Patrick Administration Appoints Two Regional Coordinators for Green Communities Program
Officials will help Western and Northeastern Massachusetts cities and towns qualify for grants and achieve municipal energy goals; Central and Southeast regional coordinators to be named soon
BOSTON - Continuing its implementation of the Green Communities Program created by last year's landmark energy reform legislation, the Patrick Administration today announced the appointment of two regional coordinators who will help local officials in western and northeastern Massachusetts cut energy bills through local policies and targeted investments that encourage greater energy efficiency and use of renewable energy.
Department of Energy Resources (DOER) Commissioner Phil Giudice named Joanne Bissetta of Acton as Northeast Regional Coordinator for DOER's Green Communities Division, and James Barry of Belchertown as Western Regional Coordinator. Both begin work in their respective regions on August 3.
"I am pleased to welcome Joanne Bissetta and Jim Barry to the Green Communities team," Commissioner Giudice said. "As regional coordinators, Joanne and Jim will provide hands-on, locally-focused assistance that communities in the western and northeastern regions of the state need as they partner with the Patrick Administration in pursuit of a clean energy future."
DOER expects to name two additional regional coordinators, to serve southeastern and central Massachusetts communities, by the end of August. The regional coordinators will work with DOER's Green Communities Division and other DOER staff to implement grant programs and provide technical assistance and guidance on energy-saving programs such as energy audits, energy performance contracting, energy information reporting systems, and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants announced by the US Department of Energy this spring as part of the federal stimulus package.
Regional coordinators will also assist cities and towns in meeting five benchmarks for designation as a "Green Community," which enables them to qualify for up to $10 million in Green Communities grants. To qualify for these grants, which are expected to be announced later this year and are funded with proceeds from the auction of carbon allowances under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, communities must:
- adopt local zoning bylaw or ordinance that allows "as-of-right-siting" of renewable energy projects - siting that does not unreasonably regulate these uses;
- adopt an expedited permitting process related to the as-of-right facilities;
- establish a municipal energy use baseline and establish a program designed to reduce baseline use by 20 percent within five years;
- purchase only fuel-efficient vehicles for municipal use, whenever such vehicles are commercially available and practicable;
- require all new residential construction over 3,000 square feet and all new commercial and industrial real estate construction to reduce lifecycle energy costs.
Coordinators may also host local forums to educate communities about energy issues and the Green Communities Act and program; compile energy profiles on communities within their regions to help DOER better serve cities and towns across the Commonwealth; develop an exchange of ideas among municipalities within regions; and help local officials pursue renewable energy and energy efficiency goals through resources such as utility-run efficiency programs, the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust, grants, and other financing options.
Bissetta brings 17 years of environmental program management at the state and local levels to the Northeast Regional Coordinator's position. She created and administered an award-winning water efficiency program as the town of Concord's water conservation coordinator, and led efforts to carry out solid waste compliance and enforcement at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection where she worked from 1996 to 2003. Bissetta also worked as assistant recycling director for the Cambridge Department of Public Works where she launched a large-scale multi-family building recycling program.
Barry, who has worked as president of his own software implementation consulting service (Jim Barry, Inc.) for over 20 years, comes to DOER with a wealth of local government experience. He has over 15 years as an elected town official, including serving as an elected member of the Belchertown Board of Selectmen, the Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Belchertown Planning Board, and the Belchertown Housing Authority. Barry is also a founding director of the Belchertown Land Trust. He championed formation of Belchertown's Energy Committee and was instrumental in saving energy costs through coordination of town managers, school department personnel and energy providers.
"I'm looking forward to working with the 84 cities and towns in the Northeast Region and helping them access the state and federal programs that will reduce their need for fossil fuels by becoming energy efficient and developing alternative energy sources," Bissetta said.
"The Green Communities Act provides a fantastic opportunity for cities and towns to save money on energy consumption, affect 'green jobs' and leave the planet a better place for our grandchildren," said Barry. "I am excited to be able to play a role in this effort."