More communities in Massachusetts are getting state financial help with local energy projects. The funding awarded Monday comes courtesy of landmark legislation passed four years ago that was designed to increase clean energy momentum. WAMC”s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.
More than $1.15 million in grants to pay for clean energy projects in seven western Massachusetts towns was announced by the Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Rick Sullivan. The towns were officially designated as “ Green Communities” under a 2008 program that has now grown to include more than 100 cities and towns.
The latest green community designees are Amherst, Conway, Gill, Huntington, Northfield, Pelham and Sunderland. Local officials were congratulated by state officials during a ceremony Monday at Amherst Town Hall.
In order to earn the “Green Community” reward, the municipalities must meet five energy benchmarks.
The state has now awarded a total of more than $23 million dollars in grants through the Green Communities program to 103 communities.The grants have payed for everything from putting solar panels on municipal buildings to weatherizing schools.
Sullivan said it all helps the state achieve its ambitious renewable energy goals and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The state’s largest cities, Boston, Worcester, and Springfield are all in the Green Communities program. So are Northampton and Pittsfield. But officials said it was heartening to see so many small towns become eligible
Lisa Michaud, member of the board of selectmen in Pelham , said it was not easy for the town of less than 14 hundred people to meet the energy conservation requirements.
Michaud said the town plans to use its $138,100 grant to make repairs to a municipal building that will result in energy savings.
Amherst is receiving $302,000 and town manager John Musante said the plan is to install high efficiency street lights.
Funds to pay for the Green Communities grants come through auctions of carbon credits under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and payments made by electricity suppliers.