For Immediate Release - August 27, 2012

STATE ENERGY OFFICIALS PRESENT GREEN COMMUNITIES AWARDS TO ASHLAND, AUBURN

Ashland – Monday, August 27, 2012 – Department of Energy Resources (DOER) Commissioner Mark Sylvia today presented nearly $330,000 in grants to fund clean energy projects in the towns of Ashland and Auburn.

“Ashland and Auburn are two of the more than 100 Green Communities across the Commonwealth making 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.”

“Ashland and Auburn are among the leaders in the clean energy revolution underway in Massachusetts,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick 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.”

Ashland will receive $164,325 in grants, Auburn will receive $165,550. In addition to the grants, the towns will receive certificates from the Commonwealth and four road signs identifying them as official Green Communities.

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

The grant is 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 Ashland and Auburn, awards are being made to Amherst, Berlin, Conway, Gill, Great Barrington, Huntington, Lakeville, Leominster, Northfield, Pelham, Richmond, 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.

“This is an exciting day for Ashland, the latest MetroWest community selected to participate in the Green Communities program,” said Senator Karen Spilka. “It is also an exciting day for the entire Commonwealth, as we see the good ideas contained within the Green Communities Act come to fruition. Once again, Massachusetts is strengthening its potential for economic growth while promoting a healthier planet through its embrace of green technologies and energy efficiency.”

“I’d like to congratulate Auburn on meeting the difficult standards of energy conservation and renewable energy business development in order to be designated a Green Community,” said Senator Mike Moore. “This forward-thinking program reflects a commitment to responsible energy use, while also promoting the growth of clean energy businesses. As a result of their efforts, the town will now be eligible for significant state grant funding to pursue projects and conservation under the Green Communities Act.”

“This designation is a win-win for our town,” said Representative Tom Sannicandro. “We’re making our town greener, our energy cleaner, and we’re updating the town’s equipment with modern, fuel-efficient technologies. It’s a testament to the town’s and the state’s place as a leader in the emerging green economy.”

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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