For Immediate Release - February 04, 2013

Patrick-Murray Administration Energy Officials Present Green Communities Award to Rockland

ROCKLAND – Monday, February 4, 2013 – Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Rick Sullivan today presented the town of Rockland with an $185,425 Green Communities grant to fund municipal clean energy projects.

“Rockland is now one 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.”

“Rockland is among the leaders in the clean energy revolution underway in Massachusetts,” said Secretary Sullivan, whose office includes the Department of Energy Resources (DOER). “The Patrick-Murray Administration is proud to support towns that are cutting energy use, creating jobs and protecting the environment.”

DOER’s Green Communities Division designated Rockland as an official Green Community in December, recognizing the town’s achievement in meeting five clean energy benchmarks. In addition to its $185,425 grant, Rockland today received a certificate from the Commonwealth and four road signs identifying it as a Green Community.

“Nearly half of the Commonwealth’s residents live in a community that has made a conscious decision to become a leader in adopting renewable energy and smart energy use,” said Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Mark Sylvia. “Becoming a Green Community requires effort, and this grant speaks to the enthusiasm Rockland officials and residents have shown in rolling up their sleeves in support of a clean energy future.”

The grant is part of a package of more than $1 million in funding awarded to the state’s seven newest Green Communities. In addition to Rockland, awards will be made to Petersham, Wendell, Westminster, Whately, 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.

"Having served in local government, I am always pleased to see the Commonwealth assist and empower local leaders to improve their own communities," said Sen. John Keenan. "The town of Rockland can make great contributions in moving towards a greener future, and this grant will help them do so."

“I commend the town of Rockland for being designated as a Green Community within the Commonwealth,” said Rep. Rhonda Nyman. “I am happy to see them join with the neighboring town of Hanover in their efforts to become environmentally aware and make strides to create a better future for generations to come.”

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 Alternative 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 2012, Massachusetts had more than 194 megawatts of solar power installed, with 100 megawatts installed in 2012 alone. That’s enough electricity to power more than 30,684 homes, and, when compared with fossil fuel-generated electricity, the equivalent of eliminating the greenhouse gas emissions from 20,858 cars per year. 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 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.