WCAI Series Reporting

WCAI brings you original in-depth reporting on issues facing the Cape, Islands, and South Coast: Wind Turbines, Education, Water Quality, Alzheimer's, and more.

Explore all our special reporting series in our Special Reporting Series Archive.


Power Source: Part 6
7:33 am
Mon November 24, 2014

Keeping Nantucket Powered is a Challenge as Electricity Demand Rises

A file photo from December 2005 shows the installation of one of Nantucket's two undersea cables at Jefferson Avenue beach.
Credit Rob Benchley

Keeping an island 30 miles off the mainland supplied with fuel and electricity is hard enough, and on Nantucket, there’s also the need to account for the seasonal population that creates a short but significant surge in the demand for energy. It's a complex energy system that is constantly evolving with advances in technology and transportation.

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Power Source: Part 5
9:13 am
Fri November 21, 2014

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Still Sparse On Cape, Islands And South Coast

EV charging station in Barnstable
Brian Morris/WCAI

There are a lot of upsides to plug-in electric vehicles, which is why state and federal officials are pushing hard to bring them into the mainstream. The technology promises to help reduce our reliance on imported petroleum products; the cars can be charged overnight or at times when the electric grid is less taxed; and they produce zero tailpipe emissions.

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Power Source: Part 4
7:44 am
Thu November 20, 2014

What's On This Electric Bill, Anyway?

NStar's Michael Durand sits down with electricity customer Barbara Meehan at her Wareham home to discuss her bill.

Utility company officials don't usually make house calls. But NStar spokesperson Michael Durand agreed to sit down with an NStar customer and talk about her electric bill. So we introduced Durand to 72-year-old Barbara Meehan of Wareham.

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Power Source: Part 3
7:44 am
Wed November 19, 2014

Energy Sources at Ends of Lines Could Benefit Everyone

Boothbay Harbor, Maine, has a message for end-of-the-line towns around New England.
Credit UGArdener / flickr

Boothbay, Maine has a message for end-of-the-line towns around New England: you could make the whole grid stronger.

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Power Source: Part 2
7:33 am
Tue November 18, 2014

Changing Your Life to Use Less Energy

Choosing to live simply and off the grid, Chuck Cole uses a series of marine batteries and a single solar panel to provide all his electricity.
Credit Steve Junker / WCAI

Here’s a question for you: how much electricity did you use last month? That’s not how much did you pay on your electric bill – but how much electric power did you use?

If you're serious about using less, a good place to start is to understand how much you already consume.

In Falmouth I sat at the kitchen table with Ben and Kellie Porter and their two young children, as Ben opened his laptop to examine the family electric bill.

“It was 600 last month, 700 in July," he said. "Middle of the winter it was down to 400.  So between 600 and 400. Then July - big month.”   

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Power Source: Part 1
7:35 am
Mon November 17, 2014

With Energy System Strained, New England May Face Rolling Blackouts

Salem Harbor Power Station, formerly a coal-fired power plant, is slated to be replaced by a gas-powered plant.
Credit Henry Zbyszynski / flkr

Both of our region’s primary electric utilities have announced double-digit rate increases in recent weeks, leaving some residential customers wondering how they’ll pay an extra thirty dollars a month or more.

But beyond the rate hikes, New England is in the midst of an energy crisis. It’s facing serious questions about the future of its energy supply. Rupa Shenoy reports that if the region can't get a grip on its electricity usage and supply, residents and businesses are facing a future that may include “rolling blackouts” on days when usage is the highest.

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New Bedford Mills: Part 2
8:05 am
Wed September 24, 2014

Modern Uses For Some Of New Bedford's Old Textile Mills

Interior of Manomet Place in New Bedford's North End
Brian Morris/WCAI

New Bedford’s textile mills once churned out fabric 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Some of the old mills have been torn down, but others survive as artist spaces, outlets and apparel manufacturers. About a half dozen of the red brick structures have been restored and turned into high-end apartments. Manomet Place in New Bedford’s North End is one example. 

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New Bedford Mills: Part 1
8:46 am
Tue September 23, 2014

New Bedford's Textile Mills: Relics Of An Industry That Flourished...Then Faded Into History

Exterior of former Nashawena Mill
Brian Morris/WCAI

Driving through New Bedford along Route 195, it’s hard not to notice the long red brick buildings on either side of the highway. These are the old textile mills, built mostly in the early 1900’s. They’re a familiar part of the landscape, but many people don’t know the stories these buildings have to tell: of the immigrant workers who came here by the thousands; of the working conditions they faced; of a textile industry that exploded in New Bedford and then faded just as quickly; and of the present-day debate about whether to save these buildings or tear them down. 

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Part 6 - Home Away From Home: Immigrant Stories
7:30 am
Mon September 22, 2014

Here for Work, Immigrants Face Violence

Jose was stabbed while biking home from a neighborhood store in New Bedford, leaving him unable to work. He's now fearful to leave his apartment.
Credit Sarah Reynolds

Friday is payday for many New Bedford businesses. That makes for a bustling Acushnet Avenue with money-sending shops on nearly every block. Transportes Vasquez sends money and other goods from immigrants in New Bedford to their homes in Guatemala. The owner, Luis Vasquez says on average, 500 people come by to send money every weekend.

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Part 5 - Home Away From Home: Immigrant Stories
7:33 am
Fri September 19, 2014

Unauthorized and Paying Taxes

The Community Economic Development Center in New Bedford helps low income residents -- many of them immigrants in the country illegally -- file their tax returns. Immigrants often file tax returns with the hope that it eventually could help them stay in the country.
Credit Sarah Reynolds

February and March is a busy time for the Community Economic Development Center in New Bedford. It’s tax season. For the past eleven years, this community organization has participated in a federal program that helps low income people file their taxes. It offers free tax service to families making less than 52-thousand dollars a year. Williams says she gets all kinds of people coming in who fit the bill. And many of them are immigrants who are here illegally, like Luis Farfan. He stops by every year to file his tax return.

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