For Immediate Release - March 04, 2013

Patrick-Murray Administration Energy Officials Present Green Communities Awards

Wendell, Westminster and Whately receive Green Communities designations and over $400,000 in grants

WHATELY– Monday, March 4, 2013 – Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Rick Sullivan today presented the towns of Wendell, Westminster and Whately with $417,575 in Green Communities grants to fund municipal clean energy projects.

“Wendell, Westminster and Whately are now three of the 110 Green Communities across the Commonwealth making smart investments in renewable energy,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “Community by community, we are protecting our environment, reducing municipal costs and making Massachusetts a clean energy leader.”

“These communities are among the leaders taking charge of their clean energy future,” said Secretary Sullivan, whose office includes the Department of Energy Resources (DOER). “The Patrick-Murray Administration continues to support towns that are cutting energy use, creating jobs and protecting the environment. Their efforts are critical to the Commonwealth’s clean energy revolution.”

Wendell received a $138,125 grant, Westminster received $141,500 and Whately received $137,950. All of the communities received a certificate from the Commonwealth and four road signs identifying them as Green Communities. DOER’s Green Communities Division designated the towns as official Green Communities in December, recognizing their achievements in meeting five clean energy benchmarks.

“Massachusetts’ clean energy revolution continues its momentum in large part because of leadership at the local level,” said DOER Commissioner Mark Sylvia. “It’s always a good day when we recognize the efforts cities and towns are making to save money and energy for their residents and businesses while reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions.”

The grants are part of a package of more than $1 million in funding awarded to the state’s seven newest Green Communities. In addition to the communities awarded today, and the town of Rockland, awards will also be made to Petersham, Westwood and Winthrop.

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 sixth round of designation grants and a round of competitive grants last spring for previously-designated Green Communities, the Patrick-Murray Administration has awarded approximately $24 million in grants to the Commonwealth’s 110 Green Communities.

To date, the 110 Green Communities have committed to a total energy reduction equivalent to the annual energy consumption of over 13,600 homes. In greenhouse gas reduction terms, this commitment equates to taking nearly 31,000 cars off the road.

"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."

"I applaud Whately for being the latest of a growing number of small towns to make a commitment to a more sustainable and responsible energy future for its citizens,” said Rep. Stephen Kulik.  “Participation in the Green Communities program will bring both financial and environmental benefits to Whately, and the town officials who provided the vision, leadership, and hard work to make this happen deserve our admiration and thanks."

“I am proud to represent Westminster, its designation as a Green Community is a worthy accomplishment,” said Rep. Jon Zlotnik.

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 billions of dollars Massachusetts spends annually to buy the energy that runs its power plants, buildings, and vehicles, much of it flows to other states and places like South America, Canada, and the Middle East. That is 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.

The Green Communities Act also required the state’s utilities to prepare energy efficiency plans. The estimated energy reductions from the 2013-2015 plans is comparable to the environmental benefits achieved by eliminating the energy use of approximately 100,000 homes, or of taking approximately 400,000 cars off the road over the same time period as the energy efficiency measures. These initiatives and others earned Massachusetts the #1 ranking in the nation for energy efficiency by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) in 2011 and 2012.

Further reducing our reliance on foreign energy sources, Massachusetts has 220 megawatts of solar power installed, with more than 100 megawatts installed in 2012 alone. That’s enough electricity to power more than 34,797 homes and, when compared with fossil fuel-generated electricity, the equivalent of eliminating the greenhouse gas emissions from 22,795 cars per year. Massachusetts is now 88 percent of the way to its 2017 goal of 250 megawatts of solar power.

There has been an increase in wind energy from 3 megawatts to 100 megawatts since 2007, enough to power nearly 31,633 homes and eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from 21,503 cars annually.