DEERFIELD – Thursday, December 15, 2011 — Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr. today presented five of the state’s newest Green Communities – Buckland, Deerfield, Granby, Middlefield, Shutesbury – with awards to finance clean energy projects. Municipal officials plan to use the awards, totaling $701,525, for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, high-efficiency street lights, building weatherization, energy audits, and other projects.
“Thanks to the efforts of communities like these, cities and towns across the Commonwealth are lowering their energy costs, investing in long-term savings and fueling our local economy with clean energy and energy efficiency jobs,” Secretary Sullivan said at a ceremony at Deerfield’s municipal office.
The Green Communities Act, which created the grants program highlighted today, was cited by American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) in its recent ranking of Massachusetts as first in the nation for 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. The ACEEE report called the Green Communities Act central to Massachusetts’ success and 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 is also in the midst of 30-fold increases, from 3.5 megawatts of solar installed in 2007 to over 100 megawatts of solar now installed or under contract, and from 3.1 MW of wind installed in 2007 to over 85 MW of wind installed or in design or construction. As of December 2011 there were 67 megawatts of installed solar and 44 MW of installed wind power statewide. Governor Deval Patrick has set statewide goals of 250 MW of solar power by 2017, and 2,000 MW of wind power by 2020.
“Smart investments such as these in new lighting, solar energy and weatherization save municipal dollars and cut energy consumption helping us to meet our statewide clean energy goals,” said Department of Energy Resources (DOER) Commissioner Mark Sylvia.
Massachusetts is at the end of the energy pipeline and imports all of its fossil-fuel based energy sources from other regions of the country or other parts of the world – many of them unstable or hostile to the U.S. Of the $22 billion Massachusetts spends annually to buy the energy that runs its power plants, buildings and vehicles, 80 percent flows out of state to purchase coal from Colombia, oil from Venezuela, and natural gas and oil from the Middle East and Canada. 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.
In November, DOER awarded its latest round of grants worth $3.7 million to the state’s newest 21 Green Communities, which join 53 other cities and towns named in previous rounds of Green Communities designations. The additions bring the total number of official Green Communities to 74. 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.
“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.”
“The announcement of these funds not only recognize responsible environmental stewardship, but a proactive approach to cost control and job growth in our blossoming green economy,” said Sen. Gale D. Candaras.
“I congratulate both Deerfield and Shutesbury for their environmental leadership and commitment to a cleaner and more sustainable energy future for their communities,” said Rep. Stephen Kulik. “The hard work and dedication required to be designated as Green Communities should make every citizen proud of their efforts to become more energy efficient and environmentally responsible, and this will open the doors to additional resources that will assist town budgets in the challenging fiscal times ahead.”
“Green, forward-thinking in these towns is being rewarded today with tangible improvements to municipal energy infrastructure,” said Representative Paul Mark. “The state recognizes that renewable energy and conservation is the economy of the future, and we’re glad to lend a hand to our towns in jump-starting it.”
The award details are listed below.
Buckland: $134,150 to fund energy audits to identify energy conservation measures in the Town Hall and Police Station and the implementation of DOER-approved measures identified from the completed audits.
Deerfield: $142,950 to fund several measures at multiple municipal buildings including energy efficient interior and exterior lighting, energy efficient windows, and high-efficiency street lights and controls.
Granby: $144,125 to fund a solar hot water system for the police and fire complex, energy audits for the junior and senior high school and the elementary school, and the implementation of DOER-approved measures identified from the completed audits.
Middlefield: $138,025 for multiple energy conservation measures including insulation, efficient hot water heater and furnace upgrades, efficient windows and doors, and a solar PV system on the Town Hall.
Shutesbury: $142,275 for heating ventilation and air conditioning and hot water systems efficiency upgrades, energy efficient lighting, air sealing, and a solar PV system at the Fire Station.
DOER’s November grant round will fund 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 five communities, awards were made to Ayer, Bedford, Brookline, Carlisle, Holland, Mendon, Millbury, Monson, Revere, Sherborn, Somerville, Sutton, Tewksbury, Topsfield, Truro, and Woburn.
The 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”).
DOER calculates Green Communities grants using a formula that caps awards at $1 million and provides each community with a $125,000 base grant – plus additional amounts based on per capita income and population, and for municipalities that meet Green Communities Criterion 1 for energy generation.
In addition to grants, each Green Community is presented with a certificate from the Commonwealth, four road signs identifying it as an official Green Community, and receives at least one Big Belly solar trash compactor for municipal use.
Click here for more information on DOER’s Green Communities program.