Monday, December 28, 2015

Essex Designated as New Green Community

The town of Essex has achieved the official designation of a Massachusetts Green Community by the Baker-Polito Administration. The town, and eighteen others, will share $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.”

All Green Communities commit to reducing municipal energy consumption by 20 percent over five years. 155 communities in the program have collectively saved the equivalent of heating and powering nearly 17,000 homes, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 203,538 tons.

“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). “Essex will receive $130,000 to help fuel its efforts to reduce energy consumption. This partnership allows us to take greater control of our energy future so that we can move away from a reliance on foreign non-renewable energy sources.”

Essex can now apply to the 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 paid by retail electric suppliers that do not meet their Renewable Portfolio Standard compliance obligations through the purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates.

“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.”

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”).