WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – On Thursday, the Baker-Polito administration announced that 30 additional cities and towns in Massachusetts have been designated by the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) as Green Communities, including Westfield and Blandford. The 30 new Green Communities are now eligible for grants to complete renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in their communities.
Westfield is eligible to apply for grants of up to $266,565 in the program, and Blandford, up to $138,425.
Kevin O’Shea, a spokesman for the Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, said the communities which have met the five criteria for becoming Green Communities all received the base grant amount of $125,000, plus additional funds based on population and per capita income as it relates to the statewide average.
“Now, they work with the state to develop the best use of the money, and execute projects on their own,” O’Shea said. He said most projects are completed within a year and a half of the award.
Adam Dolby, chair of Blandford’s Board of Selectmen, said the town will be lining up project ideas in the coming weeks. Among projects under consideration are a new heating system for the town hall and a solar project for the building.
Westfield’s director of facilities Bryan Forrette, who worked on the Green Community designation with city advancement officer Joe Mitchell and Tammy Tefft, director of purchasing, said that the city has approximately $6 million in potential renewable energy projects. Forrette said the state approved their package in general, and now they have to determine which projects they are going to do with the money.
“They did take a look at all the projects,” Forrette said. He said Westfield Gas & Electric was also included on their list, because they are swapping out 2,940 street lights to LED, which will produce a 3.7% drop in kilowatt power, also lessening the costs to the city for the lights.
The City Council approved the last two criteria for the designation in October when they voted to adopt the stretch energy building code, and a fuel efficient vehicle policy for municipal vehicles.
The other criteria included as-of-right siting for renewable energy projects, expedited permitting for renewable energy projects, and a five-year 20 percent baseline energy reduction plan.
In making the announcement of the grant award and designation to the City Council on Thursday during his briefing, Mayor Brian P. Sullivan acknowledged At-large Councilor Daniel Knapik’s help in getting the grant. Knapik most recently served as state director of the Green Communities division. Thursday was Knapik’s last City Council meeting, as he is leaving to become the town administration of Yarmouth.
“These are the projects that we’ll miss,” Sullivan said.