LEVERETT – Thursday, May 3, 2011 -- Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr. and Department of Energy Resources (DOER) Commissioner Mark Sylvia today presented four of the state's newest Green Communities – Leverett, Chesterfield, Ashfield and Rowe - with more than $550,000 in awards to finance solar projects, high-efficiency lighting, energy management systems and other clean energy projects.
“It’s going to take the commitment from communities like these to propel the clean energy revolution we’ve started here in Massachusetts. We’re proud to support these investments that cut energy use, create jobs and protect our environment," said Secretary Sullivan, whose office includes DOER.
With these latest designations, 42 percent of Massachusetts residents - 2.7 million people - now live in Green Communities across the Commonwealth. All of the 86 Green Communities committed to reduce their municipal energy consumption by 20 percent. This commitment collectively equates to the annual energy consumption of more than 13,000 Massachusetts homes and the greenhouse gases from more than 16,800 cars.
This week, DOER awarded its latest round of grants worth $2 million to the state's newest 12 Green Communities – including the four celebrated here today. DOER's recent grant round funds an array of projects across the state, including the installation of solar panels on town office buildings, weatherization at schools and municipal buildings, installation of high-efficiency street lights, and several energy efficiency upgrades. In addition to these four communities, awards were made to Barre, Beverly, Bridgewater, Maynard, Provincetown, Quincy, Shirley, and Weston. They joined 74 other cities and towns named in previous rounds of Green Communities designations, bringing the total number of official Green Communities to 86. These communities are eligible for awards to fund local renewable power and energy efficiency projects that will advance both municipal and state clean energy goals.
“Saving municipal dollars on new lighting, renewable energy and energy efficiency, investments like these cut energy consumption and help us to meet our statewide clean energy goals,” said Commissioner Sylvia.
Massachusetts has increased solar installations 30-fold since Governor Deval Patrick took office – going from 3.5 megawatts (MW) in 2007 to 105 MW installed today. The amount of wind energy installed has jumped from 3.1 MW installed in 2007 to over 54 MW today. Governor Patrick has set statewide goals of 250 MW of solar power by 2017 and 2,000 MW of wind power by 2020.
The Green Communities Act, which created DOER’s Green Communities Designation and Grant program, was cited by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) as a primary reason for ACEEE’s 2011 ranking of Massachusetts as first in the nation its energy efficiency policies and programs, moving California out of the top spot for the first time since the ranking was first published four years ago. ACEEE’s October report pointed to the effectiveness of the Patrick-Murray Administration’s integrated approach to creating jobs, helping clean energy businesses thrive, improving energy security and lowering energy costs, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Massachusetts sits at the end of the energy pipeline, lacking indigenous fossil fuel sources and spending $22 billion each year to run power plants, fuel vehicles and businesses, and heat buildings. Of that sum, Massachusetts spends 80 percent on foreign energy sources from Canada and the Middle East. That’s nearly $18 billion in lost economic opportunity that Massachusetts stands poised to reclaim through investments in home-grown renewable energy and energy efficiency such as those supported by Green Communities grants.
“Western Massachusetts continues to lead thanks to the strides Ashfield, Chesterfield and Rowe are taking to increase their energy efficiency and conservation efforts,” said Sen. Benjamin B. Downing. “I am very pleased that the Administration is able to advance their initiatives by providing this Green Communities financial assistance.”
“I congratulate these four towns for their commitment to a cleaner and more sustainable energy future for their citizens,” said Rep. Stephen Kulik. “It takes a lot of hard work to achieve the Green Community designation, and I am very pleased that so many small rural towns are making the effort and receiving the financial and environmental benefits that this program provides.”
"These communities, and the others in my district that have already been named Green Communities, are at the forefront of the state's effort to bring about a clean energy future," said Sen. Stan Rosenberg.
"My congratulations to all the communities and all the people who made these awards possible."
"It is great to see Ashfield and Rowe joining the ranks of many other Green Communities around the Commonwealth. This is an important step towards reducing our energy dependence and improving our future right here at home," said Rep. Paul Mark.
“It is good to see the small town of Rowe taking on the initiative of making these green community improvements. It is not an easy process but it’s communities of all sizes that will help to make all of Massachusetts green. My congratulations to the town of Rowe,” said Rep. Gailanne M. Cariddi.
Ashfield: $141,025 to fund a feasibility study for a solar PV system, bike racks for high traffic public locations, and multiple energy efficiency measures including lighting improvements, tankless water heaters, energy audits at several municipal buildings.
Chesterfield: $140,000 to fund a pilot Clean Energy Fund grant program for residents to implement energy efficiency measures identified in Mass Save audits; an energy efficient boiler and air sealing at the Fire House; furnace replacement, an on-demand water heater, air sealing and exterior door replacement at the Senior Center; and other energy conservation measures and upgrades.
Leverett: $138,750 to fund a solar PV roof-mounted system at the Public Safety Complex and energy efficient lighting upgrades at the Town Hall, Library, and the Public Safety Complex.
Rowe: $135,725 to fund energy education and outreach workshops for residents; a feasibility study for the development of a residential home energy incentive program; a solar PV roof-mounted system on Department of Public Works Building; installation of efficient water heaters and window quilts at municipal buildings; exterior light upgrades at the Fire Station; and other energy conservation measures and energy upgrades.
DOER’s Green Communities Grant Program uses funding from auctions of carbon emissions permits under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to reward communities that win Green Communities designation by meeting five clean energy benchmarks:
Adopting local zoning bylaw or ordinance that allows “as-of-right siting” for renewable and/or alternative energy R&D facilities, manufacturing facilities or generation units.
Adopting an expedited permitting process related to the as-of-right facilities;
Establishing a municipal energy use baseline and a program to reduce use by 20 percent within five years;
Purchasing only fuel-efficient vehicles for municipal use, whenever such vehicles are commercially available and practicable; and
Requiring all new residential construction over 3,000 square feet and all new commercial and industrial real estate construction to reduce lifecycle energy costs (i.e., adoption of an energy-saving building “stretch code”).
In addition to grants, each Green Community is presented with a certificate from the Commonwealth and four road signs identifying it as an official Green Community.
Click here for more information on DOER's Green Communities program.