For Immediate Release - August 13, 2012

STATE ENERGY OFFICIALS PRESENT GREEN COMMUNITIES AWARDS TO AMHERST, CONWAY, GILL, HUNTINGTON, NORTHFIELD, PELHAM AND SUNDERLAND

AMHERST – Monday, August 13, 2012 – Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Rick Sullivan and Department of Energy Resources (DOER) Commissioner Mark Sylvia today presented more than $1.15 million in grants to fund clean energy projects in the towns of Amherst, Conway, Gill, Huntington, Northfield, Pelham and Sunderland.

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

“These seven communities 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.”

In addition to the grants listed below, the towns will receive a certificate from the Commonwealth and four road signs identifying them as an official Green Community. Receiving grants today were:

Amherst: $302,000

Conway: $139,650

Gill: $139,900

Huntington: $140,650

Northfield: $143,750

Pelham: $138,100

Sunderland: $146,450

 “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 today are a testament to the eagerness with which these seven communities 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 the seven communities receiving grants Monday, awards were made to Ashland, Auburn, Berlin, Great Barrington, Lakeville, Leominster, Richmond, Tisbury, Townsend and West Tisbury.

These 17 communities helped Massachusetts surpass the 100 Green Community 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 latest 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 a greenhouse gas emissions reduction equivalent to taking 22,556 cars off the road.

“Achieving designation as a Green Community takes a great deal of hard work, and is especially challenging for small communities who rely on many dedicated volunteers, along with town officials, to make this happen,” said Representative Stephen Kulik. “But the investment pays off in the receipt of these grant funds, as well as the benefits of ongoing energy savings in the years ahead. I heartily congratulate each of these communities for their vision and dedication to a greener and more promising energy future for their citizens.”

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 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 19,600 homes. 

# # #