For Immediate Release - August 08, 2012

State Officials Present Green Communities Awards to Great Barrington and Richmond

GREAT BARRINGTON – Wednesday, August 8, 2012 – Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Rick Sullivan and Department of Energy Resources (DOER) Commissioner Mark Sylvia today presented $280,000 in grants to fund clean energy projects in the towns of Great Barrington and Richmond.

“I congratulate Richmond and Great Barrington on joining the over 100 Green Communities across the Commonwealth as they make smart investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “Community by community, we are protecting our environment, reducing municipal costs and making Massachusetts a clean energy leader.”

“Great Barrington and Richmond are among the leaders in the clean energy revolution underway in Massachusetts,” said Secretary Sullivan, whose office includes DOER. “The Patrick-Murray Administration is proud to support towns like these, which are committed to cutting energy use, creating jobs and protecting the environment.”

Great Barrington will receive $142,700, and Richmond will receive $137,300.

In addition to the grants, each town will receive a certificate from the Commonwealth and four road signs identifying it as an official Green Community.

“Nearly half of the Commonwealth’s residents live in a community that has made a conscious decision to buck the energy status quo and become a leader in renewable energy adoption and smart energy use,” said DOER Commissioner Mark Sylvia. “Becoming a Green Community requires hard work, and these grants are a testament to the eagerness with which Great Barrington and Richmond have rolled up their sleeves in support of a clean energy future.”  

The grants are part of a package of nearly $2.75 million in funding to be given to the state’s 17 newest Green Communities. In addition to Great Barrington and Richmond, awards are being made to Amherst, Ashland, Auburn, Berlin, Conway, Gill, Huntington, Lakeville, Leominster, Northfield, Pelham, Sunderland, Tisbury, Townsend and West Tisbury.

These 17 communities helped Massachusetts surpass the 100 Green Communities mark, a milestone that demonstrates the commitment of Bay State cities and towns that choose what makes good sense both for municipal budgets and the environment.

Once designated by DOER as official Green Communities, cities and towns are eligible for awards to fund local renewable power and energy efficiency projects that advance both municipal and state clean energy goals. Grants awarded so far assist 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 a host of energy efficiency upgrades. Including this fifth round of designation grants and a round of competitive grants last spring for previously-designated Green Communities, the Patrick-Murray Administration has awarded $23.2 million in grants to the Commonwealth’s 103 Green Communities.  Projects to be funded for the 17 new communities will be finalized this fall.

To date, the 103 Green Communities have committed to a five-year total energy reduction equivalent to the annual energy consumption of 13,358 homes, about the same size as the town of Bedford. This commitment equates to eliminating the greenhouse gas emissions from 22,556 cars.

“With today’s designation, the Commonwealth again demonstrates its commitment to supporting our municipalities while advancing our clean energy goals,” said Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, Senate Chairman of the Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy. “I am proud that communities I represent, Conway, Great Barrington and Richmond, join 100 other Green Communities in committing to these goals through reduced energy use and the encouragement of renewable energy solutions.”  

 “This is wonderful news that Great Barrington has earned the designation as a Green Community,” said Rep. William Pignatelli. “I know they worked hard to become part of this program and I commend the town for taking the initiative. Our communities continue to lead the charge toward a more sustainable future and this is another great step towards that goal.”

DOER’s Green Communities Designation and Grant Program, a result of the Green Communities Act signed by Governor Patrick in 2008,  rewards communities that earn Green Communities designation by meeting five clean energy benchmarks.

The program is funded through auctions of carbon emissions permits under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, as well as Annual Compliance Payments made by electricity suppliers under the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard.

Massachusetts sits at the end of the energy pipeline and imports all of its fossil-fuel based energy sources – some from areas 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 places like South America, 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 projects such as those supported by Green Communities grants. 

By the end of July, Massachusetts had more than 129 megawatts of solar power installed. That’s enough electricity to power more than 20,404 homes, and, when compared with fossil fuel-generated electricity, the equivalent of eliminating the greenhouse gas emissions from 13,870 cars per year. Installations this summer alone are poised to be more than five times the total solar power installed in all of 2008. Massachusetts is now more than halfway to its 2017 goal of 250 megawatts of solar power, with five years left to hit the target.

There has been a twenty-fold increase in wind energy to 61 megawatts since 2007, enough to power nearly 19,296 homes and eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from 13,117 cars annually.

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