BOSTON – STATE HOUSE – The Baker-Polito Administration has announced that 19 more cities and towns have been designated Green Communities by the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) and will receive over $3.1 million for local clean energy and energy efficiency projects.
“The Green Communities program demonstrates state and local governments can work together to save energy and taxpayers’ money, while making the Commonwealth a healthier place to live,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “These nineteen communities will be able to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy, reducing energy costs and reducing their carbon footprints.”
“Helping cities and towns reduce their energy consumption allows them to channel their financial savings into other municipal needs, like public safety, education and municipal buildings,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “These grants further reiterate the Commonwealth’s ability to work with municipalities to ensure Massachusetts continues to be a leader in clean energy and energy efficiency.”
The 155 Green Communities are cities and towns of all sizes that range from the Berkshires to Cape Cod and are home to 54 percent of Massachusetts’ population. All Green Communities commit to reducing municipal energy consumption by 20 percent over five years. This commitment by 155 communities amounts to savings of 2,153,992 MMBtu, energy use equivalent to heating and powering nearly 17,000 homes, and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 203,538 tons, equivalent to taking almost 39,000 cars off the road.
“Through the Green Communities program, DOER is able to work with municipalities to find clean energy solutions that reduce long-term energy costs and strengthen local economies,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Beaton. “The commitment and hard work of these 19 communities to reduce their energy use and undertake clean energy projects will help Massachusetts continue its leadership in energy efficiency, renewable energy and emissions reductions.”
“DOER is proud to work with cities and towns in every corner of the state as they reduce energy costs through energy efficiency and clean energy investments,” said DOER Commissioner Judson. “The newest Green Communities are helping us create a clean, affordable and resilient energy future.”
“The Green Communities Act remains one of the most effective and important steps the Commonwealth has taken in combating climate change,” said State Senator Benjamin Downing (D – Pittsfield). “This excellent partnership between the state and our municipalities pays real, concrete dividends year after year.”
“These grants are an acknowledgment from the Baker-Polito Administration that communities that show concern for our environment and leadership to help solve the problems,” said State Representative Smitty Pignatelli (D-Lenox). “The towns of Stockbridge and Egremont in my district have committed themselves to helping secure a healthy environment for future generations.”
“As Massachusetts residents prepare for the lowering temperatures of winter and the rising costs of energy bills, there is good reason to welcome these Green Communities grants,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “This partnership will assist towns like Essex and others to find ways to reduce energy consumption and encourage the use of a variety of alternative energy sources. By taking greater control of our energy future we move away from a reliance on foreign non-renewable energy sources.”
“I am pleased that the Administration is continuing its commitment to establishing Green Communities and has awarded funding to Essex for its efforts,” said State Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante (D-Gloucester). “As the Chair of Community Development and Small Business, I recognize the importance of this partnership with municipalities as they move toward their goals of clean energy and environmental protection.”
“The Green Communities Program is an outstanding example of the great partnership that the Baker-Polito Administration and the Legislature have forged with cities and towns,” said Geoffrey C. Beckwith, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association. “Communities in every region of state will use these grant funds for innovative programs to reduce energy usage and invest in renewable energy projects, and the benefits will flow to taxpayers and the environment.”
The new Green Communities will now apply to DOER’s Green Communities Division for approval to use the funds for projects. Funding for these grants is available through proceeds from carbon allowance auctions under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and Alternative Compliance Payments (ACP) paid by retail electric suppliers that do not meet their Renewable Portfolio Standard compliance obligations through the purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates.
A city or town must meet these five criteria to be designated a Green Community:
• Provide as-of-right siting in designated locations for renewable/alternative energy generation, research & development, or manufacturing facilities;
• Adopt an expedited application and permit process for as-of-right energy facilities;
• Establish an energy use baseline and develop a plan to reduce energy use by 20 percent within five years.
• Purchase only fuel-efficient vehicles for municipal use;
• Require new construction to reduce lifecycle energy costs (i.e., adoption of an energy-saving building “stretch code”).
Under the Green Communities Act, DOER’s Green Communities Designation and Grant Program can provide up to $10 million annually to qualified cities and towns. The goal of the Designation Grant Program is support communities’ investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects that further the clean energy goals determined by the designated communities. Initial Designation Grants are based on a $125,000 base for each designated Green Community, plus additional amounts tied to per capita income and population, and for municipalities that provide as-of-right siting for renewable energy generation.