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Environmentalists, Solar Industry Push For Net Metering Increase
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
02:14PM / Monday, July 20, 2015
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Utility companies have nearly hit the statewide net-metering cap and now environmentalists and the solar industry are pushing to raise it again.   Net metering is a program that requires utility companies to buy unused energy produced by alternative or sustainable energy. The cap limits the amount the utility is required to buy from the sources and is currently around 5 percent of the total generation.   Photovoltaic energy has been the most popular use of net metering and, in 2008, the state has several times over the past half-dozen years increased the power generation eligibility for net metering.   With utility companies buying all that they are

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Pittsfield Approves Lease For Solar Array At Landfill
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
03:00AM / Sunday, July 19, 2015
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PITTSFIELD, Mass — The City Council agreed to sign a lease with solar developer Ameresco to build a solar array at the city's capped landfill in Downing Industrial Park.   The company is planning to construct a 2.2 megawatt array and the city would buy the electricity at a discounted rate.   Not only would the city receive a better rate on the electricity, the company would pay about $45,000 annually in personal property tax.   The company will receive the Solar Renewable Energy Certificates offered by the state. The net metering program gives the solar company a benefit for kilowatts of electricity that are sold back to the grid.    Each utility company

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Kinder Morgan Shrinks Pipeline Size; Public Hearings Scheduled
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:12AM / Saturday, July 18, 2015
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Kinder Morgan is prepared to move forward with the proposed natural gas pipeline through the Berkshires, albeit the plan is for a somewhat smaller size.   On Thursday, Kinder Morgan announced it will continue with the permitting process for the Northeast Energy Direct Project, a 30-inch (down from 36 inches) pipeline from New York state through the Berkshires to Dracut. The project is a $3.3 billion investment in which the company says would cure a shortage of energy in New England.   "We are excited that the market path component is moving forward and a determination now has been made on mainline capacity for the project, which is specifically

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Dance, Auction Benefits Berkshire Sanctuaries Education Program
By Judith Lerner, Special to iBerkshires
02:22PM / Friday, July 17, 2015
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LENOX, Mass. — Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary will be serving up food and music among its scenic woodlands on Saturday to help raise funds for educational programs.

"It's going to be a fundraiser and a fun-raiser," Becky Cushing joked about the first major event of her initial year as director of the three Berkshire Wildlife Sanctuaries of Massachusetts Audubon, based at Pleasant Valley, the 1,000-plus acre wooded nature preserve hidden in the Lenox hills since the 1930s.

Pleasant Valley and Mass Audubon, with the support of sponsors, are hosting "An Evening in the Woods Summer Party and Barn Dance" starting at 6 p.m. with food, drink and a silent

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Pittsfield ConCom Gives Approval to Fix Brattle Brook Road
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
11:09AM / Thursday, July 16, 2015
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Conservation Commission gave the city approval to fix up the road through Brattle Brook Park.   Resident Alexander Bertelli has been asking the city to fix the road, which has massive ruts making it nearly impassable and washes out when it rains.   "I tried everything to get that road fixed," Bertelli said. "It's the worst I've ever seen it. It's a safety issue. It's bad."   Commissioner of Public Services Bruce Collingwood, however, said the property is under the Conservation Commission's jurisdiction. Collingwood said city workers couldn't do anything to that road without the commission detailing what

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Rattlesnakes: Disparaged Denizens of the Berkshires
By Joe Durwin, iBerkshires Columnist
09:13PM / Sunday, May 31, 2015
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Colorful, venomous, and increasingly rare — rattlesnakes have had an interesting history among the residents of the Berkshire hills, one that has left its mark on the lives, literature, and general cultural psyche of its more recently arrived neighbors.

"No other snake in Western Massachusetts has the history, lore, fiction, and fascination as the timber rattlesnake," according to local naturalist Tom Tyning, who has spent many years studying these creatures.

These reptiles were found in comparative abundance when settlers first arrived throughout this part of New England, but over time have shrunk to a meager fraction of their previous

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Downtown Pittsfield Farmer's Market Expects 20 percent Increase This Year
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
03:52AM / Friday, May 29, 2015
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — So far, the farmer's market is seeing a 15 to 20 percent increase in foot traffic by moving to the First Street Common.   Downtown Farmer's Market Manager Jessica Conzo said the weekly event, now in its third season, has attracted thousands of shoppers and is on solid financial footing. The city provided $10,000 in seed money to get the market going for its first summer in 2013.   "We saw 10,000 people come through last year," Conzo told the City Council on Tuesday.   For the first two years, the market was being held in the parking lot across the street from the Common. The park was still in the midst of a massive renovation, which

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Lanesborough Residents Calling On Town To Oppose Pipeline
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
03:07AM / Tuesday, May 19, 2015
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LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — It was standing-room only in the Selectmen's office Monday night with dozens of residents asking the board to stop the proposed natural gas pipeline.   The proposed Kinder Morgan Northeast Energy Direct project is eyed to install a high-pressure gas line through 19 properties in town on its way from the Marcellus Shale territory in Pennsylvania to Maine. The route cuts through Hancock, Lanesborough, Cheshire, Dalton, Hinsdale, Windsor and Peru. It runs along the electrical lines just north of Town Hall, bisecting the town.   The residents on Monday delivered a petition with more than 500 signatures asking the Selectmen to oppose the project, citing

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Friends Group Formed To Improve Public Lands & Forests
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
03:21AM / Monday, May 11, 2015
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — There have been plenty of studies and press conferences touting the economic impact of local cultural institutions, all with the backdrop of the beautiful Berkshires.

But why can't the "beautiful Berkshires" be an economic driver as well?   Companies and politicians all see the benefits of investing in culture but some say not nearly the same level of emphasis is placed on open spaces, hiking trails, natural beauty, and outdoor recreation.   Ryan Aylesworth is hoping to change that.   The former president and CEO of Audubon International and once a intergovernmental affairs liaison for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services has formed the

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Pittsfield Celebrates Arbor Day, Honors Berkshire Conservation District
By Marc Wrzesinski, Special to iBerkshires
10:27PM / Friday, April 24, 2015
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Despite the cold and blustery weather, city officials honored Berkshire Conservation District Director Bob Lear at the annual Arbor Day celebration.   The Berkshire Conservation District, based in Pittsfield at the Conte Federal Building has been actively and yet quietly serving the area since 1946 and dedicated to the conservation of natural resources throughout the county.   Lear has worked as a career forester and has been a longtime volunteer member of the Berkshire Conservation District.   Mayor Daniel Bianchi recognized Lear's work with a proclamation and award to recognize an individual and organization that has displayed a long-term

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