will generate almost as much electricity as the same system would generate if it was installed in Sacramento – just 11% less. A Boston area installation will generate only 19% less than if the same system was installed in Reno, Nevada. Interestingly, that same Boston area installation will generate almost double the energy compared to the same installation in Germany.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) released a report this week “U.S. Renewable Energy Technical Potentials: A GIS-Based Analysis” that shows just how amazing the solar and renewable energy potential in Massachusetts truly is.

NREL has determined that utility scale and rooftop solar power installations have the technical potential to deliver 111,398 GWh of electricity each year. To put that into perspective, Massachusetts consumed 57,123 GWh of electricity last year. That means solar power from Massachusetts has the potential to deliver almost double the electricity we are using today!

If you’d like to learn more about solar power, join us for a viewing of the documentary film “Here Comes the Sun” on September 12th at 7:30PM in Cary Library followed by an update from our solar energy task force outlining the Town of Lexington’s solar energy progress. This event is sponsored by Lexington Global Warming Action Coalition. For more information go to Admission is free and open to the public.

Q: I noticed that Lexington’s Board of Selectmen issued a letter to support the reduction of mercury pollution from power plants. Is mercury pollution a concern here in Lexington?

A: Yes. Mercury pollution, much of it coming from coal-fired power plants, represents a particularly widespread threat to families nationwide. A dangerous neurotoxin, mercury poses a particular threat to pregnant women and small children. Exposure affects a developing child’s ability to walk, talk, read, write and learn.

The Center for Disease Control estimates that as many as 1 in 6 women of childbearing age have high enough mercury levels in their blood to harm a developing fetus.

As of 2010, all 50 states have fish consumption advisories in place to warn residents of the potential health effects of eating fish caught from local waters. Of these advisories, 81% were issued in part because of mercury pollution accumulated within the aquatic food chain.

Reducing mercury pollution from coal power plants will result in as many as 11,000 lives saved, 4,700 heart attacks and 130,000 asthma attacks prevented every year!

Clean, healthy air and water are fundamental American rights. The mercury and air toxic rules supported by the Board of Selectmen will also reduce exposure to a host of other health-threatening toxics, including arsenic, cyanide, chromium and acid gases.

Feel free to contact us at We look forward to hearing from you.



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